Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Work Style Reform Influencing Firms' Recruitment

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Work Style Reform Influencing Firms' Recruitment

Article excerpt

With university students and others getting into the full swing of job hunting, the government's "work style reform" initiative is beginning to influence companies' recruiting activities.

As companies where employees can reliably take holidays or work less overtime are becoming more popular, a conspicuous number of companies are actively touting their efforts to reduce working hours, in order to secure quality employees.

There are important perspectives to consider to realize shorter working hours and improve productivity, according to experts.

The work style innovation department at Osaka-based Kokuyo Co., which instructs client companies about work style reform, has received more than 10 inquiries each month since the end of last year. They included questions such as, "I was ordered by an executive to come up with work style reform, but I don't know what to do" and "How can we reduce our working hours?"

Most of these inquiries come from large companies with over 3,000 employees. Some inquiries hint at a sense of urgency with statements like, "We must implement work style reform to recruit good employees."

"Work style has been turning into a brand image for companies," said Takahiro Sakamoto, a group leader of the department.

Involved mainly in the production and sale of stationery goods and office furniture, Kokuyo has made productivity improvement proposals, including better workplace layouts, since the 1990s. About 10 years ago, the company also started a consulting business on streamlining operations. It established the work style innovation department based on the know-how it acquired from this business.

Kokuyo proposes five points to concentrate on for work style reform: meetings, preparing materials, email exchanges, managing employees' goals and communication at the workplace.

Reviewing working hours, Kokuyo cites the first three as representative of wasteful working.

A survey Kokuyo conducted on client companies working to reduce their workloads revealed each employee spent eight to 15 hours a month at meetings, 20 hours a month preparing materials and two hours a day sending and receiving emails, according to the survey.

Aiming to streamline these operations, Kokuyo took measures such as videotaping meetings, reviewing emails and setting relevant rules at client companies.

Consequently, a section of a major manufacturer reduced meeting times from a total of 8,577 hours a month in 2014 to 3,989 hours a month in 2015 and then to 3,011 hours a month in 2016 -- down 65 percent from 2014, which led to fewer working hours. …

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