Sojitz Corporation

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Work-Style Reforms

Basic Approach

At Sojitz, we are focusing our efforts on maximizing the potential of our human resources to achieve sustainable growth, and reforming how we work is one of the major policy initiatives that we are undertaking as part of Medium-term Management Plan 2020 to achieve this goal. To us, this means recognizing diverse working styles that encourage individuals to take greater initiative in their work. By increasing initiative among individuals, we can enable teams to be more productive, deliver better value, and work with greater speed. We aim to raise productivity of individuals and teams, which goes hand in hand with recognizing a variety of different working styles.

Specifically, we are reviewing the ways in which we have worked in the past in hopes of raising efficiency and productivity to create surplus time that can be reallocated to new business creation, employee development, employee self-improvement, and the achievement of proper work-life management. In turn, we hope this will improve the physical and mental well-being of our employees, leading to increased motivation. We believe that creating a work environment that enables a diverse range of employees to reach their maximum ability ultimately raises their earning potential, leading directly to an increase of our company’s enterprise value.

Furthermore, we have set numerical targets and implemented concrete policy measures aimed at accomplishing the three objectives set forth in the action plan for work-style reforms that Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) has challenged its member organizations to achieve—namely to reduce long working hours, encourage workers to take annual leave, and promote flexible and independent working styles—in an effort to extend and deepen our commitment to reforming how we work.

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Current Initiatives

Sojitz is taking a number of approaches to improve the physical and mental well-being of employees and raise productivity. We have implemented policies to reduce overtime and increase use of annual leave and adopted a “super flex” system that enables flexible working styles that fit each employee’s individual work requirements. In addition, we are implementing telework throughout the company and introducing new IT tools to increase efficiency. In response to the labor reforms enacted in Japan in April 2019, which set upper limits on overtime and require employees to use five days of paid annual leave, we have set our own work reform targets, improved our timesheet system to better monitor overtime hours and annual leave, and taken measures to inform staff throughout the company about the contents of these labor reforms by creating and disseminating “e-Learning” materials.

Curtailing Long Working Hours

FY2019 Target Zero employees working over 80 hours* of overtime per month
*Approximately over 88 hours when converted to statutory working hours

We are promoting a reduction in long working hours by fundamentally prohibiting work after 8:00 PM, and making it a goal that no employee should work more than 80 hours* of overtime per month. Between April and August 2018, the number of employees who worked more than 80 hours of average monthly overtime totaled 38 employees. Compared with 58 during the same period in 2017, this amounts to a drastic reduction. Moving forward, we are working hard to reduce this number even further. *The above-mentioned 80 hours of overtime is based on Sojitz’s prescribed workday length of seven hours and 15 minutes per day; 88 hours of overtime is based on a statutory workday length of eight hours per day.

Improving Timesheet Management

We have revamped our computerized timesheet management system, which records working time based on an employee’s computer usage time, so that supervisors can more efficiently monitor each employee’s daily overtime and receive automatic alerts from the system when an employee is in danger of exceeding the overtime limit for the month. Also, the amount of leave that employees use is now visible to their managers, making it easier for managers to communicate with staff on how to strategically manage work and schedule leave. Furthermore, when overtime work is unavoidable, such as when employees are subjected to heavy workloads during busy seasons, and their working time surpasses a designated limit, the Human Resources Department will contact the supervising manager to offer guidance for improvement, such as through better allotment of work responsibilities among staff or ways to increase efficiency.

Encouraging the Use of Paid Leave

FY2019 Target Employees must use 17 days or more of paid leave during the year.
(Includes one day per month of annual leave in addition to five days of summer holiday leave)

Sojitz offers 20 days of paid annual leave to employees from the following fiscal year after they entered the company, provided that they achieved an attendance rate of at least 80% in the preceding fiscal year. In addition, employees are given five days of summer leave, for a total of 25 days of paid leave per year. In FY2017, the average employee used 14 days of leave; in 2018, our goal is for employees to use 15 days or more (a usage rate of 60%). In addition to implementing work sharing in each Group organization to encourage employees to use leave, we have made use of annual leave a component of organization appraisals and are continuing to pursue efforts aimed at further raising leave usage among employees.

Special Leave for Long-term Employees

When an employee reaches their 10th, 20th, and 30th year in the company, they are awarded an extra five days of leave, and they are eligible to use this leave in conjunction with either paid annual leave or summer leave to take extended leave for a period of two weeks or less. This system affords people the time away from the office to travel to distant or hard to reach destinations, which would otherwise have been difficult due to the limited amount of available leave, thus allowing them a chance to rejuvenate both physically and mentally.

Addition of Special Leave (Family Support Leave)

For employees who have already used 12 or more days of leave, a new system granting five days of leave for the purposes of family support (such as for accompanying a spouse during labor, attending school functions, or caring for parents) has been introduced to make it easier for employees to use annual leave for household circumstances.

Allowing Employees to Choose When and Where They Work

Core working time has been eliminated, and a “super flex”* system has been introduced that allows employees to choose their own work times that fit the circumstances of their department, such as when doing business with overseas regions in different time zones. Additionally, a telework system is scheduled to be introduced after undergoing a company-wide trial, enabling employees with household circumstances such as nursing or childcare obligations to work from home, or other employees to work from designated satellite offices.

*As of November 2017, we have eliminated core time and made it possible for employees to work between the hours of 7:00 and 20:00 as best suits their personal circumstances. Furthermore, by encouraging employees to leave at least 10 hours between when they finish working for the night and start work the following day, we make consideration for our employees’ health a priority as they go about their work duties.

Building an Office that Elevates Individual and Organizational Capabilities

As part of our plans to reorganize the workspaces in our Tokyo head office to accommodate more employees, we are considering responses to a questionnaire sent to head office staff in conjunction with the results of a separate employee survey, with the aim of establishing a uniquely Sojitz office concept which will then be reflected in the design and facilities of the workspaces. As part of the project, we are planning to offer ample spaces for communication to elevate team productivity, booths to facilitate concentration for better individual work, and break areas to allow employees an opportunity to relax and return to work refreshed. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

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Work Optimization

Sojitz has newly established a dedicated RPA (Robotic Process Automation) organization which will utilize IT technologies to create a work environment in which certain internal company tasks and functions are automated, with the intention of allowing employees to focus on tasks which require greater communication and thought, and which are more directly connected with value creation.

Also, based on the results of employee satisfaction surveys, we are rethinking how to conduct meetings, which often constitute large portions of the work day. As an example, we have made a rule requiring employees to adhere to a 40-minute time limit for meetings, to reach a conclusion and decide on the next course of action during that time. This rule, which is part of the Human Resources General Manager’s message, is posted in all the meeting rooms in the Tokyo head office and the Kansai office.

Finally, we are striving to achieve paperless operations, and hope to reduce paper consumption by 50% by encouraging electronic submission of various internal documents, such as applications and reports.

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