Sojitz Corporation


Work Style Reforms and Productivity Enhancement

Basic Approach

At Sojitz, we believe that maximizing the capabilities of our employees is essential to driving sustainable growth. We have positioned work style reforms as a major policy initiative of Medium-term Management Plan 2020 and strive to improve efficiency and productivity in our operations. As a result, we made significant strides in decreasing overtime work hours and increasing the total number of annual leave days taken by employees, and our work style reforms have been widely implemented throughout the company.

As part of Medium-term Management Plan 2023, we will continue our ongoing efforts to curtail long working hours and encourage the use of paid leave. We will also implement telework and make improvements to the office environment in an effort to enhance productivity. In addition, we will seek to further maximize our usage of digital and IT technologies, including Robotic Process Automation (RPA), in order to improve work efficiency.

Current Initiatives

Sojitz is taking a number of approaches to improve the physical and mental well-being of employees and to raise productivity. We have implemented policies to reduce overtime and increase use of annual leave as well as 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 that 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

FY2023 Target Zero employees working over 80 hours* of overtime per month

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. As a result, the number of employees who worked more than 80 hours of average monthly overtime drastically decreased from 69 in FY2018 to 24 in FY2022.

*The above-mentioned 80 hours of overtime is based on Sojitz’s prescribed workday length of seven hours and 15 minutes per day; Approximately 65  hours when converted to 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

FY2023 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 FY2022,we achieved our target of employees using 17 days or more annual leave (18.36 days). In FY2023, we will continue to promote the usage of 17 days or more (a usage rate of 68%) as an ongoing target. 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, we offer 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) 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 replaced by a “super flex”* system. This new system allows employees to choose their own work times based on the specific circumstances within their organization, such as conducting business with overseas regions in different time zones. Additionally, as a work style reform, a telework system was introduced in January 2020 after undergoing a company-wide trial during FY2018. As a result, we were able to respond quickly and encourage employees to utilize the flex time system or work from home in February 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Under the state of emergency, we allowed all employees to work from home in order to minimize risk and maintain business continuity. We will continue to utilize the telework system to adjust to new workstyles.

*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, and individual booths to facilitate concentration for better work.

Work Optimization

Sojitz is promoting the use of IT tools to increase work efficiency and is making a company-wide shift to high value-added work. In 2018, the company introduced robotic process automation (RPA), and automating routine tasks has led to a reduction of roughly 30,000 hours of work time across the company (as of the end of March 2022).

The General Affairs & IT Operation Department has also led the implementation of a low-code development platform. Use of this system to develop in-house IT tools has led to a reduction of roughly 2,500 work hours (as of July 2022). Sojitz will continue to utilize a wide range of digital technologies to increase work efficiency moving forward.

Additionally, Sojitz adopted a new company-wide electronic contract system in 2021. The company also digitized the internal process for approving accounting-related documents, and this shift has led to a reduction of a total of 50,000 work hours (as of March 2022). A large portion of Sojitz’s internal applications and forms have already been digitized and the company will continue to expand digitization moving forward.

Sojitz is also rethinking how to conduct meetings, which often constitute large portions of the workday, based on the results of employee engagement surveys. For example, we have made a rule requiring a 40-minute time limit for meetings in order to encourage employees to reach a conclusion and decide on the next course of action within that timeframe. This rule is posted as a message from the Human Resource Department’s general manager in all the meeting rooms in the Tokyo head office and the Kansai office.

Page top