August 23, 2018 [No.54-2018]
Hiroshi Yamamoto, Ph.D., Professor
School of Business/Graduate School of Business
Aoyama Gakuin University
Part 4: Specific retention management policies (3)
Continuing from the previous lecture, as retention management policies, let's take a look at work-time management and benefit management, together with some examples of them.
1 Work-time management
Working long hours has an adverse effect on employees' mental health, and increases the possibility of getting sick, etc. Currently, in the work style reforms that many companies are working on, reducing overtime hours is also becoming an important policy. Also, young people have an extremely strong tendency to avoid "black companies." Although there are a variety of implications regarding black companies, for the younger generations, who went out into the world after the concept of work-life balance had become widespread, "long working hours" has become a factor to be avoided in particular. For this reason, conducting appropriate work-time management is thought to be effective as a form of retention management. By listening to employees, I heard many voices with statements such as, "If I was choosing between a company that has a high salary but long working hours and one that has a low salary but short working hours, I would prefer the one with short working hours. I wouldn't quit from it, and I'd want to join it. That would be the kind of company I would want to continue working for."
How do companies respond to them? In interviews, I heard voices with statements such as, "My company and labor union are working together to reduce overtime hours. Specifically, they are working on a plan to create a system to prevent unpaid overtime. They are strictly implementing rules, such as getting approval in advance from supervisors for overtime" (food manufacturer: T Company), and, "Discretionary powers regarding time management have been granted to shop managers. Shop managers can use their own discretion to make decisions on things like unnecessary attendance before work hours, leaving early, or overtime, depending on how busy the shop is. By doing so, we have made our employees aware of long working hours" (restaurant business: S Company). Carrying out a reduction in overtime through just management and the human resources department alone is difficult, but we can see that companies are trying to do it effectively by involving important parties concerned, such as the labor union and shop managers.
Work-time management is also related to "securing time off," which has been proven to be an effective policy for enabling companies to keep employees working for them, according to a survey by the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training (Part 2). In this current situation, where many companies are addressing work style reforms, failure to work toward reducing long work hours is thought to have an extremely negative impact on retention. It is the policy that should be worked on as the top priority.
2 Benefit management
Benefits are a policy that has been implemented for a long time for retention. Just like in 1 (Work-time management), taking into consideration the fact that young employees in particular are sensitive to their work-life balance, rich benefit policies are thought to be effective for retention management. By listening to employees, I heard many voices stating, "Lately in the workplace, there are more and more people who have to quit because they are too busy with childcare and nursing care, despite being extremely highly motivated toward their work. I wish there was some sort of solution for these kinds of people."
How are companies responding? In interviews, I heard voices stating, "Employees are able to have reduced their working hours until their children enter elementary school. People who return to work receive allowances for child care support. Resignations resulting from marriage are few, and it is becoming 'normal to continue working' even after having children. The effects on retention are high" (confectionery manufacturing retailer: W Company), and, "There were many resignations by women due to difficulties with work-life balance regarding marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, the household, etc. Also, there were resignations due to nursing care by both men and women. For these reasons, we introduced the 'Short-Time Regular Employee System.' The number of people who want to use this system is increasing" (retailer: R Company). As seen above, a variety of policies have been implemented with regard to benefits. Required at the same time is a detailed response that incorporates both understanding and cooperation from the workplace so that the systems are easy to use, and flexible support to suit people’s individual situations. For example, supervisors will be required to create an atmosphere where women who are short-time workers can leave early without feeling uncomfortable about their surroundings.
A variety of retention management policies are being considered besides those discussed in the series. Examples include remuneration management, assessment methods and policies, skills development, career development support, and encouraging communication. While aiming to achieve cooperation between policies, companies need to work as one on employee retention, involving management, the labor union and managers.
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