Increased life satisfaction can lead to enhancing enthusiasm for work and even the quality of work
～Flexible work hours and an employee challenge support system～
The AISIN Group is currently working on job satisfaction reforms, aiming to build a win-win relationship between employees and the company by generating synergy between “providing employees with more job satisfaction and a more fulfilling life” and “creating new value for the company.” The basic idea is that a more fulfilling life with greater job satisfaction should be realized by placing more emphasis on quality rather than quantity in the way of working to create new value and achieve a balance between work and personal life.
Aisin has established various work-life balance support systems to create a better working environment for all employees.
Working under a flexible schedule while raising children provides a sense of security and a sense of responsibility
- Entered the company as a new graduate in 2008
- Family of 4, with her husband and two children (aged 5 and 2)
- In charge of production control of overseas sites in the Production Control Dept.
We had an interview with Ms. Nakai, a mother of two children who plays an active role in the workplace, about how female employees are working while raising their children.
A working environment that allows mothers to both raise children and pursue a career with a sense of security
Ms. Nakai gave birth to her second child two years ago and is currently working while raising two children aged five and two. She comes to the office about once a week by a combination of “the short working hour system for child care,” “the flexible time system, usable anytime in the 24 hours of a day with no core work time” and “the teleworking system.” She is in charge of large projects, including scheduling for establishing production lines of new products at overseas sites and their production control.
“Even if there still remains work to do, this working environment allows me to resume work after picking up my kids or sending them to bed. I can use my time well to perform my job sufficiently while taking care of my children.”
Ms. Nakai gave birth to her first child five years ago and at that time, she had difficulty balancing work and family.
“When I gave birth to my first child, there was no system that enabled the combined use of “the short working hour system for child care,” “the flexible time system” and “the work-from-home system.” After returning to work from childcare leave, I worked shorter hours from 9:00 to 16:00. In those days, I felt pressure to hurry and start and finish work within the predetermined hours, which caused me significant mental stress every day. Since I found it difficult to balance work and childcare, I decided to temporarily leave the front line and engage in support work.”
Ms. Nakai says that owing to the combined use of “the short working hour system,” “the flexible time system” and “the work-from-home system,” she feels relieved that she can work in the morning, at night, or between household chores, keeping up both her work and childcare. The effective use of the flex-time system” and the “work-from-home system” has enabled her to secure enough time for work and produce the same level of results as those before raising her children.
“I have no trouble attending meetings with overseas sites despite time differences and find fulfillment in work because I’m now involved in a large project,” Ms. Nakai says.
First-year elementary school students come home early in the afternoon every day, and it is also necessary to take care of them during summer and other long school breaks. This issue, which is called the “First Grade Barrier,” forces not a few female workers to quit their jobs.
Ms. Nakai said that although she also had concern about the First Grade Barrier, she thought that she would be able to overcome this issue by using the present flexible time system.
Work flexible hours, but not be too dependent on the system
Regarding changes in attitudes and responsibility for work, which becomes more important all the more because the flexible time system enables employees to freely control their work time at their own discretion, Ms. Nakai says:
“The working environment that enables me to work while raising my children reinforced my belief that I want to meet the expectations of the company. I think that I need to produce more than adequate results because I have been given the right to use the flexible time system. In addition, I feel that I have more responsibility as an employee in terms of information security and time management.”
It is not merely about introducing systems. To achieve a balance between work and personal life, it is essential for each individual to enhance the quality of their work and pursue a sense of fulfillment in work.
Aisin as "a company that encourages employees to both produce results in their work and improve the quality of their lives”
Many female workers, like Ms. Nakai, can work flexible hours because Aisin has introduced various systems to improve work environments for all employees.
“We are working to increase the number of employees full of vitality, i.e., those who can produce results in work, have a happy family life, and take on various challenges, including pursuing their hobbies and honing their skills. We want to make Aisin a company that allows employees to both produce some results in their work and enhance the quality of their lives by providing a working environment that can flexibly respond to individual employees’ life events and lifestyles,” Mr. Nogami says.
Flexible time system that enables employees to respond flexibly to their life events
In 1989, Aisin introduced a “flexible time system with no core work hours” ahead of all others. In 2002, it adopted a short working hour system for child care, which allows employees to determine when to start and finish their work according to their childcare situation. In 2007, it established a day care center on the premises of the head office so that employees can efficiently drop off and pick up their children before and after work.
Considering “job satisfaction reforms” as a key strategy for company management, Aisin has recently launched various new systems.
Major measures introduced most recently to enhance flexibility in work time.
- January 2020: The work-from-home system was revised to a teleworking system, which allows employees to work in places other than their homes
- April 2020: The short working hour system for child care was revised to raise the ceiling of short working hours for employees who have children aged 11 or younger
- August 2020: The flexible time system was revised to allow employees to work anytime in the 24 hours of a day
According to Mr. Yokoi, Aisin has created a more flexible working environment by the combined use of “the short working hour system,” “the flexible time system, usable anytime in the 24 hours of a day with no core work time” and “the teleworking system.”
“The current systems allow employees to resume and finish their work after responding to sudden events, including taking care of a child with fever or after putting a child to sleep. In addition, the flexible time system, usable anytime in the 24 hours of a day, allows employees to flexibly respond to meetings with people at overseas sites in the early morning or late at night due to time differences. It is also possible to spend a few hours as free time for personal reasons, including a hospital visit.”
In addition, the use of the teleworking system (including the work-from-home system and working in a satellite office) allows employees to cut down on commuting time and spend time more effectively.
Systems to encourage employees to improve their skills or take on new challenges
In addition to systems that allow employees to work more flexibly, Aisin has introduced systems to encourage employees to build up their skills or take on a new challenge, including “the self-learning support system*1” and “the side-business system*2.” Regarding the introduction of these systems, Mr. Nogami said:
“Thanks to increased efficiency in work, total working hours being reduced under job satisfaction reforms, and commuting time being reduced due to telework, people have more free time than before. They can spend such time on their families or hobbies. However, considering that it is necessary to increase the value of work with fresh ideas in order to survive in an era of dynamic changes, it is also important for each individual to use such time to actively improve himself or herself.”
Aisin provides generous support to employees who are eager to acquire new skills or knowledge.
*1 Self-learning support system: Allows employees to receive a subsidy from the company if they take a course or participate in an activity for personal development which contributes to their work, with no category designation
*2 Side-business system: Allows employees to conduct a side business as long as it contributes to improving their skills or knowledge or increasing their motivation for work
“Job satisfaction reforms,” rather than “reforms of working practice”
No matter how many changes are made to organizations or systems to increase employees’ satisfaction or labor productivity, no progress can be expected if people working inside the company fail to change themselves. The AISIN Group aims to ensure that each employee can identify new value on his/her own and develop a truly competitive edge by undertaking drastic reform of the conventional way of working under the banner of “job satisfaction reforms,” rather than simply implementing “reforms of working practice,” such as reducing overtime.