May 13, 2019
Interview with Hiroshi Ogasawara, President of Yaskawa Electric Corporation
Yaskawa Electric is a company in which employees feel rewarded
Yaskawa Electric is a world-class builder of industrial robots, servo motors, and inverters. President Hiroshi Ogasawara is responsible for employees’ development and he focuses on the utilization and training of human resources. Ogasawara has been promoting the reform of working practices and the key points he says, “it is important to introduce an evaluation system that balances rights and obligations, equality and fairness, freedom and responsibility, and to make employees feel a sense of worth when working for the company. This is why our evaluation system should be digitalized.”
―― You are responsible for development in human resources. Please tell us about your efforts to utilize and train employees.
Our policy of reforming working practices is to make this a company in which employees can feel rewarded. The work environment and the work style differ from person to person. Our company has been establishing a system to enable employees to work in accordance with their individual circumstances and to evaluate these circumstances fairly. For example, some female employees may be unable to go to a customer’s site quickly, such as during pregnancy. In other case, there may be employees who need to take care of someone in their family. We need to provide an environment where employees can work according to their individual situation and evaluate their work fairly since situations differ for each person. In our company, we must balance rights and obligations, equality and fairness, freedom and responsibility.
―― This is very difficult to do.
It is also important to digitize the evaluation system. In other words, we evaluate the results, including the work process. We prepare a job description for all jobs, define the jobs, and evaluate the degree of achievement . It is OK to institutionalize various systems like telecommuting, childcare leave, and so on. However, the system prepared by company and individual wishes don’t always match, and so this is difficult to implement.
―― As the president, what commitments to the utilization of human resources do you have?
Since I became president of the company, we have conducted a monthly questionnaire on employee satisfaction for approximately 2,500 employees. We regularly ask if they receive adequate explanations from their supervisors about the company’s current policies and business activities. A small number of people answer negatively. They maybe don’t have a good working relationship with their boss or are unhappy at work. It could also be that the work is not suitable for them. We are working to resolve the cause of this.
―― The fact that employees are able to express their “negative opinions” in a questionnaire makes Yaskawa Electric’s corporate culture stand out.
It is important to resolve problems if employees are dissatisfied. If our company does not want to solve a problem, nothing will change. When employees write, “I would like to say to the president…” or “I would like to ask the president…” in the free space of the questionnaire, I always answer their questions by myself. I think this is important, although it is difficult to produce visible results.
―― What other policies do you utilize?
Interactive meetings have been held for a long time. Executives and General Managers including myself always have opportunities to discuss issues with employees. I often have these meetings over lunch with five to six people for about two hours or so. I explain the current situation of the company and think about the content, requests, and issues depending on the parties gathered. I say what I want to say, and hear what they want to say. I prepare the documents for this meeting by myself. I meet and talk directly with at least one hundred people every year.
 editor’s note: Most of Japanese companies do not have detailed job descriptions traditionally.
Insights Shu Yasumi, editor-in-chief
A strong company has some rational and universal reasons as be strong. Yaskawa Electric established more than 100 years ago and they have always been a company which has not been afraid to make changes in its long history. Also, the past and current presidents have very strong leaderships and emphasize on utilizing human resources. That is, “make changes”, “leadership” and “human resource utilization” would be positive key words to survive in next 100 years. Very universal.
Source: SEISANZAI MARKETING Magazine May 2019 issue
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