Human Resources Management

Social: Human Resources Management

Basic Concepts

We aim for a cyclical process of employee growth and business growth. This approach balances two goals: expanding our business portfolio to cultivate a diverse ecosystem of businesses, and allowing individuals to expand their career opportunities.


Creating a cyclical process of employee growth and business growth

In fiscal 2018, we launched a new employee reward system. Line managers (kikanshoku) receive rank-based pay, which reflects the person’s roles and responsibilities, with no regard to their age or experience. Regular employees receive skill-based pay reflecting the person’s knowledge, skills, or training. This new system delineates organizational functions and roles according to the company’s strategy, ensuring that the right person is matched to the right job. It also encourages dialogue between managers and employees concerning the company’s goals and how the employee can help achieve them. Attainment of these goals (measured on an absolute scale) is taken into account in employee evaluations in order to achieve a more differentiated approach to evaluation and treatment.
We have been strengthening our initiatives to match and promote the right people to the right jobs and to develop their abilities while utilizing our personnel system as infrastructure since FY2019. In fact, we are increasingly promoting based on merit, not seniority. In a growing number of cases, employees are promoted to line manager in their early 30s, to middle manager (department manager) in their late 30s, and to an executive position in their 40s.
In the future, we will promote our Field Expansion 2024 third medium-term plan that we announced in November 2021 to achieve our long-term vision for 2030 titled Change, Challenge, Create (CCC) 2030. We will work to train leaders who will drive the transformation and creation of business. We will also strive to increase the mobility of in-house human resources to create opportunities in which diverse employees play an active role.

Human Resources Management Structure to Create Cyclical Process of Employee Growth and Business Growth

We strategically move through the human resources training cycle with a commitment to creating new opportunities and discovering those who are rough around the edges but who have great potential at an early stage, appointing and promoting human resources in a timely manner, backing those who take on challenges, and conducting growth reviews from multiple viewpoints.

Non-managerial staff Managerial staff
Growth stage Challenges him/herself at work and engages with others to contribute toward business success Demonstrates inspirational leadership and motivates others toward business success, opening up new future possibilities
Skills development Goal setting, goal evalution Deployment
Aim Using the skill-will matrix, help employee expand his/her limits and work toward business growth in the medium to long term Clarify roles through dialogue and measure attainment (on an absolute scale) to encourage engagement Create opportunities for employee to challenge him/herself by assigning him/her work that best-matching overall in line with business strategy
  • Hone leadership skills
  • Hone core skills
    Focus on three C's of leadership, engaging others, trial and error
  • Hone job-specific skills
  • Support employee autonomy
  • Cascade goals
    Use manager-employee dialogues to clarify the company's goals and how the employee can help achieve them
  • Expand limits
    Clarify what areas the employee should improve and how
  • Measure attainment on an absolute scale

  • Assign work that matches the employee's talent
    Use HR meetings, meetings about changing job grade
  • Career challenge
    Give employee opportunity to declare career objective, provide career counseling
  • 20% challenge (internal moonlighting)
  • Cross-organizational projects


Career Center: Encouraging employees to take on new challenges

In 2018, we opened the Career Center to facilitate our goal of linking employee growth with business success and empowering employees to challenge themselves and expand their limits. The Career Center offers employees one-on-one careers counseling with a professional careers adviser. During the counseling, employees use a tool called Career Challenge to communicate the challenges they feel they could take on, or the skills they feel they could improve, in connection with the organization’s three-year strategy. Such one-on-one dialogues help clarify each employee’s intentions for their professional development, giving managers a better idea of what work to assign them. In turn, the employees feel all the more motivated and empowered.

Initiatives in 2021

Creation of Opportunities to Take on New Challenges

20% Challenge: Internal moonlighting
To promote an empowered workplace in which employees actively pursue opportunities for professional development, we launched 20% Challenge, a program of internal moonlighting in which participants spend 20% of their working time engaging in a job for another organizational division. Organizational divisions issue recruitment notices for a certain jobs (“challenges”), employees apply for them, and the head of the division in question works with the HR team to find the right candidate. The program runs for three to 12 months, and participants’ achievements and efforts count toward their individual personnel evaluation. In the first year, 57 employees participated. These participants stepped across organizational boundaries to engage in challenges such as market research for overseas businesses, strategy support, R&Ding solutions for digital learning, and raising employees’ eco-awareness. The idea is that employees, by dividing their time 80–20 between their normal work and the new assignment, will raise workplace productivity without compromising their normal work. The program is helping us to visualize workplace activity and identify aspects to rectify or recalibrate through dialogues between the employees concerned and their managers and HR.

Examples of challenges

Theme No. 4

Theme No. 7

KOKUYO Marketing University and KOKUYO Marketing Graduate School
KOKUYO Marketing University is a management report-based practical program for younger employees in their third to twelfth year after leaving school. It aims to allow participants to take on the challenge of a way of working that promotes issue solving by capturing unsatisfied needs from the customer’s point of view. The participants do this through the acquisition of marketing skills by devising new forms of business and formulating strategies. After they have learned techniques for marketing strategy, attendees start applying this knowledge in a project to create a new concept for a KOKUYO product. Under the guidance of external marketing professionals, they spend around half a year perfecting the product idea and then present it to the management. We started the program in 2017. More than 110 younger employees in all types of jobs have taken on challenges not just limited to development and planning. Now over five years’ old, the program continues to provide a starting point for employee development and action. For example, attendees can enhance their learning by making use of the program’s mentorship system, in which they receive support from graduates of the program. Additionally, attending the program leads to positive changes in workplace outputs and encourages the employees to accept an offer of redeployment and the fresh challenges it brings.
KOKUYO Marketing Graduate School is a program mainly for mid-level leaders in their 30s and 40s. It aims to allow participants to take on the challenge of a way of proceeding with work that examines strategies by objectively considering the future business environment. During the program, attendees are presented with 10-year business themes determined by the management. Under the guidance of external marketing professionals, they spend around nine months engaging in team work to perfect their growth strategy for KOKUYO and then present it to the management. A cumulative total of approximately 70 employees have taken on this challenge as of the third year of the program in 2021. Among the 12 actual proposals, three have proceeded to the ongoing consideration phase toward commercialization in our company even after the end of the program. In addition, approximately 65% of the 44 participants in the first and second years of the program have grown and are playing an active part in the company after seizing opportunities to take on the challenge of an even larger role such as through company-wide projects after completing the program.

Final presentation session for participants in the fifth year of the KOKUYO Marketing program

Discussion in KOKUYO Marketing Graduate School