Kume: The Sompo Care Group strives to contribute to the security, health, and wellbeing of our customers by providing the elderly and their families with the highest quality nursing care services possible (see Long-term Care Business: Supporting Japan, a Global Pioneer in Healthy Longevity).
Our current policies include providing tailor-made care that meets the needs of each and every individual, training personnel and the pursuit of quality services, and building a dynamic working environment. As people in Japan live longer lives and nursing care needs rise, we are facing a shortage of nursing care workers and a widening gap between the supply and demand for workers. To tackle these issues we are working on initiatives to strengthen our recruitment activities, enhance personnel training and improve the employee turnover rate. We are focusing on improving workplace skills in particular with the slogan “workplace first.” Specifically, we have introduced a scheme in which our senior management goes into the workplace to talk with frontline workers, and provide advice to resolve workplace-related issues. We also work quickly to investigate solutions at head office and offer proposals for solving issues that cannot be addressed in the workplace alone.
Human resource development is a key issue. In July 2017 we established Sompo Care University, an institution to enhance human resource development. We intend to build on traditional training methods to raise the quality of care offered and plan to enhance our training programs in collaboration with universities and specialized educational institutions. In the future we will strengthen the functions of the institution with an eye to making it a general educational institution for the nursing care industry at large, and not merely to train our own employees.
In an effort to create a more vibrant workplace, we have introduced an initiative to strengthen communication in the workplace, in which employees prepare “thank you” cards for each other. We believe this will foster a corporate culture that encourages employees to offer praise.
Kawakita: You’re tackling an extremely important aspect of this business. It is becoming more and more difficult to recruit people into nursing care, so it is essential to create a working environment employees want to remain longer.
I’d like to suggest creating and putting up a newsletter on the wall to foster such culture. If the newsletter is put up in a location where various people can read it, such as users and business partners that visit the facility, and not just employees, it should be easy to encourage employees to offer praise.
I am sure you can strengthen the workplace by creating a culture in which someone assists employees who are unsure of how to respond or who have anxieties, in other words, a culture in which employees support each other at work. Expressing gratitude and praise is more effective when doing so for a stance or act of mutual support rather than merely as a good action.
Kume: With regard to the use of ICT and digital technology, we are developing and researching technology that we expect will be used in nursing care in collaboration with Sompo Digital Lab, which works on the digital field the Group is strengthening. One such example is an initiative that uses sensors to monitor patient safety. This initiative offers peace of mind to both patients and their families while also improving employee productivity and making their work easier.
Kawakita: It is important to work together with various companies with various kinds of technology. To ensure employees remain with the company, it is important not only to introduce technology but also to continue to use and improve such technology.
Kume: From a human resource diversity perspective, we decided to investigate recruiting nursing care staff from other countries in the future following the deregulation of the national Technical Internship Training Program in the nursing care business. We will also consider developing our operations outside Japan, and plan to use such program in the future to train personnel who will play a crucial role in the development of our nursing care business in each country.
Kawakita: It is extremely important for people from diverse cultural backgrounds, including nationality, to have a program that offers training in the workplace. It is also important to work together with specialist organizations to train personnel who can continue to work in nursing care in Japan, and not just to offer language and cultural training. While the high turnover of employees in the nursing care industry is often cited as an issue, very little research and analysis has been conducted into why workers leave the industry or into the trends. I hope you will consider tackling this issue.
Kume: We are aware of the importance of analyzing the cause and will continue to take measures to respond to this issue.
Kawakita: There have been times when it has not been possible to recruit personnel such as after large-scale disasters. There is a tendency for non-regular employees in particular to have to relocate following disasters involving family. Securing childcare is virtually impossible which in turn prevents employees from returning to work. Given this, it is important to think about how to enhance the care and support offered to employees’ families. I have high expectations in Sompo Care Group’s nursing care business.