Efforts to Improve Workplace Culture and Motivation

Next Forum Initiatives

Next Forum Initiatives

The Next Forum is a company meeting for employees and management to directly discuss, exchange opinions on, and make proposals about company-wide issues with the aim of co-creating a better company. Meetings are held twice a year, and forum members (a total of 110 persons from all 57 departments) selected from each department gather opinions from the workplace and directly communicate with management. In FY2020, meetings were held online in September 2020 and February 2021 as a precaution against COVID-19.
Drawing on input gleaned via dialogues at the Next Forum, a number of initiatives are being implemented to improve company- wide issues. In this way, we are reflecting employee voices in company-wide activities. Going forward, we will continuously strive to enable all employees to achieve growth and self-actualization through work at the Company and maintain a consistent feeling of engagement and pride.

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Overview of the Next Forum in February 2021
  • Session 1: Answer session (all attendees)
  • Management and departmental representatives provided answers to suggestions and questions from forum members. The content of these exchanges was then addressed through dialogue involving all attendees.
  • Examples of suggestion topics: Management philosophy, career development, the mode of online communication, etc.
  • Session 2: Exchange of opinions (small-group discussion)
    • Attendees were divided into smaller groups by job category to engage in the in-depth exchange of opinions.
  • Examples of feedback from attendees: “These sessions helped me better understand where Idemitsu stands thanks to clear explanations on its future policies and the provision of robust answers to employee questions.” “At this round, attendees were given a longer time for dialogue with management compared with previous rounds.”
出光興産, DFF Inc.

PDCA Cycle Based on an Employee Engagement Survey

We conduct an employee engagement survey once a year to quantitatively and continuously analyze employees’ engagement, mutual trust, and unity. The results of the survey are fed back to management and all employees. Then they are analyzed in detail, and specific action plans are formulated and implemented based on it. The results of these analyses and plans are then confirmed in the next year’s survey. This is the PDCA cycle.
Company-wide management issues identified in the surveys are discussed by management and employees at the Next Forum. This was the motivation for launching the following company-wide projects: the DTK Project and the reform of workstyles at manufacturing sites. Moreover, input gleaned from the surveys and via dialogue at the Next Forum included employee ideas that led to the April 2021 codification of our management philosophy. In addition, regarding departmental management issues, in each department, the general manager and other managers formulate action plans to address these issues, reflect them in the next fiscal year’s policies, and promote and monitor the plans in daily tasks, thereby conducting the PDCA cycles.

Overview of FY2021 employee engagement survey
  • Survey period: Late July 2021–early August
  • Scope: A total of 11,896 people at Idemitsu and 29 affiliates and subsidiaries
  • Response rate: 95.7%
  • Features of the FY2020 survey: Newly incorporated questions regarding the respondent’s degree of empathy for and support of the management philosophy and corporate vision for 2030 as well as questions regarding the relationship between spare time discovered through the streamlining of operational processes and improvement in productivity
  • * Results below are for Idemitsu (non-consolidated)
Percentage of employees who reported that they have enthusiasm to work in this company
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Engagement, Mutual Trust, and Unity scores by age group
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I am able to do my job in new workstyles.
  • * New category of questions
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Number of freeform comments
Over 50% of all employee responses included freeform comments, an unusually high percentage, representing the heightened awareness of employees regarding this survey.。
出光興産, DFF Inc.

Efforts to Improve Workplace Culture and Engagement

  1. Creating a space for direct communication between management and employees

    We expanded the space for direct communication between management and employees by holding townhall meetings* and dialogue with Board members. Therefore, the top management category of the survey rose 9% year on year, and there was a 7% year-on-year improvement in positive responses to the statement: “Top management explains the background and reasons for major agenda items to employees in an easy-to-understand way.”

    • * A place for management and employees where management directly explains medium-term management plans, financial standing, business policies, and so on
  2. Enhancing operational efficiency

    Operational efficiency improved and operations were streamlined due to the DTK Project, decision making was sped up due to the construction of a flat organization, and each specific measure related to reforming workstyles was promoted company-wide. As a result, we achieved a 3% increase in positive responses year on year to the item: “work content and method: operational efficiency.” We also achieved a 6% increase for a working environment item (IT equipment). In addition, there was a huge improvement in the form of a 20% year-on-year increase in the response to the statement: “The company is trying to achieve a digital transformation.”

  3. Practicing D&I

    By taking measures to support work-life balance and achieve new workstyles and by holding Teams lunch subcommittees for employees raising children, the positive responses from female employees rose in all categories.

  4. Taking measures to enhance the engagement of young employees (20s and 30s)

    Because young employees indicated a relatively low level of engagement in the previous fiscal year, we implemented career-related measures, strengthened subordinate management and communication through 360-degree management evaluations, and promoted workstyle reforms at manufacturing sites and, as a result, registered major improvements in almost all categories in terms of absolute values.

  5. Promoting new workstyles

    We achieved 70% positive responses to the introduction of new workstyles (promoting working from home, using online meetings, etc.)

出光興産, DFF Inc.

Examples of Initiatives to Address Issues Identified via the FY2020 Employee Engagement Survey

Using the PDCA cycle shown in the diagram at right, we identified five key company-wide issues from among issues identified based on results of the FY2020 employee engagement survey. Following the exchange of opinions at the Next Forum between management and attendees, we launched various measures aimed at addressing these issues. In addition to promoting these measures, we will monitor their effectiveness via the FY2021 employee engagement survey. By doing so, we will brush up these measures while considering our next move.

The PDCA Cycle for Improving the Workplace Culture and Employee Engagement
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Five Key Issues Identified via the FY2020 Employee Engagement Survey and Primary Measures to Address These Issues
Five Issues Measures Being Undertaken
Understanding of the Corporate Vision and the Medium-term Management Plan as well as their relationships with the respondent’s own job role
  • Ongoing enhancement of direct communication opportunities for management and employees and the provision of opportunities for employees to be involved in business management (townhall meetings and round-table sessions attended by officers)
  • Codification of the management philosophy
  • The direct issuance of messages from management regarding the Medium-term Management Plan, corporate vision for 2030, the structural reform project and other forward-looking strategies
  • Robust explanations provided by management regarding the background of and concepts supporting measures as well as other efforts to ensure clear understanding among employees
Views on Idemitsu’s future and its direction regarding new business initiatives
Whether company-wide measures are firmly implemented and whether tangible changes in employee behavior are felt
Regarding measures to assist individual employees in their independent career development efforts, whether counseling opportunities and assistance tools are sufficiently provided
  • Improvement of communication between supervisors and their staff (one-on-one meetings, management skill enhancement training, etc.)
  • Introduction of a new evaluation program (ranking program)
  • Implementation of various career development assistance measures (rank-based career development training, mentoring program, etc.)
  • Establishment of the Life-Career Support Center
Relationship between novel workstyles, operational streamlining and improvement in productivity and added value
  • Development of a working environment that embraces diverse value systems and lifestyles (the revision of personnel programs and the development of online tools)
  • Organizational reforms (the simplification of ranking structure to enable speedier decision making, the delegation of authority and the optimization of the breadth of control)
  • Upgrading of the DTK and DX activities along with horizontally rolling out these activities
出光興産, DFF Inc.

The Second Next Forum

On July 19, 2019, the Second Next Forum was held. This was the first Forum since the Idemitsu Kosan and Showa Shell managerial integration. 78 Forum Members from 55 bases nationwide and 14 senior managers, including President Kito, participated in the meeting.

Part 1
  • Message from President Kito
    The President talked enthusiastically about the purpose of the Forum, the past initiatives and the aim of newly launched projects, and his expectations for future initiatives.
  • Explanations about the initiative derived from priority tasks, which were identified at the first Next Forum
    Feedback consisting of about 2,600 opinions collected from workplaces through Forum Members in advance was given to the departments in charge before the Forum took place. It was also reflected in the explanations on the day of the Forum.
Part 2
  • Sitting in a circle in their teams, participants discussed factors (communication and corporate culture) that hindered efforts for greater operational efficiency.
    • * Ten teams discussed true factors and measures to overcome them in depth, and in a plenary session, they presented the results of their discussions.
  • Vice President Okada’s Closing Speech
    Top management took the Forum discussion into account hoped the Forum Members, as promoters, would convey details of the discussions to their respective workplaces.
出光興産, DFF Inc.

The 3rd Next Forum

On March 19, 2020, we held the 3rd Next Forum. To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, we quickly changed venues from Daiba Office to an online meeting through Microsoft Teams. A total of 143 people participated, including President Shunichi Kito, Executive Officer Tomonori Okada, and Corporate Sustainability Department General Manager Michiyo Terakami as well as 97 forum committee members and executive officers from 54 departments nationwide. This  was Idemitsu’s first attempt at such a large Teams meeting. Over half of the participants joined from home, giving many people an opportunity to see firsthand the usefulness of implementing new work style reforms.

After receiving the results of the job satisfaction survey conducted in summer 2019, we uncovered a total of 129 companywide issues from each workplace among 55 departments by December. We thoroughly discussed these issues between late January and mid-February through seven committee member pre-meetings joined by a running total of 112 forum committee members. As a result, we sorted the issues into six categories; organized them into background information, ideals, and wants; and presented the list to the management team in advance of their meeting. On that day, President Shunichi Kito directly provided answers, and so did each department, including the Human Resources Department and Manufacturing & Technology Department. In addition, the forum committee members, department general managers, and management-level employees in charge of human resources worked together to begin solving the issues in their respective departments. The Advanced Technology Research Laboratories formulated a 10-year vision and introduced case studies of Kansai Branch and other branches as well as their COMPATH activities* they routinely undertake to implement PDCA cycles for reforming the workplace culture and training personnel.

  • * COMPATH activities establish practical measures by carefully assessing the gap between ideals and current circumstances in order to formulate specific action plans from the perspective of fostering a work culture.
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出光興産, DFF Inc.