Social Issues addressed by Sumitomo —Compass for the Future—
Health & productivity management, including mental health measures, is enhancing employee engagement and wellbeing
People constitute the backbone of every enterprise. If employee health is compromised, value creation is impeded. Hence, health & productivity management has become the focus of ever-greater interest in recent years.
Convinced that employee safety and health is central to management and can be leveraged as a source of corporate value, the Meiden Group, with Meidensha at its core, is implementing various health management initiatives. A distinctive feature of the company’s health & productivity management is the attention paid to measures supportive of employee mental health. Actions linked to health & productivity management initiatives are incorporated in the ISO 45001 process that covers occupational health and safety management systems.
The history of Meidensha’s engagement with mental health goes back to 1957. At a time when employee mental health was scarcely on the corporate radar, one Meidensha factory already had a counselling room where employees experiencing difficulties at work, including those with a psychological dimension, could receive support leading to workplace improvement centering on employee wellbeing.
Nowadays, in Japan where population aging combined with a low birthrate poses challenges, there is widespread recognition in the private sector that human resources are precious assets and companies increasingly prioritize measures supporting employee physical and mental health. Following the issuing of the Meiden Group Health and Management Policy Statement in April 2019, Meidensha launched full-scale health & productivity management.
Meidensha began preparations for this declaration in 2018. Referring to the requirements for certification under the Certified Health & Productivity Management Outstanding Organizations Recognition Program of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the company identified what must and should be done for effective health & productivity management. Meidensha’s president exercised strong leadership in this matter.
A principle informing the Meiden Group Health and Management Policy Statement is that employee physical and mental health is a precondition for fulfillment of the Meiden Group’s corporate philosophy of “Illuminating a more affluent tomorrow.” Accordingly, the Group provides organizational support for the health of each individual. In this statement, the Group clarifies its five key initiatives: 1) promote work style reform, 2) improve the health awareness and health literacy of each employee, 3) enhance the mental health promotion system, 4) prevent impairment of health due to smoking, 5) promote health examinations, health advice, and other support for the prevention and treatment of health issues.
Meidensha has integrated various health & productivity management activities with the ISO 45001 process, applying a PDCA cycle to enhance their effectiveness. The Collaborative Health Committee—established with a membership consisting of the president and the executive officer in charge of occupational health and safety and health control, representatives of occupational health and safety and HR departments, industrial health professionals, and representatives of the labor union and the health insurance association—formulated the President’s Health and Management Policy. The company determined Smart Challenge Meiden 5, comprising specific actions to be taken corresponding to the five key initiatives of the Group’s health & productivity management, including it among the ISO 45001 goals.
Smart Challenge Meiden 5 consists of five health promotion programs: 1) quitting smoking, 2) under 39 (health guidance for younger generations), 3) over 40 (health guidance for the middle aged), 4) cancer countermeasures, and 5) mental health. Subcommittees established under the Collaborative Health Committee rolled out these programs in the second half of fiscal 2019.
For example, obese people aged 40 and over are subject to specific health guidance. Recognizing that quite a few employees in their 30s are tending toward obesity, in the “under 39” program Meidensha started provision of health guidance to such employees via smartphones, launched weight monitoring scheme, and health education in which older employees offer tips for staying healthy. Moreover, to encourage changes in behavior conducive to healthier lifestyles, Meiden Smart Walking events were held in which employees could participate together with family members and friends. Health guidance via smartphones includes an app enabling users to receive dietary advice through the exchange of messages with a nutritionist. Whereas the initial target was to increase the proportion of employees under 40 whose weight is appropriate to the total number of employees under 40 to at least 70% by fiscal 2020, the rate reached 71.9% in fiscal 2019, achieving the target ahead of schedule.
As for smoking countermeasures, Meidensha is encouraging smokers to reduce their consumption by, for example, limiting the number of people who can be in a smoking room at the same time. In the battle against cancer, steps are being taken to facilitate early detection, including the provision of full financial support so that women can avail themselves of cancer screenings free of charge. On the mental health front, organizational systems to address mental health problems are in place enabling employees to seek consultation with ease and without any hint of stigma. As a result, an increasing number of employees quite naturally avail themselves of support and advice when they feel their mental health is negatively affecting their wellbeing. These initiatives were cited in Meidensha’s selection as a 2021 Health and Productivity Management Brand in March 2021 by METI.
The positive impact of promoting health & productivity management is evident in the numbers, such as the rate of implementation of programs on lifestyle disease countermeasures, the program completion rate, and the number of participants in health seminars, in addition to the achievement of the target for the proportion of the employees under 40 whose weight is appropriate. Based on responses to questionnaire surveys, the occupational health and safety department recognizes that employees are increasingly taking ownership of their health, and moreover, that awareness of the importance of promoting health is definitely on the rise across the workforce. With an eye to maximizing effectiveness through a flexible approach, the department intends to update the content of the activities as desirable, including those corresponding the Smart Challenge Meiden 5 priority items, in a timely manner in tune with the trend of the times and in response to employee needs and aspirations.
As the Meiden Group Health and Management Strategy Map shows, enhancement of employee engagement and wellbeing is based on the five key health & productivity management initiatives. Through the cultivation of vibrant workplaces and reducing absence from work due to feeling unwell, the Group aims to create both social and corporate value by contributing to the achievement of a safe and prosperous society and by fulfilling its role as a sustainability partner. To make this aspirational vision an everyday reality, Meidensha is stepping up its concerted efforts to promote health & productivity management.
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