In an era that is rapidly changing due to the adoption of new technologies such as IoT and AI, SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434), as a telecommunications and IT operator, believes it is essential to evolve so it can sustain growth and success. To achieve this, a diversified and talented workforce that works with vigor and enthusiasm is essential. In this interview, Yasuyuki Genda, SoftBank’s Head of Human Resources, spoke about how HR policies are being implemented to advance SoftBank’s strategy while fostering employee growth.
Vice President, Head of HR Division, also:
- Head of General Affairs Division
- Senior Director of Well-being Promotion Office
Genda joined SoftBank in 1998. After initially working in sales, he took on HR roles starting in 2008. He serves as a Director at a number of group companies–SB Atwork Corp., SB Innoventure Corp., and SB Engineering Corp.–while also serving as secretary general of the Masason Foundation.
Revisiting HR Policy after eight years
SoftBank has a variety of HR measures underpinned by an overarching HR Policy. Could you tell us more about this policy?
At SoftBank, our mission at HR is to connect "people" and "business," and to realize the growth of both. We believe that HR should clearly state and position its role, and its connection between the company and its employees. So in 2015 we established an HR Policy to articulate this.
For SoftBank to grow as a corporate group, it must continue to thrive without falling into the “big company disease" trap. So our role at HR is to create a dynamic environment, and our HR policy forms the core of our measures to generate a vibrant energy at SoftBank.
You revised the HR Policy this year. Why did you do this?
We didn’t think it was outdated or mistaken, but in the HR Policy established in 2015, we clearly stated three criteria for evaluation: 1) building a winning organization, 2) providing opportunities to those who challenge themselves, and 3) rewarding employees for results. I think HR’s expectations of employees were made very clear.
However, the Japanese government made 2022 the "first year of human capital," and human capital disclosures became mandatory. Changes in the work environment, such as the spread of remote work, changes in perceptions toward work, and the acceleration of technology utilization due to the pandemic also brought changes to the relationship between companies and employees.
Considering these changes in the work environment, and other changes such as the different values held by Generation Z, who tend to dislike hierarchical relationships and value self-realization and social contributions, we thought it would be best to change the expressions and nuances of our HR Policy so employees can more easily understand and identify with it.
Views of wide range of employees reflected in revised HR Policy
What were you mindful of when formulating the new HR Policy?
We were conscious of making the policy relevant to people with different values, including the younger generation that will carry SoftBank forward into the future.
So instead of deciding on the policy changes with a small group of managers, all members, including young employees, put forth ideas and we had numerous discussions to refine the wording to make it easier to understand.
In the process of finalizing it, we conducted a survey of nearly 700 employees, including salespeople and engineers, not just within HR. From start to finish, it took about six months to complete the new HR Policy.
Fostering an environment that promotes self-growth
The new HR Policy added a new item on diversity. Can you tell us about this?
We haven’t changed the essential content of the three pillars of the original HR Policy, but we added a new item: create an environment where a diverse workforce can thrive. We also believe that employee health is an important management resource, and that employee well-being correlates with better business performance and company growth.
I think it will become increasingly important to foster an environment where employees can grow and maximize their abilities. From a generation gap perspective, society is moving toward accepting a diverse set of values and leadership, not uniform values. We added this fourth item on diversity to show that SoftBank is also aiming to realize this kind of world.
So you made changes to the existing pillars based on changing generational values and the relationship between employer and employee.
Yes, we mostly made changes to expressions and nuances. For example, in the previous version SoftBank was referred to as "an organization that continues to win” and this was changed to "an organization that continues to evolve.” Of course, focusing on being number one and winning is a crucial part of SoftBank's DNA. However, from the perspective of younger generations, it's unclear who we are competing against and what we are actually winning. Considering that we’re a company that promotes synergies across its group companies, we changed the expression to focus on the development of our own company rather than competing against others. The gist is that SoftBank is continuing to grow and develop in a constructive fashion.
It's important that the growth of individual employees is linked to the growth of the company, and that the development of the company leads to the growth of each employee. So we changed company-centric expressions to reflect an equal relationship between the company and its employees.
As the Head of Human Resources, what are your aspirations for the future?
First and foremost, I want to create an environment where our employees can be healthy, both physically and mentally. Moreover, I’d like to foster an environment within SoftBank where there are ample opportunities for growth so employees can take on challenges for their own self-development. This means creating spaces where there are opportunities for everyone, regardless of gender, age and nationality, so our diverse range of talented employees can grow in their own ways. As someone in charge of HR, I feel strongly about this.
Of course, as societal values diversify and evolve, so do the demands of the companies and customers. Amid such changes, to ensure future growth, a company needs to have mechanisms and organizational structures that enable decision-making that reflects the values and views of various people.
I'm repeating myself, but the mission of SoftBank HR is to connect people with the business and realize the growth of both. With our HR Policy at the core of what we do, I’m always conscious of how business strategy is intertwined with employee growth, and our role at HR is to help ensure that SoftBank continues to evolve as a corporate group.
(Posted on August 16, 2023, Original article posted on August 1, 2023)
by SoftBank News Editors