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The health management initiatives of Fuji Electric
where the safety and health of workers is a top priority
where the safety and health of workers is a top priority
Published in October 2023. Affiliations and responsibilities are as of the time of the interview.
With the arrival of the 100-year lifespan and the decrease in the working population, it is safe to say that implementing health management is an indispensable initiative for companies, considering the future of society. It is important for all human resources to approach work with great energy without feeling anxious about health. Workers’ well-being is the driving force that leads to the sustainable growth of companies. Here, we are focusing on the health management initiatives promoted by Fuji Electric.
Addressing the workplace environment is essential for lifestyle improvement
We view workers’ health management as a management priority and aim to improve workers’ well-being and the company’s productivity. The concept of health management was advocated in the U.S. in the 1990s. It then spread to the rest of the world and became common practice in Japan as well. However, this is not a recent issue. Cancer, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease, the three major lifestyle-related diseases, have long plagued businesses and health insurance associations because they cause death and long-term treatment in people in the prime of their working lives, resulting in increased healthcare costs. Noritada Kato, General Manager, Health Management Center, explains his point of view as an industrial physician as follows.
“Lifestyles have a deep connection to the increasingly concerning issue of mental health problems. There is a limit to the effort individuals can make to improve these habits. If a person is told to cut back on alcohol, they may succumb to the temptation, and if they are told that they need a break, this may be difficult in some cases because of how much they prioritize work. The reason health management is so important is that lifestyles are strongly affected by organizations and society. In addition to increasing the awareness of individuals, addressing the workplace environment is also considered critical.”
Management works on enhancing the workplace environment so that employees can improve their lifestyles. Not only does this improve the well-being of individuals, but it also increases their productivity and performance and eventually creates a significant impact on corporate value, for example, by raising the company’s stock price and adding to the distinctiveness of the employer brand.
“Implementing health management is an investment for companies. Top management has to set out a clear message inside and outside the company and take action on their own initiative. In addition, they need to arrange meetings that bring together the Human Resources and General Affairs Department, the Health Management Center, and health insurance associations, and take a bottom-up approach, enabling on-site employees—the stakeholders—to share various opinions and efforts. Then, they need to set target values and go through the PDCA cycle. I believe that the key to success lies in the ability to build an effective system.” (Kato)
Health management starts with a unique company culture
Health management at Fuji Electric did not start with jumping on the bandwagon, nor was it solely driven by company profits. Since more than 30 years ago, Fuji Electric has been holding the Industrial Physician Conference, where industrial physicians and industrial healthcare workers gather from across the entire company. As everyone exchanges opinions from their perspective, we have established and developed various frameworks for health and safety. These frameworks include how health checkups should be in accordance with laws, the social landscape, and employee health issues. They also encompass infection prevention as well as reinstatement support programs for employees with mental health issues. In addition, Fuji Electric had a significantly strong awareness of health management. For example, they carried out health promotion and safety initiatives in each manufacturing base and branch office. Hisashi Kurita, Senior Manager, Safety & Health Department, asserts that Fuji Electric’s company culture had a significant impact on the background behind this.
“The first item in the Fuji Electric Code of Conduct states, ‘Respect and value all people.’ This guides Fuji Electric and its employees’ decision-making and actions, and it is the most distinctive feature that forms our culture and climate. This concept is embodied in Fuji Electric’s fundamental safety and health principle, ‘Putting top priority on employee health and safety.’ Implementing health management isn’t a new temporary initiative that we have just started. It is a matter of course for us to implement high-quality safety and health activities so that we can create a safe and comfortable workplace environment, eliminate occupational injuries, and prevent physical and mental illnesses. All these initiatives are taken in an effort to ‘Respect and value all personnel who play an active role in Fuji Electric.’”
Fuji Electric integrated the structures that they had implemented in each office for health promotion initiatives and established the Company-Wide Health Promotion Structure in FY 2018. We have organized a company-wide health management committee and subordinate organizations consisting of members of the company-wide health promotion meeting. Through activities based on policies and common measures that are unified across the company, the committee promotes measures to prevent illness and exacerbations among our employees. A key feature of the committee is that the Health and Safety Department, industrial physicians and healthcare staff, health insurance associations, and the departments responsible for planning the system for work rules, etc., work together as an integrated team. Establishing this committee has helped spread awareness for health promotion in small-scale branches with no resident industrial physicians. Furthermore, the committee shares the success stories of each branch to promote horizontal development, creating a virtuous cycle.
“In the past, we used to take a detail-oriented approach that focused on the efforts of medical staff, employees, and offices separately. However, since 2018, we have been able to make company-wide efforts that involved people in various positions. We are able to take a big-picture approach, which includes enhancing the workplace environment based on company-wide policies and targets. I believe that this reform will prove very helpful for the medical staff who have always worked hard to contribute to healthcare promotion in Fuji Electric.” (Kurita)
Fuji Electric’s one-of-a-kind support provides protection and assistance
Fuji Electric utilizes certain data to identify health issues and risks in the company and explore and evaluate measures. This data includes health insurance associations’ medical cost and health checkup data analysis reports and stress check results, which serve as indicators for mental health measures. One highlight is the health management statistics that the Industrial Physician Conference has been independently producing for 30 years. Fuji Electric’s proprietary data that was gathered over the years while adapting the research items to align with the times is compiled in these statistics. The abundant knowledge accumulated in these statistics is proof of Fuji Electric’s sincere commitment to consider and protect the safety and health of employees. In fact, measures like closing indoor smoking areas have led to a decline in smoking on-site. In addition, implementing rules that actively encourage employees with severe diabetes or severe hypertension to seek medical examination has established a system that ensures untreated individuals are not neglected, effectively preventing exacerbations. Tomoe Tokubuchi, Public Health Nurse, Health Management Center, explains the key features of Fuji Electric’s initiatives as follows.
“Fuji Electric’s health promotion has two main themes: Enhancing employees’ self-care skills to enable them to work energetically for a long time, and creating a culture that makes it easy to engage in health promotion. Changing lifestyles means changing a person’s concepts and actions. Therefore, it is important to implement the two-pronged approach of communicating with each employee and enhancing the environment. Just explaining the risks and giving reminders will change a person’s actions.”
Walking step by step with each employee and enhancing the environment for health promotion naturally changes their awareness and improves their lifestyle. This style that focuses on watching over and supporting employees is unique to Fuji Electric, which respects and values all personnel. In addition, Fuji Electric is actively working on initiatives where employees can practice self-care while having fun, such as virtual walking events using apps. Furthermore, Fuji Electric offers company-wide physical and mental health education through e-learning to over 20,000 participants, including individuals from various group companies.
“This is the fifth year we have provided the physical and mental health education introduced in FY 2019. Our main focus was to make it as easy and simple as possible to learn about health promotion. We repeated trial and error to create its content. We have also introduced mental health education for executives since last year in an effort to strengthen mental health measures. By caring for each member, we hope that executives themselves pay attention to health so that the entire company can become healthy.”
This endeavor brings happiness to people’s lives
Respecting and valuing people more than anything. Creating an environment where all human resources work with great energy. These initiatives that started from a place of care for people have achieved concrete results. There was of course improvement in the numbers, but the most significant achievement was the smile on each employee’s face. Some employees were able to return to work despite their illness. Others succeeded in quitting smoking thanks to the support they received. The words of gratitude from these people are the driving force that motivates the members.
“The reason being an industrial physician is so rewarding is the ability to walk step by step with each employee to guide them. Walking with them and engaging in health promotion together results in their happiness. There is no greater joy than that. Practicing health management while effectively incorporating the opinions of on-site staff and the knowledge of experts under top management’s policy is one of Fuji Electric’s key strengths. In the future, we hope to continue supporting all employees while constantly keeping up with global trends.” (Kato)
“We will continue to provide support for health maintenance and improvement in accordance with each person’s life cycle. We want employees to lead a fulfilling company life by creating a system and an environment that enable them to work with great health and energy. We also want them to be healthy when they reach retirement and enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life after retirement. This is my motivation for taking part in these initiatives. Contributing to the happiness of employees is my greatest source of joy.” (Tokubuchi)
“Thanks to these initiatives, numbers related to health continue to improve year after year. However, we will never stop adding new goals for this theme. Fuji Electric’s health management is still a work in progress. Our next challenge is health promotion for those in their 50s. This is the largest age group in society, and management-tier personnel are usually from this group. According to experts, people’s well-being in their 50s determines their health in the future. I would like to keep taking on endeavors that lead to the well-being of employees by respecting and valuing all people as stated in the Code of Conduct.” (Kurita)
Contribution to SDGs
Fuji Electric states in its Code of Conduct, “Respect and value all people,” to prioritize the health and safety of employees and create an efficient and comfortable workplace environment. Health management aims to improve the well-being of employees and the productivity of the company, and therefore, it contributes to our SDG target, “8. Decent Work and Economic Growth.” Furthermore, our initiatives to provide support for health maintenance and improvement in accordance with each person’s life cycle are also connected to the SDG target, “3. Good health and well-being.”