Updated on August 23, 2017
Sony aims to provide its employees with dynamic and appealing working environments, an approach that extends tohealth and productivity management, which is critical to both the company and individual employees. To create this kind of environment, it is vital to maintain conditions that enable each employee to work with a sound body and mind far into the future.
In cooperation with Sony Group companies, Sony Corporation's occupational health department carries out a wide range of activities aimed at securing the health of employees worldwide. These include offering regular health counseling sessions, posting health information on the Internet, and encouraging daily exercise.
Measures to prevent lifestyle diseases, limit excessive overtime, and promote mental health have become more important than ever in recent years, as work becomes more complex, evolves with organizational changes, and features an increasingly diverse array of tasks. Employees who work overtime receive personalized guidance from an occupational health physician and follow-up counseling from an occupational health nurse. Managers receive training on mental health issues to encourage early detection and prevention. Sony has also established in-house and outsourced physical and mental health counseling services for employees so that they can discuss any type of concern or problem, include work-related issues, with professionals in a relevant field.
Along with its activities to promote employees' health and manage related risks, Sony implements comprehensive mental health support measures with the aim of helping employees demonstrate their full potential. Sony makes its health counseling services known to employees via email and its internal website, offering them access to counseling in face-to-face sessions or by telephone or email. Employees can receive health counseling from Sony's staff of professionals, seek guidance from managers and human resources personnel, as well as obtain referrals to medical specialists and related information when needed.
Sony provides a mental health training program for various levels of employees and management, including new employees, newly promoted managers, and general managers. In addition, all employees receive self-care education on mental health. Based on the Stress Check System, which was required by a law enforced in December 2015, Sony introduced stress checks in fiscal 2016, conducting both individual interviews with employees and group analysis. Sony's human resources department and occupational health department work together to provide the support for stress management.
In addition, Sony has put a program in place to help employees return to work after taking a leave of absence. In cooperation with an outsourced employee assistance program, Sony offers such employees assistance with readapting to the workplace according to their individual circumstances. Sony also has a mental health program for helping employees cope with unforeseen accidents or disasters, such as a major earthquake. Implemented whenever necessary, the program provides such employees and their families with the assistance they need.
The negative effects of working overtime are a hot topic nowadays, and the Japanese government is taking action to reduce overtime.
In 2001, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan issued a notice detailing criteria for determining cerebrovascular disease and ischemic heart disease, which pointed out the link between overtime work and health problems. Then in February 2002, the Ministry issued comprehensive guidelines for preventing health problems caused by overwork, which were passed into law in April 2006, and measures were then outlined to be taken by business operators.
Japan's Act on the Promotion of Measures to Prevent Death from Overwork, etc., went into force in November 2014, based upon which a cabinet decision set forth the Framework on Measures to Prevent Death from Overwork, etc., on July 24, 2015. On January 20, 2017, the Ministry issued new guidelines regarding measures that employers should take to properly monitor working hours. Additionally, the Japanese government is promoting "work style reforms" aimed at changing labor customs in Japan and improving working conditions. These changes highlight the urgent need to address overtime work through stronger measures.
Ahead of these changes, Sony has been implementing health consultations for employees who work overtime since April 2004, as part of its efforts to address overtime and employee health. Sony is comprehensively dedicated to promoting the health of its employees and preventing health problems.
Preventing lifestyle diseases caused by irregular eating habits, lack of exercise, and other factors is a major challenge for employees working at companies. Sony makes sure that employees undergo various types of medical checkups in accordance with relevant laws in Japan, and then receive personal health advice based on the checkup results, as well as support for visiting specialists at medical institutions if needed. Sony also focuses on counseling and advice on dealing with metabolic syndrome, per Japan's mandated health guidance system.
Sony actively promotes campaigns for encouraging employees group-wide to give up smoking. Having already eliminated separate smoking areas from workplaces, Sony installed e-cigarette permitted areas in 2016. Sony has been gradually reducing the number of smoking rooms, removing cigarette vending machines, and prohibiting the sale of cigarettes on its premises. Meanwhile, Sony encourages its occupational health staff to speak specifically with employees about quitting when giving health guidance. These initiatives have led to a steady decline in the employee smoking rate, which has fallen below 12% at Sony Corporation.
With today's increasing globalization, it is becoming easier than ever for infectious diseases to spread. In recognition of these circumstances, Sony asks its employees to receive vaccinations when necessary if they work in or travel on business to countries at risk. Sony provides safety bulletins and information on infectious diseases on its website for employees taking business trips to keep them aware of risks, and limits business travel as a safety precaution depending on the circumstances. In Japan, if there is an outbreak of a new strain of influenza, tuberculosis, or other illness, Sony cooperates with the government and sets up emergency response teams at each of its divisions in order to respond flexibly while staying ready to implement business continuity plans.
At present, Sony employees and their family members from Japan are stationed in 39 countries worldwide. This is why Sony has established a health management system that ensures that staff transferred abroad or traveling on business can work in safety and good health when they change workplaces. Under the system, these employees and their family members receive medical checkups before leaving Japan, after returning to Japan, and when visiting Japan each year. Sony has set specific items for health checkups for staff transferred abroad, which are more thorough and comprehensive than legally mandated standards. Like employees in Japan, employees transferred abroad receive follow-up support after medical examinations as a means for helping maintain their health on a regular basis. They also receive healthcare education before traveling abroad, get vaccinations, and are provided with information on medical facilities in the areas where they will work if they require ongoing medical treatment. Sony has put measures in place for raising awareness of personal health management, including preventative medicine and risk assessments.