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DiGiTAL T-SOUL
Vol.
33

Providing Useful, Convenient Functions from Users' Own Smartphones Generalist/PA, a New Form of Work Support for Employees Providing Useful, Convenient Functions from Users' Own Smartphones Generalist/PA, a New Form of Work Support for Employees

Daisuke Yorozu Chief Specialist Engineering Group Human Resource Management Solutions Dept. ICT Solutions Div. Toshiba Digital Solutions Corporation
Daisuke Yorozu Chief Specialist Engineering Group Human Resource Management Solutions Dept. ICT Solutions Div. Toshiba Digital Solutions Corporation

Many companies are now implementing work style reform. Toshiba Digital Solutions offers a variety of solutions that support this work style reform. “Generalist”, Toshiba Human Resource Management Solution with a 23-year track record of commercial use is one of package solutions which have a top-class introduction record in Japanese human resource management solutions. Generalist/WR (Work Style Redesign), released in 2018, provides functions that help solve the work style-related challenges faced by companies, such as improving work environments, increasing employee motivation, and raising productivity and operation efficiency. This article introduces Generalist/PA, a solution developed based on the Generalist/WR concept, the provides support for individual employees' work.

Improving employee satisfaction is vital to implementing work style reform

The Japanese government is promoting the reform of work styles. According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, it "seeks to realize a society in which people can select from diverse work cycles based on their individual circumstances, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution and providing each and every working person with brighter future prospects." To achieve this goal, companies are employing various measures.

However, in the "2018 9th Study of 1,000 Business People (Work Style Reform and Side Occupations)," issued by the Japan Management Association in February 2019, just under 70% of surveyed working people replied that they did not feel that actual work style reform progress had been made. Toshiba Digital Solutions believes that this is because the measures introduced by these companies do not contribute to greater satisfaction or motivation for individual employees.

However, due to the impact of COVID-19, employee mentality is expected to change significantly from 2020 onwards.

Furthermore, according to the State of the Global Workplace 2017 study, a study of employee engagement that covers companies throughout the world conducted by Gallup, a major U.S. research firm, 6% of Japanese employees are “Engaged”, putting it in almost last place, at 132 out of 139 countries. 71% of Japanese employees were classified as "Not engaged," and 23% were found to be "Actively disengaged."

In economics, the Pareto principle, named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, states that a small number of causes account for the vast majority of results. This is also known as the "80/20 rule" or the "20% rule". An example of the principle is that the top 20% of products account for 80% of sales.

Applying this principle to the aforementioned engagement study, some of the employees in the "Not engaged" category must have the desire to accomplish more in their work. Work style reform is an important element in reaching these employees. A Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare study*, as well, reported that "in management, it is important to place emphasis on both employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction," and "a large percentage of companies with high personnel target achievement rates have increasing operating income margins." It appears that employee satisfaction is tied to improved corporate performance.

*Source: 
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare "Report on the 2015 Study Project Related to Situation Analysis for Use in the Implementation of Future Employment Policy"
(https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/houdou/0000127983.html[Japanese])

What "personally useful" functions does Generalist/PA offer?

One of our "Generalist" human resource management solutions is "Generalist/WR", a work style reform support solution based on the Work Style Redesign (WR) concept (Fig. 1).

図1 Generalistの特長

Within Generalist/WR, tools are being developed from the perspectives of "work styles," "motivation," and "productivity improvement."
These tools are interconnected, like gears, and can be used to effectively provide support for the solving of the employee work and work style reform challenges faced by companies.

Generalist/PA (Personal Assistance) is one of those tools, providing support for the work of individual employees. It is a smartphone app that supports new work styles for individual employees through "personally useful" functions that contribute to greater employee satisfaction. The followings introduce the app's functions and what it can do.

The first is the function makes it easier to utilize telework. The number of companies using telework as a work style reform measure is on the rise. Telework is a welcome measure among employees seeking more flexible, diverse work styles, improving their motivation. However, to promote its usage, it must be simple and convenient to manage subordinates using telework, as well as to inform superiors of telework start and end times.

Generalist/PA solves these telework issues. For example, it can be coordinated with Microsoft Outlook or Office365 schedulers. If "telework" plans are entered in the scheduler in advance, all employees need to do is just click on Generalist/PA screen on their smartphone when starting or ending work. Stopping and restarting telework can also be registered with a single click. Of course, there is no need to notify superiors or team members by mail or other methods. Generalist/PA can also be linked to Microsoft's collaboration tool, "Microsoft Teams," making it possible to check the status of employees using telework via Teams. Also, as necessary, positioning information received from the smartphone's GPS* can be used to prove the working location.

*GPS: 
Global Positioning System

The second is the function intended to help employees learn about their own work styles and improve their own productivity. As described previously, roughly 20% of employees are believed to want to accomplish things in their work. These employees are distributed among the 6% that are classified as "Engaged" and the 71% that are classified as "Not engaged." For them to discover more rewarding work styles, it is important that they first learn about how they themselves work.

Generalist/PA makes it easy for employees to register whether they've completed their individual plans as scheduled. Not only can they check the status of their daily plans and completed tasks, but they can also use the dashboard function to see a graph of their monthly plans and results. This visualization of their own work styles makes it easier for them to determine how much time each plan took, which provides opportunities to review the feasibility of individual plans and helps them improve their own productivity (Fig. 2).

図2 働き方改革支援ソリューション「Generalist/PA」

Integrated analysis of the degree of worker's concentration by viewing work place and work style through the glass lens of JINS MEME

Another measure for improving personal and team productivity is Generalist/PA's integration with JINS MEME. These wearable eyewear devices from JINS Inc. measure their wearers' concentration levels. Employees can use this solution to objectively assess their own concentration in relation to work contents and hours. It can provide an opportunity for employees to review their own work styles. For example, they could schedule important work requiring intense concentration during the times of day when their concentration levels are at their highest and schedule breaks and communications with others during lower concentration times, creating clear and distinct work styles.

It also makes it possible to determine the concentration levels of team members in real time, so team members can be more mutually conscientious in their communications, such as not approaching team members that are deep in concentration. What's more, it can be combined with business intelligence (BI) tools to visualize high concentration times of individual employees and entire organizations in graphs. This helps with the identification of personal and organization-level work style trends.

Concentration can be used as one index of work style reform measures, and it can also assist organizations with analyzing work style trends and making improvements. In the future, it will also likely be used in the analysis of employee motivation. In other words, it holds tremendous potential for improving team capabilities and results.

Generalist/PA has many other useful functions. One of these, for example, is its system for promoting the taking of leave. At the end of a day's work, if there are no plans for the following day, it displays the message "There are no plans for tomorrow" along with a "Take leave" link to promote the taking of leave. If leave is taken using this function, it is automatically registered in the scheduler and submitted to Teams. This system promotes the taking of leave among individuals and, in companies, fosters an organization culture in which it is easy to take leave.

When holding meetings and events, as well, employees can select the members whose schedules they would like to reserve and check when they have open schedule. Generalist/PA provides the open schedule of all members and offers a function for directly schedule meetings and another function for assigning tasks to schedules.

Making employees' lives richer with the kitekite portal

We are now developing "kitekite," a Generalist portal web service that contributes to improved employee satisfaction. This portal will enrich employees' lives by introducing various useful services based on their current conditions. Accessing kitekite enables employees to easily obtain various information on topics such as parenting support, health, pet services, self-improvement, side business, social contributions, and the like.

Normally, users of these services must enter their personal information, but some of the services introduced through kitekite are linked via kitekite to personnel systems, and can be used immediately. The kitekite portal can also be used during downtime at work.

Of course, it also provides benefits to the companies that have deployed it. The first benefit is that it makes it easy to expand the services available to employees. This has the potential to improve employee satisfaction and increase the number of applicants wishing to be hired by the company. The second benefit is that it enables benefits to be expanded while saving labor. The third benefit is that services are added on a rolling basis, so the company can provide the latest, optimal services without any additional burden.

Creating environments that foster motivation in each and every employee

Work style reform measures are intended to solve issues facing entire companies, but their true objective is to create workplace environments which foster motivation in each and every employee. In other words, it is important that employees take the driver's seat in work style reform. Solutions that support individual employees and create inviting workplaces are essential to achieving this.
As a solution supporting work style reform, Generalist/WR provides Generalist/PA, a tool that improves the convenience of new work styles of individual employees. We next plan to release tools focused on motivation and productivity improvement.

In the future, we will further develop Generalist to meet the needs of employees while offering them greater convenience, contribute to corporate work style reform, and provide support for greater employee satisfaction and motivation.

The corporate names, organization names, job titles and other names and titles appearing in this article are those as of June 2020.