Business / Corporate

Mitsubishi Electric to reward workers for efficiency, not long hours

Kyodo

Mitsubishi Electric Corp. will begin rewarding employees who work efficiently and cut down on hours, a rare move in a country where staying at the office late into the night remains common.

Takeshi Sugiyama, who was promoted to president and CEO of the electronics maker this month, said Wednesday that starting with this year’s summer bonuses, productivity has been added to the list of items included in employee evaluations.

“Placing importance on working long hours is outdated,” he said. He did not specify how the metric is being applied.

The move comes amid a push by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to boost productivity to compensate for the country’s rapidly shrinking population.

According to government data, the population has been in decline since peaking in 2008 at 128.08 million. The figure is projected to fall to half that by 2095, leading to concern that there will not be enough working hands to support the economy.

High-profile cases of death by overwork, including the 2015 suicide of a 24-year-old woman at advertising giant Dentsu Inc., have also led to soul-searching about a work culture that values putting in long hours.

In January last year, the labor ministry referred Mitsubishi Electric to prosecutors on suspicion of forcing excessive overtime on a male employee who subsequently became mentally ill and was laid off.