Ways of developing workers' skills

It is not a secret that our world is constantly changing, business strategies are continually developing, and technologies are evolving. So how can your employees keep up with all new knowledge and skills? Here are the ways a few big businesses are doing that:

School for employees at DBS bank 

DBS Bank, a multinational company with headquarters in Singapore, ensures that all 26,000 employees are encouraged to keep learning, no matter their age or seniority. 

DBS launched the “Back to School” program. It is a week-long program full of classes that employees teach. The decision not to hire professional teachers was based on research. It showed that people want to learn from their colleagues.

In addition to “Back to School”, the company launched a program that gives the employees a chance to do a different job. For example, a project manager can become a salesperson for a period of time and develop a very different set of skills.

Diversity and inclusion at work

How diverse is your workplace? And how inclusive is it? While many organizations may feel prepared to answer the first question, the second often causes a bit of confusion. Isn’t it just the same question rephrased?

Rita Mitjans, ADP’s chief diversity and social responsibility officer, explains.

Diversity is the “what”; inclusion is the “how”. Diversity focuses on the makeup of your workforce—demographics such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, etc.—and inclusion is a measure of culture that enables diversity to thrive. People sometimes use these terms interchangeably, but they are quite distinctly different.

So, why is it important to focus on both diversity and inclusion? Again, Rita Mitjans:

Goldman Sachs addresses diversity

Goldman Sachs has instituted a new diversity program based not on quotas but on hard data trends that uncovered why even progressive recruitment out of college hasn’t solved the problem. Women and minorities, it turned out, even when hired at the same rates as their white male counterparts, kept falling out of the pipeline. Attrition was enormous.

According to the data, both populations were more likely to quit than their white male peers and were simultaneously more likely to be replaced by white men moving laterally from another company. Additionally, they were less likely to be promoted and less likely to even be considered for promotion.

New policy on foreign workers

Japan's Cabinet has approved a draft bill that would allow the entry of more foreign blue-collar workers as the country's rapidly aging population faces labor shortages.

The bill is a major revision of Japan's policy on foreign labor. The country has long resisted accepting foreign workers, except for doctors, teachers and others in highly skilled fields. The proposed legislation would create two new visa categories for foreigners employed in more than a dozen sectors facing labor shortages, such as nursing, farming, construction and services.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied that the new policy means Japan is opening its doors to immigrants, to reassure his nationalist supporters. Opponents are concerned about crime and jobs taken away from Japanese, while proponents say foreign workers are indispensable in sectors facing labor shortages.

Japan accepted 20 refugees in 2017

The number of asylum seekers to Japan grew 80 percent to a record 19,628 in 2017--but only 20 were accepted.

Immigration is a controversial subject in Japan, even as the population ages and its workforce shrinks. The government in mid-January 2018 limited the right to work only to those Japan regards as bona fide refugees. As a result, the average daily number of applicants for asylum fell by 50 percent in January as compared to December 2017.

"Twenty people is way too few. Judging from our experience in refugee support, I believe more people should be accepted," said Eri Ishikawa, of the Japan Association for Refugees.

Japan accepted 28 people as refugees in 2016.

Japan's banks are downsizing

Japan’s biggest banks are racing to adapt to changing business conditions amid the shrinking population and spread of online banking.

Many have laid out plans to downsize their workforce and massive network of branches while investing in “fintech”—technological innovation in the financial sector—to streamline their operations and make banking more convenient for their customers.

Mitsubishi UFJ plans to trim 6,000 jobs from the unit’s domestic workforce of 40,000 by the end of fiscal year 2023.

Group CEO Nobuyuki Hirano said he does not foresee layoffs but instead plans to do this “organically” by keeping the number of new hires down as staff taken on in bulk in the run-up to and during the late-1980s asset bubble economy gradually reach the age of retirement.

Amazon workers strike

On one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, Black Friday, thousands of Amazon employees decided it was also a good day to walk off the job. Warehouse workers in several distribution centers in Germany and Italy took the day off to demand higher wages and better treatment. ​

In addition to asking for a pay raise, the German union Ver.di says Amazon needs to vastly improve the “work culture” and stop pushing employees too hard. The Italian Amazon workers that participated in the Black Friday strike said they want “dignified salaries” more in line with their jobs. They gathered outside one distribution center located in Piacenza.

Data security is a real concern

In a global study of IT security architecture, IT practitioners from Japan (79%) and Canada (74%) are the most concerned about millennials in the workplace posing a significant risk to security.

As the world’s first “connected” generation, millennials are hyperactive on their mobile devices, using apps and social media platforms for both personal and professional purposes. 

There are far too many stories of employees saving private information on their laptops and USBs only to have the devices stolen, leaking confidential information out into the world. Business leaders are urged to enforce strategies and policies that ensure all employees are keeping confidential company information safe.

Huawei offers higher salaries

China’s Huawei technologies, the world’s third largest smartphone maker after Apple and Samsung, has announced plans to build new R&D facilities in Chiba, Japan.

This news shows the general trend of Chinese corporations becoming multinationals, but what struck Japanese people is not this news, but other news that Huawei Japan is offering the starting monthly salary of 400,000 Japanese yen.

According to Rikunabi, one of the largest Japanese on-line job search sites, Huawei is offering 401,000 yen for college graduates and 430,000 yen for Masters degree holders.

Age discrimination in South Korea

A startup in South Korea is making headlines for only hiring staff that are aged 55 years and over.

The founder of content monitoring company EverYoung established the rule to prove the futility of age discrimination – a phenomenon that's reportedly prevalent in modern Korean corporate culture.

Employees at EverYoung monitor blog content on Korean web portal Naver and detect sensitive information on Naver Maps, as well as perform other IT tasks, including running coding classes for school students.

The Seoul startup, which has 420 seniors from a variety of career backgrounds working for it, mandates a 10-minute break for every 50 minutes of work, and staff are rostered on four-hour shifts.

Manager Kim Seong-Kyu told ChannelNews Asia that older employees have an attention to detail not as common in the younger workforce, with distracting mobile phones stored away during work time.