We had been contacted by a number of regional HR Heads to check on what Japan HR Leaders are currently doing to ensure employee safety as well as business continuity, so that initial best practices can be shared during this critical time. We asked our network of HR Leaders to only respond to our questions if they had time, since their first priority should be to look after their own employees.

However many were still able to respond and give answers to the following questions:

  1. Are there any counseling services available for Post Traumatic Stress? Please let me know if you are using any external counseling or coaching services that you would recommend.
  2. Are there any other general Employee Assistance service providers? Please let me know of any contacts that I can share.
  3. Are you temporarily repatriating your expat staff so that they can work remotely from their home countries? Many Global HR Leaders are unsure what to do about the requests they have been receiving from their non-Japanese staff.
  4. Are you asking all employees who can to work remotely from home? We’re hearing about some problems with business continuity at the moment, as well as the unnecessary strain on transport, power and other resources.
  5. Are you already making any contingency emergency procedures for further disruptions, including any possible problems connected to the nuclear facilities in Fukushima?
  6. Are there any other emergency procedures that you would be able to share? Please let me know if there’s any else that you’ve successfully put into place.

The replies that we received do not paint a uniform picture, but we hope that sharing this information will still be useful to all those people currently involved in the on-going management of employee safety in Japan.

Please see the answers overleaf. We asked respondents to be as open as possible, and we have edited the responses to ensure that there are no potential breaches of company confidentiality.

1) Are there any counseling services available for Post Traumatic Stress? Please let me know if you are using any external counseling or coaching services that you would recommend.

  • No, and I think this is not our culture.
  • We do not have any particular physician. please recommend to visit their house doctors first and get a referral.
  • We are doing this in-house.
  • Our company has its own ESP service.
  • Yes, we use http://www.jes.ne.jp.
  • Yes, we get that through our EAP provider. Their name is Hoken Dojin Sha.
  • Yes, we use http://www.medical-tt.co.jp.
  • Hoken Dojinsha is affiliated our EAP vendor. They are providing counselling services.
  • Tokio Marine & Nichido Medical Service seems to be able to offer this.
  • In Tokyo, the local public government will provide this by request.
  • The best is to ask Company doctor. Every company with 100 or more employees is required to contract a company doctor, so they should be able to refer. Health Insurance and Benefit outsourcing companies should also offer this service.
  • We have our own Occupational Health Doctor that comes a couple times a month, and he helps with such issues as well.
  • Yes, we use http://www.safetynet.co.jp.
  • Yes, we use http://www.doctor-trust.jp.
  • Yes, we use http://www.MD.net.
  • Yes, we use www.peacemind.co.jp). We also have a partnership with Kenko-dojinsha, which provided medical support for those who needs medical treatment against trauma, PTSD etc. (visit http://www.hokendohjin.co.jp).
  • Yes, we use http://www.armg.jp.
  • We encourage our staff to use T-PEC (Total Private Emergency Center) counselling service http://www.t-pec.co.jp.
  • We have introduced http://www.telljp.com to non-Japanese speaking staff.
  • Many of the NGOs have counselling services and would be excited to help. ‘Send International’ is one agency that can help employees.

2) Are there any other general Employee Assistance service providers? Please let me know of any contacts that I can share.

3) Are you temporarily repatriating your expat staff so that they can work remotely from their home countries? Many Global HR Leaders are unsure what to do about the requests they have been receiving from their non-Japanese staff.

  • Most of our expats and all families have evacuated to their home countries or some other countries nearby.
  • We are not recommending expats to repatriate yet. Some of their families have flown back to their home country, but it is from their personal pocket.
  • There are no instructions for expat in my company right now, so they are staying here.
  • Some non-Japanese staff have raised concerns about radioactive contamination. At this point, we haven’t decided the direction yet.
  • We only have a few expats, and we have already decided on Monday to temporarily repatriate them. They will go back to his/her own country today or tomorrow with their families.
  • In our case, all expat staff evacuated back to Europe or another Asian country based on HQ decision & instruction.
  • We have not received any requests from expats at our company. If they request, I would allow it.
  • No, we are not repatriating our employees. However, they can do so if they wish using their allocated travel costs. I personally think that employers should accommodate those requests since the tolerance degree to such disasters is different from one person to another.
  • Our expats have all been moved to Osaka. Their families are ready to go back to their home countries. But we need to be careful because other local staff may think this is unfair.
  • Yes, all short term and long term expats can leave the country with their families to home or neighbouring countries and work from those offices.
  • We offer expat families the choice to leave and support them to do so. There is no corporateevacuation plan at this point.
  • There is currently no plan of doing so as our HQ in Tokyo is not in the critical risk of further disaster at the moment.
  • Upon request from an employee, it is handled on a case by case basis. Basically the cost of travel is covered by the employee, not by the company. This is a highly sensitive issue which can damage the Japanese employees morale.
  • We’ve taken our key expat staff members who have responsibilities outside Japan and brought them to our HK office. For others we are considering opening a temporary site in Osaka or Nagoya which have been much less impacted by the earthquake and nuclear problems.
  • We have given the expats an option. If they want to leave, we will support that. I have had one leave, the rest have chosen to stay.
  • Most Japanese would lose the trust on the person if the expat executives return to their home countries at this moment. At this moment, in Tokyo and Osaka, we have no serious issues except for the scheduled power outages. I suggest that if they are scared, only their families should return to their home country, and this should be kept confidential from other employees.
  • No. If their office is not in the affected northern Japan area, there should be no problem.
  • Tokyo has an electricity shortage, and trains are not operating 100%, but still we can continue business. Or we can approve them to work from home. That’s enough.
  • We don’t have such a plan so far. However, if they get stressed, we will think about it later. We need to consider the long-term implications, not just the reaction to this crisis.
  • We have already mentioned that expats and their family can go home or the third country and work from there. Many people are arranging their flights, and only a few expats will remain, including Top Management and HR.

4) Are you asking all employees who can to work remotely from home? We’re hearing about some problems with business continuity at the moment, as well as the unnecessary strain on transport, power and other resources.

  • We need to support our customers who need our help, so we cannot close the office, and need as many people to come in as possible.
  • Our office will be closed for the next three days.
  • Except for the employees who are business critical, we allow people to work from home or stay at home (paid).
  • Yes, we divided the staff into 2 groups; Critical staff (HR, Finance etc) and non critical staff (Marketing etc). Critical staff will be encouraged to work at the office and some non-critical staff are working remotely.
  • The lack of petrol in Tokyo area is quite serious, many sales force members using company cars are unable to continue to their activities.
  • No. Our company is very cautious about this because of the importance of information security.
  • We have applied a mandatory ‘working from home’ policy since yesterday. If employees need to meet clients or go to office, they need manager’s pre-approval to decide whether it is necessary or not.
  • We decided that all employees should stay at home and work at home remotely if he/she does not have any urgent meetings. And also, we encouraged our local office employees (in Osaka, Nagoya, Toyota) not to come to the Kanto Area for any business trips this week.
  • We are asking employees to work remotely from home yesterday and today, but from tomorrow we will re-open the office with flexible starting time and option of working from home. We will close the office at 4:30 pm to avoid rush-hours. In the meantime we assigned 2-3 workers per division to work normal hours to ensure minimum business continuity.
  • For those who are located in Kanagawa/Tokyo area who usually work at our Yokohama office, we asked them to work from home. Since we have a big office in Nagoya we moved some functions to Nagoya.
  • We instructed employees in Tokyo who were able to secure public transportations to come to the office. Other employees shall stay at their homes until further instructions.
  • So far, we asked all employees to come to our office as usual.
  • Yes, we are allowing for people to work remotely where they can. But the number of those who can are very much limited. So, in order to continue to operate, we are reserving hotels in the close vicinity for those critical employees to be able to come to the office for business continuity. Such as customer service, Order-to-cash, etc.
  • Yes, only essential staff are to go the office, everyone else should work from home at least for the rest of this week.
  • We worked with our IT staff to reinforce virtual access to all employees.
  • We are leaving the decision to each employee. Today, around 90% of employees working in Tokyo or Yokohama came to the office. If they feel safer to work at home or if there is any specific reasons to work at home, we allow them to do so.
  • We have allowed all staff members who can work from home to do so. However, I am taking the approach that providing structure and a work environment where the staff can support each other through this crisis as being a better solution than sending everyone off to their apartments, etc.
  • If trains are out of service, or the station is extremely crowded, employees are asked to stay at home.
  • We let our employees in Tokyo leave early yesterday, but other than that we did not have any need of having our employees work from home.
  • We are considering to transfer some functions to Osaka where we have a separate headquarter.

5) Are you already making any contingency emergency procedures for further disruptions, including any possible problems connected to the nuclear facilities in Fukushima?

  • No.
  • Yes, we are discussing chartering a flight or a Shinkansen to get people out of the areas in most danger. But in reality the possibility is quite low. And it doesn’t make sense from Japanese mentality that company prioritizes only their employee in this situation. We will think more about community. We will see how real the danger is, and we’ll find a way to work together with the community and the government.
  • Not yet. But I assume we have to think about it soon. I am planning to make an
    announcement regarding the nuclear plant accident and its aftermath.
  • I am considering evacuating the 14 employees/families in close vicinity should the situation get worse. I will make sure we’re in line with the governmental actions and advice.
  • We are discussing possible evacuation plans, such as shifting some of our back office functions to West Japan.
  • I am personally recommending to stay at home, close doors, turn down air-conditioning and ventilators to avoid introducing outside air. Keep water in the bath when water line becomes unavailable.
  • Before we face a serious situation, we have to evacuate. if we wait until the government announcement, the fear is that it may be too late to move.
  • We need to discuss this ASAP. The consequences of the earthquake have been worse than we thought. So, I feel we need to re-review our procedures and improve them.
  • We may take our core staff to a temporary office farther south.
  • If the company’s office is located near Fukushima, they should be out of Fukushima
    immediately.
  • I have started to discuss this matter. We have not yet created the emergency procedures.
  • We always prepare for business continuity but the atomic one is far beyond our expectation. No one can make a decision on this issue, although I’m working with Global and Regional teams to keep them updated of the situation.
  • We have prepared a contingency process. Emergency tree and emergency kit. We prepared blankets at all offices for employees who have difficulty going home.
  • Because our plant is located in the area where we had expected the risk of tsunami and earthquakes, we have a very through and intensive emergency preparedness procedure, business continuity plan as well as crisis management policy in place.
  • We don’t make any contingency procedures for nuclear accidents yet. It is important that we have to act calmly and check the TV news at all times.
  • We asked our employees living in Fukushima and Tohoku area to evacuate to Osaka. We chartered buses to relocate them and their family. Employees living in the north Kanto area are recommended to relocate to South. For metropolitan employees, family can relocate to Osaka if they wish.
  • We are having all of our IT backed up in Osaka, and we are also considering to move part of the back-up team over to Osaka.
  • We clarified the evacuation route and I distributed the plan to all staff – I put 3 evacuation spots and sheltered spots. I visited and made sure of the route.

6) Are there any other emergency procedures that you would be able to share? Please let me know if there’s any else that you’ve successfully put into place.

  • This depends on office locations, employee locations, customer locations, types of business, etc. However, it is the best that you form a management team locally in Japan (in our case, the members are President, Sales Head, Customer Service Head, HR Head, Finance Head, Operation Head) and assign one individual to represent the Japan situation with the HQ. This way you can organise the information flow between Japan and HQ.
  • We have booked dozens of hotel rooms for those who need to stay at night for business continuity purpose and for those who are difficult to go home everyday due to the difficulties in transport system.
  • We are considering running advance payroll to ensure people have money in personal bank accounts if we need to shut down our office.
  • We are using an automatic call-in number system to spread company messages to employees.
  • We are taking care to give clear guidance to employees. And most of all putting into place measures that allow people to stay calm and not panic unnecessarily.
  • We are using the system which enables us to know quite easily about the employees’ safety status and also whether they can come to the office or not. Today, for instance, we knew already before 0900, how many employees are heading for the offices and how many are not able to come and its reasons by using the system provided by our vendor. if the size of the organization is big, this kind of service might be very helpful.
  • We are having Emergency Management meetings daily and are communicating with employees. We have an open Bridge phone line in case management needs to come together quickly, the number is the same to call into. We also have a “war room” set aside that is the base of operations. We have set up a website for our employees to connect with each other in case of need. We are finding employees want to help and not just sit at home.We are looking into figuring out how to provide support to Japan, but nothing concrete yet.
  • In general, Japanese workers’ morale is so high, and they will come to the office if they think that they can be of use. If they receive any unusual directions from the HQ in this situation, they might feel very uncomfortable. Please send only encouragement and support.
  • Since not all employees have work mobile phones, we have created an emergency contact list for each section. This will allow for a smooth flow of information from management to line managers to employees.
  • Employees need to check in to their manager at 10am for their safety and whereabouts every day, and managers need to report their team status to HR by noon. We have also used automated safety confirmation communicators since last Saturday. We have senior management and manager calls twice a day in the morning and evening, and we email the results of these meetings to employees twice a day.
  • At this moment, we are keenly focussed on how to cope with customer’s request because we are providing machine tools for the emergency services teams.
  • We have put together a Crisis Management Team and are looking serious into moving the office. But, that is a cost that HQ will have to make a call on.
  • We have a Business Continuity Team that gets together every day at 4pm and shares anupdate on each area such as, Power, Property, People, Nuclear Issues, Transportation, etc. The meeting includes a representation from the regional head office in Hong Kong. During each meeting we decide how we operate tomorrow as business as usual and in an emergency situation.
  • We just created a contact list and telephone trees. But we found that the company’s web mail is most reliable. I recommend prioritising which communication tool to use first.
  • We have sent enough water, food, blankets, and vitamins to employees in the Tohoku area. We’ve also asked employees in the Tohoku area who are working away from their family to go back home and be with their family.