The 5th Nikkei Well-being Symposium
Well-being Initiative

The 5th Nikkei Well-being Symposium

As more and more companies aspire to human capital management to maximize the value of their human resources, interest in the job satisfaction and well-being of employees, business partners, and other stakeholders has grown. To further raise awareness and understanding of well-being, Nikkei Inc. recently held its Fifth Nikkei Well-being Symposium over two days on September 25 and 26 (2023). The event brought together experts and business leaders from Japan and abroad for lively exchanges of opinions on how to increase well-being, with reference to practical examples, research findings, and policy proposals.

Well-being Visualization
for Human Capital Management

Keynote Speech

Measurement is the First Step in Finding Solutions

Kunio Ito
Chair of TCFD Consortium / Representative Founder of Human Capital Management Consortium / Director of CFO Education and Research Center, Hitotsubashi University

Kunio Ito

Kunio Ito

Up to now, there has been a lack of useful indicators in human capital management. So, to try and develop new indicators for this field, we took up the challenge of trying to measure well-being.

An integrated well-being score is computed by integrating scores in five categories: organizational climate, career autonomy, health and safety, social relations, and financial autonomy.

Assessing well-being in this way makes it possible to avoid the pitfall of relying on the impressions and preconceptions of managers to judge the well-being of employees. It also helps in assessing where your company’s level of well-being stands in society. Additionally, it should be useful for evaluating how the sense of well-being of individual employees changes over time.

Whatever can be measured can be controlled, so this method should be useful in developing effective measures and actions to enhance well-being.

Initially, we assessed overall well-being by asking “What level of well-being have you felt over the past three to six months?” along with five similar questions covering the various categories. We then expanded the survey by designing a questionnaire with 10 questions in each of the five categories, arriving at a total of 56 questions. The survey was administered to 10,000 full-time employees of publicly listed companies, with the results serving as a benchmark.

The benchmark results showed that the average score for overall well-being was 5.45 out of 10.0 points. The fact that 20% of respondents scored 4 or less is cause for concern.

Results by category showed that scores for organizational climate were low, suggesting that dialogue between management and employees is a problem. We could infer that this indicates that widespread difficulties with innovation may stem from organizational culture issues. Surprisingly, the survey revealed little resistance to mid-career hires; it seems they generally find a welcoming atmosphere.

On average, respondents felt the lowest level of well-being with career autonomy. This is a glimpse into the reality that many employees know their roles and work goals but feel limited in terms of workstyle options. Since the skills of employees are not well recognized, issues relating to the utilization and development of human resources are evident. There has been little progress in the area of side jobs, so a lack of joy and fulfillment in daily work has become a notable problem.

Well-being scores relating to health and safety were generally high, indicating that the efforts of companies in this field are successful. However, the fact that individual employees feel considerable work-related stress is a concern.

In the area of social relations, many people seem to struggle with the barriers between departments and sections. Many respondents perceived a lack of cooperation and engagement within the workplace.

Although scores for financial autonomy were relatively high, on closer scrutiny, the result may not be so reassuring. That is, many employees seem to vaguely perceive themselves as being financially independent. The survey results reveal glimpses of financial insecurity and dissatisfaction relating to the failure of companies to provide opportunities to acquire financial literacy, and to low salaries.

It is self-righteous of management to evaluate the well-being of workers subjectively or based on impressions. So, I hope you will discuss these research findings with the senior executives and employees at your companies.

Design of Integrated Well-being (IWB) Survey
Keynote Speech

Even Support for the Government Can Be Predicted

Jan-Emmanuel de Neve
Professor of Economics and Behavioral Science, Director, Wellbeing Research Centre, University of Oxford

Jan-Emmanuel de Neve

Jan-Emmanuel de Neve

Gross domestic product (GDP) has many limitations. It is an excellent measure of economic output but inadequate for anything else. Its strengths are that it is a single key performance indicator (KPI) and that it has an established credibility. Any indicator for parameters beyond GDP needs to have similar strengths. I believe that subjective well-being is a useful complement to GDP.

Well-being is an emotional quantity. Gallup and other companies are already conducting well-being surveys to evaluate it. If we can visualize well-being, it will help us to formulate policies to enrich human lives. These surveys ask people how they feel about their lives and how they rate their quality of life. The advantages of this kind of assessment are that it is based on the real feelings of people and that the underlying science is built on extensive measurements and data.

When well-being is examined from a policymaking perspective, we should also consider human life expectancy. Policy analysis needs to convert well-being and life assessments into “well-being-adjusted life years.”

This is because it makes more policy sense to be able to extend life by five years, even at a somewhat lower quality of life, than to extend life by one year in pursuit of a perfect quality of life. I appreciate that different arguments can be made, but I think well-being-adjusted life years is the right way forward.

Well-being surveys also have political relevancy. Changes in the level of people’s well-being are better predictors of support for a current government than GDP, unemployment, or inflation figures. Intelligent politicians in developed countries are starting to understand this.

On the other hand, subjective well-being is subject to issues relating to environmental sustainability. A paper published in 2020 examining the correlation between the achievement of individual Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and public well-being found that two SDGs were negatively correlated with well-being.

These were Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and Goal 13 (Climate Action). Deeper analysis revealed that the correlation was most negative in the case of Goal 12. This finding implies that trying to be a socially responsible consumer or producer may negatively impact how people rate their quality of life in the short term.

A tension exists between environmental measures and quality of life. We, therefore, need to come up with skillful policies that improve the environment and modify human behavior without undermining people’s sense of well-being.


HR System with Hybrid Workstyle

Hideo Okumura
Executive Officer, Personnel & Labor Relations Division, TOPPAN Holdings Inc.
HR System with Hybrid Workstyle

Hideo Okumura

Hideo Okumura

TOPPAN Holdings Inc. was originally established in 1900 by engineers from the Printing Bureau of the Ministry of Finance who wanted to use leading-edge printing technology to contribute to the development of Japanese society and culture. While adapting to change since its founding, the company has constantly strived to generate social value. Innovation is in our DNA!

The well-being of employees is indispensable for accelerating innovation. To promote well-being management, we are working to develop the original job-based personnel system and enhance our personnel training program. As foundation measures, we are also trying to improve employee conditions and conducting employee engagement surveys.

The original job-based personnel system is a hybrid of a job-based system based on a “new-normal” workstyle, tailored to job groups, and a traditional Japanese-style employment system. It was designed to facilitate the selection of young employees.

We have conducted engagement surveys since January 2022. They allow us to grasp the specific causes of gaps between expectations and reality, as well as organizational issues. Employee well-being is now included as a KPI in our latest medium-term management plan.

Toppan is also contributing to well-being through its focus on the healthcare business. ICI (Integrated Clinical Care Informatics, Inc.), a company that specializes in medical big data, is now a consolidated subsidiary. Its services offer advanced electronic medical record databases and data analysis tools for improved healthcare. We have also launched Todokusuri EXPRESS, a member-based service that enables faster home delivery of prescription drugs.

On October 1, 2023, we also shifted to a holding company structure. At the same time, the company name was shortened to “Toppan” by dropping the word “Printing.” In accordance with our revised business portfolio, we are committed to ensuring the well-being of all our stakeholders.

Panel Discussion

Urban Design in the Spirit of Compassion

Seiichi Saito
President & Representative Director, Sun Frontier Fudousan Co., Ltd.

Yoshihiko Kinoshita
General Partner & CEO, Skyland Ventures KK

Yoshiki Ishikawa
Representative Director, Well-being for Planet Earth Foundation

Seiichi Saito

Seiichi Saito

Yoshihiko Kinoshita

Yoshihiko Kinoshita

Yoshiki Ishikawa

Yoshiki Ishikawa

Ishikawa: Government policies are now looking at national growth in terms of both GDP and well-being. Well-being and urban design are, therefore, likely to become increasingly essential keywords.

Saito: At Sun Frontier, our business is focused mainly on office buildings in central Tokyo. Since it was founded, the company has continued philosophy-based management with a corporate credo of “Compassion”. In other words, we put importance on helping as many people as possible. Our key sustainability challenges are environmental protection, regional revitalization, and human resource development.

We recognize it is outdated to demolish and reconstruct buildings that are still usable. With the well-being of the planet in mind, we need to use our ingenuity and technology to continue making use of them. One example is A YOTSUYA. Every room in this renovated 40-year-old building features mural art by a variety of artists. This project, which combines art and office space, enjoys a high occupancy rate and is particularly popular among startup companies. It has also become a special place for Ukrainian refugees to gather together. We believe that providing places that help people to create a heart-to-heart exchange of compassion with others is a critical element of urban design that increases the well-being of people.

Kinoshita:I feel that venture capital is inherently altruistic, in the sense that we take other people’s money and invest it with the goal of achieving success together. While I was still a student, I started a business with the aim of getting it publicly listed by the age of 30 or so, as a way of setting a role model. Startups are showing more promise than ever, even in fields like social entrepreneurship, where it has been traditionally difficult to attract funds. Markets are also larger than ever. I want to convey the message that a wide variety of people are working at a high level in spaces with better environments than in the past.

Ishikawa: People may have different ideas about what constitutes well-being, but if we reflect on how we can contribute to well-being, it is a matter of deciding for oneself from a range of options. If we work to generate greater well-being from the perspective of altruism, what does Tokyo have the potential to become?

Saito: The COVID-19 pandemic restricted people from gathering, and it helped to increase remote work. It also accelerated some technological improvements such as internet connectivity and online meetings. Now people are coming back to living in the “real world.” Maybe that’s because face-to-face meeting and direct communication help fuel ideas and inspiration. Collaboration between urban and rural areas can now be done remotely, however, direct and real interactions help to influence each other wider and deeper. We also operate over 22 hotels that connect people across different regions in Japan as well as people from overseas.

Kinoshita: We are starting to offer transportation expenses of ¥10,000 for our startup events. It’s hard for people to get to Tokyo from many rural areas. We are also working to bridge the gap between the regions and Tokyo in other ways.

Ishikawa: I think COVID-19 has helped people to rethink where and how they want to live, as well as the kind of people they want to spend time with.

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Well-being Initiative Member companies

Organized by Nikkei Inc.
Planning cooperation: Public Interest Foundation Well-being for Planet Earth
cooperation: Global Wellbeing Initiative