Human Resources Development
Sumitomo Forestry's basic policy for human assets development is to "nurture employees who learn by themselves, think about the essence of things, and take action" and "create a workplace culture that allows people to be energetic and vigorous." By supporting the growth of employees with high morale and pride, and by fostering a open minded and energetic corporate culture, we aim to realize our corporate philosophy.
Sumitomo Forestry Business Institute, Personnel Department
The program is designed for all Sumitomo Forestry employees, from recruits to middle management and executives, who strive to 1.comprehend and develop the corporate philosophy based on Sumitomo's Business Spirit, 2. master universal business and management skills 3. nurture global human assets, and 4. train management 5. create a workplace culture that allows employees to work energetically and vigorously.
We are also promoting group management by 6. foster a sense of unity between all Group employees and developing human resources.
Human Resources Development Department, Housing Division
Employees of the Housing Division conducts practical education around the axes of the customer perspective and professionalism for employees who belong to the Housing and Construction Division (sales, design, interiors, production, general affairs, and head office staff).
This department also supports training at each company by working closely with each Group company managed by the Housing Division.
Group company and each department
Education to teach the necessary skills in each field and training to develop professionalism are conducted at each Group company and in each department.
Human Resources Development System
Under a theme of "Supporting Motivated People", Sumirin Business College of the Personnel Department has increased training programs to not only include "training for each level", which had previously been advocated across-the-board, but also more "self-development" and "selective" training, to develop employees' ability while valuing the autonomy of each individual for the purpose of nurturing employees who take the initiative to learn, think and act independently.
1. Teach the corporate philosophy based on Sumitomo's Business Spirit
We hold Shikoku forestry training in which all of our new graduates and mid-career hires who join the company visit the ruins of the old Besshi copper mine and Company-owned forests to learn about the Sumitomo Group history and business spirit. In fiscal 2022, 394 employees of whom 275 and 119 belong to the parent company and Group companies, respectively, took the class.
In addition, the Sumitomo Forestry Business Institute e-learning hosts a program on the history and corporate philosophy of Sumitomo Forestry taken by each Sumitomo Group employee every year.
2. Acquisitions of business and management skills
We support employees' learning by respecting their autonomy at Sumitomo Forestry Business Institute of the Personnel Department. In addition to 137 courses, including e-learning, correspondence courses, and dispatch to external training programs for the purpose of acquiring business skills and knowledge, we offer online video learning courses from more than 200,000 courses. Moreover, we have a system to subsidize 50,000 yen for employees to attend external training programs that they themselves have sought out. In fiscal 2021, a total of 642 employees participated in such training, and 926 employees participated in fiscal 2022.
We also focus on hierarchical training. We have conducted evaluator training for 66 employees in fiscal 2021 and 72employees in fiscal 2022 in order to firmly establish and utilize the evaluation system. In addition, as part of the multifaceted assessment to develop managers' management skills, a multifaceted evaluation feedback work was offered for 55 first-time evaluatees in fiscal 2022, to assist them accurately grasp and practice the evaluation results. We also conduct aptitude assessments for employees who wish to assume management positions. We help our employees identify their own strengths, weaknesses, and characteristics, and provide direction for the development of necessary skills. In fiscal 2022, this program was conducted for 74 participants.
Furthermore, all of our 62 general managers from the Housing Division attended the housing general managers workshop co-hosted by Sumitomo Forestry Business Institute of the Personnel Department and Human Resources Development Department. General managers are to improve their management skills by engaging in discussions about setting visions and formulating strategies at each branch and their readiness as a person responsible for a branch with other general managers and the corporate management team.
3. Nurture global human resources
Sumitomo Forestry strives to nurture human resources to entrust with business operations as business expands overseas. Therefore, we conduct an overseas human resource development program where employees who were in charge of overseas-related businesses for many years including those posted overseas provide 1-on-1 guidance to employees who would like to work abroad with extraordinary business performance. This guidance includes learning English and Indonesian. The curriculum is an original program adapted to the skill level and work content of each employee taking the course, and encourages the study of bookkeeping and accounting. In addition, a new course dealing with international affairs in general has been established since fiscal 2022.
Anyone who has acquired the minimum knowledge (languages including English, and accounting-related knowledge) required to handle overseas-related businesses in anticipation of a future overseas assignment or has achieved that level through self-development complete from the program. Since fiscal 2018, a total of 83 employees have graduated, with 35 of those trainees participating in fiscal 2022. (106 employees are working abroad as of December 1, 2022, including those preparing to leave for their post)
4. Train management
Sumitomo Forestry conducts selective training for employees who are at least 35 years old. In fiscal 2021, 96 employees took part in 17 programs, and 130 people took part in 23 programs in fiscal 2022.
5. The realization of a open minded and energetic work environment
In fiscal 2021, the Housing Division and the Timber and Building Materials Division launched the "Three-Star Project" and the "New Value Creation Project" respectively, with the goal of creating a workplace culture in which employees can work open minded and energetic. In fiscal 2022, we expanded the "Three-Star Project" and newly launched the "Forest4.0 Project" in the Environment and Resources Division.
The "Three-Star Project" aims to create a branch that is as vibrant as a three-star restaurant, with each employee highly respected by customers and rooted in and adored by the community. 25 employees from the two pilot branches participated in fiscal 2021, and 97 employees from eight branches participated in fiscal 2022, in a six-month workshop. The knowledge obtained from the training was immediately applied to their work. In fiscal 2022, 71% of participating members reported increased engagement in their work and 78% reported increased engagement in their organizations as a result of this project. In the future, we plan to expand the project gradually to a total of 62 branches.
Eight employees participated in the “Forest4.0 Project”, a six-month workshop that examined the future of forestry business, explored the possibilities of new value creation based on rich ideas, and considered a path to realization. The final project proposal continues to be considered for realization.
6. Foster a sense of unity between all Group employees and develop Human Resources
We are aiming to build a sense of unity throughout the Group and raise awareness of working members of society by offering training for new employees in a program that is common to all Group companies. In fiscal 2022, the content of the programs was standardized and conducted online training at each company, while connecting Group companies online for some programs, with 321 employees taking part.
In addition, Group companies with similar goals participated in self-development seminars and group exchange training etc., with 26 employees participating in fiscal 2022.
The e-learning system has also been deployed as a learning tool shared by Group employees, allowing employees of Group companies in Japan to share and learn from 130 courses on topics such as Sumitomo Forestry's history, business spirit and corporate philosophy, as well as acquiring business skills and knowledge.
Sumitomo Forestry Business Institute Training System, Personnel Department (FY2022)
Number of Employees Attending Main Training Programs(FY2022)*
|Training program||Number of people attending
|Number of people attending
|Training by specific levels
(6 mandatory courses)
*January 1 to December 31, 2022
Hours of Training and Expenditure on Training (Non-Consolidated)
|Hours of training received per employee||18||10.5||13.0||15.5*3|
|Expenditure on training per employee (yen)||102,000||59,000
*1The period of data collection for fiscal 2020 is from April to December 2020 (nine months due to the change in the accounting period)
*2Figures in the parenthesis are reference data collected from January to December 2020
*3Hours of training by hierarchy in Sumitomo Forestry Business Institute of the Personnel Department and Human Resources Development Department (excluding self-development training and selective training)
*4Expenditure on training for fiscal 2022 (Non-consolidated) is 543 million yen
Support for Obtaining Qualifications and Attending External Education
Sumitomo Forestry promotes independent efforts for capacity building and career development. For instance, the Company's Regulations for Assistance in Obtaining Qualifications and Attending External Education include provisions for assistance when an employee seeks to obtain qualifications or use an external educational institution.
With regard to obtaining qualifications needed for managing operations and qualifications recommended for capacity building, the regulations prescribe assistance limits for each of the 146 qualifications. In fiscal 2022, 935 employees took advantage of the program.
In particular, a lump-sum payment up to 500,000 yen is provided to the employee who passes the examination for first-class registered architects, and23 employees satisfied the criteria in fiscal 2022. 37 employees obtained second-class architect licenses under the guidance of the Human Resource Development Department in fiscal 2022.
Sumitomo Forestry Home Tech introduced an in-house qualification system, the "Structural Diagnosis Master" in fiscal 2021. The goal of the internal qualification system is to improve employees' motivation for self-improvement while also improving legal compliance and quality control. In fiscal 2022, the second examination was conducted. 345 employees took the exam and 124 passed. A total of 227 employees (24% of eligible employees) obtained certification, including those who passed the first round.
Initiatives in the Human Resources Development Department, Housing Division
The Human Resources Development Department engaged in training and a variety of other initiatives in accordance with the training and education policies. Among the trainees, junior employees aim to become independent by the end of their third year in education that concentrates on making trainees think. OJT strengthens the coordination with trainers and incorporates methods for flipped learning as a means to strengthen OJT. The training aims to provide faster mastery of the content as a place to find more practical follow up.
We have begun insourcing video materials to broadcast before training for the purpose of an effective flipped classroom before regular training. There are interactive features in the 360-degree videos, such as information hotspots, quizzes, and knowledge verification modules, where clicking on information pulls up text and other information, contributing to student engagement and retention. In addition, Sumitomo Forestry is furthering links to a Learning Management System (LMS) to manage the learning progress of each employee while also driving future human resources strategies, human resource management and other initiatives in anticipation of the medium to long term by advancing the understanding of skills and accumulating employee data.
Flipped Classroom Using Videos
Beginning in 2022, Sumitomo Forestry is using the headquarters studio to create video materials for training for employees joining the company. From April 2023, we plan to support on-the-job training at branches by establishing "Jinkai e-Learning," an environment that enables employees to learn business operations from the time they join the company. In conjunction with this initiative, we aim to establish a dual-axis training program for new graduates and mid-career hires by rooting a regular face-to-face training program for mid-career hires that began in 2022.
Example of LMS in Use
Flow of Flipped Learning
To ensure the OJT for junior and mid-level employees reaches its full potential, we are nurturing management skills, product knowledge, and human assets development capabilities of current and future managers to support and guide on efficient work styles.
Training Using Tablets
Sumitomo Forestry has adopted a paperless system as a training material for employees in their first year who have a particularly high number of training opportunities during the education period and is providing tablets during the training. By using this system, employees can revise and save things, such as notes on important matters in the electronic text during the training session. Trainees can even review and use learning materials anywhere by using these tablets even after the training ends. In addition, the provision of tablets to employees from the time they join the company also contributes to the improvement of IT literacy among younger employees. We will continue to strive to realize an educational ICT environment to further develop the qualities and abilities of each employee.
Hybrid Face-to-Face and Web-Based Training
We have conducted training mostly online due to the impact of the COVID-19 since 2020. Online training saves the student traveling and enables highly productive lectures. Unlike traditional training, there are additional training management alternatives available, such as multiple days of brief training sessions, which greatly contributes to the structure of the training curriculum. We will establish a hybrid training management approach that combines small scale face-to-face training and online training, in addition to the usage of online training, since there are some lectures where face-to-face training has a greater training effect.
Hybrid training that combines smaller scale face-to-face training and online training
Training Using VR and AI
We've been working on VR videos for a while now, and they've been proven to be quite effective. In addition to on-site training, trainees quickly learn the knowledge necessary for construction by experiencing various virtual environments without exterior influences, and deepen their understanding of operational processes through hands-on experiences as though they are training on an actual site. We hope to expand the highly productive VR training to the entire group and boost the cost-effectiveness of training operations by bringing the training materials in-house.
In addition, we are currently conducting sales talk analysis for housing salespeople, with the goal of efficiently and effectively strengthening customer service skills by using AI to objectively analyze the content of business talks with customers. More customer service assessments will be conducted in the future, leading to the development of Sumitomo Forestry's conversation model and the improvement of individual skills.
Initiatives in Sumitomo Forestry Home Tech
Needs-Based Sales Training
Sumitomo Forestry Home Tech, has two businesses; “Owner Business,” managing renovation and maintenance of Sumitomo Forestry's custom-built wooden detached homes and “Customer Business,” renovation of non-Sumitomo Forestry houses. From FY2021, we have implemented “Needs-Based Sales Training” for up to the fifth year of new-graduate-employees who are in sales and design. While the average age of owners who order renovation is around sixty years old after their life stage change, the targets of this training are in their early twenty's and finding common topics for a small talk is already a challenge. The training was to cultivate “problems” or “something missing” and provide solutions for the home owners; then to propose a plan that addresses the potential needs of customers. The training is comprised of three sessions: awareness change, behavior change, and result change, and is conducted in a role-playing format. Role-playing format and the “awareness change” step leads to better communication in cultivating the unnoticed problems of the home owners. As a result, their sense of accomplishment increased with such comment as “the home owner now recognizes me as a family consultant” or “I now enjoy sales as I am not selling goods, but solutions for the family.” The sales for owner business per personnel improved as well.
As a result of the training, the motivation of sales and design personnel has increased, and the number of proposals that led to actual contracts in routine work has increased. Improved motivation has led to an increase in the employee retention rate. Furthermore, a positive cycle has been created in which sales increase further due to increased self-confidence by increased unit price of orders.
Orders for "Owners Business" (Sumitomo Forestry homes) are mainly operated by young employees, who are the target of this training. After implementing the training, orders in the low-priced range (1 million yen or less) have decreased compared to the previous years. Whereas, orders in the price range of 1 million yen or above have increased, totaling 108% of the previous year. Moreover, due to the synergetic effect, the high price range has also increased in the "Customer's Business," totaling 112% of the previous year. Needs-Based Sales training, which stimulates owners' potential demand and leads to better sales results, is proven effective in providing added value to customers and motivating young employees, which leads to lower turn-over ratio as well.
Promotion of Qualification Acquisition
Sumitomo Forestry encourages the acquisition of the qualifications necessary for business operations and ensures the availability of competent people, thereby strengthening employee skills and improving customer satisfaction. The most recent results of this support are as follows.
Real Estate Agent
|Number of examinees||198||142||194|
|Number of successful candidates(Number of sales positions obtained)||24
Level 2 Financial Planner
|Number of examinees||150||120||146|
|Number of successful candidates(Number of sales positions obtained)||25||40
First-class construction management technician
|The 1st test
|Number of examinees||52||-||16|
|Number of passers||40||-||8|
|The 2nd test
|Number of examinees||56||-||10|
|Number of passers||38||-||7|
*No support for obtaining qualifications in fiscal 2021
Second-class architects and first-class architects (Subject)
|Second-class architects||Subject passing rate||100%||100%||100%|
|Passing rate of drawing||89%||84%||81%|
|Second-class architects (Subject)||Subject passing rate||30%||30%||31%|
Sumitomo Forestry focuses on training to develop its design capabilities. The Company seeks to develop its "Design Skills", "Presentation Skills" and "Customer Service Skills" by having all design personnel evaluate drawings in advance to detect and reinforce the Company'’ design trends and challenges, resulting in a strong design group that can compete with other companies. In the future, we will also collaborate with interior designers to strengthen their "Presentation Skills", "Customer Service Skills", and "Total Coordination Proposals", and are considering and planning to develop a team that includes interior designers. We're also considering training engineers who can handle medium- to large-scale projects.
Handing Down the Techniques Used in Building Wooden Houses
Sumitomo Forestry recognizes that in order to preserve the way of building houses that makes best use of the traditional Japanese wooden post-and-beam construction method, it is important to pass on these skills and techniques to the next generation of workers.
The Sumitomo Forestry School of Professional Building Techniques is an in-house educational institution certified by the governor of Chiba Prefecture, and was founded by the Company in 1988 as a corporate boarding school for vocational training. Implementation of a one-year training curriculum, the school provides training for new employees at Sumitomo Forestry Home Engineering Co., Ltd. who aspire for a job in carpentry. In terms of construction-related subjects, students study classroom-based subjects such as an introduction to building, structure, drawing, methods of construction, materials and supervision, as well as practical subjects, such as tool operation and maintenance, the traditional technique of marking timber with sumi ink and a carpenter's square, processing, safety work, model-based practical training, demonstration-based practical training and computing with the goal of acquiring a 2nd class carpenter license upon completion. On completion of their training, graduates are assigned to places all around Japan, and after a few years, they return to the school to undertake seven to ten days of training in Japanese rooms and in a preparatory course for acquiring the 1st class carpenter license as a certified specialist.
In fiscal 2022, the school had another 84 new enrollments.
New Students and Performance at The Sumitomo Forestry School of Professional Building Techniques
(32nd graduating students)
(33rd graduating students)
(34th graduating students)
(35th graduating students)
|Number of new students||57||61||69||84|
|Number of graduates||55||60||63||-|
|Students who acquired the 2nd class carpenter license||55||60||62||-|