In the early 1950’s Dentsu’s fourth president, Hideo Yoshida, established 10 guiding principles designed to set the tone for the work ethic of employees at the firm. One of them, as translated by several Japanese publications, was: "Never give up on your task. Do not let go even if you get killed."
It was seen as inspiring at the time -- but now,in light of worker-related suicides in Japan, that principle in particular seems outdated and overly fanatical. The Dentsu leader’s other guidelines included messages to take an “active role” at work, not a passive one and to seek out “large and complex jobs.”
Today all 10 guidelines were officially relegated to the dustbin of the company's history as Dentsu said that it is eliminating Yoshida’s principals from its employee handbook and other company materials.
Dentsu announced the decision as part of a broader effort to improve its workplace environment in the midst of an investigation by the Japanese government into the company’s labor practices. Earlier the government ruled that the apparent suicide of a Dentsu staffer late last year was linked to what the Japanese call “death by overwork” given the hundreds of overtime hours she had logged in the months leading up to her death.
The company’s effort to revamp its workplace culture is well underway. Last week the Tokyo-based ad-holding company stated that as part of the overhaul of its work assignments, about 650 people (or 10% of the Japan-based workforce) will shift to new positions in January.
The company also indicated today that as part of its effort to improve work-life balance at the firm, it has instituted a goal to encourage employees across all of its divisions to take more than 50% of their paid time off.