Enhancing Value of Human Resource
Message from Director in charge of the Human Resources Department

Achieve the Five Transformations through NGK Group human capital management

Director and Senior Vice President, in charge of the Human Resources Department Tadaaki Yamada

People are the core of corporate management, human resources are considered to be capital, not a cost. In June 2023, the NGK Group in an unprecedented stage of transformation formulated the NGK Group Human Capital Management Policy in conjunction with the NGK Group Philosophy and the NGK Group Vision, recognizing the importance of human capital management for future growth.

With changes of the times, our ideal image of human resources has also changed

In 2019, the NGK Group made changes to the NGK Group Philosophy, and in 2021, the Group announced the NGK Group Vision, which sets out the direction in which we should proceed to realize the philosophy. In order to achieve the Five Transformations, which we are promoting to contribute to carbon neutrality and digital society, we believe that it is essential to value human resources as “capital” and link them to medium- to long-term enterprise value enhancement. In other words, we believe it is essential to actively engage in human capital management and the NGK Group Human Capital Management Policy serves as our guidepost.

Since its founding, the NGK Group has achieved steady growth by leveraging its unique and diverse ceramic technologies. However, with the changing times, the Group is now undergoing a major transformation. With the ongoing evolution to electric vehicles, it is clear that our core business for internal combustion engines will shrink in the future. Therefore, we must create new businesses and products for the next generation in order to achieve sustainable growth. In response to such changes in the business environment, and the ideal image of human resources we seek is also changing naturally. Therefore, we have clarified the direction of the human resources strategy that the NGK Group aims to achieve so that each and every employee can take these changes as his or her own matter and promote a change in awareness.

Our Human Capital Management Policy directly leads to the realization of the Five Transformations

The NGK Group Human Capital Management Policy was formulated after a number of discussions under the guidance of the HR Committee. The purpose of the policy is to secure and develop human resources who can realize the Five Transformations. In addition, “developing a rich and lively workplace” and “developing an open workplace that encourages challenges” are included as necessary elements for realizing the Five Transformations. Although the interpretation of “developing a rich and lively workplace” varies from person to person, the words were chosen with the intention of creating a variety of values, including satisfaction, fair compensation, ease of work, trusting relationships, and health. In addition, while taking on challenges is in the DNA of the NGK Group inherited from our founding ancestors, we also have a prudent corporate culture. Therefore, in order to bring about change, we felt that it was necessary to foster a corporate culture that encourages challenges and values motivation and process, even when these fail.

There are three traits of the ideal human resources that we seek: people who cultivate advanced knowledge, skills, abilities, and proactively approach problems, people who demonstrate teamwork and persistently lead to results, and people who autonomously grow and continuously change themselves and the company. The NGK Group, which has pioneered the pathless road with its advanced technological capabilities and outstanding expertise, has nurtured excellent human resources, and the employees support the earning power in their respective fields. In the future, while maintaining the current earning power, we will promote the creation of a system that can expand the areas of challenge through an add-on approach and support each individual so that they can realize their potential.

In particular, we will focus on securing and developing DX bridge talents and global management talents. As a measure to achieve this, we have started initiatives such as the in-house DX Study Exchange where employees can learn data analysis and digital technology intensively away from the departments to which they are assigned without having to work concurrently at their main jobs, and encouraging employees to acquire IT passport qualifications with the aim of improving IT literacy. DX bridge talents are those who serve as a bridge between digital human resources with digital expertise and specialized skills and their respective businesses. We want them to play an active role as key people in promoting DX, which is included in the Five Transformations, such as planning and solving issues based on an understanding of both DX and business.

Global management talents refer to people who bridge local management with the NGK Group Philosophy, the NGK Group Vision, and Group strategies. We promote the recruitment and development of human resources who can bring together organizations with various languages, customs, and values at our overseas bases, and will secure and develop human resources who have the ability to make decisions and take actions, and cross-cultural communication skills. We have been conducting global seminars such as language training, communication and management training based on cross-cultural understanding, and area studies of various countries, and we plan to further enhance our educational programs in the future. In addition, we also plan to eventually restart our overseas practical training program which was stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HR Development Policy and Workplace Development Policy to ensure diversity

In line with the human resource requirements outlined in the Human Capital Management Policy, we have revised our HR Development Policy and formulated a new Workplace Development Policy. Based on these two policies, we will actively promote diversity and inclusion, and strive to create systems as well as an environment and corporate culture that allow diverse human resources to choose work styles according to their individuality and life stage so that they can demonstrate their abilities and play an active role. Specifically, in addition to the aforementioned efforts to develop DX bridge talents and global management talents, we will develop a variety of human resource development measures, such as position-based education and career autonomy support, to support individual growth. At the same time, we are also revising our personnel system, including the introduction of a job rotation system that allows employees to transfer across department, and we will focus on efforts to foster individual diversity within each and every employee.

With regard to securing human resources, we are actively recruiting human resources with specialized knowledge and skills in various fields with a view to future business development and expansion of our business domains. The effect of the “breath of fresh air” has been significant, bringing perspectives, ideas, and networks that were not available within the company. As a result, we are beginning to see results, such as the birth of new businesses.

NGK Group Human Capital Management Policy

NGK Group defines “People who embrace challenges and teamwork” as one of Our Values of NGK Group Philosophy, and we are committed to realize Our Mission: Enriching Human Life by Adding New Value to Society. NGK Group is committed to drive the Five Transformations to realize the NGK Group Vision, and we believe that the active engagement of each personnel is crucial for accomplishing the Five Transformations. We define the core of the Group’s human capital management as hiring and developing personnel to enrich team members dedicated to the Five Transformations, and establishing an environment where each personnel can perform at full potential. Building upon this core belief, we establish the “Human Resource Development Policy” and “Workplace Development Policy” as follows.

Human Resource Development Policy

NGK Group develops personnel with the following abilities and mindset required to realize the Five Transformations.

  • Cultivate advanced knowledges, skills, abilities or their combination, and proactively approach to problems
  • Demonstrate teamwork and persistently lead to results
  • Autonomously grow and continuously change oneself and the company

Workplace Development Policy

NGK Group develops the following workplace environment where each personnel can perform at full potential.

  • Diverse and Inclusive Workplace
    A workplace where everyone is acknowledged and respected, regardless of external attributes such as race, nationality, gender, and age, as well as internal attributes such as religion, beliefs, experiences, and values.
  • Enriched and Lively Workplace
    A workplace where diverse personnel can feel rewarded, stay healthy both physically and mentally, have colleagues we respect and enjoy working with, and maintain a good work-life balance.
  • Open Workplace that encourages challenges
    A workplace with open communication and psychological safety, that embraces courageous challenges for growth.

Promoting the spread concepts outlined in the NGK Group Human Capital Management Policy throughout the entire Group

In the NGK Group, approximately 12,500 personnel are engaged in operations at overseas bases, and one of the immediate challenges is to ensure that this Human Capital Management Policy is thoroughly instilled in each Group company. It goes without saying that conditions surrounding human resources in Japan differ from those overseas. Furthermore, when we say “overseas,” we need to be aware that each country and region has a different environment, customs, culture, etc., and sensitivities and values regarding working styles are different. Of course, the challenges we face also differ. In light of this background, we believe it is necessary to understand the issues faced by each Group company, strengthen cooperation among overseas bases, and develop flexible human resources strategies that are tailored to local business conditions.

To become a company chosen by workers

In recent years, the fluidity of human resources has been increasing partly due to the decrease in the working population of young people and work style reforms that allow workers to choose flexible work styles. Amid the current trends of the times and changes in society, we must continue to be an attractive company chosen by workers in order to secure excellent human resources who will lead the future of the NGK Group. In accordance with the NGK Group Human Capital Management Policy, the NGK Group will implement a human resources strategy that is linked to its business strategy and aim for sustainable growth by maximizing the value of human resources. As the realization of the NGK Group Vision lies ahead, we will continue to persistently take on challenges by turning the power of individuals into the power of the Group.

Note: This interview was conducted in April 2023.