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Work-life balance [LA3]

Kao endeavors to create pleasant workplace environments so that all employees can achieve a synergistic balance between work and life, combining rewarding careers and fulfilling private lives.

2015 activities
In order to assist the efforts of employees to balance work and bringing up child, Kao expanded the child-raising services provided by the Kao Family Welfare Association and promoted awareness of them. Focusing on the Kinki area as a model district, Kao also promoted the utilization of an external service to support child raising. Furthermore, with the aim of realizing more flexible and diverse work patterns, Kao introduced flextime and new hourly leave system.


Kao considers work-life balance to be one component in the shaping of an environment to promote Diversity and Inclusion. In accordance with the situation in each country, we strive to enhance a variety of support systems and promote the creation of better workplace environments.
For instance, in balancing work and child and/or nursing care, we are committed to a corporate culture that encourages utilization of these systems. To do so, we have established an awareness month and conduct awareness-raising activities. Through our EPS Awareness Activities Meetings, we work to ensure that these programs reach all of our employees. We will continue our efforts to raise the awareness of each of our employees and cultivate an appropriate workplace culture.


Balance support systems

Kao has put in place a variety of systems for supporting work-life balance to assist employees who have child rearing and nursing care responsibilities. To make these systems easy to understand for employees, we have also created the Work and Life Balance Guidebook, which includes descriptions of in-house and external systems and other useful information. It has been made available on our intranet.

Systems for supporting work-life balance
Key support systems
  • Extended Child-care/Family-care leave
  • Sick/Injured child-care leave
  • Shortened work hours
  • Overtime work exemptions
  • Child-care time
  • On-site day care facility, etc.
Creating a supportive organizational structure
  • Work and Life Balance Guidebook
  • Seminars for those returning from child-care leave
  • e-learning for managers
  • Awareness posters/ pamphlets
  • Pre- and post-child-care leave interviews
  • F&M (Father & Mother) Meetings
  • Nursing care handbook
  • Newsletters, etc.
  • Child-care leave reports
  • Nursing care seminars


Supporting a balance between work and child-care

Kao provides a variety of support based on the policies of “child-care requires full participation from each partner regardless of gender” and “creating an environment in which employees can display their abilities even within limited time and continue working.”

From childbirth to return to work

To help ensure that employees who have taken an extended childcare leave can enjoy a smooth return to the workplace, Kao has introduced systems by which such employees meet with their supervisors prior to their leave and return and submit regular reports with updates on their situations (child-care leave reports). In addition, Kao holds special seminars on an annual basis to assist employees who will soon be returning to the workplace, encouraging both employees and their partners to attend, to think about their career and child-raising together. At these seminars, Kao provides special programs where employees who have been on leave can learn about the preparations they need to make before returning to work and their partners can learn useful information and techniques to carry out work-life balance as parents.
Furthermore, in response to the serious problem of the long list of children having to wait to enter day-care facilities in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Kao has established an on-site day-care center, called Merries Garden, at the Head Office of Kao Corporation (Kayabacho office) with the aim of supporting employees’ return to work.
Kao also tries to make it easier for male employees to take childcare leave, distributing awareness-raising pamphlets to those with newborns and their supervisors.
Workplaces are becoming more understanding, and the ratio of employees taking child-care leave is high—nearly 100% for eligible female employees and about 40% for eligible male employees.

After return to work

Kao offers a variety of events that provide new opportunities for employees to meet and share their experiences. These include F&M (Father & Mother) Meetings for employees currently raising children, roundtable talks with other female employees who are also mothers, and work-life management seminars conducted by outside instructors for male employees.

In order for employees to be able to display their abilities even within limited time and continue working, we believe that one measure is to make childcare services available to them. In 2015 Kao expanded the child-raising services provided by the Kao Family Welfare Association and promoted awareness of them. Furthermore, focusing on the Kinki area as a model district, Kao promoted the utilization of an external childcare sharing service* in which parents help one another in looking after children. As well as this effort in the community, there was also an example of mutual assistance between the employees of Kao Customer Marketing Co., Ltd. and the beautician employees of Kanebo Cosmetics Sales Inc. Kao hopes that such efforts can take root in other regions as well.

Use of childcare support system (Kao Group in Japan)
  2013 2014 2015
No. of employees
taking child-care leave
Female 647 638 640
Male 75 106 127

The Merries Garden: on-site day-care center


Supporting a balance between work and nursing care

Kao promotes the establishment of schemes to support a balance between work and nursing care based on the policies of enabling individuals to act on their own initiative and encouraging everyone to help one another in a spirit of mutual cooperation.
Based on the results of a survey of employee circumstances regarding nursing care in 2009, Kao established a mid-term action plan and has been working to promote a system for supporting a balance between work and nursing care, focusing on addressing the heavy mental burdens placed on those providing nursing care for family members by strengthening the nursing care consultation system and through awareness raising in the workplace.

Kao holds nursing care seminars every year. In 2015 such seminars were held at four places in Japan. Kao also continues to disseminate information about nursing care via the company newsletter and to implement case-study-based training for new managers.
Furthermore, Kao endeavors to make in-house information useful to society at large, for example by participating as a member in the Committee to Study Projects to Support Work-Care Balance (commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare).


Promoting appropriate working hours

Kao is striving to realize work management that balances flexibility and zeal and includes not only the work-life perspective but also the realization of effective and efficient working methods and the promotion of employees’ health.
If an employee is tending to work long hours, Kao strengthens cooperation among the employee concerned, the workplace, and the company to prevent the tendency from becoming prolonged or constant by, for example, promptly holding an interview with the employee concerned or alerting the employee’s supervisor.

Since July 2015 Kao has been implementing the following two measures in order to promote the creation of an environment aimed at realizing more flexible and varied work patterns based on the themes of setting flexible work hours consistent with individual circumstances, such as childcare and nursing care, and curbing long and late overtime work.

  1. (1) Partial revision of the flextime system and introduction of a setup by which employees can set their own times for starting and finishing work between the hours of 07:00 and 20:00
  2. (2) Introduction of an hourly leave system*

In 2015 Kao also produced an original poster using the most outstanding work-life balance slogan from among those submitted by employees. The poster is displayed at Kao Group sites around Japan in an attempt to raise awareness in the workplace.
More than ever, Kao is committed to improving work productivity and generating greater vitality in the workplace with the goal of implementing organizational reforms to promote the health of employees and accelerate business growth.

  • *Hourly leave system
    Employees can take leave in hourly units up to a maximum of five days of paid leave a year.
Rate at which paid holidays were used at Kao Corporation
  2013 2014 2015
Rate (%) 71.0 70.9 65.8

Original educational poster featuring work-life balance slogan

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