Advantest conducted our first Global Employee Engagement Survey in 2018. Though the implementation of the survey was postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, three years later, in the fall of 2021, we repeated the Gallup survey.
Purpose of the Survey
Advantest continuously pursues a culture in which all employees are appreciated, respected, and work together to achieve common goals. The purpose of this survey is to provide employees with opportunities to share their thoughts on our company or organization. It stimulates dialog between the manager and the team, which ultimately leads to creating ideas for improving our company or organization from every level. The survey results provide a clue to knowing what the employees think of their work or work environment and how the company can support its employees. The survey makes it possible to identify the company's strengths and the fields that require improvement through open feedback from employees. In addition, we will take actions for improvements so as to raise the level of employee engagement in work and workplace environments, with the aim of improving the performance of the company as a whole as well as the performance of individual employees. Advantest believes that individual and organizational strengths are the two "wheels" that not only drive employee engagement but are needed to enhance the comprehensive strength of human capital.
Engagement and its Basics
Employee engagement refers to the emotional commitment of employees to their organization or its goals. An employee who is engaged in work does not only do what is minimally required, but goes about his/her work enthusiastically and energetically, with an effort to output more than what is required. According to a survey conducted by Gallup, Inc., engagement among employees worldwide is only 15%. In addition, it has become clear that there is a connection between employee engagement and the following indexes.
- Profitability, customer ratings, and productivity (in direct proportion)
- Turnover, absenteeism, safety incidents, and quality defects (in inverse proportion)
Implementation of the Survey and Future Plans
The survey during fiscal 2021 was conducted from October 12th to 26th for all employees of the Advantest Group who had been employed for three months or longer at that point. The response rate was 90%. The survey was conducted using the platform of Gallup, Inc. in an online format in which anonymity is ensured.
The results showed significant improvements over 2018, including an increase in scores for all items in Q12 (12 questions for engagement measurement derived from the findings of Gallup, Inc.). The overall average score was 3.64, an increase of 0.16 points from the previous survey. This is by far the biggest improvement among companies who consecutively completed the Gallup survey. We also saw an improvement in awareness and opportunities related to the category of Recognition (the need to know that efforts are recognized and valued) and Development that were highlighted during the previous survey, marking 26% for the ratio of Engaged (diligent) employees, a 6-point increase from the previous score. This survey confirmed that the engagement level of Advantest Group companies is considerably higher than the standard for each country. These are clear indications of each of our employees' efforts to understand the importance of engagement, and shows how they have embraced and implemented our corporate reforms such as "INTEGRITY" and "Leading with INTEGRITY," yielding measurable results.
Our overall score is not high, when compared to other companies participating in Gallup's survey, and there is still room for improvement. After sharing information with each department, where department leaders discussed the factors that may have led to these results, we drew up action plans to address each issue.
A third Gallup survey is scheduled to be conducted in 2023. This survey plays a meaningful role not only in confirming activity results in numerical terms, but also in terms of instilling an awareness of engagement as part of our corporate culture. Engagement varies considerably depending on the customs and cultures of each country. While localized efforts are necessary, our INTEGRITY Core Values, which are the foundation of our corporate philosophy, The Advantest Way, are shared globally. We believe that it is essential to enhance engagement by executing action plans that address the characteristics and challenges of each department, sharing information about activities across the entire Group, and promoting investment in human and economic resources aiming to foster our corporate culture.
Company-wide Activities to Further Boost Engagement
The results of the 2018 Gallup employee engagement survey provided us an opportunity to reflect on our attitudes and mentality towards work.
Since 2019, we have held multiple workshops to deepen all employees’ understanding of INTEGRITY Core Values, and since FY2021, we encouraged all our managers to participate in the Leading with INTEGRITY workshops. In addition, the "INTEGRITY Award" was also introduced, enabling Advantest employees to recognize and express their appreciation for colleagues who have demonstrated our corporate culture in exceptional ways.
In response to the results of the second Gallup survey conducted in the fall of 2021, we were urged to take initiatives to improve departmental engagement. Some departments were puzzled by the fact that the company did not lay out a concrete approach to the challenge. However, spun by active two-way communication during the workshops on manager level, it made it easier for employees to share their efforts of each department. While various departments adopted spontaneous approaches to workshop improvement after the initial survey, a favorable circle of influence has extended beyond their own department, evolving into various activities aimed at achieving the team's vision.
The INTEGRITY Awardees
"Cross 1on1" is a little different from the conventional 1on1, referring to a place where mentors (advisers) and mentees (those who are advised) can talk one-on-one across organizational boundaries. Mentees are able to gain insights that cannot be obtained from their own department or daily work alone, and foster their potential. Mentors also have the opportunity to improve their coaching skills, which is one of the most important elements of the leadership model.
The number of participants in this activity, which started in 2020 at the ATE Business Group (Japan), has increased each time, from ten at the beginning to nearly 90 in the sixth round. Efforts to appreciate and live by the EMPOWERMENT element of INTEGRITY and the expanding circle of its implementation were highly evaluated, insomuch that it was selected as one of the President's Award of The INTEGRITY Award in FY2021.
Examples of Visualization Tools
From April 2021, the ATE Business Group (Japan) has incorporated an engagement visualization tool to survey the team, followed by team discussion and improvement activities every three months. These initiatives are managed by survey feedback activity promotion members who are volunteers from inside and outside the department, and their participation is optional, decided upon a consensus of the team. This platform of communication includes regularly inviting external lecturers who hold webinars and creating opportunities to share examples of each team's activities. These efforts have drawn interest among our young engineers who reported that work has become easier, requesting for more involvement in these activities. The promotion members also felt a strong response, and are trying to expand the scope of activities so that they can call teams within the department to participate along with developing activities that transcends divisional frameworks.
From FY2019, the Production Group (Japan) has incorporated survey tools monthly in which employees are able to report their work conditions, human relationships, and health conditions to their respective managers. This enables them to grasp organizational and individual issues in a timely manner, and these efforts are supported by interviews, etc. In FY2021, more than half of the departments used it. We are implementing measures to improve engagement in line with each department as there are various types of jobs and organizational forms.
Furthermore, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, in which employees have been taking measures to prevent infection such as telecommuting, restrictions on face-to-face opportunities have made two-way communication difficult. Given this, initiatives such as the monthly online distribution of messages from the Executive Vice President and initiatives shared by each department, as well as surveys of employee opinions have been actively implemented.
FS Global Coffee Talk Offered to Foster Solidarity
The FS Global Coffee Talk*1, which has been held by the Field Service Group (FS) ever since its launch in July 2020, commemorates its second year of operation in July 2022. During this period, eight FS INTEGRITY Awards*2 were awarded, including collaborators from other departments excluding FS were also commended. By recognizing and expressing appreciation for colleagues who have exceptionally demonstrated the core value TEAMWORK, straddled across countries and departments, it has been used as an opportunity to boost our employees' motivation who develop businesses both globally and locally.
From July 2022, in addition to the FS INTEGRITY Award, we established the FS INTEGRITY MVP Award to spotlight and commend not only the team's activities recognized by the FS INTEGRITY Awards but also the outstanding activities and achievements of individual employees (Single Contributors). Service delivery managers in each country and leaders of each functional team recommend employees who exemplified our core values of INTEGRITY in exceptional ways, who, they believe, are indispensable for transforming the corporate culture, achieving business success, and practicing operational excellence, while the award is bestowed by the Executive Vice President. The awardees share their excellent know-how and the challenges they experience in achieving their goals, in hopes that these insights will help those who may be facing the same issues in other departments and countries.
FS Global Coffee Talk has created a new platform for communication between employees who have never met or heard of each other, which has in due course contributed to an even stronger sense of department solidarity.
*1 FS Global Coffee Talk offers two-way communication platform, enabling all team members to access the thoughts of the Executive Vice President and status reports of the top managers in each region, which is held online every quarter.
*2 FS INTEGRITY Award: A system in which the entire team is recommended by the manager of each functional unit. Participants may apply for this award by clearly indicating which aspect of the core value of "INTEGRITY" was the focus of their activities.