Sompo encourages employees to work elsewhere

Industry giant leans on outside experiences to help shake up company culture

Sompo encourages employees to work elsewhere

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Sompo Holdings, one of Japan’s largest insurance companies, is encouraging some of its employees to take around a year off and work outside of the company for startups and nonprofit organizations unrelated to their usual jobs.

The “Big Three” Japanese P&C insurer said the opportunity will help its employees gain diverse experiences, which they will bring back and hopefully improve its traditional company culture. This will help Sompo as it enters new business areas, such as nursing care and digital technology, outside of its usual business areas of life and property and casualty insurance, Japan Today reported.

Sompo Holdings president Mikio Okumura said the company is encouraging people to take on new challenges in unfamiliar fields.

“By getting to know people with different values, we want to create a company culture desirable for developing products our clients really need,” Okumura told Kyodo News in an interview.

The programme will be available to a limited pool of employees, beginning fiscal 2023. If it proves successful, it could be extended to a wider pool in the following year.

Employees that are selected will receive their full salary even if they are working for non-profit organisations. According to the report, they will not be treated as having left the company, but their status will be akin to being on an extended business trip. This means that their pay grade and career development will be unaffected. Sompo will look to place these people on its leadership track when they return.

Other major insurers in Japan have also taken steps to enhance the development of their employees and lessen their rigid work cultures.

In 2021, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance lifted its ban on employees having side jobs. From 2030 onward, employees that want to be promoted to manager must have some out-of-company experiences, either through a side job or working for a subsidiary.

Another “Big Three” firm, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, said it plans to abolish, in fiscal 2026, the traditional Japanese system of forced geographic assignments, the report said. Previously, the company demanded employees from more populated offices relocate and fill shortages in other offices. Instead, the company will look to step up local or mid-career recruitment to increase headcount where needed.

MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings is working with its employees who left the company mid-career for other industries. In one example, the insurer asked a former employee who moved into the IT field to be part of a committee that reviews potential business ventures in the digital technology space.

“We are creating a network that tells people who left our company that it’s OK to come back,” said MS&AD president and CEO Noriyuki Hara. “Leaving doesn’t have to be the end, and depending on the circumstances, they may return or help us even if they remain outside the company.”

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