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Putting a brake on employee turnover

Released at: 10:39, 15/01/2018 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Putting a brake on employee turnover

Photo: Akebono

Akebono Brake Astra Vietnam specifically targeted creating a healthy, safe, and comfortable working environment to enhance employee motivation and retention.

Established in 2011 with a strategy of considering employees as among its most important partners, Akebono Brake Astra Vietnam has always targeted creating a healthy, safe, and comfortable working environment to enhance employee motivation.

The Akebono Brake Astra Vietnam Co. is a 100 per cent foreign-invested company and a member of Japan’s Akebono Brake Industry, specializing in manufacturing brake systems and sensor solutions for automobile and other industries.

Akebono Brake Industry was established in Japan in 1929, when the country’s automobile industry could produce only 400 cars. With mechanization, it developed as a brake expert not only domestically but also overseas. Its brake system products are widely used in the industry and nowadays it is a leader in the automobile industry in developing modern brake solutions through “Friction and Vibration”, their control and analysis.

A joint venture between Japan and Indonesia, Akebono Brake Astra Vietnam has 85 employees and was founded in 2011. It began production in 2012 at the Thang Long Industrial Park II in northern Hung Yen province and manufactures high-performance brake systems (including pads) for Yamaha Motor.

Like many others in the area, the company has suffered from high employee turnover since it started. Tired with long overtime and weekend work, many employees quit to seek better opportunities at larger companies.

Faced with an unstable workforce, it decided to review its overtime policies in February 2017 and now aims at zero overtime.

As a foreign-invested company, its Board believes that if a company wants to enhance employee motivation, it should not only provide a safe working environment but also ensure employees’ health and stable job conditions. Employees will then truly become the company’s best partners. This is an ideal strategy that all international business corporations attempt to apply.

The management team worked on scheduling production evenly throughout the year, creating inventories in the low-demand season (usually spring) to use during the much busier period at the end of the year.

Then the team worked on allowing all employees to talk about their daily problems (from salaries and allowances to excessive sunlight in some areas inside the factory) at monthly “free talks”, and installed an improvement suggestion system, where all workers can propose solutions on safety, quality or productivity. Management has decided to introduce as many ideas as possible, targeting 90 per cent.

After more than 100 ideas were received in just a few months, productivity increased 23 per cent in most critical processes and overtime began to fall, coming down to almost zero last August, even with a 20 per cent increase in sales.

Akebono factory

Management quickly realized that they could limit not only overtime but also weekend work. Akebono Brake Astra Vietnam cut 18 working days in 2017 (mostly Saturdays, when work was scheduled), again during a period of record-high sales. Absenteeism halved compared with 2016 and employee turnover reduced by a quarter.

Thanks to these sterling efforts, Akebono Brake Astra Vietnam is now widely considered as one of the most employee-friendly companies in the area and is investing in additional equipment at the new factory, which was built in 2016. The company was awarded a special prize in October by the Hung Yen labor union as a model working environment.

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