PRWeek Asia's Best Places to Work Winners in their own words: Sunny Side Up

The Japanese agency was named one of PRWeek Asia's Best Places to Work in the medium agency category.

Answers from Etsuko Tsugihara, president.

Number of APAC employees: 147 

Number and location of APAC offices: One – Tokyo. (Subsidiaries: Osaka, Seoul, Hawaii)

How do you ensure your company is competitive in terms of salary and other financial benefits?

Many of our employees joined SSU from both PR and non-related firms, giving credibility to the competitiveness of our salary and financial benefits.

I strongly believe that our employees are our company’s greatest asset, and that an individual’s growth ultimately leads to the company’s success and growth overall. To maintain employee satisfaction and motivation in the work place, we have created an environment that encourages communication at all levels both within and between departments, encouraging exchange of information. With these open lines of communication, we are also able to assess and reward employee achievements accordingly. 

How do you ensure your teams receive the required training?

All new employees receive one on one mentor based training in their respective departments. An intensive media relations training programme is required or all employees and covers the skills essential for a PR professional: how to pick up the latest news and trends, and apply that information to their area of responsibility.

Employees are also encouraged to expand their realm of knowledge and skill through regular job rotations as well as inter-departmental study groups. These types of programs expose our staff to different areas of our business and stimulates motivation and growth.

How do you ensure your staff have a clear career path and help them achieve their personal goals?

Employees are required to set both mid-term and long-term goals with specific steps to reach them. These goals are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the team member is on track or to adjust them as necessary, based on first-hand knowledge of the employee’s activities and accomplishments as observed by both the direct senior staff and those from other departments.

In addition to providing financial support for seminars, classes and certification programmes associated with the employee’s goals and aspirations, we have an extensive employee benefits programmes that help our team members pursue and widen their area of expertise.

How does your company maintain a good work/life balance?

In addition to the standard flexi-time and remote or home office programmes, we offer unique ways for our employees to balance their work and private lives. For instance, we designate one day a month for all employees to spend time in an environment that is stimulating and inspirational.

Monthly drawings are held for a spa day courtesy of SSU; financial support is available for various "club" activities such as golf, soccer, craft classes and field trips; and long-term employees are encouraged to take extended holidays with a spending allowance from the company. 

How do you ensure your physical workplace environment and atmosphere is an attractive place to work?

We have a bright office with natural light coming in from three directions, with an open floor plan that enables communication between all departments. Our meeting spaces are fun, creative and child proof, and individual work stations have plenty of space for both work and personal items.

Many of our products and event posters are on display throughout the office to further encourage creativity and inspiration. Our public space is decorated with a variety of "sunny-side up" egg paraphernalia, and our company motto is etched on the entrance to constantly remind us all of our goals.

How does your company effectively communicate with employees?

Open lines of communications are of the utmost importance in our company. As a way to eliminate barriers between the different levels of staff, I act as a role model: my glass enclosed office encourages employees to pop in to chat, and I have lunch with all new employees and one staff from different departments every month.

In addition to regular department and project based staff meetings, we also have morning study sessions called "Poached Egg" where staff share the latest news and creative PR activities from all over the world to stay updated on the latest trend. SNS and intracompany emails and newsletters are also important venues of communication.

How do you ensure diversity at all levels of the organisation?

In July of 2015, we kicked off "SSU Diversity Lab" as a way to enhance staff education and awareness of LGBT as well as to take on the role of being the media’s source for information on LGBT matters in Japan. Under this programme, we hold regular study sessions and seminars related to LGBT matters for our staff as well as for our clients.

We are also a very diverse company in terms of nationalities and background. We have a high female employee ratio, and have established a "partnership policy" where non-married couples receive the same benefits as married ones.

If you had to pick the one most important factor for how your company minimises turnover, what would it be?

In Japan, it is very difficult for women to advance their careers in highly competitive industries such as ours. We pride ourselves on having a female friendly company, and this environment helps to minimise turn over in a very traditional, male-oriented society.

To maintain this environment, in addition to ensuring career advancing opportunities, we offer flexi-time after the employee returns from maternity leave, allow employees to bring their infants to work, and provide monetary incentives for intra-company marriages and for couples who choose to have more than one child.

In three words, describe what it is like to work at your company?

Happy, exciting, innovative.

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