Expectations and Anxieties Heard in NHK’s New Graduate Staff “Job Rotation-ization
It has been a long time since Japanese companies began to emphasize “job rotation,” and this trend seems to be affecting NHK, which has more than 10,000 employees.
Traditionally, new graduates of NHK are hired by industry, such as “reporter” or “director,” and are assigned to a branch office in a prefecture. After that, their careers generally progress according to the type of industry they first chose.
However, starting with this year’s new graduates, we have switched to a policy of assigning new recruits to larger bureaus such as Fukuoka and Sapporo, where they will work for several years on a so-called job rotation basis, such as working as a reporter or director, or vice versa, before being reassigned to a regional bureau.
In addition, from this April, broadcasting-related positions such as reporters and directors have been renamed “creators” belonging to the “Content Center,” as if all barriers between different job categories have been broken down.
It has been customary for reporters, especially those in the major mass media, including NHK, to be assigned to regional bureaus after graduation, to gain experience in covering police and prefectural administration, and if their work is highly regarded, to be transferred to a larger bureau, and if their performance there is recognized, to be invited to Tokyo to work for a press club.
However, there have been many cases in which young reporters have been exhausted by the hard work in unfamiliar local areas, and the current trend seems to be to give them a variety of experiences at large branch offices, where there is more manpower, and to “carefully nurture” them.
In fact, NHK is having trouble utilizing human resources in their 40s and 50s. It is difficult to suddenly reassign a veteran staff member who has been a director or reporter all his or her life. It seems that the introduction of job rotation was also aimed at making sure that there would be no more staff who would be left without a place to work when their careers have advanced. The job rotation was also introduced with the aim of eliminating employees who would not be able to stay in their positions as their careers progressed.
At first glance, this seems to be a positive reform aimed at fostering young staff, but there are some concerns within the NHK stations.
Although “job rotation” sounds good, there are many specialized jobs for reporters and directors, and it remains to be seen whether generalist training will be effective. Some veteran NHK employees have even made fun of the idea that “job rotation is like KidZania (a job experience facility for children)” (NHK employee).
Speaking of NHK’s “job rotation,” a major change of popular announcers took place in April, with Maho Kuwako (34) being replaced by Mitsunori Uehara (31) for “Close-Up Today” and “Metropolitan Area Network” respectively.
Some programs have seen their viewership ratings rise while others have seen their viewership ratings fall, and it remains to be seen how effective the changes will be, but it is clear that NHK is trying to create change across the board.