Japan's demographic structure is rapidly changing through its low birth rate and ageing population. As a result the workplace is also changing, with more people living and working in ever more diverse ways, companies need to adapt. More emphasis is now placed on companies allow for more flexible work styles, which has positive effects on employees by increasing satisfaction; employees who are more satisfied with their workplace and ability to work flexible also tends to lead to improved productivity which can also result in process and product innovation.
Male employees taking childcare leave in Japan is still not common. It is often difficult in Japanese work culture to take leave, let alone childcare leave which has traditionally only been taken by the mother. Today, many male employees are breaking these barriers, in some cases, such as with this session's panel discussion members, the first people in their companies to ever take childcare leave. Being a pioneer can be challenging, but it creates a precedent allowing others to follow in their footsteps. It was because of these pioneers, and supportive leaders and colleagues that more and more men were then able to take childcare leave and all the sudden, what was once a taboo becomes the norm.
The benefits of male employees taking childcare leave are countless. The first and foremost benefit would be the joy that comes from being with their child during the initial and critical first days, weeks and in some cases, months. The panellists talked about their own experiences with this, apart from the joy, there is the support to the mother and family. In addition, the panellists talked about how the time spent during childcare leave also allowed them to think of new ideas they could bring back to their respective work once they got back from leave.