Policy also allows for bereavement leave when idols retire, leaving office early for surprise concerts.

Japan’s work and team-focused societal values mean that taking a day off when you’re sick is anything but a no-brainer. And if many companies aren’t sympathetic to workers looking after their physical health, you can probably guess that they tend to be even less open with employees taking a mental health day when they’re feeling over-stressed or depressed.

But it’s a different story at Hiroro, a Tokyo-based creative direction company that works in the music video and TV commercial fields. Hiroro founder and president Shizen Tsurumi is fully accepting of the idea that workers’ mental and emotional condition is just as important as their physical health, and he recently announced a new company policy that allows employees to take bereavement leave if their favorite idol singer retires from show business, so that they can grieve and sort out their feelings.

▼ Tsurumi spread the word through his Twitter account.

The new policy is called the Oshi Vacation System, with oshi being a term used in the idol fan community to describe a fan’s favorite performer. It doesn’t even have to be your absolute favorite who’s retiring, either, as the system allows employees to take up to 10 days off if their number-one oshi is retiring, and up to three days off for secondary or lower-ranked oshi. Oh, and if your number-one oshi is getting married, you’re also eligible for 10 days of bereavement leave. Those are all paid vacation days too, by the way, and you’re allowed to split them into pieces if you like, such as first taking a few of the days off when your oshi announces they’re engaged, and then the rest when the actual wedding ceremony takes place.

Tsurumi says he was inspired to introduce the Oshi Vacation System by two events. In one, he noticed an ordinarily model employee, who’s a fan of Nana Mizuki, was unfocused and uncooperative on the day last summer when the anime voice actress and vocalist announced her marriage. So recently when Tsurumi noticed another employee who was feeling down because their favorite idol revealed that she’d be retiring soon, he told the employee to feel free to take some time off if he needed to (and he did), then decided to make that accommodation an official company-wide policy.

The system isn’t just for sad times, either, as it also includes a framework to make it easier for employees to request time off or leave the office early when their oshi is having a concert or a meet-and-greet event that they want to attend, with possible fast-tracking of approvals for suddenly announced “surprise concerts” that fans don’t find out about until a few hours until they’re taking place.

For those outside the idol fandom, this all might seem like overkill. But for Hiroro, a company whose core values, as stated on its website, include the belief that “Nothing motivates someone to work harder than the feelings they have for the people and things that they like,” the Oshi Vacation System makes a lot of sense if the goal is to keep employees both productive and happy.

Source: Twitter/@itaru9Z, IT Media
Top image: Pakutaso
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