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    Turning a Crisis into an Opportunity, and Continuing to Challenge Ourselves - The Past and Future of 「Building a Strong Organization」 at LINE Fukuoka

    Turning a Crisis into an Opportunity, and Continuing to Challenge Ourselves - The Past and Future of 「Building a Strong Organization」 at LINE Fukuoka サムネイル画像
    [Notice] Effective October 1, 2023, LINE Fukuoka has changed its company name to LY Communications. Articles published on or before September 30, 2023 were written with our former company name.

    LINE Fukuoka celebrates its seventh anniversary on November 18. In that brief period, the company has rapidly expanded in both organizational scale and the functions that it is equipped to perform. 
    To celebrate our seventh anniversary, we will be re-introducing you to the functions that we currently serve. We also sat down with several department leaders to ask them how they've grown over the last seven years, as well as what challenges they plan to take on in the future in our seventh anniversary project.

    In our fifth issues, we sat down with our corporate departments and asked them about "building a strong organization", as well as the past and future of their departments.

    This time we interviewed:


    From a Shared Service to Independent Departments Supporting the LINE Fukuoka Corporation

    ― We heard that LINE Fukuoka's corporate departments were originally shared with other companies.

    Wada: That's correct. In conjunction with our expansion, the need to bring each of those functions into our own company arose.

    ― The first to come about was the accounting department, which was the beginnings of the current Management Support Department.

    Wada: Right. After that, based on our business growth, we've changed into a department that supports LINE Fukuoka, and the LINE Group as a whole. The current Management Support Department performs the complex budget control for formulating business plans, as well as providing various kinds of support related to management and our business as a whole including accounting, interpretation, translation, legal service training for LINE Fukuoka and the LINE Group.

    After the accounting department was set up, we arranged all of the necessary functions to be a complete corporate body including recruitment, general affairs, and PR.


    From 180 to Over 1,000 Employees. Diversification in Occupations, Layers, and Nationalities, as well as Changes in Recruitment

    ― LINE Fukuoka had 180 employees when it was established, and has grown into an organization of over 1,000. We're sure there were changes to recruitment activities, can you tell us about them?

    Wada: In our early stages we needed to recruit a lot of people at once, so we held multiple large-scale recruiting sessions. As the scope of the work LINE Fukuoka takes on, and the scale of our company expanded, we diversified in the positions and layers that were eligible for recruitment.

    Shinagawa: I joined the company in 2019, but to put things in terms of how the hiring team has evolved, moving from just hiring a lot of people in a timely manner, to being able to hire people with a specific specialized skill set and management candidates with a pinpoint approach in parallel was a big change. Each position and layer has different sources of information and takes different actions when changing jobs, so I've heard that we can now bring in a different recruiter system for each field such as engineering or back-office, in order to deepen our understanding.

    There's a wide variety of positions available at LINE Fukuoka, from those that can be taken on with no prior experience, to highly technical positions that require experience. By hiring diverse talent, I feel that the knowledge and skills we've polished will become one of our strengths as a company.

    A recruiting session held in 2014.

    ― Since 2015, you've focused on hiring from overseas, especially for engineers.

    Wada: Since the beginning, we wanted to simply hire excellent candidates, not hire people who are from overseas. And during the recruitment process, we naturally became able to look internationally, instead of just within Japan.

    Shinagawa: When considering building a population of a certain scale, Fukuoka's physical location can act as a bottleneck. On the other hand, its proximity to Asian countries like Taiwan, Korea, and Thailand is one of its strengths. I hear that the leaders in the recruitment and development departments at the time proceeded with a strong conviction.

    ― Currently the company has employees who hail from 24 different countries including America and Europe, not just Asia. You've also strengthened systems, so that we could welcome many employees from overseas.

    Shinagawa: We have a dedicated team that provides support for various procedures to live in Japan and getting settled in. We also share the stable scheme we've prepared for recruiting from overseas at LINE Fukuoka with the other companies in the group, including the LINE Corporation in Tokyo.

    The Expat Staff Support Part provides support to employees who join the company from overseas in a variety of ways, from getting a visa to looking for a place to live. They strive to create a relationship that makes it easy for people to approach them.

    ― Since 2019, recruitment through referrals (being introduced to the company by a current employee) has been stepped up as well.

    Shinagawa: That's right. LINE Fukuoka has been recruiting through referrals since before then, but since 2019, all companies in the LINE Group are strengthening in that regard. That's because we believe that there should be talent that we need, among those who are around our outstanding employees who fit with the company culture.

    Our recruitment team works to make it easy for employees to refer people to them by sharing the information they need and creating opportunities for referrals. For example, they distribute an internal newsletter, have created a consultation desk that's equipped with a chatbot, and have created an incentive system.

    Additionally, we've relied on many partner companies like recruiting agents up to now, but now we're able to focus on breaking into the market ourselves.

    ― In 2019, LINE Fukuoka held the "LINE Fukuoka Hiring Day" company-wide event for current employees to talk about the appeal of their jobs, which over 200 people participated in. Several online hiring events were also held in 2020.

    Shinagawa: Our recruiting team of course takes charge of these activities, but the support of all employees is absolutely essential. I hope to build a culture of finding our colleagues ourselves, and for the recruiting team take on providing the best support to make that possible.

    The LINE Fukuoka Hiring Day career fair held in 2019.

    ― Recently, you're also taking the initiative in ensuring that employees thrive after joining the company. In 2020 you reformed the employee orientation. You've also began the talent recruitment system, which posts open positions within the company and seeks internal candidates, haven't you?

    Shinagawa: Up to this point, our recruiting team handled things until a job offer was made, and getting new employees set up after they joined the company was left to other departments. We believed that we should provide support in getting new employees adjusted as well, so we took another look at orientation. We make sure they have basic information about the company's history, its thought process, and the systems they'll need to do their jobs, to get them in the right mindset to work at LINE Fukuoka.

    The talent recruitment system was created in 2020 as a result of our COO, Mr. Suzuki's desire to support LINE Fukuoka's motto of "Enjoy the Challenges." But it's a structure that I wanted to work on soon after joining the company, and we received feedback from other teams outside of recruitment that it's a system they wanted. Mr. Kaida was one of those people.

    Kaida: I felt that we needed to build a structure that benefitted current employees' careers, while simultaneously recruiting. It's important to create opportunities for employees to find new positions themselves, and create a situation that they can flourish in for a long time.

    New employee orientation

    Fostering an Organizational Culture that Creates WOW

    ― As the company expanded from 180 employees to over 1,000, we're sure you must have dealt with various issues as well. Can you tell us about that?

    Kaida: Employees with different mindsets and backgrounds joined the company, and the difficulty of getting everyone on the same page gradually became apparent.

    Matsuo: Everyone wants to utilize their experience and has a desire to take on challenges when they join the company. However, it's not easy to maintain that will when going about your day to day work, and I think this is something that's true for every company.

    On the other hand, the societal impact of LINE services grows every year.
    We believed we needed to create a venue to share what society expects from us, LINE's current position, and the future it's heading for to renew that resolve, so we began holding Town Hall Meetings in 2015. At first we held them twice a year, and currently we continue to hold the event once a year. Since its inception and continuing to 2020, we've been sure to have Mr. Idezawa, the leader of the LINE Group, come to Fukuoka and speak to employees directly.

    The 2020 Town Hall Meeting

    ― Since 2018, you've also held a "Company-wide Leader's Meeting" for managers each month.

    Matsuo: As the number of departments increase, and our work grows wider, it becomes more important for on-site leaders to have management awareness in leading their departments. These meetings were started to quickly relay the management status of the LINE Group as a whole and HR related information to managers.

    Once the meetings became more stable, we were able to start a section for leaders to talk about what their department has been doing, rather than just one-sidedly being given information. We hope that each department shares the value it's creating, and the meetings become an opportunity to form lateral connections.

    The Company-wide Leaders Meeting, which is currently held online.

    ― From an internal communication standpoint, an in-house newsletter also began in 2015.

    Matsuo: That was a proposal made by employees who originally worked in a service operation department, based on organization issues that they felt. As the company rapidly grew, not knowing what the person sitting next to you was working on, or what kind of person they were, was a growing issue. You might think that wouldn't have an impact on your work, but the larger the scope of a company grows, more people within the company have the same concerns, and people appear to work towards improvement. By knowing about other departments and employees, you can share your knowledge, and the company as a whole moves towards optimization.
    The newsletter began as an avenue to casually share what's happening in other departments on a day-to-day basis.

    Everything inside the newsletter was material that employees could share with their friends, family, and those looking for a job, so from 2019 we integrated it with our official blog, the LINE Fukuoka Press.

    ― The "Family Day" event for employees to invite family members to the office also began in 2016, didn't it?

    Matsuo: LINE Fukuoka is still a young company, and it's in an industry that experiences intense changes. We thought it was important for the loved ones who support our employees to know and understand what our environment is like, and what kind of people we work with. At the same time, LINE Fukuoka has a wide variety of employees, so the event also acts as an opportunity to understand your colleagues' backgrounds.

    ― The event is also unique because it's not operated by the corporate departments, each department comes up with plans, and staff from the entire company come together to hold it.

    Matsuo: If we're going to hold an event, we want to make it one that has the "LINE Fukuoka spirit" and makes our family members say WOW.

    LINE Fukuoka serves various functions, and each of them are carried out by professionals. Because departments like Creative, Development, and Game bring us their plans, we think the event gives participants a better understanding of our company.

    The 2019 Family Day event

    As our number of employees expanded, meeting rooms were often fully booked and some employees couldn't reserve one. However, some meeting rooms were reserved but not being used, so a system to reserve a meeting room on the spot if it's open was introduced.

    Kaida: It feels more is expected of LINE Fukuoka's in-house IT every year. That's not only in terms of improving the quality of our services, but also as the scope of our work expands into new fields like financial services, each site is increasingly conscious of IT and security. I want our department to be a presence that's closely in tune with those expectations.

    ― Following the IT Help Desk, the LFK Care support desk for general affairs was also created.

    Kaida: We wanted to create general affairs that was a step ahead. Additionally, questions related to general affairs were also getting mixed in with IT inquiries sent to the IT Help Desk. We designed the current system as a result of considering what a support desk that's easy for employees to understand and use should look like.

    ― In terms of support for employees, the Interpretation and Translation Team's activities are also expanding.

    Wada: Right. Meetings that require interpretation and work that needs to be translated is increasing across the entire company. Currently, we're working to increase efficiency by visualizing workload through workflow requests, and looking at the volume and trends of interpretation and translation requests.

    ― You've also been creative in our office environment, our internal café and massage rooms are often particularly surprising to visitors. In addition to those staff member working for the internal facilities, there are also Cleankeepers working at LINE Fukuoka who work to improve the office environment. That's something that hasn't changed since the early days of our office.

    Kaida: All of us get involved as employees, so that LINE Fukuoka can be a place with a high degree of freedom and takes on various challenges. I believe that our employees are approaching our work positively and sincerely, and getting creative with what we can do. This might be because of a sense of camaraderie that we are working together in the same company. In the future, we're continuing to strive to offer an environment that everyone can work in comfortably, and provide support to improve our employee's quality of life.

    Our in-house massage therapists. They also distribute health-related newsletters and videos.

    Utilizing Environmental Changes as an Opportunity, Continuing to Build a Strong Organization

    ― The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world recently, and changes appear to be especially big for corporate departments. What kind of evolution are you aiming for in each of your fields?

    Shinagawa: Our environment is going through tremendous changes now, and various issues will probably arise moving forward. That's something we need to anticipate and be prepared for. In the Leader's Meeting at the end of October, I spoke about expected labor issues associated with working from home, and our actions. Issues in communication, evaluations, overtime, and managing mental health can all come up even if employees aren't working from home, but I think it's something we need to pay particularly close attention to when they are. 

    On the other hand, when communication is limited, it's more important than ever before for employees to work autonomously. I want to create a structure that supports that autonomy.

    I would also like to create an environment that takes mid and long-term performance in mind for the company. I want to provide support that lets employees work more positively and independently, such as helping employees find a role model.

    Kaida: In IT, we're already seeing a lot of issues regarding changes in our current working environment. It's imperative that we maintain an environment that's comfortable for both LINE Fukuoka employees, and people using our services.

    These days, "offices being dead" is also a popular theory, but I personally think they're necessary. Moving forward, how can we create an office that's needed as a place, and one that people want to work in? Even if employees can freely choose to come to the office for work or not, I want to create an office where you can feel the advantages of being there.

    Wada: As our business and organizational structure changes acutely, the support that the Management Support Department should be providing also changes. Due to the pandemic we've needed to change processes that were previously done on paper, and the Interpretation and Translation Team began providing support for meetings on Zoom. I expect a lot more changes in the coming business integration as well. I want our department to be one that can respond to these changes quickly and flexibly, and offer the appropriate functions and support.

    Matsuo: From a corporate communication standpoint, I want to continue to create situations where each of our employees can believe in the strength of LINE Fukuoka and our services, and take on their work with the intention of creating the future of LINE from Fukuoka.
    I want to create communication both inside and outside the company, in order for employees to realize their strengths and weaknesses, feel the joy of doing their jobs, and move forward without hesitation as they challenge themselves on a global scale.

    ― This last question is for the Center Heads, Mr. Wada and Mr. Katano.
    Moving forward, how do you want to evolve LINE Fukuoka's corporate departments?

    Wada: We've increased the support we offer and the roles we play according to changes in the company and its business. Each of them was created from what we perceived as issues and needs in that moment. There may be cases where they're difficult to solve, but I want us to continue to face various issues, grow, and evolve.
    Katano: In order for us to continue to be a strong organization, responding to changes is of course necessary, but I also think it's important to be conscious of continuing to change from within. Even if the opportunity is from a negative external factor like COVID-19, I want to use that to put our imaginations to work, and evolve even further. Generally it's easy to say that corporate departments "play defense," but I want us to be a strong organization that continues to change itself to support business.

    A message from the editor/LINE Fukuoka Press
    Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a particularly large amount of changes, and our corporate departments are working under extreme pressure. When we put out a call for employees to express their gratitude, we were moved by how many employees sent in messages of support. 

    LINE Fukuoka is its own corporate body not a branch office, and serves a wide variety of functions. Through the support of these behind-the-scenes players, our employees can continue to take on new challenges today. Mr. Katano, Mr. Wada, Mr. Shinagawa, Mr. Kaida, Ms. Matsuo, thank you very much!

    Our next issue in the seventh Anniversary Project will cover "Regional Collaboration." We hope you'll read the next one as well!

    ▼ Recruitment information for departments in this article:
    <Corporate Site>

    ▼ 7th Anniversary Project - Discussing the Past Seven Years and the Future of LINE Fukuoka [Seven posts in total]

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