GS chair demands execs get smart about labor

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GS chair demands execs get smart about labor


Huh Chang-soo

GS Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo demanded that group executives come up with smart ways to reduce labor hours while increasing work efficiency during an internal executive meeting held Wednesday.

“[The government-led 52-hour workweek] has been implemented from this month and all our group affiliates have been striving to adjust their work schedules,” Huh said during the meeting with roughly 150 executives including the CEOs of GS affiliates at its headquarters in southern Seoul. “I demand [executives] come up with smart labor schemes so that all our workers can truly keep a so-called work-life balance.”

Among GS affiliates, GS Home Shopping offers flexible work hour programs so employees can choose their commuting hours depending on work schedules. GS Engineering & Construction was the first in the construction industry to implement a 52-hour workweek also in its foreign construction sites.

Oil refiner GS Caltex took on more staff at its oil refining facility during the first quarter as working hours per employee were been shortened.

The group said in a statement that Huh hopes the newly adopted labor programs will be stabilized as soon as possible so they can result in a good work-life balance for employees and enhanced business competitiveness of GS affiliates.

Huh is also seeking a good balance in the group’s business portfolios.

“We need to look ahead 10 years and make bold investments for future cash cow businesses,” Huh said. “It is important that we have balanced business portfolios that can withstand various changes in the market environment.”

Huh is eyeing inter-Korean businesses, according to a group spokesperson.

The group’s construction arm already has a taskforce dedicated to preparing for the business, while GS Retail is also reviewing possible businesses options. Huh had emphasized that the group should be prepared for potential business opportunities between the two Koreas in a forum held in May.

GS has also started to open up its business infrastructure to use idle business resources more effectively in partnership with start-ups and small and midsize companies.

GS Caltex began offering redundant space at its gas stations as warehousing space for logistics start-up Zoomma in a joint move with rival oil refiner SK Energy from June.

The partnership creates additional income for gas station operators and a place to do business at a cheaper cost for the start-up.

Based on the experience, the oil refiner plans to join forces with other start-ups in a broader range of businesses like car maintenance, car cleaning and car sharing in order to create fresh business models using its existing infrastructure.

“In a time like this when the business environment changes so fast it is important that companies don’t depend solely on their own capabilities, but also cooperate with other parties to grow together,” Huh said.

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