[Company Spotlight: Skylark Holdings] JLPT N4 is Enough to Work at Family Restaurants with Cat Robots


Skylark Holdings Co., Ltd. (すかいらーくホールディングス) is a restaurant chain loved by people of all ages for its cosy, affordable restaurants such as Gusto, Jonathan’s, and Bamiyan. In recent years, “Cat-shaped Serving Robots” have been introduced in restaurants nationwide. The heartwarming and futuristic sight of the cute robots delivering food has also contributed to the popularity of the company’s restaurants.

Did you know that Skylark’s technological innovations also greatly contribute in creating an easy to work environment for foreign nationals? Although the hospitality industry generally requires high Japanese language proficiency, there are many part time workers with JLPT N4 or N5 who have started working at Skylark’s restaurants. 

WeXpats Guide interviewed Skylark’s part-timers recruitment manager. We asked about part time jobs at Gusto and Jonathan’s that are easy to work at even for newcomers to Japan. 

▲ “I’ve brought your food, nyan! (料理もってきましたニャン!)” says the adorable cat-shaped serving robot that is popular with children (from Gusto’s official X account)

▲From Skylark’s Part-Timer Recruitment Page (very simple Japanese is used) 

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“Aiming to Become a Family Restaurant Where People of Diverse Nationalities Can Participate” is An Initiative of Skylark’s

―― I was surprised when I saw the Part-Timer Recruitment Page for Foreign Nationals. It is written in very simple Japanese, but is there a Japanese level requirement for employment? 

▲ Shibayama Hideya-san (芝山英也) - Crew Recruitment Team Leader, HR Recruitment Group, HR Headquarters, Skylark Holdings 

Shibayama Hideya-san (Shibayama-san from hereon)
Although we do not have a specific Japanese language level standard, most crew members (employees) join the company at JLPT N4. There are also crew members working with N5. 

Skylark’s part time jobs are mainly divided into “Hall (Customer Service)” and “Kitchen (Cooking)”, but just because you work in the hall does not mean a high level of Japanese is required. We are working to remove language barriers so that people of diverse nationalities can participate. 

―― N4?! It is often said that a Japanese level of N3 is generally required for the hospitality industry. How do you lower the hurdles of the job? 

Even before the spread of the coronavirus, Skylark has been proactively introducing digital technology and automating various tasks. Customers can place their own orders using the touchscreen, and payment is mainly done through self-checkout. Through these DX (Digital Transformation) initiatives, we have reduced the number of tasks that require a high level of Japanese proficiency, and created an environment where it is easy for people from overseas to participate. 

Manuals used in stores are also digitalised, and can be viewed in 5 languages (Japanese / English / Chinese / Korean / Vietnamese). By practising in order what is written in the manual, all the basic tasks can be mastered.

―― Speaking of Skylark’s digital technology, the cat-motif serving robots is also famous. Its facial expressions and spoken lines are so cute that even my child wants to go to Jonathan’s saying “I want to meet the robot!” (laughs)

Thank you (laughs). Over 3000 of the “BellaBot” serving robots have been deployed in stores nationwide, and greatly contributes in making work easier for employees. 

The introduction of such digital technology is aimed at improving working conditions, in addition to enhancing customer satisfaction. The idea is to utilise the time freed up by serving robots and self-checkouts to provide finer customer service. 

Therefore, while lowering the hurdles for starting work, we have also introduced a 6-step career advancement system that increases hourly wages as you learn and take-on more advanced tasks. Coworkers will support you in learning your job and Japanese, and in some stores where you can find seniors that originated from the same country, it is possible to receive training and support in your native language. 

―― The existence of a clear evaluation system where “If you can do this, your hourly wage will increase,” is a good point for first-time workers in Japan. 

Everyone that comes to Japan does so with a strong sense of purpose, so we have to provide them with advantages that come with choosing a part time job at Skylark. Many part-time workers from overseas invite friends from the same school or community to work with them. It makes me happy to see the results of our efforts when I see stores becoming more globalised. 

―― Skylark’s part-timers receive many benefits, but which one is the most popular? 

Skylark Part-Timers Benefits Systems

The meal support system is especially popular among international student part-timers. This system allows employees to enjoy up to 2 meals at 356 yen each from a menu of up to 1000 yen on days they have a shift. 25% discount coupons that can be used on non-working days are also provided. 

▲ A great system where you can enjoy popular menu items up to 1000 yen for a low price.

In addition, though not really considered a benefit system, Skylark has a training centre for foreign national employees where they can practise Japanese customer service and machine usage before actually working in stores. Although availability is limited in certain areas, we have received good feedback from those who have received the training. 

▲ A look at what training at the training centre is like. 

―― Are there any instances when improvements were made based on the opinions of part-timers? 

The recruitment page mentioned earlier was greatly improved after consulting with foreign national part-time workers. Actually, when the page was first released, we had written all the text in Hiragana thinking it was a good idea. However, we were told, “On the contrary, it is difficult to read…” Now, we use Kanji and Furigana. 

Other examples of advice received include changing “Transportation Expense (交通費)” to “Money for the Train from Home to Store (家から店までの電車のお金)”, changing honorific expressions (ご案内する・お持ちする) to expressions that are used in daily life, and avoiding using words and expressions not taught in school. 

▲From Skylark’s Part-Timer Recruitment Page

What we are currently working on is creating an environment where people from overseas can work with peace of mind even during late-night hours. There are many part-time workers who want to earn lots at a part-time job, so by improving support for late-night shifts when hourly wages are higher, we can increase the number of work style options. 

―― Lastly, please leave a comment for those who are looking for a part-time job in Japan.

Skylark Holdings will continue to make improvements with the aim of creating restaurants where everyone can thrive regardless of nationality. We look forward to hearing from everyone reading this article. 

In Collaboration with Skylark Holdings


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