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A hiring lesson from Japan?

Employers throughout much of the world are facing a hiring problem: they have more jobs than people willing to do them. This problem is nothing new – it existed before the pandemic, particularly in certain sectors such as healthcare and logistics. But the pandemic exacerbated the problem, pushing many older workers into early retirement and convincing other workers in low-paying industries such as hospitality that it was a good time to make a move to a higher paying and safer sector. As pent-up consumer demand exploded in 2021, so too did the demand for workers to fill those jobs making widgets, serving in restaurants, and all of the other things that had been put to the wayside.

The labor market looked a lot like Japan’s labor market has for the past decade. Too many jobs, not enough workers.

So I find it interesting that the world’s most prominent staffing and job board company, Recruit – which is based in Japan – has  introduced a new job app to promote the rehiring of retired employees. Recruit has been surrounded by a labor market that has struggled with the supply side of the equation for years. Now that this problem has emerged worldwide, Recruit is well situated to apply some of the answers that Japan developed over the years.

The country has one of the longest life expectancies – 84 years. So one solution to the labor shortage has been to either extend the retirement age to 80 – or to do away with it entirely and let people work as long as they like. Another response has been increased dependence on robotics. And of course another is to reach into the retired employee pool and bring them back. Childcare options have been expanded to encourage both more people to have children, and to encourage parents to return to work more quickly.

So what about your recruiting service? Should you encourage retired workers to return to the workforce? One consideration is the niche you serve – are older workers still able to do the work? For example, if you focus on manufacturing, there may be jobs that are simply too strenuous for an average 80-year-old. But other niches, such as the arts, have long histories of older workers. Also, you must consider your employers – are they willing to hire retired workers? Are there initiatives already in place that you can support?  Perhaps you should try partnering with key employers to promote ‘case studies’ of rehiring that worked.

Think about it. The problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

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