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Keidanren to urge member firms to go beyond cutting work hours

  • December 24, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 12:08 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Dec. 24 (Jiji Press)–The Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, plans to call on member companies to consider devising steps to develop high-value-added products and services to go beyond work hour cuts in their efforts to improve labor productivity.

The policy, to be included in Keidanren’s management-side guidelines for next year’s “shunto” spring wage talks, reflects the group’s view that it would be difficult for companies to grow sustainably only by reducing working hours, an initiative that has been at the center of discussions for work style reforms in Japan.

Faced with the need to improve Japan’s labor productivity, which is the lowest among the Group of Seven countries, Keidanren aims to create work environments that enable both companies and employees to perform at their full potential.

The largest employers’ group in the country confirmed a draft of its guidelines for the 2020 shunto negotiations at a meeting on Monday. It will announce the guidelines in late January.

“Work style reforms are not just about restricting overtime,” Keidanren Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi said at a press conference on Monday.

The draft guidelines labeled work style reform efforts that have already been made by many companies, such as reducing work hours and encouraging workers to take days off, as phase one measures.

Claiming that increasing labor efficiency is not enough to raise labor productivity, the draft guidelines said companies should carry out discussions on phase two measures to find ways of working that would lead to the creation of new products and services.

Specifically, Keidanren plans to call on member companies to improve support for workers to shape their careers autonomously with the aim of fostering human resources capable of dealing with rapid changes in economic circumstances, society and technologies.

The draft guidelines urged companies to aim for enhancing their employees’ drive for work, by giving them opportunities to take on challenges through in-house application systems for starting new businesses, for example.

Keidanren also proposed in the draft guidelines that companies should consider devising measures to provide financial assistance to employees for taking outside courses to acquire new knowledge and skills to deal with the rapid rise of digital technology and other changes.

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