Tuesday, Jul 17, 2018
Services | Asia-Pacific | Japan

Intelligence, Ltd.

The pressure is on to develop a creative, resourceful workforce

2 years ago

Taro Mineo, President of Intelligence, Ltd.
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Taro Mineo

President of Intelligence, Ltd.

The head of one of Japan’s largest recruitment specialists, Intelligence Ltd., sees dynamic changes in the Japanese mindset as its society adjusts to and welcomes changes in attitudes to human resources. President of Intelligence Taro Mineo discusses what constitutes the ideal candidate, the in-demand ‘global person’, that corporations are looking for and Japan’s changing labor market.   


What impact would you say has Abenomics had on Japan’s human resources sector and of course Intelligence as well?

Abenomics has been promoting the things that the companies are wanting. They have been pushing us towards a direction and giving us opportunities for the companies. As a result, the year 2014 and 2015, many companies have all achieved the profits that they were looking for.

As far as the globalization of the companies and the people, the surrounding environment has a lot to do with these changes. Abenomics has been promoting our society in making these changes. One of the most significant things is the decrease in the labor population in Japan and the managers of the companies have realized its limitations.

Also, in Japan and its neighboring Asean countries, the attractiveness as a market is rising, especially after the Lehman shock around 2008 or 2009 and during these past seven years.

There are two factors here: the decrease in labor force as well as the rise in the attractiveness of the market.

There is an undeniable fact that the Japanese population is decreasing. For that reason, these factors are pushing us to globalize: the growing market and the attraction from the outside.


What impact do you think the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will have on the Japanese labor force, considering the quality is arguably much higher than most countries within the TPP?

There are two aspects to this. The first is the simple labor population issue and the other is a high-level labor population issue.

As for the simple labor population issue, we can see many changes in the marketplace. For example, companies are shortening their work hours or the opening hours of the stores because they cannot secure enough people, or they have to alter their plans to open new stores because of the shortages of labor. As you can see, in convenience stores and bars, such as Izakayas and restaurants, there are many foreign workers already in the labor force, but this kind of scenario will be seen in many other sectors. Otherwise, society cannot keep going on as it is.

Then for the high-level labor population issue, the problem is that the remuneration is not high enough in certain sectors, especially in terms of the social care for workers because their work is very tough. However, they cannot be compensated enough. This is the area that is in high demand.

Especially in the service industry, they need to organize a plan or platform to enable or to accept foreign workers. It is indispensable. Otherwise, we cannot keep on going.


What are your top priorities as you look to the future of Intelligence?

Well, I think I’m seeing a lot of business opportunities in consulting companies and giving suggestions to society. For example, we were talking about the shortages in the labor force. However, I think there are several ways to consult companies. For example, how to promote the participation of women in the companies as well as how to use senior labor force within those companies. Also how to decrease the turnover rate in companies is another issue on which we could be of help. In addition to that, using the foreign labor force; for example, I have about 40 to 50 staff members here our company who are not Japanese.

What I hear often from them is that it’s difficult for them to get integrated or feel at home in the Japanese system, in particular because of the evaluation system. In Japan, evaluation tends to be on a long-term basis, but for them, it is not easy to understand. Sometimes they say I would like clear guideline on what will give me a raise and things like that. That is one thing where I think we can be of help to the society.

We’re saying companies are all about people. The companies are looking for workers of quality and also they don’t have enough numbers of them. There is a need in a society in this aspect and not many companies can provide solutions to this. We think we can take the lead in this aspect.


Another trend is that while unemployment is very low in Japan, with one of the best unemployment rates in the world, 3.3%, part-time and temporary workers are on the rise. What are your expectations for this particular part of the labor market? Do you see an increase for your business?

There are many categories of non-permanent worker. In Japanese companies, there is a category of permanent workers and then for the non-permanent workers there are contractors. There are hourly workers and there are many different classifications.

My understanding is that the unemployment rate is low, but there is an increase of non-permanent workers. Let me say my personal opinion and here’s a definition in the Japanese labor market about the type of work that people do. I think this definition is going through a moment of big change at this time. I personally think that the Japanese labor market is not mature enough to adapt to those changes. For example, permanent workers are called the proper workers. Proper workers are the permanent workers. Then all the others are classified under the improper workers.

For example, the contractors, hourly people, and also, dispatched temporary workers, are all nonpermanent. This is due to the fact that historically in the Japanese labor market since the end of the World War and up until the 1990s, during this economic boom, fresh grads would be working for the same company for their entire career life. They would be promoted by the seniority system. This is still there in our society and so therefore Japanese society has one of the lowest turnovers in the world. Therefore, it is considered normal or it is taken for granted that you will not change your job for your entire life.

The reason why improper employees have been no the rise during these last two decades is because up until the ‘90s companies only knew of growth, but after that, they have been very cautious about increasing the number of employees because of their insecurity.


Today I think the push is global. Temp Holdings, which Intelligence is part of, is ideally positioned to capitalize on and facilitate this global push, with offices in America, Hong Kong and 13 other Asian countries. How are you helping Japanese companies go international by providing them with globally minded human resources?

Companies are asking especially for new graduates and they want a global workforce; but the definition of what is a global person is very difficult. In principle, it comes down to people who can think, and especially those who are able to think creatively. What we hear from companies about the type of people they are looking for is that it is better for them to be able to speak English or to be able to communicate with overseas people right away. It’s not an absolute necessity, but they have to be able to do a good job or at least get the job done.

Then, those who can get the job done or who are globally minded people are really hot in the world of corporations. When we say global, I think there are two things. First, it is a person who is able to understand or communicate with other people, cultures, or backgrounds, and who has an understanding of such differences. This is one attribute. Another is that it is a person who is able to create something, because when you go overseas, you don’t only do Kaizen or reformation in foreign countries, but you’ll be asked to create something.

If they can show the initiative to be creative and pursue things on their own initiative, it is very important. Nowadays in Japan, we don’t talk much about global, but we talk about what enables a person to become global.


Can you outline for us the importance of your slogan “your job, your, joy”, and what allows you to separate your employees from maybe other HR companies?

I joined this company in 1994. At that time, it only had 16 workers. We entered this labor market industry. We were the last ones to participate in this, but we had the highest growth rate. In the recruitment industry, it is very difficult to differentiate yourself by strategies; the only way to do it is through the employees.

There are two pillars in our management in order to enable our company to grow. The first is to pick the people with high potential. The second is to enable those high potential people to develop their potential to the maximum. I think we have been recruiting people who are able to understand our worldview and our company mission and vision. We as the management have to be careful and to let those people grow, to nurture our employees.

I think we have been able to execute this kind of operation. I have been with this company for 21 years. I’ve seen my seniors do the same and I will continue to do this. This is the key to our growth in the future as well.


What is the new brand of Japan you would like people overseas to see?

This is the last opportunity for Japan to change and to leave these two decades behind and to change. This is our very, very last chance. The energy is there. If we bring those energies together in a strategic way, there are ways for change. In addition, I think some threats that the managers come across can be opportunities for change.

Also, going back to Abenomics, one positive thing about Abenomics is that management as well as society as a whole are getting more confident about the change. It is okay to change. ‘We are able to change’ is the mindset of the general society. We were talking about the educational change, but by education, the companies, and the individuals, we can move towards the change. I think in the near future, we could bring about the big change or big evolution. I’m seeing all the elements that are leading to that.

In terms of Japan as a whole, people tend to be conservative and not liking to change, but there are many, many elements of change that are dispersed in our society. So please look forward to it. The best way to do it is to invest in Japan a lot.




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