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Some Japanese firms encouraging enterprising staff to moonlight

December 8, 2016

Job Opportunites Motivation Employment Competence Concept

As the government pushes flexible working arrangements under its labor market reforms, more and more firms are letting employees take on second jobs.

Struggling with a labor shortage, such companies seek to secure talented human resources by allowing employees more flexibly in their work.

Some also believe employees can widen their perspectives through side businesses and eventually enhance performance in their primary jobs.

Tomoya Takani, 34, is a freelance disaster-prevention and crisis-management adviser who makes ¥100,000 per seminar. But his main job is as a senior official at an online shopping business operator called en Factory Inc.

Takani said that after marrying, he became aware of the need to prepare for disaster and started learning about crisis-management measures, even launching his own website.

But Takani is not the only employee at en Factory who moonlights. Out of 25 employees, 10 have second jobs, as the company effectively requires them to seek additional outside employment.

If they disclose details of their side businesses and the earnings from them, they are even allowed to do work for their second jobs on weekdays.

“I want my employees to have a side job that would help them grow, not for the sake of money,” said Kenta Kato, president of en Factory.

“Since they need to steer two or more businesses at the same time, their management skills will automatically improve,” he said. “I can tell that they now speak and act differently from before.”

Another en Factory official, Toshihiko Yamasaki, 34, is also moonlighting: He has established his own company selling clothing for small dogs, earning about ¥300,000 in sales a month.

Having launched his own business, “I have become conscious of the entire flow of my primary job, including the flow of expenses,” Yamasaki said.

“I sometimes feel I don’t have enough time, but want to secure a means to make money when I think about my future,” he added.

Major companies have begun to follow suit.

Rohto Pharmaceutical Co. in April gave its employees the green light to have a second business and 25 had done so as of the end of September.

Among their side businesses are brewing micro beer, operating a nonprofit organization and running a pharmacy, according to the major drugmaker.

Rohto said the reform has unexpectedly helped change its employees’ mindset concerning work-life balance.

“They have apparently understood that raising children can also be considered a job outside their primary job,” a Rohto official said. “It has led to a deeper understanding toward colleagues’ leaving for home early.”

Yahoo Japan Corp. also allows its employees to have a second job if it does not affect their primary work, based on the belief that a company has no right to restrict its employees’ lives.

Out of a workforce of about 5,800, several hundred people have applied for the permit, according to Yahoo Japan.

“We hope that they would have various experiences and make achievements at our company,” a Yahoo Japan official said.

But Yoshio Higuchi, a professor specializing in labor economics at Keio University in Tokyo, said that some issues remain unresolved, including the possibility of an employee working too many hours at more than two workplaces.

He added that a concrete legal framework must be set up to keep corporate information confidential.

 

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