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Japan – Companies reinvesting in back office functions

22 July 2013

Japanese companies reinvested in back office teams as a result of improved market confidence, according to the 2013 Robert Walters Half Year Market Update. Positive business sentiments, resulting from the Japanese government’s fiscal strategies, encouraged companies in Japan to approve back office support projects that had remained on hold from previous quarters. These approvals created new openings across IT, human resources, and supply chain functions.

Sam Griffiths, director of technology firm Information Technology said: "Improved business sentiment has created a sense of cautious optimism in Japan. Because of this, we have seen companies willing to move on projects in neglected areas of their businesses; like IT, supply chain and administration. Many employers remain cautious of over-hiring, so while we expect greater recruitment activity in these areas than 2012, companies will continue to manage headcount carefully and may use contractors where possible."

Companies reinvested in their businesses in anticipation of renewed transactional activity during Q1 and Q2 2013. Employers approved technology projects and focussed on back-filling understaffed IT teams by hiring professionals with specialised skill sets. Companies actively sought IT business partners able to integrate technology concepts into a business. However, professionals with the required technical expertise and business acumen to fill these openings were in very short supply, which resulted in slight salary increases for job changers.

Multinational firms also focussed on growing their HR functions by adding experienced HR managers and business partners. In an effort to reduce costs, companies continued to consolidate their HR divisions by utilising teams of specialists, based in regions such as Hong Kong. These 'centres of excellence' created a need for Japan-based HR generalists to localise strategies from regional offices. However, if market confidence continues to rise, specialist HR professionals, in areas such as learning and development, will grow in demand.

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