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World of HR: As South Korea struggles with a declining birth rate, one employer wants to pay its employees to have babies

Employees will receive the equivalent of $75,000 for each newborn.
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

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From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.

Employers offer their workers a lot of incentives to do things like boost retention, sales, and productivity. But one company in South Korea is taking incentives to a new level, by offering its employees cash to get pregnant and expand their families.

Where in the world? Booyoung Group, a South Korean construction firm with 2,500 employees, said it wants to help the country’s declining birth rate by offering its staff 100 million Korean won (or $75,000) for each baby they have while working for the company. The policy applies to women and men, and extends to the 70 employees who’ve had children since 2021 and will receive lump payments. The move is the first South Korean country to provide “substantial cash support” for this purpose, according to Korea JoongAng Daily.

Some South Korean employers, like tech conglomerates Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, have tried to make it easier for workers to have babies in other ways, such as offering onsite daycare, fertility benefits, or even up to two years of parental leave, as well as smaller stipends, the Korea Times reported.

In a country where women are still expected to stay home after they start a family, many young people delay or forgo having children because of financial and career costs. The country is also among those with the highest rate of single people in East Asia.

The payments at Booyoung Group are in addition to the services and incentives that the South Korean government already offers new families, including 1 million won ($740) a month for a baby’s first year, according to Bloomberg.

Satellite view. Declining birth rates are becoming a global issue, and some economists speculate that they could eventually lead to worker shortages in many countries. Some countries trying to combat this include Japan, which is encouraging more births by expanding parental leave, and China, where some local governments and employers are offering financial incentives to have babies. But some studies indicate that the incentives aren’t doing much to reverse the birth trends, the BBC reported. Long working hours, for example, often leave little time for workers to have a personal life or family. One company in Japan experienced an unexpected mini baby boom after it banned being in the office past 8pm, Bloomberg reported.

If all efforts fail, maybe governments can try playing Marvin Gaye on loudspeakers every evening.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.