I have written at length about the shrinking work force and talent crunch we are experiencing. Some of you are starting to pay attention. I've seen an increase in companies seeking to streamline their hiring processes and start their highest-quality candidates much quicker. What's interesting is that it's not only companies making real changes, but some countries as well.

At this time, America doesn't have enough children to replace and meet the needs of the growing work force. And believe it or not, other developed countries are in much worse shape than we are. The difference is, those countries are putting together some significant plans to change their situation.

What's the plan? Offering cold hard cash to parents for having children. They call these payments "baby bonuses."

We are not talking small amounts. These bonuses can be pretty substantial. Let me give you a couple of examples. Italy pays about $5,000 a year, and in some parts of the country, it can be three times that. In Singapore, for the first and second child born, you will get a cash gift of $3,000 each and $6,000 each for your third and fourth children. Many countries are offering this type of bonus, including France, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and Cyprus.

Even companies are getting into the picture. SoftBank Corp., which is considered Japan's most family-friendly company, offers the most lucrative of baby bonuses. It pays on a scale from $400 for the first child up to $40,000 for the fifth. Another Japanese company, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., better known to us as Panasonic, has a similar system but not nearly as financially lucrative. The more interesting issue with Matsushita is that the company is directly relating its bonus program to Japan's low birth rate.

No company, government or individual pays this kind of money unless they are truly concerned about how they will fill their positions in the coming years. I haven't seen any comparable program in America, yet we face the same problem.

I think it may be time for us to start strategizing on what we can do as a country to address our declining birth rate. Believe it or not, I'm not just saying this because I have four kids. It's not that the $40,000 isn't tempting. It's that in my position I have a front-row seat to the show. I am seeing firsthand the difficulty companies are having today in meeting their workflow needs. I've attended late-night strategy sessions with employers who are trying to figure out what to do and how to create interest in their positions.

In Iowa, we already have an issue of the "brain drain" and our inability to retain those who have been raised and educated here. Couple that with the low birth rate, and we could be facing an even bigger problem than the rest of the country. These types of bonus programs could become major factors in how job candidates choose companies to work for, and how they choose states to live in.

I truly hope Iowa will lead in the development of these types of programs and ideas. After all, we have plenty of room for bigger families.

Nick Reddin is the business development manager at Manpower Inc.'s Des Moines office.