After a painfully slow year, the Indian economy has finally started stabilizing and regaining its momentum, and along with it all Indian citizens are renewing their future aspirations. Woman entrepreneur, Bhavna Udernani, Founder and Managing Director of Adhaan Solution Pvt. Ltd – dedicated to empowering businesses with integrated and tailor-made staffing solutions for the past 15 years; talks about what 2021 has on the plate for the Indian youth and the post-pandemic growth in employment opportunities in the country.
(Excerpts from the interview)
2020 has been historically the worst year recorded in centuries. Can you share with us your views about the crawling economy?
Chaos, misinformation, confusion, can only begin to start describing the year that went by. Physical distancing ensured through a suspension of rail and inter-state bus services, closure of public places, cessation of all non-essential activity, and street-level micro-monitoring. All this wasn’t easy, either for the authorities or for the common man. In fact it was miserable and terrible indeed. 2020 was one of the most dramatic and traumatic year in centuries, changing everything from life to style – our work patterns, and even how we perceive things has undergone a major change.
Talking about the economy, we are all in this together. Yes, businesses have received a massive blow, but eventually every organisation finds a way to tide over the setbacks, survive and sustain itself in the market.
When it comes to Human Resources, the foremost thing that comes to a layman’s mind are the cuts. Are job-cuts and pay-cuts here to stay?
No, not at all. These job-cuts and pay-cuts are ephemeral. These cuts were just temporary solutions for organizations to survive and sustain since none of us knew exactly how to react to business challenges or how prolonged the pandemic would be!
However, the market works on demand and supply and as long as there is a need for people, there is going to be a demand. It may be limited initially, but in a labour-centric country like ours, it is not subsiding anytime soon. On the other hand there is always a ready supply of resources. Eventually, businesses will find a way to go back to normal and start running in a manner they have always been working.
According to you, what does staffing in the new normal look like?
Realistically speaking, there will definitely be a change in the staffing structure in the coming years. Since organizations now know that the work which was earlier done by 10 people can be managed with 8 people, we will see a dip of about 20 % in staffing needs. Digitalization may also cut some jobs. Companies may cut management level jobs to reduce their weightage and burden. Surplus manpower which organizations always entertained in their kitty for contingencies might not be possible.
As far as the ground-level or blue-jobs are considered, there won’t be many cut-downs. In fact, the market is going to grow to bring things back to the normal pace. But the catch here is, there might be more temporary and seasonal hirings or say FTE (Full-Time Employment) model hirings.
This will not only reduce the costs of the companies but will also increase the productivity of the employees in turn making them more responsible.
According to you, how long will the virtual and remote style of working continue for? Which sectors will take more time to adapt?
Virtual is great for IT, where work is mostly on computer systems and monitoring can be done remotely. However, for a lot of industries remote working may not be the most favourable option. For example, in Sales or Services, where culture and interpersonal connections play an important role, a face to face meeting is much more effective. Maintaining brick and mortar is a huge cost. If it would have been feasible for any industry, such big investments of setting up offices across the globe would have not been made in the first place.
Are organizations besides eCommerce or IT ready for such a huge digital transformation?
Digital transformation today is a necessity for every industry and organization. Today it’s a pandemic, tomorrow it may be another disaster. However, digitalization is not just working from home. It is much more than that. It is the streamlining of all business processes in accordance with digitalization, keeping productivity in mind.
Your take on Gig Economy?
The COVID-19 outbreak has nudged many corporates into adopting the concept of the gig economy. It has become talk of the employment industry. There will be many who will be taking on the heads side of the coin. But today, let’s talk about the tails. The challenges are numerous.
The foremost thing about gigs is one needs to be very tech-savvy as well as digitally strong. Especially when it comes to efficiency, one cannot completely rely on productivity here. The productivity parameters and indexes are still ambiguous. Many times in the lure of cutting costs, companies end-up paying higher.
There is no concept of security of employment or additional benefits. Independent workers do not seem to be eligible for any social benefits such as insurance, medical benefits, employees’ provident fund, bonus, or gratuity.
Cutting the long story short, it is a bubble. Flexibility is cool. But discipline and commitment work wonders in bringing in big numbers.
The numbers in the gig economy are mere gigs, with the benefits being short-term. Often workers may spend years in the economy and still not cultivate a relevant skillset.
Blue-collar workers are facing a tough time in their hometowns. While urban cities see a shortage. How can this gap be filled?
We see blue-collar workers have already started migrating to urban lands from their native places, since it becomes difficult to manage livelihood. Sooner or later the gap will be filled. This has started happening in a few places already.
How bountiful will be the support of the government to form a proper strategy?
All the measures that the present BJP government of India is taking to get the immigrants back to work, are truly commendable. Also, it is great to note that the labour codes now majorly favour the employees.
However, there is a lot to be done yet. Starting big government projects that were on hold or were in the pipeline, on an immediate basis may work wonders to support blue-collar workers.
Do you see the opportunity in the current adversity? Any suggestions from your side for organizations to cope with the losses.
“Take the best out of every situation you get into” has always been the Mantra at Adhaan Solution. That’s easier said than done. To organizations I would say:
- Cut costs, don’t overdo them.
- Don’t focus on immediate gains. Be patient and think long-term.
- Diversify and discover new channels to fetch revenues.