Intro: This week Indiastat brings you an exclusive interview of well known HR expert and entrepreneur Rajneesh Singh, Co-founder and Managing Partner, SimplyHR Solutions. Speaking to Senior Journalist Mahima Sharma, he shares very extensive suggestions towards policy changes not just at the government levels but also at the employer levels towards a better overall economy and job market (which is seeing severe cuts during the raging COVID-19 pandemic). Mr Singh also talks about the much-required reforms in the HR sector of India amid the off-and-on Work-From-Home Scenario to give an impetus to the employees. He also talks about how the less-privileged masses need to be brought into the mainstream job market. Rajneesh Singh who’s SimplyHR turns eleven in 2022, shares deep thoughts for the budding entrepreneurs as well. This and much more in an exclusive interaction as below...
MS: With the COVID-19 pandemic seeing no end in near future, what kind of five main HR policies need to be formulated and implemented as soonest possible, so that not just the employer but also the employees are at minimal risk and better off financially as well as mentally?
RS: I am sharing a few suggestions which are the need of the hour Mahima and must be implemented on a consistent pace.
A. An all-encompassing health policy: This should cater to any eventuality of pandemic scenarios coming up in future. Better preparedness will be the order of the day to ensure business continuity. This should include safety of the employee's family members too. A robust wellness program should be developed which should include mental health support too.
B. Job cuts should be the last resort: Companies should try all options before embarking on reducing manpower. We have seen the benefits of salary cuts during the pandemic. The senior management should lead by example and take the maximum hit.
C. Health and term insurance will become a must: Due to so many deaths during the pandemic, families have got hugely hit. Many companies are not only providing better hospitalization cover, they are also providing term insurance which ensures good financial support for the family due to untimely death of the employee.
D. Providing teleconsulting support: Technology has got a huge impetus during the pandemic. A key takeaway is how to leverage this for the benefit of the employees. Providing company paid teleconsulting towards health, family challenges, financial planning, etc will go a long way in providing confidence to the employees.
E. Education support for children: Having a policy in place to support a demised employee's children can be very comforting. This can be provided till the child takes up a job. Such gestures help in building loyalty for the company.
MS: What kind of Human Resources Policies are needed at the Central Government level for sustainable Hybrid Work Model scenarios till there is stability in the environs as well as the Economy?
RS: In my view the onus on this work model has to be on the companies rather than any government. Since this mode of working has a direct impact on the business hence companies need to formulate a policy around this. Mahima, in my view the focus of the policy can be ideally done in three ways.
A. Better planning of work so that there is a fine balance between work from home and work from office. The key objective would be to ensure productivity remains high irrespective of where one is working from.
B. Providing better logistics support for work from home. Companies have extended support like providing laptops, reimbursement of a workstation at home, reimbursement of broadband, etc. All this has ensured minimal disruption in work output.
C. Since companies will be saving cost towards overheads, it will be prudent to share some of it as part of employee compensation. Companies could incentivise work from home more with proper work frameworks in place. A 2 or 3 day work from the office should be explored to ensure team engagement.
MS: As per CMIE, just in November 2021 alone more than 6 Million Salaried Jobs were Lost in India. What do you think can be the policy changes at the state and center levels to make the employer and the employee more secure amid the raging pandemic, where running the kitchen is as important as paying the medical bills?
RS: With unemployment on the rise, all stakeholders around it need to stand out and get counted. So whether it's the central government or the state government or the employer, all can ensure a financial security net to whatever extent. Mahima, essentially the government could take four major steps in the direction.
A. Tax the holidays for managing the burden of fall in revenue due to low sales and production.
B. Providing capital or loan support to businesses especially the small ones. They're a significant employment provider hence they need to be kept afloat.
C. Extending a monthly payout to unemployed workforce thereby keeping the demand for product and services unaffected as much as possible.
D. Governments should provide sops to the start up community since they will increasingly become the main source of job creation. Entrepreneurship holds tremendous potential in our country and it requires all the support both in terms of money or mentoring.
MS: Amid the rising job loss and difficulty to find the same profile, what's your take on how one must resolve to make a switch to an entirely new skillset?
RS: One of the biggest eye-openers of the pandemic and the subsequent job losses has been the importance of unlearning and relearning. It is very imperative for the working population to constantly upgrade their skill set. An encouraging sign has been the uptake of online courses during the last two years. The ease of reskilling is good news for both the employer and the employee. Companies could support such initiatives taken by the employed by subsidizing the course fee.
Just to build on that, quite a few employees are stepping out of jobs and pursuing their hobbies or passion and creating a business around it. So, becoming an entrepreneur is in itself a re-skill that could provide security.
MS: In recent times, more and more Indians are looking forward to migrating abroad. What all in your findings is driving this migration of talent across various sectors? And how will this impact the already-in-crisis job market along with its workforce?
RS: Look this continues to be a disturbing trend and brain drain has been a very old story. But, off late it seems the numbers of folks who are giving up their Indian citizenship, their number is going up. Clearly, the shrinking job opportunities in the country is driving out good talent to greener pastures. On the other side, many countries in the west and even in Japan or Korea, the availability of employable resources is dipping as the population growth takes a hit. These nations have no option but to attract talent from abroad. Hence they're easing up visa regulations. The worrying part is the migration of Indian talent in the 25-40 years bracket. These are times when they enter the job market and build a decent career. But to be not around and spend on say a house or a car or general shopping will have a long term impact on the economy. The good news still is our population but that is seeing slight decline too. Government should step in here to hold up this churn of talent. That would mean more spending by them so that necessary support is there and more, good paying jobs are created here.
MS: What kind of skill upgrade does the Indian Youth need (technical, technological, digital etc) needs to be able to sustain a decent living? And what kind of government policies are needed for the under-privileged to acquire the same?
RS: As discussed with you, technology has got a major push during the pandemic. Digitization is the new normal. These are good times for certain skill sets in the tech domain. There is a growing demand and supply gap of talent for niche skills. It is imperative that the youth acquire such skill sets on an ongoing basis to stay relevant in the job market. On the other hand, there has been a surge of the service sector though quite a few have got affected in a big way. Yet this will be one sector that will see a good rebound and will require enhanced skill sets where again technology will play an important role. For the under privileged to join the job market, steps need to be taken not only by the government but by the individual too. Fee is highly subsidised in government run schools and colleges. This needs to be made more attractive so that the maximum number of such youth join the job market. Individuals too need to sustain their education and not drop off mid-way. Building some expertise in a few vocations should become an aspiration for them.
MS: These days employers are looking for one to three years of experience, leaving no way for freshers to begin their careers or for the highly experienced ones to retain their jobs safely. What's your take on this? What is the logic behind such decisions? And how can these two kinds of categories look forward towards a safe future in such a situation that is fast picking up?
RS: I wouldn't agree that freshers are not being hired. With the IT sector seeing a huge boom, computer science students are back in big demand. Equally are the management post graduates. Yes, the government is not hiring much which is something to be looked into. In our country a government job is still seen as a stable one. People with experience of say 25 years are in for challenging times since the pipeline of young talent is ever growing. Therefore for them the only option remains is to go freelance as the gig economy grows or start your own company. Finding new job opportunities for them is getting limited but they're being sought after by the start ups who engage them as advisors or mentors. The onus is on the individual how he or she has kept abreast of latest developments in the job market. This will help them to transition to jobs which require different skills.
MS: On one hand in the start-up market there is a steady rise in Unicorns, but on the other, many are failing even to sustain. What is your five/six-point advice for the ones who are brimming with ideas, but are cautious towards investments/ or are not daring to take the chance?
RS: See, if we take a glance historically, then start ups have a 5-10% of making it a success and out of them very few hit the Unicorn status. So, it is a game of risk but then people who have it in them to take that chance, will continue to do so. I stay very optimistic about the future of entrepreneurship in our country. They will become key drivers of the economy and thereby, become important job creators. We are in fact coming out with a Workbook for Budding Entrepreneurs titled "Power of People + Passion" on January 18 this year. We wish to help facilitate entrepreneurs find the right balance between the idea and the people factor. So, Mahima I would suggest a five point advice to the aspiring entrepreneurs.
A. Do a thorough research on the idea that you have hit upon. Is it solving a major problem area? Is it enabling ease and comfort for the consumers? Study about other players in the same domain. Consult a few successful entrepreneurs for their advice.
B. Develop a robust business plan clearly chalking out both the revenue sources and the expected expenses.
C. Develop a manpower plan based on the above. Include in that the kind of culture you wish to create in the organization highlighting important values.
D. Plan out your launch with all possible detailing so that you hit the ground running. Pre-empt any possible bottlenecks. Remember to create a high impact visibility in the market. Tap social media.
E. Once you're in the market, it boils down to how you are serving the client, your people and your business associates. They should become your brand ambassadors. Retain as many as possible. Lastly, keep innovating on your product features or service offerings.
MS: Mental health has taken a toll amid longer hours of Work-from-Home scenarios and the least possible rejuvenation breaks. What kind of HR policies are needed towards the same and how can an EMPLOYEE workforce ensure that they can convince the EMPLOYER?
RS: This is a disturbing trend and with both health problems and job uncertainties building up, it is impacting people of all age groups. Work from home has put a lot of pressure on a family where both wife and husband are working from home. This has led to disruption in the normal house chores. It had also led to conflicts at home.
But, Mahima I would say that many employers are doing a lot on this to assuage its impact. Several organizations are working on the Hybrid work model so that there's a balance between work from home and work from office. Companies are engaging behavioral scientists and on call counselors for help at any time. There are companies that are giving the teams breaks for a week to get re-energized. So, gradually the organisations are becoming mindful of getting more structured in their work demands and respecting personal time.
MS: Wages and gender inequality. Your take on the same and how this can be done away with in India?
RS: I see a very encouraging development in this space with growing focus on diversity and inclusion at the workplace. Increasingly, organizations are ensuring that only merit and competence decide the filling up of a position with a female candidate. Plus Mahima, there is also a clear mandate from top management to give preference to a female candidate once a position opens up.
On the other hand, the growing wage inequality is a matter of concern. During these two years of pandemic this has become all the more alarming. This again requires a call from the leadership in different companies to bridge this gap. It's the intent that matters. We did hear of senior management taking larger salary cuts during the pandemic. Perhaps it has provided an opportunity for soul searching and we might see some corrections happening in this inequality over the coming years. And I believe that younger entrepreneurs are more conscious of this and they will make amends and set up good examples of wage equality. I stay optimistic about that too.
MS: Recently at a University webinar you threw light upon six external factors that impact a workplace - government policies, law of the land, politics, society, clients and business associates. For our student readers, please go back in time to share what is lacking in India vis-a-vis these six and how must they stride ahead facing the challenges?
RS: I believe all these are critical for any organization to function smoothly. It is important for both the government and the industry to collaborate and come out with policies which ease out doing business in the country. We have a lot of catch up to do on this. Similarly, the laws of the land become a critical factor for organization's success. From the days of taking too many shortcuts, we have glimpses of some change in this with employers becoming more mindful about their role to follow the rules of governing. Not politics and society have a bearing on how organizations shape up, sustain and scale up to survive. Both are an integral part and therefore the onus is on the political leadership at both central and state government to create an environment that supports business. End of the day, that's what's going to generate jobs and revenue for them. Clients and business associates are important factors in the growth of any economy. We need to generate demand on the part of clients so that industries survive. In the same vein the business associates, the small suppliers, vendors and traders need all the support since they've been hit the hardest during this pandemic.
MS: Social Media, especially LinkedIn, has become a way of hiring talent. But for the masses, digital technology is still a dream, especially among the downtrodden. So is there a piece of deep advice to make your CV stand out and reach the right people despite the absence of Social Media?
RS: While Naukri.com continues to be a major job platform, many very specific trade related job portals have come up. Let me tell you that among these LinkedIn is seen more as a platform for managerial positions. But one can look around for platforms which are meant for plumbers, carpenters, mason, drivers, house help, etc. There are portals for wives who are on a sabbatical or on maternity break. Barring the daily wager, I feel job portals are mushrooming and there are ample options for job search. It is a matter of time and these platforms will penetrate smaller towns and villages. That's the beauty of technology.
I have always believed CVs need to be kept simple. Yes, for daily wagers and downtrodden that's a tough ask. In any case most of them find jobs through referrals or are part of a contractor who hails from the same town or village. Having said that, a lot of work is happening in the social sector where such a workforce is being empowered through awareness programs. This will take time but we will get there.
About Rajneesh Singh
Rajneesh comes with over three decades experience as a HR practitioner as well as a HR entrepreneur. In his corporate avatar, he served well known organisations like Eicher, Gillette and Network18 Group. In January 2011 he co-founded SimplyHR Solutions which today is an end-to-end HR firm catering to Startups, SMEs and Large organisations. He is an active contributor towards Entrepreneurship Development at school level initiated by Delhi Government. He is on the Academic & Corporate Advisory Council at Army Institute of Management and Technology, Noida. He is also the Mentor at School of Inspired Leadership, Gurugram. He is involved with a school for Autism children, Parivartan school in Delhi and is one of the early supporters of Nayi Disha, Gurugram, a school for underprivileged children.He is passionate about making a difference in the lives of people who need more opportunities to achieve their aspirations. He is a published author, a social media enthusiast and loves anything to do with the outdoors. His first book titled “Inspirations to Aspirations - Letters to My Team” was published in November 2018. His second book, co-authored with SimplyHR partners titled “Power of People + Passion” a Workbook for Budding Entrepreneurs, got aunched on January 18, 2022.
About the Interviewer
Mahima Sharma is an Independent Journalist based in Delhi NCR. She has been in the field of TV, Print & Online Journalism since 2005 and previously an additional three years in allied media. In her span of work she has been associated with CNN-News18, ANI - Asian News International (A collaboration with Reuters), Voice of India, Hindustan Times and various other top media brands of their times. In recent times, she has diversified her work as a Digital Media Marketing Consultant & Content Strategist as well. Mahima can be reached at email@example.com
Disclaimer : The opinions expressed within this interview are the personal opinions of the interviewee. The facts and opinions appearing in the answers do not reflect the views of Indiastat or the interviewer. Indiastat does not hold any responsibility or liability for the same.
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