Festive Season is Knocking on the Doors: Here’s How Companies Can Hire and Retain Blue Collar Workers at Scale

With COVID infections slowly coming under control in most parts of the country and the rapidly rising pace of vaccinations, India’s much-awaited festive season promises to start on a happier note in 2021. Although the mobility for retail and recreation activities in the country has yet to reach the pre-pandemic levels, employment prospects for blue-collar workers haven’t been dampened.

The significant uptrend in eCommerce, logistics, and online food delivery sales, witnessed during the pandemic, is expected to continue. Companies that benefitted from the pandemic-era change in consumer habits say that up to 4 crore new customers will shift to online purchases ahead of the festive season. To cash in on the rising demand, these companies expect to hire between 3,00,000 to 5,00,000 blue-collar workers in 2021.

Addressing the Demand-Supply Gap in the Blue-Collar Sector

The festive season is critical for India to spur and support its demand economy. However, organisations are facing various challenges in hiring and retaining blue-collar workers that form the foundation of a growing economy. The fear of a potential third-wave is stopping many migrant workers from returning from their hometowns. The demand-supply gap is further being widened by the unavailability of skilled labour for companies to hire and deploy at scale.

Personal references and offline networks have operated in the country for years, to source and meet the hiring needs of organisations. These methods, however, cannot cater to the current needs, especially as companies are in a fierce battle to maintain a competitive edge and boost their business post-pandemic. With over 450 million blue-collar workers in India, spread out across disparate regions, the use of technology is paramount to drive greater transparency, speed, and efficiency in sourcing and hiring workers.

Companies need a huge skill force directory of verified workers, so that they can rapidly deploy them at scale, when the demand is high during the festive season. With the right data-driven platform, it will be possible for companies to gain comprehensive visibility across India on data such as demographics, migration patterns, and training needs. They will be able to launch hiring campaigns targeting workers in their native tongues.

On the talent side, workers will be able to seek livelihoods and make themselves visible to employers. They can find jobs that best match their skillsets and interests. The festive season is the best time for workers in the informal sector to earn. An all-in-one blue-collar lifecycle platform can not only provide employment opportunities but also enable companies to provide their blue-collar employees with other benefits.

Retaining Workers in an Era of High Demand

The most defining aspect of the pandemic-induced lockdowns was the impact on the informal sector. Blue-collar workers faced major hardships in 2020, amidst joblessness and the health crisis. For instance, the May 2020 National Survey of Informal Workers by ActionAid Association reveals that 63% of workers faced low food sufficiency levels in April-May 2020, and 57% incurred high debt between June and August 2020, due to a lack of income and absence of dependable savings.

Companies need to be sensitive to these aspects and provide solutions to workers’ pressing problems now, to be able to engage and retain them. In terms of aspirations, blue-collar workers crave appreciation and opportunities, just like the white-collar workforce. Here are some ways in which the right blue-collar management platform can help.

Upskilling Opportunities

A plethora of reasons makes it important for companies to provide upskilling opportunities for workers. Not only is India Inc. rapidly bringing in automation to workflows, but the young workers working flexible gig jobs today desire growth opportunities. For instance, a BCG report says that millennials working as food-delivery agents or courier personnel contribute more than 50% of the household income, and fund their own education. Chatbot-based training apps can help them learn at their own pace and convenience to enhance their skill sets.

Health Benefits

The pandemic has further highlighted the impact of the stressed healthcare system on the country’s rural and semi-urban population. Providing 24/7 access to doctors online, along with health insurance benefits can help these workers immensely, who often work in hazardous conditions and lead stressful lives. Moreover, it also means more productivity and less absenteeism for companies.

Financial Resources

It is time corporate India steps up and helps millions of workers across India from falling into the vicious debt trap of informal money lenders. For starters, a zero-balance bank account can help them conduct 24/7 online monetary transactions, to send money to their families in their hometowns. As formal moneylenders are hesitant to provide these workers with loans and other debt products, companies have the advantage of building loyalty and satisfaction by offering them personal loans at zero to low-interest rates.

The Right Salary at the Right Time

Monetary benefits are the topmost performance driver in this sector. The lack of technology-driven processes makes companies follow age-old practices of attendance, and shift scheduling. This causes discrepancies in wage calculations. For instance, the sheer amount of time taken by HR managers in rostering and generating payrolls and attendance reports makes it difficult for companies to provide wages accurately and on time. This causes employee dissatisfaction.

With the right platform, it can be possible for companies to hire talent at speed, ahead of the festive season. It will also enable them to extend the festive cheer to workers, after a difficult year-and-a-half.

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