Navigating the Demand Supply Gap Dynamics for Seasonal Hiring in India

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The vaccination rollout and gradual economic recovery are creating jobs in India. During the second week of July, the unemployment rate in both urban and rural areas declined to 7.9% and 5.1% respectively, from 8.9% and 7.06% recorded in the prior week. However, these figures are understated, as they don’t consider the seasonal unemployment rate. Seasonal unemployment has been a bane for the blue-collar workforce. Many sectors like construction, ecommerce, logistics, mining, and logging hire workers based on seasonal demand. When workers in these sectors remain unemployed for the rest of the year, they face financial hardships. Many workers migrate to other regions in search of alternative sources of income. Such migration signifies less than full utilisation of valuable human resources in the Indian economy. 

The Demand-Supply Gap for Blue-Collar Workers Across Sectors

Seasonal unemployment can be tackled if these workers find suitable work during the off-season as well, which can ensure a steady source of income. Seasonal unemployment can be predicted, which is a good thing. By suitable policy planning by the government, labour released in certain sectors can be absorbed in other industries. 

Many schemes have been launched to ensure this, through diversification of economic activities in different regions, providing social security and initiating skill development programs for workers to explore new opportunities. This includes the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY), the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), the Start-up India Scheme, and the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).

However, these schemes have fallen short of addressing the demand-supply gap for India’s massive blue-collar workforce. With more than 70% of blue-collar workers migrating across states in India, it becomes difficult for companies to find and hire people with the right skillsets. 

The Absence of a Blue-Collar Platform

For blue-collar workers, there is a shortage of platforms that can help them find jobs effectively. They mostly rely on classifieds, word-of-mouth, agencies, and middlemen to find jobs, which are usually paid services. Moreover, even these partnerships cannot guarantee jobs in all seasons.

For companies, the availability of limited resources and the inability to identify and verify workers results in increased costs of hiring. It can take many months for companies to fill a vacancy for a skilled blue-collar job. Not to mention that inefficient processes lead to significant attrition of qualified workers.

It is becoming increasingly evident that there needs to be a match-making engine that connects companies with workers in local communities. With millions of blue-collar workers migrating to their hometowns as a result of the 2020 lockdowns, such a platform can help people find sustainable livelihood opportunities. Enhanced recruitment of a skilled workforce will fuel business competitiveness and economic recovery.

Can a Tech-Driven Hire Product Help?

A technology-based hiring and verification platform can help companies streamline the hiring and verification process.

For Companies 

Technology-based hiring platforms can provide employers resources to assess the availability of a skilled workforce and then plan their hiring effectively, during both on- and off-season. They can have the data, filters, and analytics to identify relevant skilled workers in their local areas.

  • Employer onboarding: Employers can customize the platform to their specific needs and view the eligible candidate pool with ease.
  • Hiring Requests: Companies will be able to reach out to candidates via multiple channels, in the candidate’s preferred language. AI-driven bots can help in creating a discrimination-free job searching process.
  • Application Processing: A huge database of candidates will enable employers to source workers at a hyper-local level. They can easily set up a screening process for applicants and schedule interviews.
  • Status Update: The platform will facilitate them to track candidate profiles. The platform can enable real-time notifications for both candidates and companies at every stage of the hiring process.
  • Verification: A tech-based platform that maintains records of verified candidates across several parameters, like criminal records, employment history, and health status, can help companies quickly fill vacancies as they arise.

For Blue-Collar Candidates 

Workers across sectors, job roles, and regions can register themselves and upload their data on the platform. After creating their profiles on the app, they can search for job opportunities in their localities. After they secure a job, the same platform will help them across a wide variety of data points, including bank account opening, attendance marking, and insurance.

Young India in Tier-1 and Tier-II cities, as well as in the rural areas, is now tech savvy. Such a skill-mapping platform will put information and opportunities at their fingertips. 

With such solutions, companies can promptly hire skilled workers when the need arises, while blue collar workers can find more job options according to their abilities and experience. 

Managing remote or distributed teams has become more than a buzzword after the pandemic. While companies do face some challenges managing remote teams of executives working from home, managing the distributed blue-collar workforce is a totally different ballgame, taking challenges to a whole other level.

Challenges in Managing a Distributed Workforce

Blue-collar jobs, like construction, manufacturing, retail, and logistics, require workers to be on-site, but the sites are in different locations. Each of these locations may have their own unique dynamics, including job requirements, state laws, work schedules, shifts, overtime requirements and more. Given these varied circumstances, managing the attendance and ensuring compliance can be extremely time consuming.

Maintaining paper-based records and tracking sheets for each location makes the task even more cumbersome. And reconciling attendance report errors can prove to be nothing short of a nightmare.

Here are some of the problems companies say they face when managing a distributed blue collar workforce:

·         Manual processes for attendance marking can lead to inaccuracy, manipulation, and loss of data.

·         Different processes at each site makes decision making inefficient and ineffective.

.     Delays in information sharing increases the turnaround time in various cases.

·         Inaccurate attendance data can lead to improper wage distribution, resulting in higher attrition levels.

·         Lack of proper records makes it difficult for companies to plan shifts properly, resulting in loss of productivity and increased downtime.

·         Different state labour laws and regulations for shifts and leaves makes compliance even more challenging.

·         Reconciliation of attendance across multiple locations can take a long time.

·         Error reconciliation not only wastes time, but also results in delays in the disbursal of wages, leading to employee dissatisfaction and low morale.

Overcoming the Challenges of Blue-Collar Attendance Management

An automated attendance management system allows organisations to plan, manage, and record the attendance of blue-collar employees in an efficient and streamlined way, while ensuring compliance with different labour laws.

Accurate attendance data translates to fair wage calculations and timely disbursals. For the blue-collar segment in India, which comprises workers from the low-income strata, access to timely and accurate wages is of paramount importance.

Choosing the Right Blue Collar HRMS for Attendance Management

Here are some features of a robust attendance management system for organisations with a huge and remote blue-collar workforce:

Flexibility

The system should be easy to customize to suit the specific needs of companies. It should also allow overtime control, force logout options, and approval systems to prevent data manipulation.

Leave and Holiday Mapping for Compliance

For companies with sites across India, the system should solve the pain of scheduling leaves and holidays as per state laws and company policies. Moreover, there should be an efficient system for carrying forward pending leaves and proper encashment.

Intuitive and Faster Scheduling

Floor managers and supervisors will no longer need to laboriously plan shifts, with a system that enables fast and simple scheduling. It should be easy for data to be imported from previous rosters to prevent data loss and increase efficiency.

Extensive Reporting and Visibility

The attendance system should allow easy integration with the payroll system, leading to the accurate generation of muster rolls, payroll reports, and attendance reports for decision making and audit purposes. This data can be sent to the concerned HR person through customized emails. Companies can have access to a real-time dashboard to track attendance across multiple sites in real-time. Attendance insights can help them locate where additional workforce might need to be deployed, or which workers might be suitable for future projects.

Contactless Attendance Marking

A significant trend in the sector has been the rapid internet and mobile penetration in India. Out of 450 million millennials in India, 300 live in rural areas. This segment has exhibited increased smartphone ownership over the past few years. Smartphone penetration in rural and semi-urban demographics surged to 40-50% in 2020, from 29% in 2015, according to a report mentioned in BusinessWorld.

It is safe to say that the majority of blue-collar workers are digitally literate. Companies can leverage this trend by offering mobile apps for marking and tracking attendance and wages . Backed by technologies like facial recognition and geofencing, such a contactless system also ensures safety during the pandemic.

Adopting such a system significantly eases the huge burden of planning and scheduling shifts, managing attendance, and ensuring compliance, enabling HR managers to instead focus on important activities like employee engagement and safety at the workplace.

Offering such a system also makes blue-collar workers feel more visible, while the increased transparency reduces stress. This can boost employee productivity and increase retention. This goes a long way in ensuring companies remain competitive, as these skilled workers form the backbone of the industry.

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