Business Today

We will hire top talent and avoid mass firings

Layoffs are inevitable in 2009, but the slowdown may be a great opportunity to hire quality talent at reasonable terms.

     Print Edition: January 11, 2009

The second part—the hiring—was easy. Mass firings are bad for public relations and who wants bad PR in India anyway. However, the bitter truth is that a lot of firings are happening now. According to Anoop Narayanan, Partner at legal firm Majmudar & Company (the firm deals with legal aspects of layoffs), the number of cases has grown manifold in the last three months. “The legal process for layoffs is complicated in India. A service industry is not clearly defined in the laws either,” Narayanan says. And, as Jet Airways learnt, layoffs can boomerang, too.

However, the good part is that this might just be the best time to hire critical talent. Says Richard Rekhy, Chief Operating Officer, KPMG: “Hire the best talent available. A lot of good talent is now available at reasonable terms.”

Sunil Chandiramani, National Director for Advisory Services, Ernst & Young, adds: “Work harder to retain the star assets.” He explains that many companies may need to go for a pay cut this year, and if they do not engage with their critical talent now, they will simply lose them to competition. “The good performers must be identified along with the bad performers. Many companies try to lose the bad ones during these times. At the same time, they must try hard to keep the better ones.”

Richard Rekhy, Chief Operating Officer, KPMG
Richard Rekhy
While there is so much talk about layoffs, there is quite a bit of hiring happening, too. Companies like TCS and Infosys have promised to hire in thousands—so have public sector banks like State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank and even Life Insurance Corporation. However, hiring in India is likely to see a three-and-a-half year low for the forthcoming quarter, according to a study by Manpower Inc.

We can end this resolution with a point to ponder over. Boston Consulting Group came out with a report on December 18, which stated that India is facing a staffing paradox. “On the one hand, the economy is likely to struggle to find the adequate numbers of skilled and qualified talent to fuel growth; on the other, we have a million plus people ill-equipped to enter the 21st century workforce,” said the report titled India’s Demographic Dilemma. It adds: “Clearly, more than a million people without the ability to participate in the workforce has the makings of a potential demographic disaster.”

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