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Hiring sentiments improve, still far below pre-COVID times

Businesses are looking for senior professionals to steer the company out of troubled water; hiring is not really for business expansion but related more to meet the pent up demand

Sonal Khetarpal | July 22, 2020 | Updated 02:20 IST
Hiring sentiments improve, still far below pre-COVID times

As organisations open up amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they are also optimistic about the business sentiment, leading to positivity in their hiring outlook for the rest of the year.

Hiring sentiments are nothing compared to what they were last year, but the pessimism of the last three months is gradually waning.

"As compared to April, May and June, there are significant green shoots appearing in hiring," says Kamal Karanth, co-founder of a specialist staffing company Xpheno.

He adds that the hiring is not really for business expansion but related more to meet the pent up demand. "During the lockdown, firms had completely frozen all hiring. Now as the worst is over they are recruiting for replacements and vacant job positions." Most of the hiring is for mid-level and junior people with 2-8 years of work experience.

According to data from recruitment and staffing firm CIEL, if January to March 2020 is taken as base, hiring had reduced by 58 per cent in April to June. Now it is down by 30 per cent. "While there is some movement but we can't say hiring is back," says Aditya Mishra, CEO of recruitment firm CIEL HR Services. He says it is spread across sectors except those like hospitality, and travel and tourism which are taking longer to revive.  

A lot of hiring is led by internet and technology firms especially in edtech and fintech areas. Also, businesses are hiring to strengthen their online presence. "In traditional businesses (FMCG, auto) not much hiring is happening. But these companies, which are making an online foray or ramping up their digital presence -- even those companies who are laying off in their offline business -- are hiring for digital roles," says Sumesh Nair, co-founder of Board Infinity, a higher education career platform.

TeamLease Employment Outlook Report HY-1(April-September, 2020-21) reinforces this. As per the study, hiring sentiment had dropped by a whopping 86 per cent points for the first half of 2020.

Until Unlock 1.0, the hiring sentiment for the current half year (H1-April-September 2020) was as low as 11 per cent. But it has started reviving now, albeit slowly and has improved to 18 per cent.

Rituparna Chakraborty, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President of staffing firm TeamLease Services, said, "Though it's or more than 4 months since the pandemic hit us, India Inc. is still struggling to come to terms with the new normal, the COVID world. In fact, the pandemic has actually made corporates to re-look, re-structure and re-align their businesses and it is taking a hit on the hiring sentiments."

The report analysed 807 enterprises of various sizes (small, medium and large) in India across 21 sectors. Barring travel and hospitality, all the other sectors are positive about hiring, though in varying degrees.

What is interesting is the recovery is driven by demand for hiring blue collar workers, mostly by large enterprises in the metro and tier-1 cities.

Also, counter intuitive as it may sound, businesses are looking for senior professionals to steer the company out of troubled water.

The positive hiring sentiment is driven by six of the ten leading sectors: Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals (33 per cent),  Educational Services (27 per cent), Agriculture & Agrochemicals (25 per cent), FMCG (24 per cent), Information Technology (22 per cent), and Power & Energy (21 per cent).

Chakraborty adds that one of the reasons for the slow uptick in the employment sentiment, especially by the mid and small businesses, is due to the need to keep fixed cost in check. "Though it may take a quarter or more, these businesses will also definitely pick up bringing about a marginal improvement in the overall employment scenario. Further, we will also see more and more companies adopting newer models of manpower management like temp staffing and gig workforce bringing the optimism back into the job market."

ALSO READ: Only 4.19 lakh net jobs created in April and May 2020: EPFO

ALSO READ: Zoom to increase hiring in India after free user base grows 67% in 4 months

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