- As is known universally, the pandemic-induced devastation has had a tremendous negative impact on the labour market irrespective of whether being organized or unorganized. The very fact that the Indian labour market is represented by almost 88% of unorganized entities, the indeterminable effect on the workforce makes for a sordid tale. Ever since the vaccine penetration gradually made its presence felt, the markets too started responding favourably as the stifling restrictions were removed by the authorities. One of the most innovative methodologies emerging out of the pandemic was the work from home norm finding manifold acceptance in the face of stringent lockdowns.
- Allowing to work remotely using digital medium was no less than a boon under the circumstances.Of course, as the situation all around keeps improving despite the latest new variant of concern in the form of Omicron being detected, there is no denying the work from home trend is here to stay for good. However, what may finally prove to be more disruptive over time are complementarity flexibilities seen as in work contracts. As reports emerging suggest, in what could set a trend among large corporates in India, Hindustan Uni Lever has launched U-Work and Open2U offers to employees and gig workers respectively, providing different combinations of flexible work, financial security, and medical benefits during these hard times.
- Make no mistake, introducing flexibility in a work environment will be welcomed leading to plausible productivity. Looking from the corporate point of view, such flexibility will be key to the talent pool that is seeking change from the 40-40-40 model existing for decades, whereby office workers wanted to be employed for 40 hours a week, 40 weeks a year, and for 40 years. We all know that the enduring rigidity of that model has consistently copped the blame for India’s failures to either attract investment away from China or grow formal employment on the desired lines.
- The resultant outcome is the white-collar tech and managerial segments, especially in the fast-catching up vogue vis-à-vis unicorns and other entrepreneurial ventures, have seen a real war for talent. It also means the flexibility model will simultaneously sound attractive and sinister as well.The moot point to ponder over here is whether India as a country is adequately armed to ensure sound economic growth by expanding specialized higher education to help every aspiring individual(s) to move up the wanted scale. The answer is an obvious no since the bottom line to achieve the same can only result from good economic growth increasing the availability of good jobs.
- Note that growth in turn is tied to business competitiveness and nimbleness. In stark contrast to rich countries where the unemployed have social security, in India job loss basically throws one to one’s own devices or whatever comfort family can provide. This is the crux of India’s current problem – a low tax base making social security unaffordable for the government, lack of social security making employers less willing to experiment with work, and that in turn impacting innovations. There is a huge amount of work yet to be accomplished to reform labour market. Hopefully, the policymakers earnestly attempt at addressing this.