Interview With Sashi Kumar

There have been divergent opinions on the job market owing to the COVID 19 pandemic, with one portal claiming that there will be enhanced recruitment in the coming days and another claiming that there will be a huge retrenchment. As a leading job portal, what are your views on the same?

 

As of May 15th, job postings on Indeed India were growing 49% slower than in 2019. The trend in job postings was roughly in line with last year's trend until the second week of March. The slowdown accelerated in the second half of March and through April to May.

 

Hospitality and Tourism have seen a big decline. Job postings have fallen more in occupations most directly affected by the COVID-19, such as hospitality and tourism. As of May 15th, job postings on Indeed India in hospitality and tourism were growing 69.2% slower than in 2019. Job seekers across the country are showing greater interest in working remotely amid the COVID-19 crisis. Job seekers are increasingly searching for terms like 'remote', 'work from home', and related phrases. Searches for remote work have also increased by over 380% as a share of all searches on Indeed India from February 2020 - May 2020.

 

With reported layoffs in leading organisations in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was followed by interventions by the Government as also the judiciary, what according to you has come about as a huge learning for HR Managers?

 

As a leading labour market researcher, we can say that one of the bigger conversations that are happening as a result of the COVID19 situation is focused on the future of how we work. This has created a new opportunity to see how workforces can have more work from home flexibility or could even allow for more remote work options in the future especially if employers see the benefits.

 

With employees operating from homes and remote sites owing to the lockdown, there has been a huge thrust on digital upskilling and learning. Do you believe that digital learning will replace conventional learning?

 

In this environment, the importance of learning has come to the fore. When the dust settles, we need to take into consideration the changes we need to make to the traditional mode of L&D of employees. Data from Indeed indicates an increase in the demand for companies using 'E-learning' to ensure access to learning and administrative efficiency in job postings. Overall, job postings referencing 'e-learning' has seen an increase of 71% in the last three years (2017-20), with an increase of 8% in the last year (2019-20) alone, and a surge of 3% in the last three months (Jan-Mar 2020).

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapid extinction of certain job roles and the emergence of newer job roles. Do you believe this comes about as a positive for the job market in India?

 

It is too early to say since the situation is evolving, and at Indeed, we are still gathering data on what is occurring across the economy. From our recent data, we can say that jobs such as 'online tutor', 'customer care representatives', and 'tech roles' are seeing increased traction.

 

It has been contested that a technically skilled HR Manager functions more efficiently as against one who is not techsavvy. How does this scenario function in the period post the COVID-19 pandemic?

 

Firstly, it is necessary to understand the importance of being 'human-first'. As many employers are practising social distancing precautions amid COVID-19 concerns, companies are having to rethink their interview processes. There is a shift to conducting interviews using video conferencing technology, in order to help identify a candidates' applicable skills. Adapting to these new hiring and recruiting tactics can be challenging for a company to implement on a large scale. To date, most companies have relied on in person interviews so it can be hard to move away from the norm With all of these shifts to working remotely and interviewing over video, it is important to shift your mindset. Technology allows us to stay connected and actually see the candidates and hiring managers, rather than simply relying on phone calls and emails for communication. In the hiring process - from interviewing to onboarding - you can still communicate the company's core values and company culture, etc., virtually - that does not go away.

 

What according to you have been some of the positives that have been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic for Corporate India?

 

I think many companies have experienced that there is no impact on productivity - especially given the circumstances people are working in. The fact that we have not seen a drop in productivity is remarkable, and shows that work from home is a viable option. Of course, we do still see value in having teams together, but we have seen that remote work can be a part of the workforce.

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