India Inc reconsiders WFH, hiring as covid cases go up

   2022-12-25 17:12

MUMBAI : India Inc. is taking a cautious approach to its hiring plans in view of the rising covid-19 cases in many countries, coupled with fears of a global recession. Companies in the tourism, hospitality, transport and real estate sectors are also considering work-from-home options if a fourth wave hits India.

“Hospitality, automobile, commercial and office real estate, Travel, transportation and mobility will be on high alert,” said Anshuman Das, chief executive officer and co-founder of Careernet, a talent solutions provider.

Last week, the central government made mandatory covid-19 testing for all travellers arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand at the Delhi International Airport. Mint reported last week that while China is struggling to contain BF.7 variant, cases are climbing in Japan, South Korea, Brazil and the US.

“The covid news is coming at a time there was a hiring slowdown. Clients in tourism and hospitality are getting more cautious, but those in other sectors like manufacturing and consumer have not stopped hiring,” said Mala Chawla, managing partner, Singapore and India, for recruitment firm Stanton Chase.

While active cases in India have been on a decline, the government has directed state governments to ensure covid-appropriate healthcare infrastructure, including medical oxygen equipment, is in place and functioning properly.

“Hiring sentiments were getting impacted in recent times due to a slowdown in the West, and the hiring frenzy may not be like last year. Clients are careful and cautious, but they know India has a good story,” Chawla said.

The human resource industry expects certain profiles to come back in demand if the Omicron variant spreads in India. “Digital and software-as-a-service (SaaS) sectors will see significant demand in hiring, as well as e-tailing, edtech, online gaming, logistics and fintech,” Das said, adding he is expecting companies to monitor the covid-19 situation for a few weeks and the disruptions may last for a quarter.

However, even if the hiring plans do not get impacted, India Inc. will have to get back to the drawing board on workplace policies. “The covid-19 impact, at best, may impact the nature of engagement of work, such as remote working. And travel plans, more than the hiring numbers,” Kamal Karanth, co-founder, Xpheno, said. The company specializes in tech and startup hiring.

During the two years of the covid pandemic, companies had switched to work-from-home, but in the last couple of quarters, employees were asked to come to the office more often. While the global recession has resulted in a hiring freeze impacting startups, Karanth believes that recruitment plans for the tech sector in India will not be affected.

“We expect no reduction in hiring, especially in the tech sector, as global headwinds result in additional headcounts in India, going by the previous trends. Global organizations will have to stay committed to their digital drives even with covid raising its head again,” added Karanth.

According to experts, considering the covid situation the world over, even if cases do not rise further, companies will be adhering to the lessons learnt from the pandemic.

“Companies will remain prudent and not incur any anticipatory cost, much ahead of revenue growth, a lesson learnt during the two years of the pandemic,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and executive director of TeamLease Services.

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