Flexi Staffing: An Astute Strategy That Can Decipher Unemployment, Women's Problems & Skill Deficient in India

By Younus Ahmad Dar   |   Tuesday, 25 September 2018, 10:23 Hrs
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Flexi staffingWhile India has become the nation of the most unemployed in the world, the country’s staffing industry is standing at a very critical juncture. The industry is exposed to numerous legal ambiguities, especially general labour market rigidity. The question arises, what is the roadway to ensure employment generation? With traditional staffing mired with all sorts of issues, it’s the flexi staffing that can pave the way for a win-win solution to all the stakeholders. With no surprise, flexi staffing is becoming a very nascent industry in India and is growing with changing business dynamics in the face of increased cyclical volatility and gradual structural shifts in the economy. A study by leading flexi staffing and recruitment firms, Kelly Services and SHRM, reveals that flexi staffing is growing at a fast clip in India debuting in traditional laggard sectors like manufacturing. In the report titled, ‘Landscape of Temp & Contract Staffing in India’, 42 percent of the organizations surveyed indicated that they are very likely to employ temporary and contract staff in the next three to six months. Interestingly, 68 percent of organisations reported that they hire temp staff for a period of six months.

It will not only address the unemployment but also country’s skill deficient. In the IT industry, for instance, the adoption of cloud computing and mobility services is fuelling the demand for niche skillset in AI, Machine Learning, Analytics, IoT & Cloud. But with the slow-down in long-tenure contracts, IT firms are left with the only choice - flexi hiring to procure the skilled people as well as meet the latter objective. According to ISF report on IT Staffing Industry Landscape, Karnataka, Maharashtra & NCR dominate the IT Flexi Staffing Industry in India with Karnataka standing at $1.05 billion followed by Maharashtra at $0.48 billion & NCR at $0.23 billion. Overall in India, it’s worth was $3.04 billion in 2016-17 and is expected to grow 14-16 percent annually to hit $5.3 billion by 2021.

Well, these statistics sound impeccable, but questions like how & whom will this innovative staffing strategy help, will be a constant. The answers lie below!

Win-Win Solution for Employee & Employer

The advantages that come tagged with flexi-staffing are ability to scale up quickly to meet volatile market demands, increased flexibility, ease of resource allocation, reduced costs of hiring, and access to a wider pool of skilled talent. “Having a contract or temp hire reduces the hiring risk, cost, & headache that the organizations face in traditional staffing,” asserts Simin Askari, VP – Corporate HR, DS Group. This really facilitates startups and new entrepreneurial ventures in the rapid growth of the potential workforce that includes flexible C-suite executives. As Simin, rightly points out, “Organizations like us take people as flexible staff especially in areas wherein the attrition is high or where there is seasonal requirement of extra manpower to overcome higher production needs or even during the launch phase of a new product. We can then engage an organization which is into staffing.”

Flexi staffing is a novel technique for an employer to sightsee how an employee fits the company’s culture, and test his skills for suitability to use him/her for the future. On the flipside, it allows ambitious individuals to explore new employment prospects, and build an enduring resume by working on different projects across sundry industries. “For an employer, it’s a great opportunity to see how they (temp) are performing. Coming to the employee, when we hire freshers, we invest them in the training. If they do well, we absorb them by extending the contract or convert them into a full-time employee. So flexi staffing benefits both the parties,” states Arun Thuyamani, AVP – HR, Sodexo India.

It comes with enormous flexibility, allows an employee to spend more time with their families and engage in frequent non-work activities. Especially for women, who often end up on a ‘mommy track’, flexible working eludes many of the barriers that are preventing women from remaining in work after having children.

The Flipside

The school of thought that favours permanent employment often expresses trepidations like lack of job security, no health or retirement benefits, lack of social recognition, & inadequate redressal mechanism as premier reasons why contract jobs should be dodged. “Unfortunately the industry sometimes sees temp staff as cheaper labour. The general percetion is that temp staff may not necessarily be paid benefits. As a result, the kind of ownership that comes in with a permanent employee might be little diluted with a temp employee,” says Simin. As per reports, the average salary of a flexi worker is around 10,000 a month, which is too less to survive in the current expensive market.

The company needs to continuously find flexible staff that can do the work and train them. But with recruiting full-time employees, companies only have to train them once and they can grow with the company. The full-time employees also gain a vast trust of clients. For instance, an insurance agent may work for the same insurance company for years and gain loyal customer following that will benefit the company. But with a temp employee, that kind of trust is never built.

Hybrid Model

A blend of temporary and full-time offers a buffer for core employees during a layoff. For instance, a substitute employee may work for weeks while an employee takes an extended leave of absence like maternity or a sick leave. Hence, tapping the talents of temporary workers to assist with day-to-day team responsibilities allows core staff to pursue more complex challenges and occasionally take time off to rejuvenate. Especially in healthcare, flexible staffing policies can ensure that medical practitioners are deployed where demand is greatest, avoiding negative consequences for patients when staffing falls below the required level.

Next What?

But what after flexi-staffing? It’s not that flexi-staffing will address all the challenges faced by the industry, it also comes with cons as discussed above. With the advent of emerging technology, definitely, we are going to see myriad innovative staffing stratagems that will generate employment, offer more flexibility to women, & more. As Simin concludes, “Digitization is taking over almost everything and work will become more virtual as we go ahead.”

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