Article (March-2019)


Embracing technology to manage semi- formal workforce

Pravin Agarwala

Designation : -   Co-Founder & CEO

Organization : -  BetterPlace, Bengaluru


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In India, close to 450 million people comprise the semi-formal sector, working as drivers, housekeeping staff, delivery executives, security guards, etc. Given the high demand of such services, these businesses are growing at a rate of 20% yearly. This means that in the next 6 months, there's likely to be a demand for over 20 lakh blue-collar jobs. While almost everything around us has been made easier and organised with the penetration of technology, the companies still shy away from investing in technology to manage their blue-collar workforce.

But the increasing demand makes a clear case to bring this segment under the tech umbrella as well. Right from hiring to on boarding to background verification and training - adopting technology in each step will not only help the people in the semi-formal economy move up the ladder but also streamline the process for themselves and leave room for no error.

Technology eases the sourcing and hiring process by a mile
Employers in the blue-collar are all too familiar with hassles that come along with the hiring process. Unlike white-collar jobs, it is not easy to source and hire employees for blue-collar jobs with no digital footprint, formal records or proper channels. No wonder that these jobs, especially delivery executives, always have vacancies and invite more people to join. Not just that, they also offer quite competitive salaries to them, sometimes even as good as some white-collar jobs. But they still struggle to fill those positions due to unorganised process. But technology can make this much simpler - a digital platform for sourcing and hiring exclusively dedicated to this sector can help connect the right candidates to the right opportunities.

Digitally on boarding and following up other HR formalities
It is no secret that the companies don't have a dedicated HR system for blue-collar employees, not even the big ones with multiple vendors. It's still a pretty unorganised process with many loopholes. Talking of background verification, the traditional methods don't suffice when it comes to blue-collar employees as over 70% of them are migratory in nature. And even though it's riskier to have an unverified blue-collar employee on board, many companies are still not open to adopting technology in their HR formalities, like on boarding and background verification. The digital platforms ensure that the process is fool proof and the companies' interest is safeguarded.

Investment in training goes a long way for employers
White-collar jobs have a proper process for screening the candidates and picking the ones best skilled and suited for the job. But to say that the same is not required for the blue-collar jobs can't be farther from the truth. Several employees represent the face of the brand when they provide their services to a customer. Whether it's a security guard in your child's preschool, a cab driver ferrying you, or a delivery executive delivering your food - one wrong step can tarnish the brand's image. The same is reflected through so many incidents making the headlines. So, it is equally important to impart proper training in job skills, soft skills and customer handling to these employees who are as much a part of the company as anyone else. Since they are huge in number and often distributed, the manual process often can't fill the gaps. This is where technology comes into play - a digital training platform will not only ensure proper workflow but also make these employees feel inclusive.

Reducing attrition
Circling back, the problem of sourcing and hiring begins due to huge attrition rate in this segment. The companies across the blue-collar segment face a problem of 80-150% attrition. But if they invest in this workforce, they feel much more valued and inclusive. Once the companies instil a sense of belongingness into this workforce, they automatically take care of a huge rate of attrition that they struggle with. If they have dignity of labour and proper compensation in their jobs, they are much less likely to switch jobs. This will be one of the biggest returns on investment for the employers.

Streamlining attendance and payroll management with technology
Given the huge number of blue-collar employees, their attendance and payroll management are very critical to their employers. Proper attendance records not only ensure accurate compensation but also maintain quality of work. Both these processes are interdependent on each other, so it makes sense to digitise both. Digital records of attendance will eliminate the fall-outs of the manual process. The physical registers can be manipulated or destroyed, and important data can be lost. Similarly, digital payroll management helps streamline the compensation process in the semi-formal segment. This can also help make employees creditworthy, making them eligible for loans, insurance and other financial benefits. It is mutually beneficial for the employer and the employee both.

Ensuring proper compliance management
Compliance management is an important piece for employers, especially large employers with multiple vendors present in multiple cities. As they still struggle with manual compliance process, even though non-compliance poses a huge threat to them - right from heavy penalties to even prison time. But keeping track of labour law compliance in every unit gets difficult without a single window access for the principal employer. This is where a digital platform can help prevent any discrepancies and shield the principal employer's interest.