Virus woes: Nine out of 10 firms facing staff shortage, finds study

By: |
September 25, 2020 4:00 AM

The survey said over one-fourth of the respondent organisations attributed absenteeism as a contributing factor to workforce shortage. Of these, 78% were from the manufacturing and 67% from the services sector.

Over 64% of these service organisations have identified lack of access to proper technology and infrastructure as one of the their key challenges (Representative image)Over 64% of these service organisations have identified lack of access to proper technology and infrastructure as one of the their key challenges (Representative image)

Covid-19 has not only hit the economy but has also severely impacted movement of people, goods and services. The pandemic’s impact is so extensive in India that findings of a recent survey reveal that more than a whopping 90% of the organisations covered were either facing employee shortage or expecting to witness one soon.

The findings form part of a joint study by Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) India and Kronos India. The study, Workforce Management Reset, explores challenges faced by organisations due to Covid-19. It surveyed 223 chief human resource officers, HR heads, etc.

“More than 90% organisations see a workforce shortage already or expect one over the coming months, primarily arising out of temporary migration of labour
and quarantine and isolation norms,” the study revealed.

Comparatively, attribution of this shortage to permanent migration of labour is significantly lower, and it may be inferred that this shortage may only create a short-term impact, it added. The survey said over one-fourth of the respondent organisations attributed absenteeism as a contributing factor to workforce shortage. Of these, 78% were from the manufacturing and 67% were from the services sector. They also identified employee health and safety as a key challenge for workplace staff.

“Technology hiccups for remote work is resulting in workforce shortage for service organisations more than manufacturing. Over 64% of these service organisations have identified lack of access to proper technology and infrastructure as one of the their key challenges,” it pointed out.

With remote working solutions being the most preferred option and organisations spending on safety and hygiene, the study said employee costs have increased for both remote and workplace staff. “The rise has been steep for workplace staff — as much as 40% of service organisations (and 22% in manufacturing) are experiencing 20% or higher costs. Small-size organisations (73%) are seeing increased costs for remote staff more than others,” it said.

When it comes to employee safety, the study recommended contactless technology as the prime enabler for workplace staff across sectors and organisation size.

The study also suggested flexibility as the key to improving productivity. “Respondent organisations, irrespective of industry, identify flexible work timings, multi-skilled/flexible workforce and rewards and incentives as top measures towards improving workforce utilisation and productivity. On the other hand, leave and vacation policies are not considered a priority and ranked lowest among all measures,” it added.

Another important suggestion is cost optimisation, which the study says is a key priority for organisations irrespective of sector and size, and is primarily being driven by reskilling and training employees, cross-functional team staffing and cutting down on all discretionary spends.

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