Corporates set to step up hiring, give better pay hike in 2021

Experts say, with corporate India showing “healthy signs of recovery,” companies may hire more people in first three months of 2021, stick to work-from-home model and give an average pay hike of 7.3%

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Even though the COVID-ravaged 2020 witnessed massive job and pay cuts, the coming year may see corporates hiring more people and providing better appraisals, PTI reported.

The outbreak of the pandemic earlier this year goaded a majority of companies to embrace the ‘new normal’ of work-from-home and remote working while online teaching, seminars and digital workshops flourished. The pandemic-induced lockdown which caused industries like travel, hospitality, retail, aviation, real estate, construction and automobile to suffer, saw many employers freezing their hiring process.

Nevertheless, there is a cautious optimism among corporates and it is getting reflected in their recruitment plans for the New Year, the PTI report said.

Related news: Post lockdown, women in low-paying jobs take the heaviest hit


“Yes, the market is showing positive signs of recovery with almost all industries showing growth in hiring but with caution. Overall, the intent to hire recovered smartly from 11 per cent during the lockdown period to 18 per cent for HY (half year) and this number is growing,” Deval Singh – Business Head, Mobilization (Hiring) at TeamLease Services said.
Singh said there is a 50 per cent increase in employment opportunities from the lockdown days.

Many companies have reversed their pay cuts since Diwali, some have issued bonuses and some others have declared early appraisals, Singh said.

The latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, that covered 1,518 employers across the country, showed that corporate India is showing “healthy signs of recovery” and plans to hire more people in the first three months of 2021 compared to the quarter ending December.

“With encouraging results of vaccine efficacies and the market largely back to how it was, there is a positive sign of recovery in the job market. Today, with emergence of the hybrid work model, I believe there will be a big push for Agile Talent. Remote working as an employment category is going to open up many opportunities for both employees and employers for niche skills,” Krishna Prasad, senior director of HR and Operations at Skillsoft India and APAC said.

Experts saw the digital transformation that was seen during the lockdown has changed the work models of companies which in turn will be further accelerated in 2021 and beyond. The year 2020 was also a great year for Indian organisations to evaluate, pilot and adapt technology based solutions for hiring and on-boarding.

“Solutions such as video interviews, artificial intelligence (AI)-based facial recognition tech, data driven on-boarding – which were being talked about as being futuristic as early as 2019 were quickly adapted by many organisations in 2020,” Nishith Upadhyaya, director,  advisory services, SHRM (APAC and MENA) told PTI.

Upadhyaya said while the pandemic forced corporates to opt for the work-from-home model, many will be inclined to retain this practice in 2021 as well. Besides, remote work has opened up the talent pool wider than ever for most businesses.

“Instead of only looking at candidates in the immediate area who have the ability to travel to and from an office each day, they can consider pretty much everyone. Hence, we feel that most companies will be inclined to retain this practice in 2021 as well,” he said.

Experts said 2020 has been a year of great learning for the HR function. It rewarded the people who evolved and hit hard those who did not.

Related news: Rural unemployment rate shows sharp rise due to fewer MGNREGA jobs

“In 2021 we will see lot of focus on automation and data driven hiring by use of analytics and AI, hiring will increase in locations wherein companies may not have physical presence, freelancing and fixed term hiring will rise in numbers,” Sunil Goel, managing director GlobalHunt, a leading executive search organisation, said.

On labour reforms, wherein 29 legislations have been consolidated into four labour codes, Goel said, “it was much needed from a long time for ease of doing business and will encourage businesses across industry”.

The proposition of fixed term employment will help in further boosting the job market by more formal hiring of workers and broadening of social security benefit is also a positive move, he noted.

Goel is also bullish about the job market going forward. “Recruitment will increase and people will start getting appraisals as most companies are planning to expand and will go for fresh recruitment and also expected to float the appraisals from first quarter onwards in year 2021,” he said.

According to a survey by leading global professional services firm Aon, organisations in India have shown tremendous resilience despite the COVID-19 challenges and are betting on recovery.

The survey also predicted that 87 per cent companies plan to give salary hike in 2021 compared to 71 per cent in 2020.

Also, the survey said that companies in India gave an average pay increase of 6.1 per cent during 2020, the lowest since 2009 when the average was 6.3 per cent.

The latest Salary Trends Survey in India also noted that companies in India will give an average pay hike of 7.3 per cent in 2021.

Related news: India’s unemployment rate hits 7.78% in February, highest in 4 months

Experts also opined that in 2020, the share of women hiring increased across almost all industries as corporates adopted flexible work models. Manufacturing and e-commerce industries opened new opportunities for women.

Moreover, this year, most organisations invested in upskilling or reskilling their workforce through learning programmes. This trend will continue even in 2021 for this helps increase the employee longevity and productivity on the ground.

(With inputs from agencies)