Man­power: A Loom­ing Spec­tre on Modern Re­tail­ing in In­dia!

Man­power in modern re­tail­ing in In­dia makes for an in­ter­est­ing study. This brief ac­count dis­cusses the con­cerns and is­sues in the In­dian re­tail man­power sce­nario, with a fo­cus on the need to ad­dress skilling needs for the growth of the re­tail sec­tor in In

Images Retail - - MY THOUGHTS - – By Dr. Gib­son Vedamani

Re­tail­ing is a peo­ple in­ten­sive busi­ness. In­dian re­tail­ing is yet more peo­ple in­ten­sive as ev­ery cus­tomer ex­pects to be per­son­ally served! It needs a great deal of man­power to en­er­gise the busi­ness that in­volves hu­man in­ter­ven­tions at all lev­els of its func­tional ac­tiv­i­ties. Es­ti­mates pub­lished by the Min­istry of Skill De­vel­op­ment & En­trepreneur­ship in their An­nual Re­port 2016-17 show that In­dian or­gan­ised re­tail sec­tor would em­ploy around 5.6 crores by 2022, which ren­ders an im­me­di­ate in­cre­men­tal re­quire­ment of 1.07 crores of di­rect re­tail man­power

(Ref: Ta­ble 1). And many more are said to be en­gaged in­di­rectly in em­ploy­ment that re­lates or adds value to the re­tail sec­tor. Thus the re­tail sec­tor comes sec­ond only to agri­cul­ture in di­rect man­power em­ploy­ment. Man­power in modern re­tail­ing in In­dia makes an in­ter­est­ing study. This brief ac­count dis­cusses the con­cerns and is­sues in the In­dian re­tail man­power sce­nario, with a fo­cus on the need to ad­dress skilling needs for the growth of the re­tail sec­tor in In­dia in the com­ing years.

Is­sues and Con­cerns of Man­power in In­dian Re­tail­ing

Im­ages Anal­y­sis es­ti­mates that the in­dus­try with a whop­ping size of USD 932.96 bil­lion (2017) is cur­rently grow­ing at a CAGR of 14.3 per­cent. But, man­power avail­abil­ity is a con­cern that looms large as a specter on the face of the sec­tor. With more than half of In­dia’s 1.2 bil­lion pop­u­la­tion aged below 25, there is yet short­age of man­power fore­seen in the re­tail sec­tor, how­ever. The at­tri­tion lev­els are high in the re­tail sec­tor that puts or­gan­i­sa­tions in a sit­u­a­tion where they con­stantly seek to scout for peo­ple with the right skills as they

ex­pand. DC Asia Pa­cific Re­tail In­dus­try Trend Sur­vey 2016, a study of 260 Asia Pa­cific re­tail­ers, shows the very sig­nif­i­cance of re­tail em­ployee ef­fi­ciency as it emerges as one of the key driv­ers of suc­cess­ful re­tail op­er­a­tions. So­cio-cul­tural is­sues, the na­ture of job it­self, lack of for­mal ed­u­ca­tion and lack of skilled man­power are the main con­cerns sur­round­ing the very fab­ric of the In­dian re­tail work­force.

So­cio Cul­tural Is­sues:

The cul­tural and so­cial mind­sets of our coun­try make it dif­fi­cult to mo­ti­vate to­day’s youth to en­ter the re­tail sec­tor. Re­tail ca­reers are not much sought af­ter by young peo­ple as they are con­sid­ered low pay­ing and time de­mand­ing. Re­tail em­ploy­ees need to work on fes­ti­val days as well due to big busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties. They are sel­dom able to spend their time along with their fam­ily dur­ing fes­tive sea­sons and this cre­ates a great deal of stress in their per­sonal life. Fur­ther it is yet con­sid­ered by many as in­fra-dig to be em­ployed in re­tail­ing, es­pe­cially in front-end po­si­tions where di­rect sales and cus­tomer ser­vice roles are in­volved. Na­ture of the Re­tail Job:

The tir­ing na­ture of re­tail job de­mands long work­ing hours. In re­tail­ing, the em­ploy­ees are re­quired to stand and serve cus­tomers in the store through­out the day. Most of the re­tail em­ploy­ees need to work on week­ends,as we are aware that cus­tomer traf­fic surges dur­ing Satur­days and Sun­days and the weekly off day for them is gen­er­ally sched­uled on a week­day. This too puts the re­tail man­power to great in­con­ve­nience as it could con­tra­dict with the week­end hol­i­day of the other fam­ily mem­bers. Just imag­ine the plight of a fam­ily where the wife en­gaged in re­tail­ing has her weekly off on a Tues­day and the bank em­ployed hus­band has his day off on a Sun­day with no com­mon day in a week

to spend to­gether! So the per­sonal fam­ily time in the re­tail em­ployee’s life is in jeop­ardy, lead­ing to tons of stress in life. This stress could even lead to se­ri­ous health is­sues like de­pri­va­tion of sleep and anx­i­ety among the em­ployee. This could also re­sult in lower mo­ti­va­tion lev­els af­fect­ing the very per­for­mance of or­ga­ni­za­tions.

The Is­sue of Low

Re­mu­ner­a­tion: The salary lev­els for front-end em­ploy­ees are very low in the In­dian re­tail in­dus­try. The Cus­tomer Ser­vice As­so­ciate who is sell­ing prod­ucts be­hind the counter is of­ten paid only around the min­i­mum wage of that par­tic­u­lar re­gion. With a high cost of liv­ing in Tier I &II ci­ties and the de­mand­ing na­ture of the re­tail job, it is no longer a lu­cra­tive job op­tion with many. There is a high level of at­tri­tion in the front-end po­si­tions of the re­tail sec­tor, as em­ploy­ees don’t hes­i­tate to shift even for a mea­ger in­crease in their salary. So the ma­jor part of re­tail em­ploy­ees is not seen to be loyal to their or­ga­ni­za­tions.

There are com­par­a­tively less prospects of ca­reer growth for the front­line em­ploy­ees than the ones en­gaged in back-end roles like Mer­chan­dis­ing, Buy­ing or Mar­ket­ing. Of the to­tal man­power, 70% of re­tail em­ploy­ees are found to be in the front­line po­si­tions. There aren’t enough hi­er­ar­chi­cal lev­els for them to grow in their ca­reer too, given the lim­it­ing na­ture of the avail­able skill sets in them. So or­ga­ni­za­tions are of­ten con­strained to nei­ther find the right peo­ple nor re­tain them for long pe­ri­ods in the same po­si­tion.

Lack of Man­power with For­mal Ed­u­ca­tion & Skills:

Many re­tail em­ploy­ees join as cus­tomer ser­vice as­so­ci­ates af­ter com­plet­ing their Higher Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion (10+2). The re­tail job de­mands so much of their time that they lose out on op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­tinue their ed­u­ca­tion fur­ther. Pro­mo­tions also be­come elu­sive since they do not have ad­e­quate op­por­tu­ni­ties to up­grade them­selves by im­prov­ing in their ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Of two em­ploy­ees with the same work ex­pe­ri­ence, the one who has higher ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion stand a bet­ter chance of get­ting pro­moted. Rel­e­vant higher ed­u­ca­tion or up-skilling can give them a broader per­spec­tive of the re­tail in­dus­try and can make them feel more con­fi­dent to have a win­ning ca­reer.

The present op­por­tu­ni­ties to up­date and up­grade them­selves are found to be few and far between, and this dis­cour­ages them largely.

Big Re­tail Growth Means Big Op­por­tu­ni­ties

The be­hav­ior pat­tern of the In­dian con­sumer has un­der­gone a ma­jor change thanks to the Coun­try’s fast eco­nomic growth. The In­dian con­sumer is earn­ing more now and he/she has western in­flu­ences too. Con­sumers seek bet­ter qual­ity. Con­sumers now want to eat, shop, and get en­ter­tained prefer­ably un­der the same roof. They ex­pect ex­cel­lent ser­vice lev­els and they re­late their own sat­is­fac­tion with the ser­vice ren­dered by the re­tail or­ga­ni­za­tions

MANY RE­TAIL EM­PLOY­EES JOIN AS CUS­TOMER SER­VICE AS­SO­CI­ATES AF­TER COM­PLET­ING THEIR HIGHER SEC­ONDARY ED­U­CA­TION (10+2). THE RE­TAIL JOB DE­MANDS SO MUCH OF THEIR TIME THAT THEY LOSE OUT ON OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES TO CON­TINUE THEIR ED­U­CA­TION FUR­THER.

THE GAP IN SUP­PLY OF QUAL­ITY MAN­POWER AGAINST THE DE­MAND IS DEEPLY FELT BY RE­TAIL OR­GA­NI­ZA­TIONS, ES­PE­CIALLY AT A CRIT­I­CAL TIME WHEN MANY OR­GA­NI­ZA­TIONS ARE SEEN TO BE IN A FAST EX­PAN­SION SPREE.

through em­ploy­ees. The re­tail man­power has to be qual­i­fied and trained enough with ap­pro­pri­ate skills and knowl­edge to un­der­stand cus­tomer needs and serve them. The gap in sup­ply of qual­ity man­power against the de­mand is deeply felt by re­tail or­ga­ni­za­tions, es­pe­cially at a crit­i­cal time when many or­ga­ni­za­tions are seen to be in a fast ex­pan­sion spree. The op­por­tu­ni­ties are huge. As or­gan­i­sa­tions ex­pand, so does the de­mand for man­power in re­tail­ing. The irony of the sit­u­a­tion is that In­dia is said to have has over 40 lakh un­em­ployed grad­u­ates when em­ploy­ers are des­per­ate for find­ing peo­ple with the right tal­ent! Most of the big busi­ness houses strong in man­u­fac­tur­ing also have been ex­pand­ing fast in the re­tail sec­tor like Tata, Aditya Birla, Mahin­dra and Re­liance be­sides the ex­ist­ing re­tail be­he­moths like Fu­ture Group, Ra­he­jas, RPG, etc The big brand pro­lif­er­a­tion in In­dia has re­cently seen the set­ting up of large ex­clu­sive brand stores like H&M, Zara and Ikea. In­dia wit­nessed the launch of the first Ikea store in 4 lakh sq. ft in Hy­der­abad in Au­gust 2018. The sin­gle store is said to have em­ployed 950 em­ploy­ees! With each IKEA store, em­ploy­ing around a 1000 em­ploy­ees one can imag­ine the big need for re­tail peo­ple as they open many stores in the very near fu­ture! Com­pa­nies are also seen to poach skilled em­ploy­ees, lur­ing them with higher salary, des­ig­na­tion, perks etc. as or­gan­i­sa­tions con­tinue to open their new stores. There is now a big need for cre­at­ing new re­tail­ing tal­ents fast.

Ini­tia­tives to Bridge the Skill Gap in Re­tail Sec­tor

Na­tional Skills De­vel­op­ment

Cor­po­ra­tion (NSDC): It is ex­pected that In­dia may face a daunt­ing chal­lenge by 2022 as the coun­try may see a man­u­fac­tur­ing skills gap of nearly 90 mil­lion work­ers and some 500 mil­lion work­ers across all skilled sec­tors. In­dia’s Na­tional Skills De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (NSDC), a non-profit com­pany, aims to help solve this prob­lem. NSDC as­pires to create 150 mil­lion skilled la­bor­ers across 21 sec­tors that may meet or ex­ceed in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

The main thrust of NSDC’S mis­sion lies in the pro­mo­tion of skill de­vel­op­ment through proper fund­ing – ei­ther through loans or eq­uity – of large, qual­ity, for-profit vo­ca­tional train­ing in­sti­tu­tions, pro­grams that are pro­posed by way of pri­vate (both for profit and not for profit) sec­tor ini­tia­tives. It is said to be truly a de­mand-led model, de­signed to de­velop and sup­ply the tal­ent needed by the pri­vate sec­tor to grow. NSDC is sin­cere in its in­tent to create tal­ent pools by con­stantly putting in ef­forts through the sev­eral skill sec­tor coun­cils and fa­cil­i­tat­ing sec­tor skill train­ing on a mass scale. NSDC’S ini­tia­tive has given rise to the for­ma­tion of Re­tail­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Skill Coun­cil of In­dia (RASCI), that fo­cuses on cre­at­ing and de­vel­op­ing Na­tional Oc­cu­pa­tional Stan­dards (NOS) for all rel­e­vant roles in the Re­tail In­dus­try, to create a well-struc­tured labour mar­ket in­for­ma­tion sys­tem, to ac­credit train­ing part­ners, to cer­tify train­ers, to as­sess and cer­tify learn­ers. RASCI rep­re­sents the re­tail in­dus­try in In­dia. RASCI is a com­pre­hen­sive source of re­tail ex­per­tise and in­de­pen­dent ad­vice for the re­tail­ing in­dus­try with a clear man­date to work with train­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions, ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, cer­ti­fy­ing bod­ies, em­ploy­ees, stu­dents or job

Sal­vador Az­nar / Shut­ter­stock.com

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