The hopes and fears of India Inc’s workforce

Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint


  • Companies are pressing ahead with automation but many jobseekers are worried
  • The Mint + ‘Talent Insights’ Annual Report found growing use of automation by both employers and employees. Many job-seekers view automation as a challenge for job opportunities.

Mumbai/New Delhi: The debate around technology vaporizing jobs is an old one—centuries old. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, a clergyman named William Lee wanted to mechanize the production of stockings in the 16th century. But Queen Elizabeth I apparently denied a patent on his machine. She was concerned over stocking knitters losing jobs.

We see similar anxiety today with the exponential progress in generative artificial intelligence (AI) models. These models will eventually think and act like humans and can potentially take away jobs. One such model is ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by OpenAI, first released in November last year. It can answer “follow-up questions", “admit its mistakes", even “challenge incorrect premises".

Graphic: Mint
View Full Image
Graphic: Mint

A ‘Talent Insights’ report, which studied responses from over 3,400 job seekers and recruiters, found that many were already using ChatGPT to reduce their workload. About 33% of the jobseekers surveyed were using it to ‘brainstorm research ideas’; 15% ‘to help with presentations’; 7% to ‘help write code’.

While generative AI is at the cutting-edge, Indian organizations appear to be using the more tested tools to automate mundane work. About 51% of employers are using automation for recruitment and hiring, while about 20% of employers have automated the tracking of employee performance metrics such as attendance, productivity, and quality of work. About 16% of those surveyed said they use AI-led tools to improve productivity management—they have automated repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as data entry, report generation, and data analysis.

Panasonic Life Solutions India, an electrical equipment company, is one firm that appears to have pressed the accelerator on automation. “The rate of automation has grown when compared to pre-covid times. At Panasonic, human resources (HR) processes have been evaluated and automated with the objective of making them agile, customer relevant and contemporary," said Adarsh Mishra, chief human resources officer (CHRO) at the company. The firm’s entire recruitment management system is automated while its performance management system is 100% online. The company employs 13,000 in India.


Some traditional manufacturing companies are using automation for better asset utilization and training. Larsen & Toubro (L&T), for instance, has over 14,000 digitally connected equipment and assets at project sites. They generate valuable data for optimizing asset utilization and resource planning. “Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality HoloLens improve specialized equipment training, while robotics reduces accidents in previously hazardous operations," said C. Jayakumar, executive vice president and head—corporate HR, L&T. HoloLens is an AR headset.

But jobseekers are worried. Nearly half of the surveyed view growing automation as a challenge for job opportunities. About 36% of the respondents were unsure about the impact of such automation. This indicates a need for more information and education about the potential benefits and drawbacks of automation, as well as a recognition that its impact is likely to vary depending on the industry, occupation, and individual circumstances, the report stated.

Open to hiring

Right now, not every industry has a bright outlook. A recession is expected in advanced economies, which will impact India’s exporters. The funding winter continues for startups with the end of the era of easy money. Fintech and edtech sectors have laid off more than 25,000 people in the last fiscal.

Nonetheless, there are industries that would continue to hire, the survey found. Surprisingly, this includes the export-focussed information technology (IT) sector. Other industries at the forefront of hiring include banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), manufacturing, and e-commerce.

Here’s another irony. Despite the recent retrenchments, startups continue to attract talent. According to the study, working for a startup has become increasingly popular—people like being part of a company that is fast-growing and innovative. “61% agree that they would prefer to work in a startup and are actively looking for opportunities in this space. This reflects the changing attitudes of the workforce, where the traditional idea of job security and stability is no longer the only consideration," the study stated.

So, what roles are in demand?

A growing market like India needs more sales people. About 13% of the recruiters said that sales profiles will be in demand because companies are most keen on driving revenue and growth. Cloud computing skills (12%), coding skills (11.5%), data science skills (11%), and marketing skills (10.5%) are in demand, too.

In the startup world, more hiring is expected from online gaming and sports technology companies— a sunrise sector. “Online gaming and sports technology are quickly becoming sectors where people want to build their careers. India has an advantage because of the availability of young engineers and programmers in huge numbers," said Kevin Freitas, CHRO of Dream11, a fantasy sports company. In the coming months, the company will hire data scientists, data architects, mobile app developers, software development engineers, cybersecurity engineers and those with high-level programming skills.

Organizations are also looking for people with blended skills. “Companies have increased their focus on hiring for digital transformation projects and for roles that require a combination of technical, managerial, and soft skills," said Suvarana Mishra, head of HR at Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services. Rewards and benefits companies saw their business grow during the pandemic as employee engagement gained importance with remote work.

Ravindra Kumar GP, CHRO of automaker Tata Motors, said that hiring is growing in specialized areas, which includes auto electric and electronics, embedded software, analytics. “There is more openness among employees with these skills, working in other sectors, to join the auto sector," he said.


After two years of work-from-home (WFH), are Indian employees open to work-from-office (WFO)?

Well, getting them back to office has been quite a challenge for employers. In fact, many candidates have given up plum roles when companies wanted them to rejoin office. While employees like the idea of flexibility that working from home provides, companies feel team collaboration, productivity, and maintaining a sense of community were all impacted in the push for remote and flexible work options during the pandemic.

The survey found that 58% of the organizations preferred work-from-office, while 16% were still okay with work-from-home. However, 38% of the organizations studied have adopted a hybrid work model—they allow employees to work both from the office as well as remotely (the figures don’t add up to 100 as organizations could pick multiple options).

The new push for WFO has put the focus back on metros. According to the study, employers are now more inclined to hire from metro cities (74%) as opposed to non-metro cities (26%). Bengaluru is the hottest destination. It is the most preferred city for hiring across industries, with a preference rate of 36%. Mumbai followed closely at 22%, while Delhi-NCR and Hyderabad garnered 18% and 8% preference rates, respectively.

A goodbye package

This is a season of layoffs. What do employees expect when they are fired? In short, compassion and more benefits.

“Specifically, 34% of employees would like to receive severance pay, health insurance coverage, and outplacement support as part of their package. This indicates a desire for financial security and assistance in finding new job opportunities," the report noted.

Additionally, 27.5% of employees believe that they should be offered three-six months of salary when retrenched—it would demonstrate that the company cares.

News on hikes

A majority of employers, 73% to be specific, are planning performance appraisals of their employees, indicating a commitment to evaluate and improve the performance of their workforce.

However, average pay hike across Indian companies is estimated to slip to 9.1% this year from 9.4% the year before, a Deloitte study had earlier stated. Pay hikes in the IT sector, for instance, could be disappointing.

The tide could turn in the next couple of quarters. “In 2022, global markets slowed down and it impacted the job market. However, we believe that macro-trends remain intact. The hiring slowdown should be temporary and it would start improving from the second quarter," said Akhil Gupta, CEO of

Download the full Mint + Talent Insights Report here.

Catch all the Industry News, Banking News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.



Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App