Problems Faced By HR Managers Due To Shortage of Labor during Festive Seasons

What comes to your mind when you hear the word, HR Manager?

You might imagine a person sitting in a well-equipped cabin along with files, having meetings with top management, taking care of mid-level workers. But do you think the role and responsibilities of HR managers are just confined to this? Not exactly! HR in any organization acts as a loop that connects all departments’ right from the top management, middle level to the labor class employees. HR manager deals with hiring, managing, training, and resolving the issues of labor in an organization. He is the one who deals with labor contractors and works on recruiting them.

India possesses a large labor pool as almost half of its population. Due to a shortage of work in remote areas labor migrate to cities in search of work. Better work opportunities and facilities attract them towards industrial areas. But their movement from place to place continues. India is a country of diversified cultures and regions. Each state has its festivals and celebrations.

· Atham in Gujarat,

· Bastar Dussehra in Chattisgarh,

· Chhat Puja in Bihar,

· Diwali in almost every state.

· Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra,

· Holi in Rajasthan and Jharkhand,

During these festivals, laborers have to move to their native places. During this festive season, HR managers have to face the problem of shortage of labor at their workplace. Festival leaves are for few days but commuting from workplace to home town takes time. Many production units continue their work during this period too. Apart from production loading and unloading also continues throughout the year. A single flaw at any level affects the work of the whole system. It becomes the responsibility of HR to fill this gap by suggesting alternatives to the organization.

Problems Faced Due To Labor Shortage during Festivals

· Reduced Production — our island of festivals and celebrations. We don’t leave such moments to be cherished with our families and loved ones. For the laborers who live far from their native place festivals are most awaited. But when the labor moves to their hometown it becomes quite difficult for the production house and HRs to manage a proper workflow. The overall production of companies gets affected which in turn leaves an impact on profitability.

· A Gap In Demand And Supply Chain — Festivals do not stop production, loading, and unloading work. This goes on, regularly. But when the labor migrates during festivals, production reduces thereby leading to a gap between demand and supply chain. The day to day working gets affected. Demand remains the same but the gap occurs due to reduced supply.

· Affects Customer Relations — Customers are the ultimate profit providers for any organization. So it becomes the responsibility of HR to adhere to the needs of the customers timely. Sudden fall in the supply of products or delays in supply results in doubtful relations with customers. At times your consistent customers may think of switching to your competitors. This will ultimately lead to decreased productivity and profit of an organization. It’s a matter of concern for HR as he contributes to maintaining good customer relations.

· The Increased Cost Of Production — When a shortage of labor causes reduced production, HR managers have to hire local labor. Hiring local labor is costlier than the remote ones. You have to pay extra for production but you cannot increase the price of products all of a sudden. This, in turn, results in increased cost of production which has to be ultimately bearded by the organization itself.

· Quality Issues — The labor that works for a long time with the organization are well trained. The ones that are hired to balance the shortage of labor are not trained to that extent. This may lead to quality issues of products. Working with trained labor and that of an untrained one makes a huge difference.

· The Threat Of Hiring New Labor — Permanent laborers in any organization are its trustworthy assets. Hiring new ones is a matter of concern for the HR manager. It’s hard to decide up to what extent you can trust a new person in the system. The concern of optimum quality product, on-time production, wastage, theft keeps on staggering in the HR manager’s mind.

· Time Consumed To Sink In The Regular Workflow — Vacations and festivals make us relaxed and we tend to move in a comfort zone. Getting back to the workplace and moving out at the same pace takes time. HR managers need to keep a constant check on their working ability and make sure they sink in with the same workflow.

Suggested Measures to Overcome Labor Shortage Issues during Festivals

· Prior Planning — Labors in an organization come from different states and places. HR managers need to categorize them accordingly and make a prior plan as per their festivals. If HR managers know well in advance when the labor is going on leave, he will get proper time to prepare well in advance. For example, Chhat Pooja in Bihar usually occurs in October or November. It’s a four-day festival. So Labor from Bihar will move to their place during these months and at least 6–7 days. HR managers can record this at someplace and plan accordingly.

· Offer Incentives To Behold Labor — Providing incentives to labor who are willing to work during festive leaves will also solve the issue to some extent. Maybe a few of them stay due to these incentives thereby leaving less impact on reduced production. The announcement of these incentives can be informed by HRs in advance so that they can also make decisions timely.

· Training Of Alternative Staff — HR managers need to train alternative labor so that they can be utilized at the time of crisis without any flaw. Keeping a few people and training them will help HR in maintaining productivity and quality. There will not be any issue of trust and workflow will be smoother.

· Recruiting Local Labor For High Priority Work — Every organization or production house has some of the priority work that keeps ongoing throughout the year. For such type of work, HR managers must make sure to hire local labor. Local labor will be available the whole year and at the time of any emergency as well. Your high priority work will never stop or delay due to excessive festive off.

· Inter-Department Rotation Of Labor — HR managers should rotate the workforce within departments. This will make them skilled to work in different departments. At the time of festivals for example labor of Rajasthan moves to their place to celebrate Holi. Labor of Chhattisgarh can be utilized for their work. The condition here is to train them efficiently so that they can easily replace the workers from Rajasthan at the time of need.

· Higher Local Labor — HR managers must keep in touch with multiple labor contractors and try to hire local labor. They can also assign a certain percentage of labor that must be local and how much should be the remote labor. The right proportion of both will help HR managers to overcome issues related to leaves during festivals.

Labor shortage must be managed efficiently, if ignored, will lead to a reduction in productivity and profitability of the organization. HR managers will feel stressed and would be unable to cope up with the crisis. This may lead to health issues as well. So proper planning can be done to come out of this situation.



Head, HR & Strategy Development at Astron Packaging Limited, India & UAE

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Deepak Bhatt

Head, HR & Strategy Development at Astron Packaging Limited, India & UAE