We are recruiting because we are expanding, one step at a time, but we shall have four outlets trading at the end of January, up from a solitary one as of today. And, in fact, I find this recruitment exercise particularly rewarding, as the number and quality of candidates are better than I expected.
This is the good thing about recruiting in recession. You get good candidates to come to you. Plus, you send out a rare positive message, which attracts the ambitious and the aspiring. Besides, as I know from experience, recession is largely a matter of collective psychology, and one can transcend recession if he starts feeling good about his prospects.
In India, a strange phenomenon is taking place right now. Let's call it - Blame it on recession. Companies are purging deadwood. People are delaying contractual obligations and ducking payment commitments, because of 'recession'. Someone was telling me that even a payment of Rs. 10,000 has been held back because of global recession. Just another excuse, as one can make out, but a dangerous one - collectively we are slowing down by choice.
It should not be so. India is not terribly dependent on Real Estate or Financial Services. These sectors, however significant, only employ a miniscule number of people, compared to the size of the workforce. Despite all its current trouble, the IT and IT Services companies should do better, not worse, as a new wave of cost cutting will give a new fillip to outsourcing. The Indian arms of global companies will indeed face an initial squeeze, but not a deadly blow, and it is unlikely that any major Indian company will falter.
So far, the government has acted, more decisively so since the departure of non-effectual P Chidambaram, who sat on the middle of populism and fiscal conservatism and could not make up his mind. The markets have reacted favourably so far, with BSE Sensex earning back some of its lost shine quickly since the New Year.
Things should not be very bad for India, therefore. Many people I have spoken to in the last few days expects the recession to be over by March [tell that to someone in England!] and more importantly, many businesses have started recruiting and expanding again. Sitting at this point, it feels that India may have been spared from a deep long term recession.
I was also hearing about China who just came back from a trip there. He was talking about how bad the things are there. He was telling that the migrant construction workers have been sent home without the full settlement of pay and insurance. He was talking about poverty - something I thought is no longer there in Chinese cities - with people living on CHY 99 a month. He was talking about the poor state of health care in China - another surprise - and the fact that there are clearly two classes - Party Officials and Businessmen on one side of the divide and rest on another. If true, this is a dangerous situation as the Chinese society, unlike India, does not have the democratic grievance redress systems and therefore may sink into a revolution and anarchy any day. That poses a threat to everyone, including India - who wants an unstable Dragon in the next room?
Coming back to main topic of discussion, I think it is a bad time for companies to do a recruitment freeze. Remember all the talk about talent? Freezing recruitment now will make companies miss a lot of talent acquisition opportunities. This is time when the door should be open - and as the economy goes through the churn and adjust to a new, post-boom market, the companies should be able to create an internal churn and hire new post-recession talents.