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Recovering economy: Companies looking to hire employees they had laid off seven months ago

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Life seems to have come full circle for Sandeep Saxena, and that too in seven months. On December 1, the 28-year-old will join a Bengaluru-based food tech venture as a data analyst in its Gurgaon office. The last seven months have not been easy. He lost his job in May and was forced to move to a cheaper house in June as he could not afford the rent.

He also had to dip into his hard-earned savings to meet all the expenses. That was when his old office called him asking if he would be interested in rejoining. The same people who had handed him a pink slip now wanted to give him an appointment letter. Saxena decided to boomerang.

With the economy showing some signs of a revival, companies that had laid off staff to survive the crushing Covid times are now looking to hire again. The first port of call of most of these firms is their old employees. This has led to a rise in boomerang placements — where employees return to their old jobs within a short span of leaving it, usually within two years.

Of course, it helps that some automobile, lifestyle, electronic and ecommerce ventures are reporting greater sales, customers are returning, stock markets are hitting new highs and global analysts like Moody’s are changing the country’s growth outlook from negative to positive. All this has led to a positive sentiment in the market, and hence the hiring.

The food tech startup that Saxena will rejoin didn’t want to disclose its identity. “We don’t want to raise expectations among others who were asked to go. While we are happy to rehire some, accelerated digitisation across functions has resulted in a need for fewer hands,” says Saxena’s employer.

1a

But Makemytrip.com, Vista Homes, and several companies in F&B, retail, financial services and aviation have confirmed they are hiring at least some of the people they had fired after April, when the entire country was under lockdown.

Jyoti Bowen Nath, managing partner of headhunter Claricent Partners, says, “These are uncertain times and companies prefer people who are aware of values, culture and are open to hiring employees who left on good terms.” Almost 60% of the companies looking for talent prefer boomerang hiring as businesses reopen, she says.

1b

In April-June, Makemytrip.com had to let go of almost 350 employees as it cut back on expenses. Now, as travel is showing signs of revival, the portal has hired back 20 who had to leave due to the pandemic. It also hired 35 others for various functions.

The Nasdaq-listed company has two experts in its 45-people HR team to specifically look at boomerang placements. Makemytrip assigns a code to employees who leave the company or are asked to quit: Code 1 are those who can be hired later; code 2 can be considered after due diligence and code 3 cannot be rehired. Boomerang employees are mostly part of the first pool. Yuvaraj Srivastava, chief human resources officer, Makemytrip, says, “The success rate is 100% for boomerang employees. In the case of lateral hires (from other companies), 25% might turn out to be average performers.”

That is because former employees are familiar with what to do and hit the ground running. This can be a great asset in Covid times where companies don’t have the resources to train people, or the luxury of waiting for months as fresh hires figure out how the company works. Besides it also saves costs to call up an employee whose details are available in the company’s database rather than going through a lengthy process of searching and hiring fresh talent.

1c

Vista Rooms, which manages 400 properties across India, saw 40 employees boomerang after business picked up in the last one month.

This has saved them at least 40 months of wages that would have been spent if a headhunter was engaged. Amit Damani, cofounder of Vista Rooms, says, “With the lockdown, business came to almost zilch. Decision to lay off was taken not due to individual performance but because the economy crashed. We opted to hire former staff as they know the core values of the company.”

Founded in 2015, Vista Rooms had 200 employees at the beginning of the year and was all set for expansion when Covid hit. This forced the company to lay off half the team. Now it has 140 staff, with 40 boomerangs hired at the earlier salary.

1d

TeamLease has seen the trend of hiring boomerang employees pick up in F&B, lifestyle retail, financial services and to some extent in hospitality. Rituparna Chakraborty, a senior vice-president at the staffing company, says, “On resumption of business, the tendency is to reach out to employees who were laid off.”

Nath of Claricent Partners says, “It is also a great talent retention tool. Boomerang workers make wonderful brand ambassadors and are a strong endorsement for the organisation they come back to.” They are also likely to stay longer than the lateral hires as they understand the company is willing to open doors.

Probably that is why Joel Paul, GM India of RiseSmart, finds that the value of a boomerang employee is much higher these days than that of a lateral recruit. “Boomerangs are ready to deliver within a week of rejoining.”

While times are looking up for at least some who were handed pink slips just six months ago, few boomerangs have had to make do with shortened contracts— from at least 11 months earlier to just three months now — as businesses remain uncertain about the outlook.



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Education

Does NEP seek to end reservation policy? Yechury asks PM

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NEW DELHI: CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, asking him if the new National Education Policy sought to end the reservation policy in the educational institutions.

In the letter, Yechury highlighted how the NEP had no mention of reservations for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Class communities, and the differently-abled.

Approved by the Union cabinet in July, the NEP replaces the 34-year-old National Policy on Education framed in 1986. It is aimed at paving the way for transformational reforms in school and higher education systems.

“I am writing this letter to highlight one particular issue which is causing great anxiety especially among SC, ST, OBC communities and the disabled,” Yechury said. “It is truly shocking that NEP 2020 makes no mention of reservations for these sections, either for admissions or for appointments to teaching and non-teaching positions.”

In fact, even the word ‘reservation’ does not appear anywhere in the policy document. This has led to widespread concern whether this act of omission is deliberate, conveying the intention to reverse many decades of efforts to integrate quality, quantity and equity in the education system, according to Yechury.

The CPI(M) leader sought Modi’s response to a set of questions, which the former said were pertinent aspects that need to be discussed.

“Does NEP 2020 seek to end the policy of reservations for SC, ST, OBC and disabled in educational institutions? If not, could you please clarify as to why NEP2020 does not contain any mention of reservations?,” Yechury asked.

He alleged that various elements of the NEP were being rolled out in different parts of the country in an ad-hoc “piecemeal manner” without discussing with important stakeholders — state governments (education is on the concurrent list), students, teachers, non-teaching staff and experts.

“This is creating grave uncertainties and confusion about the actual direction proposed for the Indian Education system under this new policy, by your government,” he added.



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IISER Pune team wins gold at the iGEM 2020 synthetic biology competition

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PUNE: A team of 14 students from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune who competed at the 2020 international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) contest, have won a gold medal at the International Giant Jamboree held virtually during November 13-22, 2020. The team also bagged the iGEMer’s award, meaning they were officially voted the best undergraduate team project by all the other teams in the competition, said an official release from IISER, Pune.

The iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition is an international competition organized to give high school and collegiate students a platform to use synthetic biology to tackle real life problems facing the world today.

Describing the challenge, the official release said, “The IISER Pune team worked on developing a multi-faceted approach towards eradicating Malaria. They aimed to develop a library of protein-based therapeutics to combat the disease and a simple, cheap and efficient diagnostic kit along with an awareness campaign aimed at informing the public about the methods of prevention and cure. ”

Explaining the work behind the win, the release further said, “Working over 8 months, the team computationally designed short protein sequences that could be orally delivered as medication to stop the spread of Malaria in the human body. The team’s diagnostic kit consisted of an easy to use software that they developed with an accuracy of 95.45% that uses images of blood smears to detect Malaria. These images can be cheaply and easily obtained using the existing technologies of a Foldscope (a foldable microscope) and a Paper Centrifuge which cumulatively cost under 100 rupees.”



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Karnataka schools reopening news: Karnataka COVID-19 panel against reopening schools in December

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BENGALURU: The Technical Advisory Committee for COVID-19 in Karnataka has recommended to the state government not to reopen schools in December ahead of Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s a key meeting on Monday to take a call on the matter. “After extensive deliberations it was unanimously resolved not to reopen the schools in December, proceedings of the COVID-19 52nd Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting held on Sunday said. The COVID-19 scenario shall be reviewed in the last week of December to consider reopening of schools at an appropriate time subsequently, it said, adding that this recommendation was for the consideration of the government in the larger public interest of the state. The schools have remained closed since March when the national lockdown was first enforced to combat COVID-19. The proceedings of the meeting, headed by Chairman Dr M K Sudarshan, said, the current scenario of COVID-19 in the state was showing a declining trend with around 1,700 cases and 20 deaths reported daily.

It was important to consolidate gains made after great efforts in the last eight months to contain the disease in the state, the panel said, pointing to the spike or resurgence of cases in Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and others.

Besides, the months of December and January due to winter are cold and conducive to occurrence and spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, it said, adding that the epidemiological perspective based on a state survey done in September is that there may be a spike in cases in the districts with low prevalence.

Chief Minister Yediyurappa and Primary and Secondary Education minister S Suresh Kumar are holding a meeting on Monday with the Education Department and other government officials to discuss reopening of schools.

The government has also taken suggestions from parents, health committee officials and educational experts, and other stakeholders.

Ahead of the meeting Yediyurappa said, “After taking note of the opinion expressed in the meeting, gathering suggestions from every one, we will take a decision. We will discuss and let you know the outcome.”

“Schools had to open in June, six months have gone. There are various opinions like not to open schools, to open for selective clases. Also government school students in rural areas are not getting the benefit of online classes,” Kumar said.

There were also social problesms arsing with reports about child labour and child marrigaes, he said.

The graduate, post-graduate, diploma and engineering colleges have reopened on November 17 in the state with preventive measures for COVID-19, but the attendance of students is said to be very poor so far.



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