THE BIG CAMPUS DEBATE – No Such Thing as Campus Job Security?

A bunch of companies, including ecommerce giant Flipkart, decided to defer joining of new hires this placement season. Deferring or withdrawing job offers is unacceptable for institutes and students alike. However, startups call it a function of business environment. Is withdrawal or deferring of campus offers right? Is it going to be more common in future with business environment becoming uncertain? Sreeradha D Basu, Varuni Khosla and Brinda Dasgupta talk to various stakeholders to find the answer.

BREACH OF TRUST

PROF INDRANIL MANNA Director, IIT Kanpur

Such unprofessional behaviour can never be endorsed. Deferring -or in worst case scenarios, withdrawing -job offers is a breach of trust and has an impact on the student’s future. Had the affected students any inkling that this could happen, they could have got another job. If there is an instance when a company shuts down, then it’s a situation that is beyond control. But what often happens is that companies anticipate big projects and scale up hiring accordingly without proper planning and students are left in the lurch when these projects don’t fructify. There shouldn’t be any reason for this phenomenon to become more common in the future.In fact, if companies are hauled up very seriously, they will definitely become more careful about their behaviour.

TRUTH OF STARTUPS

SAHIL BARUA Chief Executive of ecommerce logistics services company DELHIVERY

Institutes have overreached their mandates. Asking companies to show profit and loss statements before hiring is a bit too much. Yes, this kind of aggressive hiring was bad on the industry’s part but the stance institutes are taking is too harsh. The fact is that the most privileged students in the country haven’t got these jobs. That is why they are upset. In 2008, when the global economic crisis happened, no one asked those big-name companies why they laid off people. In all of this, no one seems to have congratulated Flipkart for all the jobs it created in the first place. So, these students at the apex of the pyramid didn’t get a job? I understand why they are upset but this is the truth of startups. Let’s say they joined and were asked to leave in two months: that would be much worse. Institutes shouldn’t overreact as they don’t have a locus standi. However, this could mean a short term blip for Flipkart, which may have students questioning whether they still hold the same brand value as they did.

COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY

SV NATHAN Chief Talent Officer, Deloitte India

Firms’ operations are dictated by business environment. During the 2007-08 economic slowdown, many companies withdrew offers or delayed intakes. Recently, it has been difficult for a few to honour their campus offers. This is affecting them as well as causing students to worry about job stability. Normally it is expected that companies honour their commitments, but it is impossible to predict the business scenario and what will happen a few months down the line. It may therefore be prudent to stagger hiring, which eases pressure when times are tough. No company wants to eat humble pie by not being able to honour offers. At times when this is unavoidable, however, it is important to keep in close contact with students they intend to hire constant communication is the key. Training and development programmes when joining dates are deferred will show students the company intends to stay true to its word. Making small but impactful investments in talent in such times demonstrates a company’s true intentions. I don’t see the problem becoming more rampant unless the economy slumps, and right now, things look fairly positive.

COMMITMENTS MUST BE HONOURED

SAPNA AGARWAL Head of Career Development Services, IIM-Bangalore

A job offer is a commitment by companies and withdrawingdeferring it is definitely not right. The entire placement process is based on trust; it happens several months before actual joining and the implicit understanding is that all commitments will be honoured. Firms have enough advance notice and unless something absolutely unforeseen happens, to their best capacity, they should honour offers. Otherwise, with 400-odd students to place, the entire process would break down. Will it become more common? I hope not. I hope both sides are more careful: companies in terms of advance planning and students in terms of choosing wisely. More than business, sometimes, the planning environment is becoming uncertain. Companies need to have a recovery path. We don’t pressurise them to make x number of offers; that is their call. I hope the visibility they got for bad planning makes them careful because stakes are high.

CONSERVATIVE TARGETS

AMIT SINHA Vice President, Business Planning and People, PAYTM

Logically and ideally speaking, it’s not right for firms to renege on offers. Those that do need to plan better and have robust processes. It’s not fair on students.However, this is not a logical or ideal world. Reality is that business scenarios do change. It’s important to take a good look at hiring priorities. Slightly conservative targets may be a good idea, so as to not make false promises. I don’t see the situation getting worse the economy is doing well, no downturn is expected. It’s just that initial frenzy around funding has died down.

COMPANIES HAVE NO CHOICE

RIPUDAMAN GILL HR Head, CHAAYOS

The answer is in the question. Withdrawal of campus offers is because the business environment is uncertain. It’s the right thing to do; Offers were withdrawn because the company was left with no choice. It’s not by design. If they didn’t take them back, they may not have been able to give salaries in the future for roles they may not have any work for. However, this should not become a norm. HR teams have a responsibility and this can seriously affect a brand’s image. If bigger companies start doing this, students could be pushed into making wrong career choices.

TWO SIDES TO IT

RAHUL KATYAL MTech student representative, IIT Bombay

There are always two sides to the story. If you look at the companies withdrawing offers, it might be justifiable. It might be some restructuring and it’s a natural process for companies to do this and they have done it in the past.From a student’s perspective why Flipkart got attention was that once students get an offer in December, they aren’t allowed to sit for other company interviews. The issue is that there was a time gap which, if it hadn’t happened, would have allowed students to have options to sit for other offers. However, offers have been withdrawn in the past, especially when the oil and gas sector was down. Companies should state this in advance that this is a conditional offer and that as placement teams as well as students, there’s a risk associated with it. Students don’t have much understanding of how startups function and all they know is that they offer more challenging roles and salaries with a decent work culture. But this move is causing students to think twice before taking the offer. This could mean many students won’t want to take a risk after they’re out of college and opt for the more stable companies and offers.

Source: Economic Times

Date: 14th June 2016

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