In a country of a billion people, a vast majority of them youngsters, how hard can it be to find — and retain — qualified workers for modern retail outlets? Quite hard, as chains are increasingly finding out. Thanks to skyrocketing attrition figures, retailers are looking to ensure that resources spent in training employees translate into higher productivity and retention, instead of workers abandoning the brand for better opportunities in no time. And they are receiving help from an unexpected quarter — the persons with disability (PwD) talent pool. From retail chains such as Hypercity, Lifestyle, Croma, Shoppers Stop, Reliance and Tanishq, to quick-service restaurants (QSRs) such as KFC, Domino’s and Café Coffee Day, big brands have taken an inclusive turn when it comes to HR and, studies show, the returns have been well worth the change.
A recently released white paper by Accenture India, which surveyed 15 retail chains employing PwDs, observes that 70% of respondents in the $500-billion Indian retail sector said hiring PwDs reduced attrition rates by about half (3.3% attrition for PwDs compared with the industry standard of 6.8%). Apart from serving as an inspiration for other employees, PwDs also helped generate positive word of mouth for the organisation. Sixty per cent of the respondents noted that PwDs were more productive than other employees. Says Vineet Ahuja, principal, management consulting, Accenture India, “Apart from helping PwDs socially and financially, these hires help save money for retailers, as the government funds their EPS and ESI for the first three years.” For the company, this translates to about 8% savings on a monthly salary of ₹10,000 for every PwD employee. And with India having the world’s largest population of PwDs — 70 million — there is a growing pool for retailers to choose from.
For companies, a common worry while employing PwDs in customer-facing roles is people’s attitude towards disability. For instance, will some customers be impatient while interacting with hearing impaired employees? In such a case, would the company be willing to ri