India’s tech and e-commerce startups are demonstrating through their human resources policies that they are more in sync with the demands of their young workforce. The country’s most valuable startup, Flipkart, has just announced that it will offer its employees an adoption allowance and full maternity and paternity leave benefits if adopting a child.
Flipkart’s Adoption Assistance Program will provide Rs 50,000 allowance to cover legal, agency and regulatory costs. It will give adoptive mothers the exact same maternity leave benefits as biological mothers (six months paid leave and four months of flexible hours at work) if the adopted child is under a year old.
It will provide six weeks of paid leave for adoptive fathers. The company will pay 50 per cent of the day care fee for adopted children up to six years of age and provide parenting, childcare and family health counselling facilities. It is the first time that any company has acknowledged that adoption is gaining ground among younger Indians. The online retailer recently overhauled its maternity and paternity leave policy, including a one-year career break without pay, to make it more sympathetic to employees.
A slew of startups provide unique HR benefits like Flipkart. Another Bengaluru-based startup, InMobi which goes head on with Google and Facebook in mobile advertising, has a host of innovative measures that are unheard of even in India’s IT sector. InMobi does not cap travel expenses. It does not have access cards or security checks when employees come in and leave work. All this has given employees a sense of responsibility, its HR department says. InMobi covers parents-in-law as part of employee’s family medical insurance. It offers a concierge service to employees that includes even laundry.
For startups, the gains from such new-fangled HR policies go beyond the branding benefits. A fierce war for talent is making companies think differently about employee benefits. Original ideas and unusual schemes become the differentiator between startups and traditional IT services firms who all compete for the same technical talent. “There was a time when an IT job was the cool thing for every graduating engineer but no longer,” says Krishnakumar Natarajan, CEO of the fast-growing IT firm, Mindtree. “With the convergence of many sectors, the war for technology talent is intense and companies need to position differently,” says Natarajan.
Education enterprise software startup Foradian Technologies offers its employees unfiltered internet at work. That goes completely against the grain of other companies, even IT and BPO firms, world who block social networks on the office’s internet network saying it diminishes productivity. Foradian, on the other hand, allows employees to spend 45 minutes of their post-lunch time playing multi-player games that are on the office network. Its co-founders too join in on occasion. “The motivation and requirement of millennials is entirely different and I can say this because I am a millennial myself,” says 31-year-old Unni Koroth, co-founder and CEO of Foradian.
In Bengaluru, the talent war has become so fierce that it is forcing even players like India’s second-largest outsourcing firm Infosys to change age-old rules. Infosys, for instance, recently started allowing employees to come to work in casual clothes. Formal work attire is no longer mandatory. However, the smaller, nimbler startups with modern HR policies are responding much faster to social realities.