There are a lot of things that have happened around the world in 2016. But for us, in India, Demonetization of INR 500 and INR 1000 currency notes, that was announced on 8th November, 2016, is perhaps the highlight of the year.
Though, demonetization is an effort to curb black money, control tax evasion and corruption, teach the black money hoarders and tax evaders a lesson, it has also affected everyone else including the HR function in some way or the other. For HR, fortunately, demonetization brought with it a set of challenges that present opportunities for improvement at the workplace.
The challenges presented by Demonetization provide HR to revisit and revise some of their policies in the following aspects:
- Digitization of Expenses and Petty Cash - While salaries are paid directly into employee bank accounts, there still exist some organizations, where petty cash and expense reimbursement is still made in "cash" on specific days of the week or the month. In these organizations, employees have to line up in a queue and someone from payroll needs to sit and make the payments. Demonetization presents a perfect opportunity for HR to make this system digital and let go of this time consuming and old school system.
- Helping Employees Understand the Digital World of Money - We're all aiming for "Digital India", and for that we all need to have a strong understanding of how digital payments, banking and other applications work. A lot of people, even the educated and tech savvy, feel challenged when having to deal with online banking or payments; some are simply wary of the new system. HR can take this opportunity to arrange educative workshops for their employees and help them strengthen their digital finance base. It is, after all, the future.
- Assisting Employees with Financial Planning - Demonetization came as shock to a lot of people. Given the influx of money into savings account, the interest rates both for deposits and loans is expected to come down. While the decrease in interest rates on loans is a good news, the decrease on interest rate on savings and deposits is not that great, especially for those who keep a major chunk of their money in their savings account or as bank deposits. These people will take a huge hit. HR can use this opportunity to avail guidance for their employees to better plan and invest their finances.
- Setup a Banking Facility in the Premises - HR can use this opportunity to get a temporary or even a permanent banking facility like cash deposit and disbursement desks or even ATMs at their campuses. This will greatly benefit the employees and reduce the absenteeism resulting from "I need half-day off to go to the Bank" and currently "Need leave to stand in the long queues at the Banks". Neither of the reasons are illegitimate, but with a bank in the premises, they can be reduced to an extent.
- Go Completely Digital - We're already living in a world that's becoming increasingly digital, it's high time we as a country followed suit. Now when monetary transactions are being forced to go digital is perhaps the perfect opportunity for us to take other aspects of work and life digital.
No, this does not mean taking your personal life on Facebook and Twitter.
What it does mean is, that it's high time that each one of us learnt the basic skills needed to navigate the online world. We need to understand it's threats and benefits from the opportunities that it presents. HR can use this time to educate and train its employees, especially those who do not need to use computers - like the housekeeping staff, labour at factories and other low level employees, on how to use one. Small organizations that still follow certain age-old methods in record keeping and accountancy can take this opportunity to make all their processes and systems paper-free and implement the digital way of life.
These are some of the ways in which HR can make Demonetization the start of Digitization in India. Of course, a lot of the large organizations and their employees - especially the younger generation, would be well-versed with the above things. But smaller organizations and organizations with a large older employee-base can benefit from implementing these things in their offices.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written in support of any political party or any system or company, these things are the demand of the current scenario and the need for the future.