Shantanu Dhar, HR leadership Profile, Author, Transformation Leader

“Once we find the solution to COVID 19, everyone will have moved on with their lives” – Shantanu Dhar, HR leadership Profile, Author, Transformation Leader

Shantanu Dhar is a CHRO profile with over 20 years of experience. He has intensive experience in leading the function in both the service as well as the manufacturing industries. He gained his Ms.HRD from Pittsburg State University in the US and has experience in setting up businesses in India and abroad. He is also a best selling author with two books out: The Company RED and Code Red. He is currently working on his third novel: Red Finale.

In an exclusive interaction with SCIKEY, Shantanu Dhar speaks about what will the effects of COVID 19 be on the workforce, his thoughts on the gig economy and how companies can develop employee engagement and retention.


Since the Gen Y Gen Zs now form a significant percentage of the workforce, to acquire engage multi-generational diverse workforce and to have the best of all the generations, what are the best HR practices?

The newer generation do not necessarily feel motivated by the actions of their current leaders. This was not the case with us regarding the individuals we looked up to as our leaders. Our leaders and even the politicians of those days used information as a means of power. Today the situation isn’t the same as the information that a CEO may have is possessed by all. And this is because of our access to the internet. So once the edge of access to information is gone, very little is left to display a sense of leadership.

The performance management process available in companies is based on the philosophy that people’s performance needs to be managed. When you speak of this to your employees, it already conveys the message that you don’t believe in their performance, and so you need to rate them. This builds distrust and unnecessary competition in the organization. Many companies have become political in their structures because of these performance systems. For their day to day work, the fixed portion of their compensation is the remuneration for the time they spend in an organisation.

For this, you can list down certain criteria which can be reviewed at the end of the week. For anything above that, any strategic work that they do, you can simply build a yes/no system. This performance can then be reviewed at the end of the year. The best you can do is abolish your performance management system and have a simple one. “This system will include just two columns of task and task achieved which is over and above their day to day work”, this will determine their bonus at the end of the year. The current generation wants a workspace that is free of politics, and corporates need to aim to build such an organization.


What is the biggest change, you forsee from the COVID19?

“Once we get out of this pandemic, within three months, people would’ve forgotten about it.” Similar situations have occurred even back in time, and after a few months, people’s lives have gone back to normal, and they have eventually forgotten it all. I believe that it will go back to more or less, how it was before any of this occurred.

The only change I see happening is that the dependence on fossil fuels would start becoming lower than before. There will be a lot of movement upon deriving energy from solar power as well as wind and water. This is because people have realized that nature has been exploited a lot and that upon reaching the brim, nature can also hit back at us. The world dependence upon combustible energy in the next two decades will go down drastically. It will be down by at least 90%..

So what we will see in the future are homes generating their own power for their households. This will have impact on other things as well, such as transport. So COVID 19 is not going to affect the way we work. What is going to bring in the change is the movement of generating energy from our planet to our staff.

When every home begins producing its own energy, fewer people will want to go and work for corporations. Today everything is run by corporations where their main aim is to make money, and this cannot last forever. With the dependence on oil going down and with more and more solar energy being generated, lesser people will want to go and work for such corporations. The need for money will go down.

The only thing that people will pay for, will be their house or land, and everything else will become free. COVID 19 won’t change the world, the way we generate energy will. Fewer students will take up MBAs, vocational activities, engineering etc. More people will opt for arts, humanities, music etc.

We have an excellent opportunity to build our country into a manufacturing hub in the next 10-25 years. This is because China has created a trust deficit with the COVID 19 issue. So the next 3 years will become a big boom for India because we have good relations with the world.


The increasing appetite for innovative technologies has increased the demand for a skilled workforce. What would be the significance of re-training/reskilling the employees?


Once this situation is met with a solution, everyone would’ve moved ahead with their lives. Even work from home is temporary to our current situation. Once this is over, employees would be asked to rejoin work at their offices.


How should the companies be managing the small revenue they are generating at this time how should be the salary payouts? How it is different between different sectors?

One of the key mistakes that companies are making right now in India is that your wage and salary bill will seldom be more than 20% of your revenues if your are an established manufacturing company.

This means that you will keep aside 20-30% of your revenue as part of the working capital in your treasury. So, you can easily pay for 2-3 months because you have that amount within your treasury.

If you are an IT services company where your wage bill is almost 70% of your revenue or if you are an IT product company, your salary bill is about 50-60% of your revenue, then it can be difficult. But if an established manufacturing company that can afford to pay, still lay off their employees, how do you expect loyalty then?

This is the biggest mistake that they can make, which will then affect them in the long term. There are several established companies including ones I have worked for that are clearly not laying off employees. They have long term established strategies. I have worked for a shipping company and their terminal operations continue and each employee is being taken care of. The MD himself monitors their well being.


How can the gig workforce contribute to the future of work?

Gig workers are those workers that work on a specific skill that a company does not require throughout the year.


The gig worker Portion for the next few years will not be more than 1-2%. It can only increase up to 5-10% of a company’s staffing needs. Right now it’s only the entertainment and related industries that employ these workers in large numbers.


What are some of the challenges that employees might be facing in such crisis?

Since the situation demands individuals to work from home, there are no fixed working hours. Some people are working from 8 am in the morning to 12 pm in the night. This is because there are connectivity issues such as internet unavailability and it is difficult to get all the members of the team together at the same time. Also, there is housework besides office work to look after. All of this makes it difficult for employees to work smoothly in this crisis.



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