Workforce Diversity: Helping Industries & Organisations Grow

In this interdependent global economy, an American might drive to work in a car designed in Germany that was assembled in Mexico, components made in the United States.

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Abstract

Workforce diversity means similarities and differences among employees in terms of age, cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. No two humans are alike. People are different in not only gender, culture, race, social and psychological characteristics but also in their perspectives and prejudices. Society had discriminated on these aspects for centuries. Diversity makes the workforce heterogeneous. In the current scenario, employing a diversified workforce is a necessity for every organisation but to manage such a diversified workforce is also a big challenge for management. Workforce diversity is strength for any organisation but people still stick to their views related to caste, religion etc and so consider diversity as a problem but if managed properly, can increase productivity.

In transportation and telecommunications technology in short we can say that day by day the world is becoming a global village due to globalisation. In this interdependent global economy, an American might drive to work in a car designed in Germany that was assembled in Mexico, components made in the United States and Japan that were fabricated from Korean steel and Malaysian rubber. From Indian perspective also, the world has now recognised India as one of the prime economic driver in the global scenario. Various companies are coming India to explore this opportunity. In order to survive in this type of cut throat competitive world the organisations have to hire an effective and efficient workforce that can handle such a competitive environment. Employing diversified workforce is a very essential for every organisation. In the current scenario the organisations that employ quality and competitive workforce regardless of their age, attitude, language, gender, religion, caste can only compete at the marketplace.

Human resource is an important asset for any organisation. Capital and physical resources, by themselves, cannot improve efficiency or contribute to an increased rate of return on investment.

Workforce Diversity

It is through the combined and concerted efforts of people that monetary or material resources are harnessed to achieve organisational goals. But these attitudes, efforts and skills have to be sharpened from time to time to optimise the effectiveness of human resources and to enable them to meet greater challenges. Without employees, the organisation cannot move an inch. Therefore, the management of this resource is also an important issue. Human resource management is concerned with managing ‘human aspect’ of the organisation in such a way that organisational objectives are achieved along with employee development and satisfaction. 

Each individual is different from each other because of their different religion, educational background to which they belong, age and the perception. When different types of people in terms of thinking, perception, generation come together to work at the same place then definitely a situation may come where all these different types of

people may not agree at the same point. At that point, of time it is going to affect the interpersonal relationship among people. 

Impact of Workforce on Productivity

Due to the increased rate of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation we can view the change at our workplace also, gone were the days where the people of same age, same professional qualification, same experience and same religion come together to work in an organisation. Now day’s females are also working in the equal ratio with males. Next aspect that affects the work climate is language. People may speak different languages at workplace because of different geographical region to which they belong. Due to which the people may find some problem. Employees coming from various geographical regions with their different mindset create contradiction among employees. Gender discrimination is also a major problem at Indian workplace.

Cordial interpersonal relationship among the employees is one of the major ingredients for smooth functioning of an organisation. An organisation is a network of people who work together to achieve some common objective and if this network has some loopholes then it would be very difficult for any organisation to achieve those objectives effectively. 

Interpersonal Relationships

Productivity shows whether the activity of an organisation is efficient and effective. Though the terms like productivity, efficiency and effectiveness are used together and practicians sometimes alternate their meanings, however we must not identify productivity with efficiency and/or effectiveness. Productivity requires both efficiency and effectiveness, because a certain activity will not be productive if it is only efficient, but not effective, or effective, but not efficient. Productivity in economic position is defined as the relation between output and input.

Input element in an organisation consists of resources used in the product creation process, such as labour, materials, energy. The output consists of a given product, service and the amount of both. The amount of output per unit of input (labour, equipment, and capital). A measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system, etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs is known as productivity. There are many different ways of measuring productivity. For example, in a factory productivity might be measured based on the number of hours it takes to produce a good, while in the service sector productivity might be measured based on the revenue generated by an employee divided by his/her salary.

Advantages of a diversified workforce

An organisation’s success and competitiveness depend upon its ability to embrace diversity and realise the benefits. When organisations actively assess their handling of workplace diversity issues, develop and implement diversity plans, multiple benefits are reported such as:

  1. Diversity stimulates innovation and productivity and creates a world-class culture that can outperform the competition.
  2. A multicultural organisation is better suited to serve a diverse external clientele in a more increasingly global market. Such organisations have a better understanding of the requirements of the legal, political, social, economic and cultural environments of foreign nations.
  3. In research-oriented and hi-tech industries, the broad base of talents generated by a gender-and ethnic- diverse organisation becomes a priceless advantage. It goes with the opinion that creativity thrives on diversity.
  4. Multicultural organisations are found to be better at problem-solving, possess a better ability to extract expanded meanings, and are more likely to display multiple perspectives and interpretations in dealing with complex issues.
  5. Organisations employing a diverse workforce can supply a greater variety of solutions to problems in service, sourcing, and allocation of resources.
  6. Employees from diverse backgrounds bring individual talents and experiences in suggesting ideas that are flexible in adapting to fluctuating markets and customer demands.
  7. A diverse collection of skills and experiences (e.g. languages, cultural understanding) allows a company to provide service to customers on a global basis.
  8. A diverse workforce that feels comfortable communicating varying points of view provides a larger pool of ideas and experiences.

A diversified workforce is a latest and current trend in every organisation today. Moreover, the major concern for every organisation is to improve its productivity because organisations are economic activity and can only survive by competing in this cutthroat competitive world by increasing their profits. Due to the diversified workforce in some or the other way, people are facing lot many problems at the workplace. 

In most of the cases a diversified workforce may experience less cooperation from some of their colleagues but to achieve the organisational goals each member must be effective in terms of its functioning in the particular department. Hence, ways should be sought to manage the diversified workforce in such a way that people can easily work with the diversified workforce and can bring quality results altogether.

It can be summarised that an organisation’s major objective is to earn profit and to enhance its productivity. It is imperative to mention that employing diversified workforce is the very essence in today’s scenario but to manage such a diversified workforce is a big challenge in front of the management. 

Hiring a diversified workforce in any industry will definitely lead to improved productivity, but may prove to disaster if the same workforce is not managed properly. Below mentioned are few general steps of managing a diversified workforce in a multi-dimensional industry today:

  • Encouraging the use of common language in the organisation among the employees.
  • By conducting various motivational and mentorship programs.
  • By keeping the channels of communication open among the employees and employers.
  • By encouraging employee participation.
  • For improving productivity quality has to be maintained and for enhancing quality one should continuously work towards skill development. 

Technical Skills Gap: An Overview

Skill Gap is the difference between the skills required on the job and the actual skills possessed by the employees. The skill gap presents an opportunity for the company and the employee to identify the missing skills and try to gain them. Employees are recruited by companies to work on fulfilling company objectives. Hence, people with the correct skill sets are recruited by companies. However, often it happens that employees lack certain knowledge & training which creates a skill gap. Because of this the employee is unable to perform the complete job. The technical skills gap is the lack of technical competence in an employee to perform any task requiring technical skill.

Tech Skills Gap and Tech Skills Shortage

Tech skills gap and Tech skills shortage, these two terms describe two similar yet distinct challenges that the global industry is facing today. Many people mistakenly use them interchangeably. The tech skills shortage describes a pressing manpower issue faced by the entire tech industry. It is used to describe the global shortage in qualified personnel for tech positions. This shortage is felt in nearly every profession in the tech world. The tech skills gap is an entirely different issue altogether. This terminology describes the difference between individual’s existing skill set and the skills that the industry needs them to have to effectively perform their job roles. Gaps exist among many fresh graduates whose alma maters didn’t give them the practical skills they need for tech jobs as well as among experienced professionals who didn’t learn the latest programming languages.

Forward-thinking companies that understand the value of retaining their workforce are already tackling this issue. Most companies globally are investing in reskilling and upskilling their workforce, devoting significant resources to ensure that their employees have the skills that the companies need to succeed. Infosys for e.g; has increased its reskilling efforts by 150 percent during the last year, focusing on training in the fields of cloud technology, AI, machine learning, data analytics, IoT, user experience, and digital networking.

Bridging the Gap and Fixing the Shortage

Upskilling and reskilling are two pedagogical approaches to solving the tech skills gap and the tech skills shortage.

Upskilling is focused on upgrading the skill sets of individuals who already have tech skills to those newer tech or soft skills that are in high demand. For example, a mainframe specialist would be trained in cloud computing, or an IT specialist would become a cyber analyst at a NOC. As the individual already has formidable tech skills, retraining them would require less of an effort than training someone with no tech experience.

Upskilling also has the added benefit of retaining experienced employees and their knowledge within the organisation instead of hiring new ones, which is a difficult and costly effort given the skills shortage. Another example may be upskilling a talented software engineer about to get promoted to team leader to learn soft skills like empathy, leadership, and feedback.

Reskilling is an entirely different matter. This discipline is about taking individuals who work in a different, non technological domain and giving them the knowledge and skills needed to enter the tech world and land their first tech job. An example of reskilling would be a tour guide who saw the travel industry hurt and decided to become an entry-level data analyst.

As the COVID-19 pandemic’s disastrous effects on the economy have put entire sectors out of business, reskilling is increasingly considered a high-impact method of restarting people’s careers and making a living once again. Each reskilled individual, once employed, reduces the tech skills shortage by one. Governments and enterprises need to launch initiatives that enable the reskilling of millions.

Benefits of Skill Gap Analysis

Identifying skill gaps benefits companies as it ensures that the workforce is well trained, knowledgeable and better equipped to perform the job. Skill gaps are identified through the process of skill gap analysis

  • Helps to improve and define an individual’s skills the company needs.
  • Points to the critical skills employees need to work on.
  • Helps in the recruiting process as it defines the need for skills or interests which current employees don’t possess.

Skills gap solutions

  • Better training of employees.
  • Giving the employees better resources which will help them improve their knowledge.
  • Hiring a third party with the required skill to execute the job
  • Recruiting better-skilled employees

Indian Railways: Need of Workforce Diversity & Technical Skills Gap

India has the fourth-largest railway system in the world, behind only US, Russia and China. The railway sector of India has 123,542 km of total tracks over a 67,415 km route and about 7,300 stations. The railways run close to 13,523 passenger trains and 9,146 freight trains daily on its network. In the fiscal year ending March 2020, Indian Railways carried 8.1 billion passengers. In addition, the railway sector in India has successfully and transported 1.23 billion tonnes of freight in FY 2020-21, which is 1.93 % higher compared to last year’s loading for the same period. Indian Railways is the single largest employer in India and eighth largest in the world; employing close to 1.3 mn people.

  • Vision 2024 has been envisaged to achieve targets of 2024 MT freight loading by 2024
  • Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project sanctioned at a total cost of $15 bn
  • The railway sector of India aims to electrify the entire network by 2023 which will lead to annual energy savings of $1.55 bn
  • Broad gauge railways network stands at 64,689 Route kms, of which 71% is electrified
  • India Railways is focused on 2,843 km dedicated freight corridors by June 2022 and redevelop 123 railway stations into world-class transit hubs
  • Indian Railways has commissioned Wi-Fi at 6,000 Railway stations across the country
  • In order to achieve its green mission, Indian Railways has solarised more than 960 stations across
  • 1806 Kisan Rails run on 153 routes (upto 24.12.2021) and carried around 5.9 lakh tones of agricultural products
  • 2000 Km of railway network to be brought under Kavach, the indigenous world-class technology and capacity augmentation in 2022-23.
  • 400 new generation Vande Bharat Trains to be manufactured during the next three years.
  • 100 PM GatiShakti Cargo terminals for multimodal logistics to be developed during the next three years

Further, the railway sector in India aims to aspire about 1.5% to the country’s GDP by building infrastructure to support 45% of the modal freight share of the economy. The Indian Railways clocked a 3% increase in freight revenue in 2020-21, and the quantum of goods loaded grew by 1.93%.

  • Two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC), one on the Western route (Jawaharlal Nehru Port to Dadri) and another on the Eastern route (Ludhiana to Dankuni), have been fast-tracked.
  • The railway sector in India has the highest ever planned capital expenditure of $29.5 bn in 2021-22 
  • The average speed of freight trains increased to 45.6 kmph in March 2021, marking an 83% increase over the previous year
  • Railway Electrification works completed on a total of 6,015 Route kms during 2020-21

Conclusion

Based on the analysis it can be easily summarised that in a globalised economy today industries and organisations can’t improve or develop if the workforce isn’t experienced or skilled in these changing dynamics. As the findings state: social skills – such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others – will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation and control to managed a diversified workforce. In essence, technical skills will need to be supplemented with strong social and collaboration skills’. 

For a mammoth organisation like Indian Railways with such a size and scale amidst future challenges of modernisation and technological upgrade need of a diversified and talented work pool with least skill shortage becomes mandatory. The vast number of users and a huge group of stakeholders associated with industry demand critical efforts on skill up-gradation, skilling, up-skilling and re-skilling. Indian Railways like most of the rail systems has already started working towards it. This would not only help the rail industry address operational and project challenges but also would make it more attractive to potential future challenges and goals.



Metro Rail News is conducting a 2nd Edition InnoMetro 2022 on 28-30 April 2022, virtually focusing on Seamless Mobility. Join InnoMetro 2022 for a detailed discussion on the topic “Workforce Diversity: Helping Industries & Organisations Grow”.

Join as a delegate: https://bit.ly/3uihjkd

Join as a Speaker: https://bit.ly/3N7lcRj

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