Lockdown 2020: How to hire and manage international talent? (Focus on India)

Webinar: Hiring/Managing International Talent (India)
ALTIOS India partnered with Maier+Vidorno for a webinar on key HR issues, drawing from experiences with European clients in India.

ALTIOS India, along with our global partner Maier+Vidorno, organised a webinar on key HR issues such as the recruitment and management of international talent, drawing from key experiences with European clients in India. The webinar was led by Deepmala Dutta (HR Consultant, Maier+Vidorno) and Madhav Raina-Thapan (Managing Director, ALTIOS India).


Moderated by Morgane Pinault (HR Practice Manager, ALTIOS), the session delved into:

  • A comparison of the Indian hiring market to the French market
  • Key takeaways when hiring in India as a European company
  • Employee turnover in India
  • Resignations and terminations of contracts
  • Structuring the offer to the employee


Hiring in India vs France

  • India has a young and mobile population with a lot of job seekers—this can be great but can also be problematic
  • As a result, India is more of an employee’s market when compared to France, where it is an employer’s market
    • This is most visible in the fact that contracts in India are open-ended contracts where the employee is pretty much hired till they retire, resign, or are fired
    • In contrast, in France they are a mix of open-ended or fixed term contracts
    • For this reason, freelancers and consultants are very rare in India
  • Confirmation clauses
    • In France these would be fixed term confirmations with 6–8 months of probation period before confirming an employee
    • In India, while not mandated by law, the standard practice is 3–6 months of probation
  • Non-compete clauses
    • While highly enforceable in France, in India this is typically limited to senior positions and, comparatively, may not be as enforceable
  • Other Aspects that are typical to India
    • Negotiations: On cash and benefit components (flexibility around income tax components) and designations (a sense of importance, particularly in customer facing roles
    • Declining of offers by the prospect: 60–70% companies do not end up hiring their first choice candidate as the candidate might have other offers; typically, in India, candidates interview with a minimum of 3–4 companies before deciding which one to join
    • Local/cultural needs: Foreign companies need to adapt to these aspects; for example, with respect to earned leaves, Indian employees tend to accumulate them rather than use their allocation for the year, primarily in case of any emergencies, exigencies, or simply for a longer holiday in the future. Further, factors such as most Indians living in joint families also need to be kept in mind while framing HR practices and policies in India


Employee Turnover in India

  • Retention is a big challenge in India; 70% of a manager’s time goes into convincing people to stay, so attrition is a major concern for both Indian and European companies in India
  • Companies on average see a 12–15% employee attrition; in software or IT, the numbers are much higher
  • Reasons include remuneration, growth opportunities elsewhere, etc., but communication and employee recognition are very important in dealing with attrition (lack of this can make an employee feel isolated or ignored)

Resignations and terminations of contracts

  • Most standard contracts in India have a notice period post resignation to give time for the employer to find a replacement; this varies from one to three months (longer periods usually for senior positions)
    • It is not so enforceable, but it is a good practice to have even if employees try to negotiate a shorter notice period
  • In case of termination, in India the employment laws are very pro-employees so there must be a very carefully managed process
    • For most employees, you can terminate based on non-performance, but you have to document performance consistently
    • You can serve a termination to an employee and give them a notice period and a salary of a month as a good practice
    • On ethical or integrity grounds, where there is a data or information breach, if proven, you can terminate without any notice period or compensation whatsoever
  • In India, even when an employee is fired, in 90–95% of cases, the organisation will ask the employee to resign as it is a smoother process for both the employer and the employee; this is usually done out of compassion as it looks better for the employee going forward when they’re looking for a new job

Structuring the offer to the employee

  • In India, the compensation is structured as:
    • Cash/Take Home amount
    • Benefits
      • Fuel reimbursements, Provident Fund (equivalent of social security) and health insurance, for example
      • This is money not being given in hand but expenses being compensated for by the company
    • Incentives (only for specific roles, such as BD and sales roles)
      • Performance and sales incentives schemes that are linked to specific targets and paid out as a cash component; this could be monthly quarterly, bi-annually, or annually
    • Bonus
      • In India this is interpreted in a few different ways
        • Bonus guaranteed by law, primarily for blue collared labour
        • Festival-based bonuses (given by organisations as a good practice; particularly true for Diwali)
        • Performance linked bonuses


Key Takeaways when Hiring Talent in India

  • Thorough preparation is required to know how to structure a job role
    • For example, in India there is a hierarchical way of working; so be clear about the organisational, reporting, and approval structures you want to create
    • In the absence of a hierarchical structure, there will always be an issue of which person takes precedence and whose decisions are more important; the lack of a perceived or known power centre will lead to complications and a lack of direction and leadership
  • Use of Assessment Tools and a detailed recruitment process to reduce surprises
    • While there is a large population looking for jobs, employability is a critical factor; that is where assessment tools play an important role
    • These could be psychometric tools, business case studies etc.
    • Remember, you are not just hiring for the first year; you are hiring for future needs and capabilities to deliver on those and lead the organisation
  • An HR function is required to build policies and procedures
    • Proper investments need to be done in the HR department; someone who can translate the cultural differences, who can adapt, who can bring you functional practices and what is happening in the industry, who can make you aware of the religious, cultural, and geographical differences in the country, and then help you navigate and institutionalise protocols and processes which are critical
    • It is like hygiene—the absence of it will create more problems
  • Constant communication with the team in India
    • Commit time to building relationships with the team; this could be around their work experience, their goals and ambitions, etc.
    • Your first teams in India will be small and there will be a sense of loneliness for the team members, so this is critical to keep them motivated, guided, and enthusiastic
  • A 6–9-month onboarding process for new team members
    • Usually, after the hiring process is completed, the employers go back to their country and the induction is left to the employee to discover on their own
    • There is a difference between an orientation and hand holding them and institutionalising them over a period of 6–9 months; the latter has a very high co-relation to success in India
    • This could be done remotely even where every month you are introducing them to different people. teams, and functions in the organisation or with client



With the pandemic and the focus on local markets, it is ideal for companies to hire local talent to manage and grow their business in the target countries. This can be quite a challenge when you do not know the differences and the difficulties you may face.


With insights and support from partners such as ALTIOS and Maier+Vidorno, you can get a head start on your hiring plans abroad and hire the right people to lead and drive your international expansion strategy.

To view the webinar, click here.