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E-commerce with start ups is a sunrise sector. India is becoming a hub of doing business through digitilisation. It has altered the way the world does business. Like any other business , E-commerce is also in transition phase in respect of understanding, formulating and settling down formally with people policies. Since this kind of business is more dependent of knowledge workers, it has its own intricacies that need to be addressed at entirely different wave length.

E-commerce has developed so quietly with speed that it has almost given no time to entrepreneurs to think on its HR front .These organizations have also been in news recently not for very good reasons, when many firms laid off their employees in thousands in a non professional way thus causing a concern about job security and raising a question on the way of managing people function in these firms. One reason could be that promoters of these firms have either no or little orientation about people problems and their impact on business. They tend to focus more on making a product work or finding customers only. Barring few established e-commerce firms, HR function is considered as an additional cost and hardly budgeted resulting in having not established the formal HR function under some professional CHRO who would formalize the HR policies and practices and take care of employee needs and resolve their issues. Another could be over hiring, hiring without checks and without clarity of roles. This happens when you donít have an effective HR policy in place and consequently in spate of urgencies, people are ignored.

Since the style of e-commerce business is unconventional, it too has brought many unconventional challenges for human resources professionals. Because of absolute diversity in the organizations, before employing people, nature and way of doing business is to be understood correctly.

Ready made people for this sector are not available. Borrowing them from others and making them a fit is one task. Revamping, refurbishing and developing HR processes and policies is another. Doing it at earliest will be good for the business and fewer will be the blowups. The organizations are also flat so the CEOs canít afford to keep them away from HR issues. They have to look from employees lens rather than focusing business solely on technology. In fast paced e-commerce world, HR has to look at those people who can tolerate risk and ambiguity and can be productive in unpredictable rapidly changing environment. Though, this may be a much sought after competency of people in this sector but difficult to get. High level engagement of employees and involvement in business strategies can bring them to bear on the uncertainty because at some point of time they should know what their role is in achieving the objectives.

March 2016 cover story is all about the HR issues of this fast paced sector where things are still in the process of taking shape. The experts who are in the midst of this business mull over some of the most compelling concerns that hamper the e-commerce on HR front.


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