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    Quess who’s India’s largest private employer?

    Synopsis

    Its staff function as outsourced service providers for its over 2,000 Indian clients, including many biggies.

    Agencies
    Quess has grown at a fast clip through a slew of acquisitions and the backing of Fairfax.
    (This story originally appeared in on Feb 05, 2020)
    BENGALURU: Next time you see an Amazon delivery executive in your locality or walk into a Samsung store for after-sales service, you will probably be dealing with an employee of Quess Corp — a company you most probably haven’t heard of.

    Going by its latest quarterly filing, the Bengaluru-based company, which provides staffing solutions for some of the biggest brands in the country, now has the largest roster of employees and associates — 3.85 lakh — in the private sector in India.

    Growing at 38% every year since 2016, Quess has shot past Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which remains the largest overall employer with 4.46 lakh on the rolls, but of whom about 90,000 are overseas, pegging its India workforce at about 3.6 lakh, according to people briefed on the matter. TCS does not provide a geographic split of its employee base and a company spokesperson declined to comment for the story.


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    The development underlines a growing shift in the economy as companies like Quess have benefited from the demand for outsourced workers in areas ranging from e-commerce delivery to facilities management for commercial buildings.

    There is, of course, a significant difference in the skill levels of staff at TCS, which mostly employs engineers, and Quess, which depends largely on ‘grey-collar’ workers.

    Quess’s employees function as outsourced service providers for its over 2,000 clients, including Samsung, Amazon, Reliance, Vodafone India and Bajaj Finance, according to a report from ICRA. The company has about 5,000 workers overseas in markets like Singapore.

    “There are many countries which have a population smaller than the number of employees we have. The scale of our impact on the Indian job market is not well-known, especially the role we play in formalizing the job economy,” said Quess Corp's Group CEO Suraj Moraje, a former McKinsey & Co partner who joined the company in November.

    The development comes at a time when traditional sectors such as automobiles, telecom, FMCG and even IT services have seen layoffs for reasons like slowing growth and consolidation. At the same time, new economy companies continue to grow, fuelled by a record year of capital inflows.

    Investors tracking the space say the shift is happening not only because of the scarcity of jobs, but also because wages have increased substantially in the segment. “This area is exploding and these grey-collar jobs now have salaries which compare with entry-level compensation in IT/ITes companies,” says Anand Lunia, founding partner at venture capital firm India Quotient, adding that wages for delivery boys have risen faster than inflation over the last decade.

    Lunia was an early investor in Rebel Foods, which owns brands like Faasos and Behrouz Biryani, where salaries of delivery personnel are about Rs 20,000 – compared to Rs 6,000-7,000 in 2010, which inflation-adjusted, would have been about Rs 10,000-12,000 now.

    “Their aspiration is a steady job, which is a big reason why companies outsource these jobs since attrition is high and there is also not always a steady demand for these roles,” he said.

    According to Moraje, the average salaries at Quess range between Rs 12,000-Rs 40,000 for 70% of its workforce, about 75% of whom are in the age group of 21-35. While he declined to give an attrition number, the firm interviews over 1 million people a year. “We need to make sure that employees and associates have a career path so that our recruiting costs and retention rate improve,” he says. The company says it provides benefits such as provident fund and insurance to its entire workforce, and for many of them, this is their first formal employment.

    Quess, which was started by serial entrepreneur Ajit Isaac over a decade ago, has grown at a fast clip through a slew of acquisitions and the backing of Fairfax, owned by Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa. The company was listed in 2016. Local rival TeamLease, also based in Bengaluru, had about 2.28 lakh employees and trainees as of December 2019. Other major players in the space include global giants like Adecco and Randstand.

    “Companies are focusing on their core activities, while outsourcing activities that can be done by a specialised company; Quess Corp fits in there. Companies are wary of employing full-time when they can find gigs to fill in the jobs,” said Mahesh Vyas, MD & CEO at CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy). He added that whether benefits are provided or not will be critical to measure if such employment are sustainable. “If a larger part of the labour force is getting into engagement that does not give social security, in a generation’s time, we could have a problem.”

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    2 Comments on this Story

    Raj Tillan298 days ago
    q may soon be providing pleasure services and may force Govt to relax laws relating to pleasure tourism
    Debayan Gupta298 days ago
    #IamWithQuess! Lol if you understood.
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