There is a big hue and cry all over the country and even abroad about the recent demonetization decision by the Government of India (GoI). There is a sudden cash crunch, and long, exhaustive queues in front of banks and ATMs is a common sight. I understand that this currency crunch is due to unavailability of Rs 100 notes in most ATMs currently (apart from the move to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes). Besides, some people end up hoarding cash as and when they get into the ATMs, denying currency to the needy. Well, this is how the present situation is; but how can the HR and the companies help their employees deal with such a condition? The HR can plan things out and play a vital role in helping their staff cope with the current crisis and move to a cashless economy.

Tie up with Banks

Since companies are corporate customers of the banks, they enjoy special status and benefits. The HR can utilize this status to set up help desks and exclusive banking counters in the office premises. The employees can thus utilize the opportunity to exchange their old notes (of course, we have crossed the timeline for exchanging the old notes). The employees could quickly complete the formalities by producing valid ID proof and other necessary documents. Your staff will be grateful to you for saving them from the long and tiring queues in the banks.

ATMs in the office premises

Most of the big corporates have set up multiple ATMs and kiosks in the office premises. Particular care should be taken to ensure that they are recalibrated with the new currency and that cash is available for the employees to withdraw. In some of these ATMs, cash is replenished twice a day ensuring availability throughout the day. Having ATMs specifically for the employees warrants shorter queues and saves the productive time of the employee. In many offices, the HR has employed a token system for cash withdrawal from ATMs. This would ensure proper utilization of the ATMs and avoid long lines outside the ATMs. Needless to say, the amount of time saved during the office hours.

But yes, this is not feasible for all corporates, especially the offices with a meagre headcount. In such scenarios, the HR can have a tie-up with the banks and provide mobile ATMs which could be made available on the premises for a limited period every day. This could help the employees withdraw money without going out of the office. Mobile ATMs are quite popular these days, and most of them are recalibrated with the new currency as well.

eWallets, meal passes and vouchers

It is high time corporates persuade their employees to shift to e-wallets and online transactions. Most of the IT companies and many other corporates already have the e-cash feature available for the employees. This could be a little different from the credit/debit cards. Many corporates provide their employees with e-cards which could be recharged with limited amount directly from their bank accounts. This e-card can then be used for small purchases inside the office campus like in canteens, snack stalls, etc. where the vendors might not accept the credit/debit cards.

I remember my company used to issue coupons for snacks every month. This would mean you need not carry small change each time you visit the in-house snack stalls; just hand out the coupons and enjoy your snacks. Alternatively, the corporates can convince their canteens and in-house cafes to move to eWallet services like Paytm

The HR could also issue Sodexo and Ticket Restaurant coupons along with the salary each month, which the employees could use for shopping outside the office premises. Most of the stores, including the kirana shops accept such coupons these days. This helps to avoid paper cash to a certain extent (I agree you might still need the small change sometimes).

A good gesture

Many HRs have asked their staff to bill all their travel expenses in the name of their respective companies. Well, that is a very good gesture. Many employees travel by cabs and taxis; this is especially beneficial for such individuals. Some companies have even provided a small amount of hard cash to their employees as an advance so that they do not face the heat of cash crunch.
HRs have made special arrangements to provide scheduled breaks for the employees to visit the banks and deal with their banking needs. This could be done with the co-operation of the managers, in a way that doesn’t affect the work.

Spreading Awareness

All of the above methods need one major pre-requisite – awareness. One of the primary responsibilities of the HR would be to educate and enlighten their employees about the current scenario of demonetization in an unbiased manner. They should be made aware of the pros and cons of using online banking and cashless transactions. Many people are still wary of using internet and phone banking due to misconceptions and fear.

Another point to be explained to the employees is about the problems of hoarding cash. The company can convince the employees to withdraw money they need for about a week or two. This will reduce cash hoarding and the money (paper cash) will be circulated and will be available to more individuals.

A few simple yet important initiatives from the HR is all that it takes to tide over this situation. Let’s helps our employees get over this chaos in a smooth and natural way.