Retaining skilled professionals in Nepal’s manufacturing sector

Most significant challenges and opportunities for Nepali manufacturers lie in incorporating elements of inclusion, appreciation, support, trust, purpose and achievement into our organizations.

Anil Kumar Baral

  • Read Time 3 min.

Human resources are the primary resources and are given the highest priority among all resources in the manufacturing world, even before financial resources. Since the era of industrialization, human capital has been considered crucial and valuable assets in all industries, including manufacturing. It is believed that every organization equally invests in developing their employees for optimal output, making employee retention a fundamental requirement for any institution.

In Nepal, there are two major factors contributing to brain drain. Firstly, the government’s policies play a significant role as they engage in bilateral labor agreements with wealthy countries, aiming for brain exchange in exchange for remittances. Secondly, the allure of new technology, attractive lifestyles, and improved financial prospects globally are known to attract skilled individuals.

Currently, Nepal is facing a financial crisis that began with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Initially, it affected specific groups and sectors, but unfortunately, it gradually spread across the entire business community.

Let us first examine the emigration data. According to the Department of Immigration’s 2022 records, approximately 3,000 Nepali individuals leave the country through Tribhuvan International Airport every day, either as students or as workers. There might not be any systematic data available for Nepali nationals emigrating to India.

Now, from the Human Resource Management perspective, there is one category of students who migrate from Nepal with a rare possibility of returning and finding suitable employment. On the other hand, engineers, doctors, and trained professionals are migrating in significant numbers each day, with very few actions or efforts towards their retention.

Nepali manufacturers are currently facing two distinct challenges in the market. Firstly, due to the prolonged period of low business volume, survival becomes a struggle, resulting in constant financial limitations. Consequently, it becomes difficult to allocate significant resources to employee motivation and retention. In such cases, self-retention techniques should naturally come into play, but in the context of Nepal, they are ineffective due to the overwhelming outward flow of talent.

Why are employees not satisfied with their current jobs? This is a crucial subject of study. Let us discuss a few parameters, focusing on traditional topics that require attention. They include monotonous work, job insecurity, demanding workload, poor communication, bad relationships with colleagues, lack of control over workload and schedules and long hours and tight deadlines.

Typically, the Human Resources Departments focus on training and counseling sessions but often fail to generate positivity within the workforce. These sessions tend to focus more on skill development, overshadowing overall employee satisfaction and needs analysis. This approach dominates HR activities in Nepal under the guise of corporate culture. HR departments in organizations should be discerning and mindful.

Some additional areas to consider are the weight of job responsibilities and unsafe work conditions.

Together, as manufacturers, we need to improve workplace happiness to retain employees to the extent possible.

One key aspect is that most small and medium scale manufacturers take local employees for granted and assume that they are satisfied with a nominal salary simply because they have a job in their hometown and can be with their families. However, this sentimental judgment no longer holds true. It is the manufacturer’s biggest mistake, as all efforts invested in developing unskilled workers into skilled manpower can go to waste over time. Therefore, dealing with employees in a professional manner becomes more significant, leading to greater satisfaction. Offering competitive salaries plays a vital role in employee satisfaction and presents the biggest challenge for manufacturers.

The most significant challenges and opportunities for Nepali manufacturers lie in incorporating the following six elements into our organizations to improve employee comfort:

If our organization genuinely focuses on these areas, positive workplace well-being will be reflected. In the present context, recruitment and preparation, unconscious bias in hiring and relying solely on recommendations or salary as the hiring criteria will not yield desired results in Nepal.

Thus let us collectively strive to develop disciplined employees, make them accountable, and create an environment of trust and faith. Let us openly communicate our requirements and needs, foster inclusivity in the workplace, and allow employees to engage in non-work-related conversations from time to time. Immediate action should be taken for staff appreciation and recognition. A clear vision of responsibilities and tasks, along with recognition and appreciation, can make a significant difference in employee satisfaction. 

Anil Kumar Baral, a manufacturer, is a PhD scholar.