Employees now demand control over their
careers, an enhanced pace of learning, individualised attention
and the exciting possibility of unlimited growth
for a job in corporate India is no longer just a career choice-it
is now a way of life. As individuals spend increasing amounts
of time delivering on work commitments, the 'employer' is beginning
to occupy centre stage in the employee's life. Their daily timetable,
lifestyle and opinions, as well as their perception of "doing
well" are firmly rooted in the company's context. With the
organisation becoming the focal point and, to an extent, the dominant
factor of one's life, it is only natural that choosing an organisation
to work for also becomes a deliberate and calculated decision.
Today, employees are no longer willing to
bargain a substantial chunk of their lives for basic "hygiene
factors". An exhaustive list of benefits, time-bound promotions
and the possibility of a foreign trip or two are now passé.
Meaningful work and rewards are what employees are looking for.
In addition, they now demand control over their careers, an enhanced
pace of learning, individualised attention, responsive management
systems and the exciting possibility of unlimited growth.
Apart from being demanding, the prospective
employee is increasingly discerning and most importantly, in short
supply. (There are too many jobs chasing too few candidates and
the imbalance is only likely to become more acute in the years
to come). Statistics might just help us figure out how demography
affects the availability of talent and to what extent. Today,
most of the developed economies of the world, particularly America,
Germany and Japan, are faced with ageing populations. Between
20 to 30 per cent of their populations are already over the age
of 60, causing a talent shortage that will last at least till
the middle of this century, making them look beyond their borders
for talent and growth.
In this global context, India may consider
itself lucky. Just 7 per cent of Indians are above the age of
60 and in 25 years this proportion shall increase to 12 per cent.
India will continue to be young and will see a swelling workforce
of scientific, technical and professional talent. People are something
India has plenty of. But ask any business leader what his biggest
problem is today and the chances are that he will say it is finding
the right people and getting them to work productively. This may
sound paradoxical. But the fact is, given the feverish pace of
business growth, the demand for talent has already outstripped
supply, in terms of both quantity and quality.
A talent famine is now staring us in the
face. Farsightedness demands that business leaders elevate management
of talent to the highest corporate priority. Talented employees
are no longer available in plenty. Nor are they easily replaceable
or inexpensive. Against this backdrop, India Inc. is faced with
the daunting task of attracting, retaining and growing its people
in a very competitive environment. So, how are Indian employers
dealing with this challenge? What is it that they need to do to
come out on top?
Employees are being pampered like never
before and erstwhile differentiators have been relegated
to the status of hygiene factors
Based on the trends we have seen over the
last three years, we discern a few "mega trends" in
winning the war for talent.
Align and engage-adopting the "win-win"
approach: The answer that most employers are searching
for lies in alignment-the organisation's willingness to recognise
and respect each individual's needs and its ability to address
them while keeping in view the larger organisational goal. Despite
its clichéd usage and often quoted examples, the task of
alignment is not an easy one. The winners of this year's study
have shown the ability to treat each employee as a unique individual,
while at the same time successfully coordinating the activities
of hundreds, if not thousands of them, and ensuring that they
are aligned to the achievement of the organisation's objectives.
These companies are committed to making considerable monetary
and non-monetary investments in developing their people and engaging
them beyond the realm of work and monetary benefits. The HR processes
in these organisations are designed to deliver on business needs
and at the same time cater to individual training requirements,
individual careers and individual queries.
It's not what you do;
it's how you do it: The study reveals that employees are
being pampered like never before and erstwhile differentiators
have been relegated to the status of hygiene factors. The bouquet
of benefits, facilities and personal services being offered by
most companies to woo employees is more or less the same. The
focus has shifted from the "what" to the "how"-how
to make every touch point between the organisation and the employee
an experience that lets them know how valuable they are. The winning
companies ensure that all the information that an employee could
possibly need is available even before it is asked for. One company
ensures that all upcoming announcements and campaigns are shared
internally with employees by the CEO before they hit the press.
Another has refined its recruitment process to ensure that each
candidate goes back from an interview as a brand ambassador of
the company, regardless of the outcome. They have all mastered
the art of 'assimilating' new employees seamlessly into their
environment, leaving no question unanswered and no loose ends
to be tied. These organisations make the effort to constantly
elicit employee opinion and take it into consideration while making
policy decisions. Employee queries are responded to promptly and
suggestions are sought after, making employees feel that their
voice is being heard.
Innovate and integrate: Most companies
that have made it to the top 10 have leveraged technology not
only to reduce the administrative burden but also to build truly
integrated HR systems and processes. A fully automated training
management system adopted by one of our winners showcases how
training needs for each employee that emerge from a performance
review are then automatically translated into an organisation-wide
training calendar. These very training needs form the basis of
individual developmental plans as well as an organisational skills
inventory used to track and monitor capability.
Today, most companies have fairly comprehensive
HR systems. However, this tried and tested formula will
no longer suffice
Some companies have developed sophisticated
performance management systems, the outputs of which are systematically
linked with rewards, employee development, manpower planning,
management of high potential employees, succession and career
planning. The tools used to measure performance and manage employee
development have been separated in order to ensure that the focus
on development is not diluted. The mechanisms used by these companies
to evaluate the effectiveness of these HR processes also speak
volumes about the level of maturity the processes have reached.
Put employees in charge
of their careers: The best companies to work for also reaffirm
their faith in their employees by putting them in charge of their
own careers. The better employers provide employees with the requisite
information, infrastructure and developmental support to enable
them to shape their careers based on their own aspirations and
abilities. One of our winners supports employees in seeking structured
feedback at any point of time regarding their suitability for
any organisational role. It then goes a step further by helping
them interpret and act on the results. The Indian employer and
employee have finally come to terms with performance-based progression
and rewards, as is evident from the widely accepted prevalence
of variable pay and differential growth paths, which are tailor
made for high-performing employees.
Redefine and reinforce culture: Mere
words and no actions might be a quick-fix solution, but in the
long run, employees need to feel attached to the company they
work for. Each of the winning companies has worked hard on building
a strong culture which reflects the values that the company wishes
to inculcate in its employees. Whether it is the focus on transparency
emphasised by one of the winners by making 360 degree feedback
results visible to everyone across the organisation, or the message
of openness given out by another through fully open workspaces,
or the emphasis on integrity by a third company through value-based
induction sessions facilitated personally by the head of the organisation;
the involvement and accessibility of the senior management is
the common thread that runs across the fabric of each organisation.
There has been a substantial narrowing of
differentials between the top 10 companies and the others are
catching up fast. The only way for an organisation to get noticed
is to be different in an era when differentiators are constantly
diminishing. The level of sophistication, integration and innovation
in people management practices is what sets the best apart and
makes them truly world class. Their employees speak highly of
them and external stakeholders also confirm their status as an
"employer of choice" in their market.
Today, most companies have fairly comprehensive
and detailed HR systems and processes. However, this tried and
tested formula will no longer suffice. Additionally, what works
for one organisation or industry may not work for another-change
and innovation have become the order of the day. In winning the
current war for talent, being good is just not good enough.