and talent shortages are two related, if predictable, consequences
of the high growth the Indian economy has been experiencing over
the last few years. Our education system supplies far fewer qualified
youth than are required, pushing up wages and attrition.
It is, therefore, not surprising that recruitment and compensation
management have become the two main focus areas for hr managers.
Nothing can be more strategic than getting the right people in
at the right time and in the right numbers and managing their
compensation and career expectations.
To be fair, employers have tried every trick in the book and
used every lever to help attract and retain talent: high and differentiated
compensation, innovative titles, faster (if at times illusory)
career progression, training, a congenial work environment, more
satisfying jobs, overseas exposure, opportunity to work on cutting
edge technologies and problems, retention plans, referral schemes
etc. Success rates vary and the problems remain.
There are three areas where employers can yet do more.
Segment your workforce
While customer and vendor segmentation has become an art and
science, the concept of workforce segmentation is still in its
infancy. Yet, sophisticated employers are deploying tools and
techniques to segment their workforce, not only based on performance
and potential, but also on the basis of demography, skill and
business needs, and using the outcomes of such segmentation to
craft distinctive strategies to manage the compensation and career
expectations of each segment. In such an approach, the concept
of fairness and equity apply within a workforce segment rather
than to the workforce as a whole. To be sure, implementing a segmented
approach is challenging but if done well, the rewards for both
employer and employee will outweigh the costs.
|Hard to please: Infoscions at the tech
giant's Bangalore campus
Place HR management responsibility where it truly
It is time line managers owned up to their responsibility for
their human resources, just as they take responsibility for managing
financial resources, materials and equipment. Too often, they
pressure hr into recommending high salary increases based on anecdotal
evidence of departures of their staff, but do little to attract
good talent and even less to retain what talent there is. That
the line managers and supervisors are chiefly responsible for
their people is well known but not easily accepted in the Indian
context, where the chief responsibility for talent attraction
and retention is still that of the hr manager. A formal shift
in responsibility from hr to line is overdue. To facilitate the
shift, performance objectives of the line manager must reflect
and accord high weight to people management. The roles of line
and hr must be redrawn. And managers must be educated about and
contribute to the formulation of their company's compensation
policies and practices so that they can then play the key role
in communicating with and managing their staff.
Manage employees' expectations
Finally, managers must learn to manage employees' expectations.
Communicating the economics of a company's business to employees
transparently and regularly is one way to do this. Very few companies
take the trouble of explaining the company's performance to their
employees at all levels-the quarterly results, the company's competitive
environment, its future goals, the need to balance the needs and
expectations of all the stakeholders and to strike the right balance
between rewarding for today's success and investing for tomorrow's.
This is a task managers can no longer avoid. All too often, managers
dismiss their subordinates as immature or lacking in the ability
to understand. In doing so, they make a grievous mistake and underestimate
and insult the intelligence of their people. Honest and credible
communication is a visible manifestation of the respect that employees
owe each other.
While these measures may not in themselves stem attrition or
attract talent, they will go a long way in building and deepening
people management capabilities, leading, in turn, to strong, business-focussed
hr management that strikes the right balance in addressing the
needs of the various stakeholders.
R. Sankar is Country Head and Head (Human
Capital Advisory Services), Mercer Human Resource Consulting,