Satya Sharma is the CHRO and is one of the Co-founders of TO THE NEW. As the CHRO, he plays a strategic role in driving the vision of the company through its people. In an interaction with People Matters, he shares the job landscape of the future and employees’ performance and productivity amid the crisis.
What is the impact of COVID-19 on your industry in terms of jobs and skill development?
Taking notes from the success of businesses in the digital realm, especially those with cloud-native presence and offerings, others are beginning to accelerate digitization. This has opened up new business opportunities for IT services companies. As a result, there is an increase in demand for professionals with knowledge and skills in cutting-edge technologies such as Cloud and Data.
To stay in sync with the demands of the market, professionals in the IT industry, and otherwise, are undertaking self-learning efforts online, where there is no dearth of resources. The need of the hour is for organizations to come up with sustainable programs to meet the learning needs of their people, especially those not actively working on projects, without making learning as pressure.
Between April-June 2020, the world lost almost 400 million full-time jobs due to the pandemic, according to ILO. How can we rebuild and reimagine jobs amid the coronavirus crisis for businesses to stay future-ready?
Digitization is the present and the future, and organizations across industries need to accept this and pivot accordingly. Digital Transformation will not only drive businesses in this “new normal” but also ensure that they stay afloat through any waves of disruption in the future. It is imperative of the organizations to train people regularly to keep the business relevant and create a workforce with future skills to be able to get first-mover advantage when opportunities present themselves.
Organizations need to develop the capacity to prepare and retrain their workforce on new aptitudes on a progressing premise– both progressed specialized skills as well as the human skills that go along with them. A Digital diploma, short online course, or training portals can be a great way to bring about a change. More new ways of preparing and interactions will keep employees drawn in and encourage them to convey their best. I believe that employees are not mere resources but assets that take the organization forward. Every initiative and step that an organization takes should be a reflection of this belief.
How do you see the job landscape five years down the line? Which jobs will be in demand and which ones you think can become redundant or transform?
With competition and complexity on the rise, the best hope for businesses and individuals is to develop many truly distinctive, differentiating capabilities. In an ever-evolving industry like ours, change is the only constant. As an organization that works on new-age technologies, we have to always keep an eye out for what’s coming up and develop the necessary competencies to leverage opportunities and maintain a competitive edge.
Over the next few years, we foresee a growth in demand for Cloud and Data, and hence, the need for skilled and certified professionals. With Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Blockchain, and Cybersecurity, and newer technologies taking over the technology sphere, there might be an increase in related jobs, something only the future will tell.
Do you think the new work from home phenomenon can transform the job market? Will this give rise to a global competition for every single job role?
Now that remote working has helped us set up processes, customers may be more open to working with remote and offshore teams. This will allow businesses in the IT services sector to move to smaller cities to save costs and make IT companies in India more attractive to global clients. As the IT hubs move away from big cities, it will allow IT professionals to find jobs, without the need to relocate.
Most IT companies entered the lockdown unsure of how working from home would pan out for them. It is promising to see that many of them have started to see remote working as a viable long-term option now. It will give them the flexibility to hire the right talent, irrespective of location, and save costs, and again provide more opportunities to IT professionals in remote locations.
What should be the top criteria for businesses to manage employee performance and productivity amid the uncertainty?
Maintaining employee performance and productivity from home has two main components to it- meeting the infrastructure requirements and keeping up the motivation levels, which is more challenging to maintain out of the two.
While there is no formula to do this, setting short term and long term objectives, aligned with the company goals, can help people stay focussed and track their progress. Organizations need to engage and connect with people, rather than making them mechanically tick off task checklists. These are tough times for everyone, and a little empathy can go a long way. It is important for companies to take care of both the physical and mental wellbeing of their people, as a happy workforce is a more productive one.
Businesses need to communicate with their people with complete honesty and transparency, especially during these unprecedented times. When people are home-bound, they need to hear from their organization often, to stay assured, and keep their morale high.
In the post-pandemic days, there may be jobs that get lost forever. Which jobs do you think in your sector are more prone to these risks?
COVID-19 has prompted job losses across various industries around the world. It is alarming to see the unemployment rates at an all-time high. On the brighter side, due to the need for accelerated digitization, there is an increase in the demand for tech professionals with certain skills, such as Cloud, Data Science, and AI/ML.
While our industry continues to see business continuity and growth, many IT services companies have had to right-size due to the loss of business from clients across other industries. These include sectors such as non-essential retail, travel, and hospitality, as well as SMEs, which almost came to a standstill in these times. I believe as lockdown and restrictions lift and businesses across other industries begin to revive, it will be good news for professionals across the gamut.
According to a recent finding by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), more than 220 MN women globally are in vulnerable sectors. They expect 31 MN to lose their jobs, as opposed to 13 MN men. Your thoughts.
We have seen the value women bring to the table in IT, with the likes of Sheryl Sandberg and Ginni Rometty leading from the front at Facebook and IBM, respectively. In fact, I believe ours is one of the most unbiased and flexible spaces, with opportunities presenting themselves to people with the right knowledge and skills. While IT services is amongst the least impacted industries at the moment, my suggestion to anyone in IT is to upskill and reskill continuously to stay relevant and competitive.
Having said that, there is also no denying that gender imbalance is an issue that plagues our industry, a problem that is more prevalent in emerging markets, like India. Achieving a perfect gender ratio requires prolonged, persistent, and collective efforts by the government, academia, and businesses to eradicate this out of mindsets and society alike.