What is the impact of COVID-19 on your industry in terms of jobs and skill development?
The FMCG industry has been impacted by Covid, like many other industries. However, this industry is already showing signs of revival and is likely to bounce back quite strongly going forward. Hence there has been a much lower incidence of job cuts, compared to some other industries like hospitality, travel, and so on. There has also been good progress on online upskilling and capability building for employees during the lockdown by leveraging several online learning platforms.
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?
Over the last 6 months, as the world experienced the pandemic, one thing is clear- that there will be a lot of disruption in the way we look at things- in our mindsets. I recently read an article that spoke about Covid being the Chief Transformation Officer for 2020!! The pandemic has resulted in a greater thrust on e-commerce and digital transformation across organizations these disruptions will also happen on the job front. I think some of the emerging areas of focus will be around multi-skilling, re-skilling, and up-skilling of employees so that they stay relevant. There will also be a greater level of out-sourcing of certain kind of jobs, and greater automation in the factories to reduce manpower to enable social distancing.
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?
Five years is too long a time horizon and many things will change pretty dramatically by then. There are a few skills and competencies that would be important- managing teams remotely, situational adaptability, learning agility, empathy, and authenticity. Managers would do well to imbibe and internalize these skills. Technology will play a key role in automating various roles that are repetitive in nature, and those roles would then become redundant. New roles would also open up, which are a hybrid of roles that exist today.
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?
Yes and no. Work from home will surely impact the job market. Organizations and employees are getting more open to the concept of WFH. It certainly has its benefits and also certain disadvantages. Locational constraints will become less of an issue for certain types of roles. The need to physically travel will get questioned. And the concept of part-time roles or gigs will come more to the fore. All these will have an impact on the organizations that will look at roles and the way they would hire. I am not sure about this giving rise to global competition. That could happen in certain types of roles which are agnostic of location and knowledge of local regulations, laws, culture, etc. But roles that require a good working knowledge of the local nuances would be relatively less impacted at a global level.
What should be the top criteria for businesses to manage employee performance and productivity amid the uncertainty?
Some areas for businesses to focus upon would be around:
- Innovative manning solutions to support Business continuity
- Solution-based approach to new issues/challenges
- Enhancing broader leadership competencies like learning agility, situational adaptability etc
- Multi-skilling of shop-floor workers
- Leveraging technology to drive efficiency and effectiveness
- Create unique employee experiences
It will be important for organizations to transparently and clearly communicate business priorities in a timely manner, and then align organizational structures to new business realities. Building a sense of pride and purpose for the organization would be very critical to retain good talent.
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?
The FMCG sector is a fairly resource-intensive industry with a large population of employees in Sales and Operations. These functions might see some optimization basis leveraging of technology, but these would not change very dramatically in the near future. Some of the roles in support functions that are repetitive in nature could be out-sourced leading to redundancy.
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.
On the one hand, job losses amongst women in certain countries could be higher, especially the ones working in plants on repetitive tasks like packing lines. On the other hand, a lot of women who weren’t working so far because they couldn’t leave home might now start working in the new normal, where WFH is likely to be more prevalent. WFH should also drive gender equality and greater participation of women in the corporate world.