As millennials climb the ladder and Gen Z professionals walk through the door, the modern-day workplace has taken on a new definition. With India getting set up to be one of the youngest workforces in the world by 2027, the expectations from a job, career, and a work environment are rapidly changing. The employee today is looking for exciting work opportunities, and a workplace that offers them work-life balance, a fun and casual culture, and an open-door policy – an environment where they can bring their authentic selves to work and voice their opinions freely.
In fact, we recently spoke to 5000+ Indian professionals across age groups in our ‘Career Pathways’ survey to understand their motivations behind choosing, growing in or changing their workplaces. While 62 percent respondents unanimously picked opportunities to learn and grow as the primary reason for liking their current job, approximately 50 percent professionals prioritized diversity of work and a good, fun work culture as important factors. L&D is also now at the top of every young employee’s mind, and it is a prevalent finding in our third annual Global Workplace Learning Report that states that 94 percent of employees said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.
What's critical in terms of manifesting culture and values is walking the talk, and not restricting it to the paper it's printed on
As businesses evolve, as new-age tech companies grow, the workplace is going through an apparent transformation that puts talent and more importantly, an employee’s happiness and well-being at the center of it.
Why companies need a 'codified culture'?
A company culture that influences a growth mindset, values employees, and models the behavior of members first has an impact on how we have grown as a business over the years. LinkedIn’s successful business growth would not have been possible if we did not make talent as our number one priority. Our culture permeates in all aspects of talent management, which in turn supports our business growth. The impact can be witnessed through our ability to attract top talent, our low attrition trend (in comparison to other industry players) and continuing to be an aspirational organization for Millennial and Gen X professionals alike by building an agile organization, encouraging innovative thinking, and learning through failure.
But, as companies scale up the hiring of millennial and Gen Z professionals, CEOs of companies are often asked, "What's your company’s culture?" We now live in a time when organizations need to have a codified culture. It is particularly important when there are plans to expand globally and setting up new offices that aren't in the same place as the headquarters. The company has to make sure that the leadership that’s setting up the offices in these remote locations are good cultural actors.
Absence of a codified culture may lead to a bad outcome as the employees will bring in their own ‘cultural baggage’ inculcated in them from the companies that they worked for. I believe culture is the collective personality of an organization, and it's not only who you are, but who you aspire to be. The aspirational component is critical. It is important to sit with the leadership team and talk about the kind of organization one wants to be a part of and what kind of personality we collectively believe that the company should be manifesting and espousing.
How businesses are enhancing culture and employee experience?
Serving as a testament to the insights from the Career Pathways survey is our 2019 Top Companies list for India where informal work culture was seen as a major driving force behind happy employees. Mobile Internet company, One97 Communications (Paytm) at #4 has done away with the concept of work appointments. Employees are free to have impromptu meetings and occupy available rooms without blocking calendars. Designations such as assistant general manager, deputy general manager, and the general manager could soon be a thing of the past at India’s second-largest private bank ICICI (#20) which seeks to cut hierarchy and boost accountability.
The 2019 Top Companies have also actively deployed employee-first initiatives such as informal work culture and fairness of working conditions and wages. That said, traditional perks and benefits and token gestures like games rooms need to be complemented with sound leadership to foster a sense of purpose, engagement and belonging in today’s employees.
LinkedIn too is fairly young and has a youthful environment. Fun is an integral part of our culture, and we interact with each other through employee initiatives such as InDays, music, arts and in-house collaborative spaces. We don't encourage micro-management, give employees their personal space, and the right to voice their opinion. Secure, happy employees are the key to growth, and all our policies, cultural activities, and management style cater to protect and enhance the employee experience.
Doubling down on the changing profile of the workforce, workplaces in India are slowly but surely adopting employee experiences that help align today’s purpose-driven employee with the vision and values of the organization. The list which revealed where Indian professionals really want to work and stay ranked IBM at #15 for harnessing the power of emerging technologies to solve problems specific to India, whether eradicating food wastage or predicting crop prices to help farmers. Mopping up $300 million as part of its partnership with Hyundai, which is focused on electric cars, Ola eventually aims to put one million green cars on Indian roads by 2022.
The role of leadership
The success of delivering an employee experience suitable for the young workforce resides in constant engagement – engagement by leaders across the company and between teams. Another key element to engagement is leveraging technology and learning tools to keep employees connected, upskilled and doing their best work – all laddering up to enhanced employee experience. When the workforce is intellectually engaged, they are driven to use their skills and creativity to solve problems innovatively and effectively. And how engaged they feel is a true measure of successful organizational leadership and culture.
Constant engagement differentiates a company as culturally unique and sustainably sound, and its leaders play an important role as stewards of that culture
Just as the selling journey doesn’t conclude with a sale, the hiring journey doesn’t conclude with a hire. Constant engagement differentiates a company as culturally unique and sustainably sound, and its leaders play an important role as stewards of that culture. Cultivating diversity across the organization, regarding teams for the difference they make every day and simply making employees feel comfortable in their jobs, will enable their best work and position them to stay. With India expected to see its Gen Z population rise to 472 million1 in this year, ‘employee experience’ has moved beyond its current status as a buzzword in the corporate world. Delivering a promising employee experience should in fact becomes a leadership priority that can in turn drive innovation and growth. At the end of the day, what’s critical in terms of manifesting culture and values is walking the talk, and not restricting it to the paper it’s printed on.