The pandemic disrupted global economies and businesses, and the workforce has been heavily affected by it. Organisations have had to reimagine their strategies and focus on employee well-being, engagement, and sustainable business models. The year has seen high levels of unemployment and economic uncertainty, leading many to fear a potential recession. The post-pandemic era is likely to be remembered as a pivotal time in the history of the Indian corporate scene. Here are some of the key changes and developments that have emerged as a result of the pandemic:
- Increased focus on remote work and digital technologies
- Changes in consumer behaviour and market demands
- A shift towards more sustainable and socially responsible business practices
- Heightened awareness of the importance of employee well-being
There is a clear shift towards purpose-driven jobs and prioritising individual well-being. In 2021, there was a significant increase in resignations across the globe, and this trend continued into 2022. Many people sought out jobs that provided financial security, mental satisfaction, and opportunities for social contribution. As a result, India's attrition rate remains elevated at 20% even today. In response, organisations have revised their HR policies to prioritize employee satisfaction and retention. This has included making policies more employee-centric and focused on well-being.
The emphasis on mental and physical well-being in the workplace has become increasingly important in the wake of widespread job burnout and stress. It is clear that the corporate landscape in India has shifted, and leaders can no longer rely on traditional, top-down approaches that prioritize a company's financial performance above all else. Employee well-being is now a top priority for many MNCs, with ongoing initiatives aimed at supporting the mental and physical health of employees. These initiatives, such as fitness programs, counselling, mentoring, and coaching, are now central to employee engagement efforts. Those firms that fail to prioritize employee well-being are feeling the consequences.
The pandemic has led to a new normal in the workplace, with flexibility and hybrid work options becoming increasingly common. Prior to the pandemic, companies with a traditional six-day workweek often struggled to attract top talent. Now, the ability to work from home is expected by many job seekers, and firms that do not offer this option may face challenges with employee retention in the long term. The pandemic has also fostered a sense of trust and empathy between employers and employees. As such, firms that fail to adapt to these changes may be perceived as unempathetic and behind the times.
The organisational culture has become a key factor in the employee value proposition. Prior to the pandemic, Indian job seekers typically prioritized salary, brand, and job profile when evaluating job opportunities. The culture was seen as a nice-to-have, but not a crucial factor. However, the pandemic has shifted this perspective, and candidates now consider culture to be a significant factor in their job search. Companies with inflexible policies, a history of layoffs, and rigid cultures are now viewed as unattractive to potential employees. As a result, the culture embraced by a firm is increasingly important in attracting the right talent.
Sustainability and innovation are now essential for any business. The pandemic demonstrated that even the most prepared and ready organisations faced similar challenges and developed similar strategies in response. Those firms that were able to think outside the box and anticipate potential issues were better equipped to navigate the fallout of the pandemic. As a result, the ability to innovate and prioritize sustainability has become a critical factor in any business function.
The pandemic has exacerbated gender disparities in the workplace, with a 2022 World Bank report indicating that the female workforce in India has declined to 9% since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Organisations must develop strategies to retain women by creating an ecosystem that is aware of their challenges and provides equitable policies that allow them to reach their full potential. As a result, diversity and inclusion should become an even more prominent focus in the post-pandemic era.
In today's volatile environment, the Indian workforce is looking for employers who are empathetic, flexible, and agile. They want to be supported in their growth and have their needs understood by their employers. Organizations will need to be adaptable, accountable, and proactive in order to navigate the challenges that lie ahead. These traits will be key to the success of the Indian corporate scene.
Organisations will need to be flexible, accountable, and proactive to tackle the challenges ahead as the workforce increasingly looks for employers who are empathetic, flexible, and nimble.