Article: Top 12 trends: People as Brands - Gajendra Chandel

Employer Branding

Top 12 trends: People as Brands - Gajendra Chandel

Gajendra Chandel, President, Human Resources, TATA AutoComp Systems

Before one looks at the emerging trends in Talent Management, it is pertinent to understand the changing aspirations of people, which in fact is revolving around the changes in economies and societies. This is happening in the backdrop of the way social media is making us to think, behave, work and interact i.e. in a very different manner that was unthinkable 2-3 years ago. It is obvious that from these would emerge the challenges in Talent Management and from which would emerge the trends.

There are changes are in the aspirations of people and the way each one wants it to be seen and what people relate to or want to be related to is based entirely on their mindset.

I am a Brand!

People have started perceiving themselves as ‘brands’. Even at very early stages of their careers, people have started valuing themselves. “What is it that I bring to the table and what is it that I get in return” is a standard equation that young professionals are grappling with day in and day out. And the day they realize that this equation is not in their favor at their current work place/role, they look for a change. Loyalties have shifted from company to self though they are committed to the deliverables but it has to be two way street. Each one is looking at making a mark for oneself in a given sphere such that his/ her market value rises quickly and they make it big much sooner.

I need to evolve!

Seems contradictory to the first point, but people are constantly looking for avenues to gain more knowledge. Constantly looking for educational (I am not using the term training) avenues, associations with top notch institutes of the country and even abroad, are in vogue. While some of it is largely for the glamor of the certificate and the value it adds to the person’s resume, many of these are sought after as it helps fast-track their knowledge without getting their hands dirty (not necessarily on shopfloors and other areas of work, but without also waiting for an opportunity to gain knowledge from experience).

I work hard. I party harder!

Work life balance, avenues to unwind, jamming up with friends and colleagues, formal in office informal outside - These are some of the expectations from people and they are constantly looking at endeavors to have some fun. Gone are the days when people looked forward to an annual day of the company or an annual picnic. They are constantly waiting for opportunities to have fun.

These are some emerging trends one has noticed amongst the employees, especially the young ones joining the companies today. The way these trends manifest may be different across levels and across types of industries. For example, in a manufacturing industry the above trends may be more profound in the senior levels of management, whereas such trends may be more profound even at lower levels in a marketing oriented organization or even the service industry. However, these trends are not limited only to white collared workers. Such trends are evident even amongst the work-force; however the manifestations could be very different.

Having understood these changing aspirations, it will be imperative that organizations in future not just cater to these aspirations, but consciously create an atmosphere where they can take advantage of these aspirations. Hence, the emerging trends, to match with the changing aspirations of its people in the organizations, would be as under:

Create People as Brands!

There is nothing like instant gratification. Watch people closely and publicly recognize those who are good. While this will be a good motivator (a traditional one in fact), it also creates an internal pressure which is more performance oriented. Today, the digital world offers many avenues of recognizing people without a cost impact. For example, an appreciation on the employee’s Linkedin or Facebook profile can do wonders.
The organization will also have to let loose its controls and allow its people to interact with the outside world. Managing this though is a challenge, but would also help build people as brands and at the same time reflect very well on the organization, which in turn will help it attract talent. Of course, there are inherent challenges to this & most companies today are grappling with it its enormity. The organizations will have to live with the fact that its employees are here for a finite period of time and hence would have to constantly be prepared with succession planning.

Offer avenues to evolve!

Keep the tap of knowledge flowing - This works both ways. Internal training programs, tie-up with institutes of repute, network with fellow colleagues especially from the related areas or sometimes not even related but interesting as seen from employees’ perspective etc. helps fuel & at the same time fulfill the aspirations of the people and also adds to the knowledge quotient of the organization. In fact the benefit is that it helps prepare a second level of people who could take on higher responsibilities.

Workplace is Funplace!

Look at ways and means of making the workplace enjoyable. Create small social groups in the organization. Go beyond the traditional cross-functional teams and multi-location teams. Create a unique culture that binds employees across levels as a family and brings them together. Celebrate each event with gusto; it could be the smallest of event. Celebrate each success, however small it may be. People feel being wanted when the company connects with employees on such occasions. Not to be missed out, of course is, to reach out to the people in case of any personal need or difficulty. At such time, go out of the way to reach out & help.

These are the top 3 emerging trends I see in the area of Talent Management. At Tata AutoComp, we have started sowing the seeds to create an environment that would meet these aspirations of people. We recognize our people’s achievements instantly, and that too the recognition comes from the senior most management team. This is proving a great motivator. We demonstrated this by having the courage of resting the responsibility of defining the systems and processes of our entire organization on 20 young professionals just out of their Graduate Traineeship. We mentored them, allowed them to study the prevalent practices across great companies and then gave them the freedom to implement the processes in-house. This brought in great conviction in the team and a greater buy-in from our people as this was not seen as a Top Down approach.

We also run several in-house as well as co-branded training programs that help our employees improve their skills as well as come up to speed with the latest trends. Besides, we offer higher education opportunities at all levels. We have programs by which our workers can graduate to supervisors, diploma engineers can gain a degree and graduates can earn a management post graduation. This has helped us in enhancing our knowledge quotient and also brought in a greater degree of loyalty within our employees. Similarly we are creating functional forums where people across levels meet, interact, learn from each other, share thoughts on various issues and socialize with family members thus creating tremendous goodwill across the company. Our fast track managerial talent program provides opportunities to young talent early in their careers to reach their potential faster and build long term sustainability.

We also encourage our people to celebrate all occasions together. Right from birthdays to anniversaries of people, our various plants (we have 48 plants), to occasions, we celebrate together. We also involve lesser privileged members of the society in our celebrations to bring in a human touch. We have adopted 6 orphanages around Pune and for each celebration; the children from these orphanages are invited. Our employees are hence now seeing a much larger family and have risen to the occasion of being more socially responsible. The joy in their eyes at the end of such functions tells much more than what was intended.

In this manner, we have made a humble beginning in moving towards the emerging trends, though I believe, we still have miles to go.

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Topics: Employer Branding, Employee Engagement, Strategic HR

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