Article: There is need for a symbiotic relationship between employers and employees - Sonali Damle, CPO, Innovaccer

Employee Engagement

There is need for a symbiotic relationship between employers and employees - Sonali Damle, CPO, Innovaccer

A major game-changer in this war of talent would be to recognise the employee as a free agent with many choices up to their sleeves, believes Sonali Damle, Chief People Officer, Innovaccer.
There is need for a symbiotic relationship between employers and employees - Sonali Damle, CPO, Innovaccer

The great war of talent has compelled a lot of organisations to revamp their talent strategies to find the ‘cutting edge’ to overcome the dearth. Yet what else can HR leaders think of to overcome these nascent challenges?

Sonali Damle, Chief People Officer, Innovaccer shared her thoughts with us in an exclusive interview where she shed light on industry insights on talent attraction, revitalising talent policies, leveraging a diverse workforce, and more. 

Sonali is an accomplished HR leader with over 15 years of experience in successfully leading innovation from product-market fit to buildout; managing very fast and high-growth global organisations, and developing high-performance teams. Before Innovaccer, she had previously worked with Bain & company for 14 years. Here are the excerpts from the interview-  

What factors can enable organisations to attract the highest level of talent in the current scenario?

There is so much volatility in the current environment that it is difficult to see the patterns clearly. 

On the one hand, the pandemic has unquestionably made people think about what they really want to do in life, thus leading to bold, and at times, higher-risk choices. At the same time, there is a concern for financial security.  

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, I think the fundamental principles remain the same - feeling valued, experiencing growth, seeing role models, and enjoying the work itself. 

How I see it is, steadfast focus on the Employee Value Proposition with clear and well-defined initiatives on topics such as below will stand as the litmus test of being a name that one would want on their resume: 

  • Flexibility to work in an environment that fuels efficiency
  • A clear growth path 
  • New challenges and responsibility to take on the most impactful and visible projects
  • A patronage spine that can fast track careers 
  • A cutting edge learning environment with the best in class coaches, teams, and mentors, which ensures upskilling

 Rounding off the rewards points is the table stakes. Just as an example, Gen Zs are attracted to financial security and are willing to work hard. In fact, this is precisely something a Forbes study also pointed out and mentioned that “While millennials are often seen as more idealistic and more motivated by purpose than a paycheck, Generation Z may lean more toward security and money. This is a pragmatic generation — they care about making a difference, but are ultimately motivated by ensuring they have a secure life outside of work.” 

It is already a challenge to hire the best talent from the possible pool. Add to that the need to diversify the workforce. What are your thoughts on the same?

The real challenge is that we see diversity as a problem rather than an opportunity. Yet it goes around in a manner. 

Much like Uber found untapped time from people who needed flexibility, providing them the chance to work, a diversity focus can turbocharge the scale agenda of a company by exploring new avenues to:

  • attract, for example, talent as primary caregivers (often women) who have taken a break
  • retain, for example, LGBTQ and other minority members when they see a conscious effort on creating equitability and belonging

Studies show that there is significantly higher loyalty from people who feel an enhanced sense of belonging.

An initial tangible outcome unlocks energy around the topic of diversity and allows time to reap the longer-term benefits. It is known that diverse teams with enhanced creativity are more innovative and perform higher by 35 %.  

In turn, this can then build motivation to invest back to solidify the employee experience and widening the pool with programs such as:

  • Re-entering workforce - upgraded skilling and promoting a sense of belonging among all
  • Dialogue and training on awareness 
  • Establishing flexibility and outcome-based work 

It's a full circle from early adoption through quick wins to long-term value creation for the organisation and the individual, thus resulting in a win-win situation for everyone! 

What are your thoughts on how organisations can invest their energy to ‘educate’ and ‘train’ their talent from within instead of plugging gaps from outside?

The best-in-class organisations have a solid winning culture at the core of their DNA. A talent growth plan tipped towards developing people from within has many advantages, including but not limited to:

  • A consistent and robust approach to winning and serving clients
  • Showing employees a path to growth and success 
  • Building a well-understood and cohesive culture

Robust training programs are a must to build a scalable, consistent, high-quality result for businesses. These include standard classroom training at every role change, external education program support, and upkeep with the latest industry knowledge, among other things. 

Beyond that, a deep-rooted apprenticeship model to learn from the best is transformational. Often when I interview candidates, I ask who they worked for to see what they have learned! It required dialogue to create a burning platform and training managers to prioritize a “people-first mindset.” 

What would be the one game-changer for you in this ‘great war’ that can tip the talent scale?

Today the employer-employee relationship is underpinned by the strong need for value creation for both. The relationship between the employer and the employee needs to be symbiotic, recognizing the employee as a free agent with many choices. This is even more true in the gig economy we see. In my mind, this is the most significant mind shift and an inflection point. The realization of employment at will is intrinsic to aligning motivation towards a common goal – the success of the business = success of the person and vice versa.

What, according to you, are the major ingredients for employers to win the ‘talent war’ handsomely?

Winning the talent war isn’t easy. It is a well-cooked recipe, and to have it come out good, these are some of the major and essential ingredients- 

  • Put your people first. Build a strong reputation of unwavering focus on a stellar employee experience. 
  • Put effort into building your brand. In a world of information overload, what will pique the curiosity of potential employees?
  • Be creative, widen your horizon. Diverse talent is a vast untapped advantage.
  • Keep it simple. Recruiting timelines that linger on is a sure-shot way to lose a candidate.
  • Show your enthusiasm, and communicate what your company stands for - your core values.  

And finally, have some fun with it. With all the pressures of the virtual setting, a pleasant conversation will go a long way.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Culture, #TheGreatTalentWar, #EmployeeExperience

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