2022 posed numerous challenges as internal talent systems and processes went through transformation. In 2023, shifting skills, scarce talent, high turnover and the changed power dynamic between the employee-employer dynamic will continue to influence the talent decisions of business and HR leaders. Thus, HR leaders must explore innovative ways to respond to the shifting needs of talent, and identify strategies to proactively respond to talent scarcity crisis amidst the disruptive business landscape market.
In a recent webcast, Sheetal Bhanot Shetty, Chief Human Resource Officer, Infra.Market; Santhosh Reddy, Co-founder and CTO, ShakeDeal and Jayati Pardhy, HR Head, Keka HR came together to discuss the top priorities for HR leaders in fast-growing organisations, startups and SMEs. Here are some insights from the discussion:
A look back into 2022
The first half of 2022 evoked euphoria and excitement as businesses explored new growth verticals and demanded top talent, leading to talent scarcity. New challenges for HR emerged. Getting people back to office required sensitive change management, and emotional intelligence demands were pushed. As the year went by, economic uncertainty prevailed and organisations shifted focus to hiring cautiously and attracting better quality talent. This trend is expected to continue through 2023.
Top Talent Priorities For 2023
The ever-changing scenario has pushed boundaries for all organizations leading to the following top HR agendas:
Hiring right: Hiring for 2023 shall be about cautious and conscious hiring i.e. quality over quantity, suggests Jayati Pardhy, HR Head, Keka HR. “Most start-ups are looking at efficiency rather than long working hours”, says she. Sheetal resonates this thought by mentioning that the hiring strategy needs to be very well defined for a diversified and multi-skilled workforce. HR must develop a mind-shift from merely ‘hiring for the role’ to ‘actual functionality and intrinsic involvement of individual’ and ‘building a career for the person’. The hiring strategy has to be around making the candidate aware of the culture. “When hiring for senior roles at Keka, we encourage people to come into the office and spend a day so that they get the overall experience including benefits, culture, people, CEO etc.”, shares Jayati.
- Upskilling and multi-skilling: Infra.Market continues to build a strong nurturing, collaborative, and engaging leadership. At ShakeDeal, HR has individual conversations with employees to help them build their careers as they want and to help align and fit into the business. Specific leadership programs identify high-EQ leaders and managers and get others to shadow these to learn the people-nuances. This empowers the top leaders. At Keka, inhouse upskilling trainings and fast-track management programs ensure talent growth.
- Engagement and experience: Sheetal believes in employee experiences for different strokes. To enable this, HR has to understand the nuances of business more deeply as a true business partner. “If the people pulse is understood well, HR will become more actionable in what the purpose of its existence is in an organisation”, says Sheetal. She recommends organisation Network Analysis i.e. analysing informal networks for new ideas and innovation. Another great way to attract talent is to design a smooth exit experience. “Around 7-8% exited people want to join us back, so we are doing something right”, says Sheetal.
- Culture curation: When hiring growth happens, how do we ensure that all new people fit into the culture? A separate team called ‘Culture and Competence’ at Shakedeal focuses on aligning the business expectations and employee aspirations. “We have programs which ensure the culture is percolated across”, shares Santosh. Another powerful retention tool is induction. Induction at Infra.Market gives a full flavour for the employee to feel comfortable and bonded with the organisation from Day 1. “People want to work with a value system, so we give them a transparent view into our culture”, shares Sheetal.
- Career Growth and Aspirations: Keka focuses greatly on catering to its peoples’ needs and aspirations. “People who joined us from campus have been in the system since 6-7 years, and are now leading teams of 40-50 people” shares Jayati. The business needs to be aligned with a candidates aspirations as well. For example, in recent times, we see candidates asking questions related to work-from-home in interviews. This indicates that the mindset of people has changed and HR plays a role in catering to a new philosophy of work-life-balance. “We provide our people opportunities and guidance to destress and celebrate wins with them”, quips Sheetal.
- Performance philosophy: Regular and open feedback is a must. Leaders should be open to listening to the pulse of the people and transition, believes Santosh. An outcome-based performance approach can be driven only when leaders hand-hold their people in a performance-oriented culture. “At Infra.Market, we pay attention to people who are not able to perform. We upskill people who lead the organisation because these are our important ambassadors”, shares Sheetal.
- Well-being: Ensuring the total wellbeing of employees requires high EQ. “One has to be human in the way one reacts; mental health is coming to forefront”, shares Jayati. Keka has a psychologist to help people manage stress while Infra.Market builds connect with employees’ families. Santosh believes that, as HR professionals we have to help people navigate change. He said, "It boils down to How do we enable and empower managers to ensure they take people-centric approach?"
Sheetal emphasises that this is a continuous journey and HR is the catalyst to move business ahead, helping shape careers, design the leadership, get the adaptability into the organisation.
HR policies and processes offer guidelines. But interpretation of these must be with care, empathy, concern, and respect. People stay back when they feel wanted and recognized. HR needs to think of how to prepare a policy while keeping the passion alive, because people-connect cannot have a design, it is a matter of connecting with heart, soul and genuine thought.
Digital transformation is cog in the wheel to drive this. Santosh highlights how feedback loops are made possible by the right tech solutions in place. “Whenever an employee is going through a phase of underappreciation or not getting opportunity, these feedback loops can help us get analytics in place”. HR plays a critical role, showcasing talent analytics to top management, making them aware and driving them to engage with right talent. The right blend talent connect and people process will help organisations maintain an edge in the talent space.