Article: No matter what you offer, if you can’t give your employees a sense of purpose, they won’t stay: Aiyyo Shraddha

Talent Acquisition

No matter what you offer, if you can’t give your employees a sense of purpose, they won’t stay: Aiyyo Shraddha

The influencer, who took us on a journey of self-reflection with her ‘laid-off’ video does it yet again as she defines the ‘pursuit of purpose’ with her journey to becoming Aiyyo Shraddha.
No matter what you offer, if you can’t give your employees a sense of purpose, they won’t stay: Aiyyo Shraddha

There are many people who can make you laugh but very few people who can make you laugh and think at the same time. Influencer Aiyyo Shraddha aka Shraddha Jain, who has been entertaining us with her hilarious feed on Instagram since the pandemic, taught us what’s missing in the life of corporates, why HR leaders shouldn’t hold on to employees and why hopping from one job to another will only stop with a person’s pursuit of purpose and not just happyness - in her own witty words at People Matters Talent Acquisition Conference ’23.  

T for talent - that’s what I identify as

Flipkart, Big Basket, Mastercard, Uber, PhonePay, PayU, Lenskart - looks like my entire phone’s home screen is here. With TA Heads, CHROs, CPOs gathered here, I think I am here as part of the diversity mandate. Though I should clarify, I identify as non-TA and non-HR - basically just as talent. 

Usually when people talk about my career and the choices I made (they actually believe I chose those jobs), I play along and say that, yes, it was indeed difficult. Otherwise, how can you live a life full of regret? But right now, in front of TA Heads and HR, who can catch bullshit from a mile away, I think it is best to be honest. I identify myself as a rolling stone with the motto, ‘Let’s keep rolling and see if I gather moss’. That’s basically what my career has been. 

As I listened to speakers before me at the conference, I came across so many phrases I haven’t heard before - recruitment fraud, recruitment engine, etc. So much goes into acquiring talent! Tech, thought, mind and other processes are involved in hiring talent. So much so that what employees want has overshadowed the old adage, ‘What women want.’

There is so much discussion among leaders about what more to do when it comes to talent. Organisations have created a Disneyland sort of campus, given fancy food and water for free yet talent has not stopped hopping like butterflies from one flower to another. That too at the slightest discomfort - no respect, no value, let’s fly away. 

My beginning when the game was still simple

I started my professional journey as a software engineer and worked in four companies before the pandemic took away my corporate career. Today, I see how everyone is talking about treating people right, ensuring they are well and so much more. But I remember my first interview when I was ready to fall at the recruiter’s feet so he would give me the job. ‘I didn’t want anything more. As an organisation if you didn’t have a mission or values, that was okay. Just the job was all I wanted.’

Pondering over those times, I think even the HR had it easy compared to the present times. Today, new hires are eager to understand, ‘What kind of company it is?, What are the recruiter’s thoughts on the Ukraine-Russian war?, Who is the organisation supporting?, Are you vegan and cruelty-free?, Do you believe in sustainability?, How many solar panels are there in the office campus?’ Everyone is looking to work for a company that does good for the planet even if they go back home and order food from delivery apps in plastic bowls. 

I think it is all born out of the awareness of how smart one is, which is higher today than maybe a few years ago. People wouldn’t go on Glassdoor before to check what everyone thinks of a company. That just wasn’t there. Now, that’s the first thing one does before thinking about joining a company. Even checking out the LinkedIn profile of the HR, for that matter. Just like one reads an Amazon review about coconut oil and thinks, ‘Let’s not buy it,’ employees just say, ‘Let’s not join them.’ Everything is review-based and that’s not fair. 

No matter how hard the TA Heads are working on the recruitment engine, there will always be some guy, who has to say, ‘The managers are so rude’. There is too much information, which results in skepticism and a trust deficit everywhere. While HR leaders want to give the best training to the talent they hire, they are always thinking to themselves, ‘Once the training gets over, we will see how they fly away to another job.’ In the same way, employees are wondering, ‘Whatever we do, managers are always going to take credit.’

When I had joined as a techie, there wasn’t so much trust deficit. A lot more love and trust was there for the CEO, HR and everyone in general. We were always eager to do what was needed. But yet, I left my first job. 

The gradual change of heart

Smart people are always in demand and why not! Talent acquisition leaders are only looking for top talent. But what we fail to consider is that smart people have been on a pedestal in school, college and even their first job. They have been winning, time and again and that has made them praise junkies. 

I was the topper of the class, in school and college, and one who would be asked to represent the college in most competitions to bring in the trophies. I was validated again and again in my life and I believe good talent is used to that. There is a pattern here that, people with intelligence are aware of and they know their value, wherever they go. 

But that aspect of my life disappeared when I started working. I was just one in the sea of employees on campus. From somebody, who everyone knew, I became a nobody. And to add insult to injury, I didn’t understand how the work I was doing was making an impact on anyone’s life. I was coding for 10 hours at work but I didn’t know how it is created a difference in the world and frankly, no one was telling me how it was improving anyone’s life.   

And that sense of purpose is missing only in corporate life. That’s not the case for doctors or even politicians. There was a time, things got so bad during my appraisal when my boss insisted that I attach any email of appreciation I received from a client as proof. 

For people in the corporate rut, that’s a big miss. For different people, it might affect them in different degrees but I was deeply affected. I was left wondering, ‘Is this all there is?’ That got stuck in my head on loop and I thought that maybe if I joined a bigger company that had a clear understanding of what it does with world-wide presence, I would finally find what I was looking for. 

So the search began. I cleared over 12 rounds of technical interviews alone for a New-York based company (I wanted to be one of those New Yorkers, with a trench coat in one hand and coffee in another, talking on the phone and telling people, ‘I am busy’). And the HR hadn’t still asked, ‘Why should we hire you?’ But after the 12th round, she did enquire about that and I was like, ‘I want cancellation charges if you don’t hire me’. And within two weeks, I was working for the company in New York. 

But yet again, I was surrounded by extremely smart people, who were exceptionally good at telling me what to do, but could not enlighten me about how my work was changing the world. There was everything - bagels, strawberries for snacking, Vice-Presidents being made every week except the explaining. And I needed it to understand my place in the system. Getting to the point, one can make the fanciest of workspaces, offer the fanciest of food free of cost, send employees to the fanciest of locations, but what’s supremely important, is a sense of one’s place in the organisation and how it all fits. 

The charm of all things fancy wears off before you realise it. But what stays with people is a sense of accomplishment and this is something that I will put ahead of great people and even management. One needs to feel that rush of ‘I made this’ or ‘I am capable of building something that makes life faster, better and more efficient.’

It’s not just happyness but the pursuit of purpose

When I switched my job to radio, I finally found some semblance and sense of achievement and accomplishment. The job of an RJ comes under one of those instant gratification fields, where if you are good, you will have so many fans texting you. And working as one, I came to realise that I was making someone’s drive to work better, making someone happy and that gave me a rush. But the industry as whole was too slow for my pace. 

That’s when I decided to jump ship and moved to TV. It gave me a great sense of gratification as I headed the non-fiction programming and in the limited scope I had, I saw the life of people changing. And then came the pandemic. 

It’s my belief that disruptions come in all forms and sizes. While I was twiddling my thumb and thought of making videos as something fun to do, the stars aligned in such a way that there was a boom on social media and internet, with people having too much time on their hands. And it is because of it all that I am here. Even if one of these pieces didn’t fall into place exactly as it did, I wouldn’t be here. As it came together beautifully, I realised there is a business model here. 

My work as an influencer today is giving me what I started my career for - how am I making a difference. I know the number of followers I have and from the comments, I can see that I am making people happy, giving them a reason to live better and it is all that I have been looking for. At this point in my life, I have found exactly what I wanted. And I believe you (HR leaders) should let employees find what they want. Once they find it, they will leave because such is life. But in the meantime, you will have done a tremendous job of letting them be. 

In the end, after so many conversations with peers and people, I have understood that employees will always find something or the other to complain about, but here’s the thing: Even if they find 99 things to complain about, if they have that one thing, that is the sense of accomplishment, they wouldn’t care about the 99 things that are wrong. If that’s not there, these 99 things won’t make them stay. 

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, Recruitment, Leadership, #PMTAC

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