Article: Beyond talent war: Transform employer-employee relations with tech and innovation

Talent Management

Beyond talent war: Transform employer-employee relations with tech and innovation

Disagreements within organisations surface in diverse areas. The need for comprehensive conflict resolution and innovative strategies is vital for maintaining a productive workplace, stated Anupama Kaul, Indrani Chatterjee, and Rajesh Rai at TechHR India 2023.
Beyond talent war: Transform employer-employee relations with tech and innovation

Over 4.3 million employees made the voluntary decision to quit their jobs in December 2021, revealed data from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics. So leaders, there's no need to second-guess it: employees are departing from your company at a pace that's challenging to keep up with.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the competition for top talents has intensified. In addition to Great Resignation, we are now contending with market upheavals and sluggish growth projections. While business leaders are recognising that thriving in this new paradigm entails adeptly assembling the most skilled team, employees are placing emphasis on employers who provide them with more control over their lives, along with improved compensation and perks.

Furthermore, employees today anticipate a personalised work experience that caters to their evolving needs throughout their career journey. Consequently, mere competitive pay is no longer sufficient to draw in top talent, as they are seeking more amidst the swiftly shifting landscape of work. This prompts us to ponder: Is the war for talent shifting towards a confrontation with talent?

To deliberate on the Talent War, we invited Anupama Kaul, Head of Human Resources at Cummins India; Indrani Chatterjee, Group Chief People Officer at Allcargo Logistics; and Rajesh Rai, Vice President of the People Team and Head of Human Resources at GlobalLogic, to a session titled People Matters Big Questions at TechHR India 2023. 

Employer-employee dynamics in 2023

Since 2022, corporate leaders have been encountering a progressively uncertain work landscape, marked by changing work mdoels, heightened employee attrition rates, and significant employee burnout. Adding to these challenges, 95% senior executives acknowledge that the conventional business landscape has been disrupted, while 90% express scepticism about the present environment being conducive to business operations. However, traditional approaches now lack effectiveness. While embracing change can be arduous, leaders who consistently reshape their perspective and foster innovation are most poised to flourish and expand.

Elaborating on the same, Rajesh Rai shared that he doesn’t believe that there's an increase in strictness or a power struggle between employers and employees. Instead, “it seems like the business landscape and the world itself are changing rapidly. On one hand, employees are trying to make the best out of the situation, while on the other hand, employers are also adapting to these changes,” he said. 

“What some might label as strictness, in my opinion, mainly revolves around two factors. Firstly, there's the matter of returning to the office, which is often driven by business demands. If clients require employees to work on-site, it's a business necessity. The second factor is upskilling. It's widely recognised that jobs and the world as a whole are becoming more intricate. Failing to align with these changes can lead to falling behind,” added Rai. 

Areas of disagreement in organisations

Workplace conflicts are bound to occur due to the inherent diversity among individuals. To foster a productive and harmonious atmosphere conducive to your company's success, it's crucial to promptly address and resolve these conflicts. These conflicts can take various forms, and Anupama Kaul has identified several prevalent points of disagreement between employers and employees that are currently of significant concern.

  • The concept of remote work and flexibility, often referred to as hybrid work, has emerged prominently. Some organisations are seeing productivity and teamwork benefits from remote arrangements, while others aim for a balance between flexibility and in-office presence. This can pose a challenge in meeting both talent's desire for flexibility and the organisation's need for in-person collaboration.
  • The rise of Moonlighting, where individuals take on multiple assignments. Employers are responding with stricter policies due to concerns about reputation and conflicts of interest, leading to potential friction.
  • The current generation of talent seeks a more personalised experience from their employers compared to previous generations. They desire to be valued as whole individuals, which necessitates organisations to adjust their approach to talent management—a task that comes with its own set of challenges.
  • Well-being has taken centre stage. Employers are focusing on holistic employee care, considering their overall well-being instead of just their workplace performance. This shift in focus requires a broader approach to employee support and care.

Beyond conventional trajectories and strategies

While it might be challenging to cater to everyone's needs, there's no requirement to adhere to outdated policies designed for different times and circumstances. You can step away from the conventional approach and avoid policies that no longer fit the current needs. Instead, foster an inclusive environment by encouraging a culture of openness, tolerance, and effective communication. Implement new and more pragmatic strategies to handle any arising issues and promote a heterogeneous workplace that breaks away from monotony, advised Indrani Chatterjee and shared a few examples from her own organisation. 

  • To fight Moonlighting, we introduced the idea of Sunlighting, which pertains to the gig model. We're in the early stages of embracing this concept to dissolve some of the conflicts between employers and employees that arise due to Moonlighting. We actually have a gig worker in our HR department.
  • Another initiative involves a variable compensation policy. “I'm working with our total rewards team, who are designing a compensation plan that caters to the diverse needs of our multi-generational workforce. We understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't suit everyone,” revealed Chatterjee. 
  • Recognising that one path doesn't fit all, Allcargo Logistics is exploring the possibility of having distinct career trajectories within the organisation. This includes paths for individual contributors, leaders, and those focused on specific areas like technology or AI. This acknowledges that different roles require different paths to cater to their unique strengths and interests.

Gen-Z and the pursuit of connection

Based on Microsoft's Work Trend Index Annual Report, 51% of Gen-Z employees show a greater inclination towards prioritising health and well-being over work. Their top three priorities include a positive workplace culture, mental health and well-being benefits, and a sense of purpose or meaning. Despite these preferences, many employers have yet to prioritise wellness and purpose effectively. This situation prompts the question: How can HR professionals take action to engage Gen-Z employees who perceive less support and encouragement in their growth? As this lack of support is causing this demographic to reassess the role they envision work playing in their lives.

According to the Head HR of Cummins India one must actively address the challenge of Gen-Z feeling less supported. After all, the ultimate outcome we aim for is building a strong sense of connectedness with our employees. 

However, it's essential to emphasise that connectedness isn't determined by whether interactions are virtual or physical. This challenge stems from the fact that connectedness is highly personal. What one individual values might differ from what another values. For instance, someone might prioritise a fast-track career, while another might prefer a more self-paced approach with a focus on CSR activities, aligning with their life outlook.

“Connectedness goes beyond mere Zoom calls or one-on-one meetings. It's about truly understanding each employee on a deep level—knowing their struggles, aspirations, family dynamics, and even psychological concerns. Decoding the complexity and tailoring engagement strategies to address their unique needs is an ongoing pursuit. It's a complex journey that demands time and effort, but it's the path we're committed to,” stated the VP-People Team and HR Head, GlobalLogic. 

Numbers to impact: Innovations in performance measurement

When measurement comes into play, like in recipes or construction projects, numbers usually take the lead. But when it comes to gauging human performance, the conventional approach of relying solely on hard numbers falls short. Keep in mind that any measurement of employee performance captures just a moment in time. To get a fuller picture, consider modern approaches such as evaluating client satisfaction through NPS (Net Promoter Score) in comprehensive performance reviews, advised Indrani Chatterjee. 

“Often, the traditional way of measuring by hours spent working isn't accurate. It's crucial to shift focus towards valuing the quality of output. Training managers to see beyond long hours and recognise productive results is key. Many companies are shifting from conventional productivity tools to methods like tracking client satisfaction through NPS (Net Promoter Score). This tells us if expectations are met. While hours and regular KPIs tell part of the story, the bigger picture involves a mindful understanding of performance differentiation. It's a challenging journey that requires time and learning,” she emphasised. 

To learn more from leaders about some of the burning questions in today’s world of work, stay tuned to People Matters' Big Question series on LinkedIn. This special session was conducted at the 10th edition of People Matters TechHR India, Asia’s Largest HR & WorkTech Conference, on the 4th of August 2023 at The Leela, Ambience Mall, Gurgaon.

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Topics: Talent Management, Life @ Work, #BigQuestions, #TechHRIN, #HRCommunity, #HRTech

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