In the last two years, we have learned that work can be done from anywhere in the world. As we begin to move away from the pandemic's shadow, it is equally important for us to step back and take a more objective look at work as a whole. "One learning from our experience tells us that while individual productivity improves while working from home, other intangible but equally important areas like creativity, innovation, group thinking, and whiteboarding suffer significantly," says Anupam S. the SVP and head of talent management, CitiusTech, in an interview with us.
Anupam has over 24 years of industry experience in HR strategy, talent acquisition, learning and development, HR business partnering, compensation and benefits, and resourcing. Prior to CitiusTech, he led recruitment, learning and development for Syntel, Mphasis, Lionbridge and Ness Technologies.
Here are the edited excerpts.
How do you see the larger post-pandemic industry landscape for healthcare technology service providers? What has changed?
Given the scale and nature of the COVID-19 virus, it should come as no surprise that it has fundamentally altered many aspects of our lives. For healthcare technology providers, this change has implications from two perspectives:
People’s attitude towards health has altered significantly: Besides people’s own and that of their families, public health too has received a lot of attention. This has changed the way health products and services are consumed and delivered at both personal and institutional levels. From a technology perspective, this has implications for pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, medical devices, healthcare, and diagnostics equipment makers, healthcare providers and hospitals, and insurance companies.
Increased digitalisation has led to an explosion in demand: As the world grappled with unprecedented restrictions on physical movement during the first wave of the pandemic, the world nearly came to a standstill. But given the nature of healthcare, the critical role it plays, and the pressure of the pandemic on healthcare providers meant that the conventional and often traditional medical services vocation also had to evolve to continue serving patients. As the digital way of life accelerated, so did concepts like telehealth and the multitude of other digital health services that have led to newer and numerous use cases and commercial applications.
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How are tech service providers accelerating digital innovation and driving sustainable value for healthcare providers?
The supply-side of the healthcare or medical ecosystem consists of various stakeholders that include, doctors and nurses, hospitals and other service providers, and payers. However, as digital technologies evolve and become more accessible, various stakeholders have come to rely on technology service providers like CitiusTech to support their digital transformation journey. From cutting-edge innovations to working with customers to reimagine their process of delivering high-quality healthcare, digital technology specialists like us have a vital role to play.
Digital-first technology companies are helping healthcare companies change their services and delivery models to adapt to a new patient and consumer needs. We are helping healthcare and MedTech companies leverage digital technology to accelerate data convergence, enable faster and more accurate diagnosis, improve the patient’s digital experience, and transform complex business processes, e.g., clinical trials, claims management, revenue cycle management, medical imaging, etc.
How do you see the growing competition in the tech job market in India and globally?
There are multiple factors at play in the job market, both globally and in India, but the biggest factor has to be the growing competition for talent around digital technology and services. This is exacerbated by multiple projects and shorter delivery time cycles, which add pressure to the talent situation. Additionally, growing business competition, and the fight for customers' attention also translates into more competition for digital-ready talent.
Another trend is the blurring of talent boundaries among product and services companies, captive centers, and even small service providers. Owing to the interoperability of digital skills that are fairly common across most industries, the competition for talent is no longer limited to peers within the industry but across the digital ecosystem. And as companies increasingly digitise, this space is likely to heat up further in the months and years to come.
How are you retaining and attracting talent to be able to meet increasing demands from clients?
As the world was recovering from the first wave of the pandemic, we got a sense from our customers, analysts, and partners that the pent-up demand during the lockdown would bounce back. Moreover, as digital health gains traction, the demand for talent will also increase in the immediate term.
Our strategy was to invest early in this cycle of growth by investing in best-in-class digital tools, partnering with nimble firms to automate our people processes, and deploying tools that deliver superior employee experience. We also recognised the value of employee goodwill and the value of word-of-mouth when it came to attracting new talent.
Our strategy was built on the early recognition of upcoming business patterns and investing in people. To cope with the impending talent crunch, we ramped up our entire talent program – we more than doubled the strength of our internal talent team within the span of six months, and to deal with the uptick around candidate dropouts, tripled our hiring partner network in a single quarter. We also invested in our interview process, partnering with external interviewing companies, vendor networks, and specialists to augment our own recruitment teams.
We have also made significant enhancements to the overall employee experience, given that about 60% of our workforce (4,500 out of 7,500) has been recruited remotely during the pandemic years. The entire employee engagement strategy has moved to a work-from-home model, including frequent pulse calls and pulse surveys, proactive HR interventions, and a strong upskilling/reskilling programme called IMPACT that focused on rapid upskilling across new and emerging technologies, extending even to new joiners. Our teams continue to value the experience and learning that we provide. We invest strongly in learning and development, which helps software engineers transition to becoming highly skilled healthcare technology professionals. Our overall focus on learning and development is well ahead of the curve, and we have made strong investments in digitization and AI to help CTzens build custom learning paths that will help them in their professional growth.
What do you think will be the biggest workplace struggle going into the future?
In the last two years, we have learned that work can be done from anywhere in the world. However, as we start moving away from the pandemic’s shadow, it is equally important for us to take a step back and take an objective look at work as a whole. And a big part of moving forward will be to leverage the steep learning curve that the last two years have provided.
So, as we resume work from the office, we are better able to compare and contrast the changes in our work and attitude towards work in a pre-and post-pandemic world. And one learning from our experience tells us that while individual productivity improves while working from home, other intangible but equally important areas like creativity, innovation, group thinking, and whiteboarding suffer significantly.
And the larger an organisation becomes, the riskier it gets because workplaces are not factories and humans are definitely not machines or robots. What we can contribute as a group suffers when we work in silos. So, while the hybrid work environment is here to stay, the biggest challenge for businesses will be to convince employees to get back to work and how expectations are set and managed between employees and employers in this emerging talent landscape.
The other major challenge will be for companies to distribute work and tasks in a way that allows employees to rotate into the office in a loosely structured manner. The challenge would be exacerbated for large project teams and mission-critical processes that require people to be physically present. And then there’s the question of how businesses can scale this model to match business cycles.
How are you preparing for all these challenges? What are your priorities in 2022 and beyond?
Our continued priorities for 2022 and beyond pivot around six points:
1. The global struggle for talent is very real, and at CitiusTech, we are doubling down on our talent strategy to meet our business goals and organisational objectives
2. In line with the needs of our distributed workforce, we are developing a mix of facilities and smaller workspaces across multiple cities in India – including Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Gurgaon
3. We are investing heavily in our technology infrastructure to ensure our talent acquisition, talent retention, and talent management practices stay ahead of the curve
4. Our energies are focused on delivering a superior experience and becoming an industry benchmark where the best talent aspires to work
5. We are keenly working on building our employee community and communications, with a focus on increasing our brand awareness and visibility across the talent community—including potential employees, college campuses, digital audiences, and industry associations
6. The shortage of digital-ready talent has revolutionised the skilling space, and we are committed to providing our employees with a robust learning-centric digital infrastructure