The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone, whether individuals or organizations. Lockdowns have thrown a harsh light on employers who failed to support and motivate employees who were working remotely. Employees learned a lot about themselves and their work throughout the crisis, and as a result, they are more likely to pursue roles, which provide them with the flexibility and life balance they desire. Organizations are becoming more aware of the problem and many are focusing on employee well-being to retain employees and employer branding to attract the best of talents.
In such a scenario, it is imperative that organizations become considerate and empathize with their employees while keeping momentum on ensuring progressive employee experience, consistent communication and transparency, encouraging employees on maintaining work-life balance as well as collaboration across the organization.
In an exclusive interaction with us, Meghna Gupta, Head HR, Axis Mutual Fund sheds light on the critical imperatives for employers seeking to attract, retain and engage top talent to fight the ‘Great Resignation’.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview.
Creating an ideal employee experience
Employers need to accept the new reality. There is no going back from remote work; it is here to stay, and for the coming years. Despite the drawbacks that may arise as a result of its implementation (such as a reduction in social interactions with coworkers, direct communication, physical office presence, and so on), the advantages it brings to the table surpass everything else.
“Through remote work, companies realized that productivity can no longer be measured by how long an employee stays at the office to complete their work. Work is now more focused on deliverables, agility and flexibility."
If a company wants to retain its employees and attract the best of talent, it should consider giving them the option of how to work. Whether it's remote work, in-office employment, or a hybrid format, the choice is entirely up to the individual; there's no one-size-fits-all solution.
Also, reporting team managers play a huge role in work delivery, employee retention and success of the organization. Managers' isolation from their teams because of the pandemic has highlighted these concerns. Training programs for managers can help them streamline and understand their role from the current WFH arrangement for better results. It is important that managers have a better grasp of how their team works and the situations they're in, so they can devise tactics to boost productivity.
Lastly, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to building a workplace of equal opportunities that retain their employees in multiple ways. By just listening to employees and acting on their requests, little steps towards greater transparency can be taken. Other steps can revolve around achieving pay equity across all similar roles, regardless of gender, or other factors.
Fixing broken links in the current work structure to create sustainable work cultures
Culture is crucial to a company's success, no matter how effective an organization’s plan is, it will be hampered if team members do not share the company's culture. Ethics, ownership, transparency and teamwork are the bedrocks of a sustainable work environment.
As per Meghna, the ‘Value Chain’ model plays a major role in aligning and achieving targets/ services. It is important for the employee to understand and identify processes that add value to the organization, its employees and customers. Organizations and employees are still adjusting to their new work environment and culture, with the sudden change, it is important for the company to reflect and support continual change and innovation.
In addition, the current changing environment and the Gen Z & Y population are cynical about the traditional hierarchical structure followed by many companies in India. With changing times and continuous innovation, it is imperative for organizations to reduce hierarchical structuring by replacing them with fewer layers and establish a transparent 2-way communication channel
The changing nature of work has also called attention and importance on teamwork and interactive work sessions. Team work, sharing work load, recognition, group trainings, etc. will help organizations keep their employees engaged and strengthen their relationship as coworkers thereby, motivating them to deliver better.
Organizations also need to focus on employee learning and development. Self-paced learning, in particular, is a highly adaptable solution for delivering large-scale staff training and development in the face of social distancing constraints. It gives organization complete control over when and how their employees interact with materials, allowing them to proceed at their own pace and tailor their learning experiences rather than following a set program and schedule.
Strategies to elevate employee value proposition
With the changed work environment, it is important to amend the employee value proposition (EVP) as per the current work environment and organization. Employers can elevate EVP as per the changing work environment by ensuring goal alignment as per the organization & individual’s growth, motivation in form of an incentive/ reward, retention, flexible work environment, Learning and Development, increase skill sets, focus on employee engagement and consider employees as brand ambassadors.
“We need to remember that employees no longer want to live with the impression of being a cog in the wheel of a complex organisation and they expect to understand how their roles/responsibilities fit into the larger picture of the organization."
They expect clear communication of the vision and it becomes all the more important for leaders to craft and not just communicate but sell the vision to all employees
Also, employees have realised the value and importance of continuous learning and expects organisation to invest in their upskilling. L&D features big time in the EVP of a company in today’s world. In addition, new generation employees want fair treatment not just for themselves for everyone around them. So, DE&I should feature in the EVP as well.
Big differentiators for companies to win the talent war
The quality of an organization's talent determines its strength in great part. In a competitive hiring environment, establishing a strong organizational culture and the opportunity for individuals to grow is the best way to attract excellent talent.
“Identification of high potential talent has always been a challenge and the AMC industry is no exception. The inflow of new talent is limited for more populous roles rather than niche roles in Investments, Digital, Technology, etc.”
The first big differentiator for companies as per Meghna to win the talent war is L&D. L&D has always been a very important function for the business and HR and has become essential now. No longer restricted to the class room training around the company products, policies and benefits, learning now is an agile and continuous learning process.
The next big differentiator is Rewards & Recognition. Towards this, AXIS AMC not only has a separate R&R portal, where in winning employees are rewarded with points for various instituted rewards which they can redeem from a wide range of options, but also nurtures a culture where in ‘employees to employees’, ‘managers to employees’ and ‘employees to managers’ recognitions are encouraged and celebrated
Adaptive engagement activities are yet another factor, with physical engagement activities having been replaced by virtual meets and activities.
Lastly, focus on gig work and gig workers is another defining factor. Towards this, the company is in a process of identifying roles that can be completely virtualized. Also, in recent years, many professionals are taking breaks in their careers to do what their heart is in. They have the requisite skills and capabilities but would like to give limited time to their career. The firm is also exploring reaching out to them to work as Freelancers.
Rethinking location strategy to retain top talent
Gone are the days of show up, get work done, go home and repeat. Work today is more flexible, collaborative and creative than ever before. Organizations are moving away from traditional workplace environments toward spaces that mirror how we actually work and live.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided a chance — and an urgent need — for many organizations to reconsider their office placement strategy. Talent is a new and crucial variable. With many firms now expecting the hybrid workforce model to be permanent, the optimum location strategy will take just take into account talent availability and factors that influence employee satisfaction, but also enabling infrastructures for remote working.
“The 5/6 days working from 9 am to 6 pm are a story of the past. The last 18 months have shown us the advantages and gaps of working from home."
Consequently, Axis AMC plans to follow a hybrid model where employees will only come to office either for 1 or 2 or 3 days (per week) only and for the other days will be working from home. It has also launched GIG-A Opportunities to tap need-based skills from the gig-workforce.
Ultimately, it is all about devising interventions that lend flexibility to employees in terms of how they work.