The pandemic has reshaped business dynamics, reinforcing the adage that change is the only constant. Just that the pace of change, prompted by the virus that swept the world more than two years ago, has been frenetic. Organisations and employees that were quick to adapt survived, and even thrived, while those that failed to spot the obvious and subtle changes, and pivot accordingly, fell by the wayside.
In this regard, CARS24, a leading ecommerce platform for pre-owned cars, has been remarkably agile. They say that the best insurance against uncertainty is learning and development.
The Gurugram-based startup did just that, as shared by its Chief Human Resources Officer Mrinal Sinha at the recently-held People Matters Futurist Forum in collaboration with LinkedIn Talent Solutions.
The Forum, a closed-door event with top functional experts and CHROs, had a series of insightful sessions detailing action-oriented solutions implemented by leading organisations.
A key consensus that emerged was that organisations needed to actively invest in the right digital and learning solutions to engineer growth in a post-covid world beset by uncertainties. CARS24 was quick to realise this, and lost no time in striking a partnership with LinkedIn Talent Solutions to help its employees spruce up their skills to better navigate the business landscape roiled by the virus, Sinha, who led one of the sessions, said.
In order to reposition the brand and frame new strategies, CARS24 aims to develop a skilled team of car advisors, armed with a thorough knowledge about vehicle models, and who stand ready to guide and support customers through their journey of car purchase. As the shift to digital has been rapid, the human touch becomes a critical element, as car purchase in India still remains an intensely emotional journey. Also, as customers possess a high level of awareness themselves, the car advisers would need to be at the top of their game to help customers along their journey.
CARS24 is currently in a hyper growth phase, not just from a revenue standpoint but also in terms of headcount, which has doubled over the past eight months, Sinha said.
The challenges that CARS24 wanted addressed
The company faced two main challenges in its effort to develop a cadre of what they call ‘Car Jockeys’ or car advisors. The individual who gets employed as a car adviser is typically a high school or college graduate, and needs to be equipped with skills via appropriate learning and development strategies.
The other challenge pertained to the management level. The average age of individuals taking up management jobs has been declining, with highly-qualified graduates from top institutes taking up a lot of responsibilities at a very young age. But, he pointed, professionals need an elevated level of emotional resilience to successfully execute the added responsibilities. The moot question, then, is: How does one ensure that the employee’s emotional resilience keeps pace with the increasing job complexity? After all, both the leaders, and the teams that they lead, belong to the same generation and often fall in the same age groups.
Solutions to steer the future of the organisation ahead
These two challenges required attention, both from frontline and managerial perspectives. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital solutions and learning, prompting CARS24 to seek out a number of courses offered by LinkedIn Talent Solutions to upskill its frontline and managerial workforce.
Needless to say, this strategy has witnessed phenomenal success.
Between February 2021 and January 2022, there were 31,730 total video views, 1197 total hours with 64% Average Repeat Learners. “The beauty of this process was that it was entirely self-driven, rather than the HR following up on various teams time and again,” Sinha added.
He said that as employees gradually return to office, blended learning programs would be brought in to allow for a mix of digital and classroom training. The company has also developed CARS24 Learning Academy app that would prompt courses in line with the sales dashboard, empowering employees with relevant skills. In addition, mentorship programs are being rolled out to help young managers lead their contemporaries. But, as Sinha noted, what is important in the managerial context is creating an ecosystem where people can actively and regularly communicate and express themselves.
Flexibility has also become an important area of focus as noted in LinkedIn’s latest Global Talent Trends Report, with employees seeking flexible employment contracts and a shift being witnessed in the traditional model of time and career development. With employee aspirations evolving rapidly, different career models are being experimented with at CARS24. For instance, it’s put in place a skills-based promotion system, rather than a purely job-based mechanism.
Thus, CARS24 has invested in a series of solutions to advance learning at a time when career aspirations have been evolving at an unprecedented pace. By leveraging technology, without losing the salience of the human touch, the organisation is preparing to scale its business and create a work culture that rests on learning, flexibility and an uninterrupted flow of communication.