Total Rewards Special: A Portfolio of Career Experiences
The global recession that led many organisations to drastically cut on manpower cost did not see such poor faith in India
The current dynamic nature of business and the economy requires organisations to revisit their job evaluation and levelling system more often
Learn how a new look into the meaning of career advancement can bring in the required advantage for organizations where dynamic competitive scenarios continues to pose the problem of retaining critical talent. Dhritiman Chakrabarti, Managing Director, Towers Watson India, shares critical points of attention for HR and senior management, while speaking with People Matters.
A dominant 60% of Indian employers have reported that career advancement opportunities for their employees have improved over the last 12 months. Most importantly, this ‘employer opinion’ was endorsed by 58% of Indian employees to confirm that Indian employers are taking active steps towards offering career advancement opportunities to their employees.
The global recession that led many organizations to drastically cut on manpower cost did not see such poor faith in India. The slowdown in India saw an upscale of efficiency with instances of hiring freeze and salary and bonus cuts, but not redundancy leading to layoffs and reduction in workforce. The economic uncertainty, however, did see an impact on the attraction and retention of critical and high potential talent in India. Further, sustained economic growth since then, meant greater opportunities for talent and thereby enhancing the problem for employers trying to hold onto their key talent.
The scenario has led employers to understand and realize the challenges from a career development and career advancement stand point, which are factors that have assumed great importance both from the employee and employer perspective.
Most talent management and talent development initiatives that companies are using are in the area of developing a talent pipeline, developing the next generation leaders and grooming the middle level to take senior management roles, with a view to ensure replaceability of talent for positions of tomorrow. Therefore, the importance of career advancement in the total rewards equation is not just a function of the market and external factors, but it is a conscious effort by the employer to provide a holistic experience to its employees as well as the employee’s aspiration of acquiring a greater value add to his own resume.
Examples where organizations are taking a proactive step towards instilling an appropriate career advancement strategy is the IT sector which takes proactive measures in the areas of talent management, grooming and succession planning at the middle and senior level. Other industries are the FMCG and the consumer durables sectors which have taken requisite steps on purpose.
The objective of career advancement is in trying to leverage the best out of employees. Increasingly the realization has been that it is not just about vertical growth but there is also a need for different and more interesting career paths. So organizations are revisiting their career management system. A number of organizations that we studied in this survey are revisiting their job-levelling/ job evaluation criteria. One of the main reasons for doing that is because today’s career levelling solutions or career management systems are not being able to keep pace with the amount of growth that a lot of companies and industries are experiencing. In that sense, career advancement and career development is both a process and an outcome. The outcome needs a lot many more supporting enablers – talent development, competence building, performance management, job levelling – in order for a holistic solution to emerge.
The current dynamic nature of business and the economy requires organizations to revisit their job evaluation and levelling system more often. Many organizations we spoke to said that they had not revisited their job levelling system since before 24 or 36 months, which was before the slowdown. The world has changed since and continues to change even more, resulting in a need to remain current. Very soon careers would become an integral part of managing business as opposed to being an HR intervention alone.
The ‘compensation element’ which hitherto is popularly considered as the prime motivator for employees, is a parameter where Indian employers score better. While only 37% of employers in the Asia Pacific region believe they provide their employees an opportunity to earn higher levels of compensation to a great extent, around 54 % employers in India, which incidentally is the highest number within the Asia Pacific region, felt likewise. Indian employers again outscore their Asia Pacific counterparts in offering skill development opportunities to their workforce. An impressive 64% of Indian employers surveyed believe to a great extent that optimal opportunities are available to their employees to rapidly develop skills and abilities, as against a 49% Asia Pacific average. Supplementing that, 61 % of Indian employers are able to provide their employees with the opportunity to develop innovative products and services to a great extent, as compared to their counterparts in the Asia Pacific region at 41%.
A number of Indian conglomerates have a group-wide cadre and offer career opportunities beyond the individual company. Despite the almost insignificant gap in the idea of career advancement from the employer and employee perspective, the response from a standard employee in India was that an Indian employee would switch the moment there would be a better opportunity. So there is as much of an employee impetus to take responsibility for his/ her own career and ensure that it is fulfilled either with the current employer or wherever else it can be.
To an Indian employee a better career opportunity could mean an array of things including better pay and rewards, along with job enrichment, the ability to do a diverse set of things, ability to broaden the resume, greater management exposure, greater overseas exposure et al, and in certain cases even trying out a different industry. Basically the Indian employee is more adventurous and mobile, and pay is no longer the only reason to switch jobs, - albeit an important one still.
Career advancement is a part of ‘Total Rewards’ which is a component of the EVP that organizations offer. It is easier to articulate career advancement as an element of the EVP. While it is difficult to measure career advancement effectiveness in quantifiable terms, if a company is able to deliver on the career advancement strategy it stands for, employee commitment will happen.
Few ways in which companies can measure is by tracking how much of senior succession is being filled by internal candidates; what is the bench strength of senior management talent pool – those hired from outside versus those groomed from within. From an employee stand-point a good metric that is often tracked is where the employee scores versus his/ her readiness for his next role, or subsequent roles. Exit interviews is another important measure which can uncover a variety of reasons why employees tend to look outside – inadequate communication/ managers holding on and not letting go of their best people/ employees themselves not being sure of whether they are ready for their next job, etc.
With the Indian markets surging and the economy well poised for growth, 60% of the Indian companies are able to provide their employees a wide range of jobs and work experience, to a great extent, as against 50% in the Asia Pacific region. The survey further reveals that 30% of Indian employers provide their employees with an opportunity to move to a different country while only 21% of the employers in the Asia Pacific region are able to follow suit. The fact is that an Indian employee is adventurous and is therefore on a lookout for ways to enhance his portfolio of experiences, making career advancement a dear agenda for all progressive organizations.
Foot Note: All employee respondent data in the article refers to the Towers Watson Global Workforce Survey of around 30,000 employees from around the world, with more than 10% from India.
All employer respondent data refer to the Towers Watson's Talent Management and Rewards Survey conducted between June-August 2010.
More information on these surveys can be found on