Post-COVID Effects – A Race for the Best Talent and Challenges of Inspiring Employee Motivation

The leading global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson recently got prominent CHROs in India together for a round table dialogue to look into some practical measures to improve employee motivation & current talent management trends. Over 80% of consumers reported feeling some sense of uncertainty toward their jobs and business, the highest ever recorded by research agency Boston Consulting Group. In these times of disruption, CHROs have been tasked to look at inspiring motivation, improving confidence & managing the emotional well-being of their talent pool.

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Employee motivation and work life balance

The goal posts have changed rapidly for CHROs

The plans that were initially put in place at the start of the pandemic for CHROs have changed dramatically and for some have even accelerated as an after-effect. From opening offices in the middle of the pandemic, and not being fully prepared to on board employees virtually, CHROs have had to quickly upgrade their processes & are now on boarding 80-90 employees virtually across 25 cities seamlessly.

Most of the CHROs agreed that their organisations are putting in place global work from home policies that would be a hybrid work model – a combination of both work from home & office. “Productivity is different for different sets of people. While some people are struggling in the work from home model, some are more productive at home, while some look forward to a hybrid work model. Like many peers, I too joined a new organisation as a CHRO in the pandemic. The goals & key growth drivers that were initially planned have changed dramatically since last year and have even accelerated,” said the Director HR of one of the leading sports brand.

Demand for digital talent has skyrocketed

Demand for digital talent has picked up especially in the retail & consumer space. With many organizations targeting the same set of individuals in the technology & digital space, monetary measures alone will not help organizations in attracting digital talent. Newer generations are driven by a sense of purpose & belonging, which as a result is compelling leaders to become talent magnets.

As HR leaders, we need to be more innovative & look at the overall employee value proposition we are offering our people. Attracting tech savvy talent from outside the organization is going to become even more challenging in the times ahead. The HR fraternity must look at ways to enhance the digital acumen of in-house teams,” says Suchita Kalele, India HR Lead, Philips Domestic Appliances.

Conversations around burnout have come to the table

In the last few months, conversations by employees around burn out & losing a sense of work life balance have amplified. Mukta Nakra, Head Human Resources & Sustainability, Marks & Spencer observes,Dialogues around compensation, burnout, skill development have suddenly come to the table in the past few months. A yearning for change without clearly defined goals is what is driving some of these conversations. Here at Marks & Spencer, our people are at the core of what we do. ‘No meeting Thursdays’ is one of the many initiatives introduced by us to help our employees manage their stress & be the best version of themselves during these times.”

Some of the practical steps taken by organisation’s towards guiding their employees towards a good work life balance & motivating their people include training of the essential floor manager to be able to have conversations around mental health & well-being. “Continuous engagement & motivation of the essential factory colleagues & team leaders, who are the backbone of our business, is a key focus area for us in these times,” says Alpana Kumari, Human Resources, Pfizer India.

Unlike earlier times, leaders are personally reaching out to have one-on-one dialogue with employees, especially those affected in the second wave of COVID. Engagement activities have increased significantly, with some organisations including activities for children to support their women workforce.

Here at Benetton we adopted the 3C’s & D approach – Connect, Collaborate, Contribute & Develop our talent. The underlying factor for success in today’s time is to have transparent communication with employees. It is important to clearly know, what is that common purpose that brings us all together,” mentions Vivek Mukherjee, Director and Head HR & IR, Benetton India.

The race for the finding the best talent

With regard to current leadership trends Dr. Prasad Medury, MD India, Odgers Berndtson says, “We are continuing to witness progress on the curve back to recovery with many leadership opportunities emerging especially with respect to digital strategy, supply chain management as well as chief information officer roles. We are also seeing leadership roles emerging with a special focus on sustainability management.”

Kaushik DasGupta, Partner – Consumer, Media and Retail Practice – India, Odgers Berndtson says, “Leadership traits that have come to the forefront during the pandemic are agility, humility, empathy (not only for employees but also for people in the larger ecosystem in which the organisation operates), active listening, and managing hybrid teams. Employees have also realised how much companies care as some organisations in the retail sector, despite the toughest of times, did not cut jobs or pay. In the broader consumer goods space, a lot of companies went ahead with compensation increases and payout of earned bonuses too. Several roles like that of the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer, Head of Supply Chain are getting redefined, and several organisations are finding replacements for these positions while new roles like Chief Innovation Officer (not necessarily in the marketing/product innovation sense) and Head of Sustainability are in demand.”

At the same time, people have had the time to consider job satisfaction & the benefits their present jobs have to offer and are willing to change their job if offered a better opportunity. “The psychological attachment of individuals to their place of work, where they used to spend 8-10 hours, is slowly eroding. Organisations will have to invest more time & resources in connecting with their people at an individual level and look at more innovative ways for meaningful and deeper engagement with employees,” remarks Puneet Sharma, Director HR India, General Mills.

Odgers Berndtson is one of the leading global executive search firms with presence in over 35 countries providing services such as leadership appointments, appointment of Board (Independent) Directors, leadership assessment, and contractual (Interim) appointments. Reach out to Odgers Berndtson team to explore your leadership requirements.

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