Firoze Patel, DHR Global Managing Partner for India and Singapore, reflects on the impacts of Covid-19 on the global workforce as firms make up for lost time.
The global workplace upheaval wrought by Covid-19 has seen employers scramble to play catch-up as the world emerges out the other side, spawning “revenge hiring.”
As Western markets continue to bear the brunt of “The Great Resignation,” with thousands leaving the employment market, elsewhere in the world and particularly across Asia, the covid workforce dislocation has led to a hiring streak which is taking place at breakneck speed.
Organisations are making up for lost time by jumping into the talent pool with unprecedented velocity. Many roles, paused for the duration of the impacts of Covid, are now being filled at pace. Across Asia, and particularly in India, business leaders and organisations are jumping into the hiring market with a sense of FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” and anxious to play catch-up as they recalibrate.
Hybrid and Agile Workplaces Are Table Stakes
The workplace model has been changed forever with talent, particularly those in the vertical tech sectors of FinTech, Consumer Tech and Med Tech, making it clear that hybrid and agile workplaces are table stakes. And companies that fail to offer them and corporations are at a clear disadvantage in this market. Organisations which insist on the compulsory return to the office five days a week will simply “miss out” out on talent which is “calling the shots” in this hiring frenzy. Those slow to adapt to a more agile approach can only are watch from the sidelines as they see competitors snap up premium talent. They will need to pivot or be prepared to pass on the cream of the crop when it comes to hiring mid-tier executives, particularly those in the tech sector.
The younger cohort is also attracted by the remote or “work from anywhere” concept which allows them to work at any location, often making the decision to stay closer to family rather than relocate for a role. Still others are taking advantage of digital nomad visas offered by locations as diverse and appealing as Portugal and the Bahamas.
We are seeing companies which articulate a clear purpose and a commitment to sustainability bring that to life through a commitment to their people. They must walk the talk. They do so by offering hybrid and flexible work options which make these organisations extremely attractive to the best talent in the field.
“Aggressive retention” is being widely deployed as companies work equally hard to keep their people. This has led to the rise of counter offers, and an overhaul of company policies which incorporates choice of workplace locations, flexible hours and hybrid work conditions for the workforce.
The War for Talent Has Never Been Hotter: Aggressive Retention
This new way of thinking about the future workplace can be difficult for some legacy leaders with a contrasting mismatch in expectations leading to conflict situations. Some businesses are being forced to recognise this when they confront determined and assertive recruiting by competitors; this in turn leads to “aggressive retention”. The C-suite needs to slough off outdated workplace paradigms and be prepared to meet junior to mid-level talent expectations – or risk being cast as bystanders as rising talent joins competitors in numbers. The war for talent for this cohort has never been hotter.
But this goes beyond hiring new talent: “aggressive retention” is being widely deployed as companies work equally hard to keep their people. This has led to the rise of counter offers, and an overhaul of company policies which incorporates choice of workplace locations, flexible hours and hybrid work conditions for the workforce. The “Great Retention” requires companies to move rapidly to stem attrition and departures by focusing on employee engagement as well as benefits and conditions.
One sector in which this trend has been particularly hot is in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector’s knowledge centres which are well-established in India. The global BSFI sector has significant technology and operations centres across the nation, which are being caught in the crosshairs of the war for talent. The ripples in these centres could have far-reaching consequences for the global banking and financial services sector.
Now is the time to have a steely-eyed focus on retaining good talent and be prepared to double-down and be “innovative & aggressive” when hiring externally. The talent world which is emerging post-Covid will be very different from the one that was prior to the pandemic.
Meet the Author
Firoze serves as Managing Partner of India and Singapore and is based in the firm’s Mumbai office. He also leads the firm’s Financial Services Practice in the APAC region and is a member of the APAC Executive Committee.