It was a nippy morning as parts of the city (NCR) experienced poor visibility due to fog, the first of the season. Despite the weather playing truant, we were lucky enough to start on time. The inaugural session of the NASSCOM HR Conclave, North saw Sangeeta Gupta, Senior Vice President of NASSCOM and Nitin Sethi, Partner – Performance & Talent, Aon Hewitt setting the context for the participants.
A deluge of terms like VUCA have been upon us. In recent times and characteristically, major political events like Brexit, the US Presidential Election have ushered in great uncertainty in their wake. The “interconnectedness” between economies is apparent now, including the domino effect which lingers on. For a while, the HR function had to grapple with challenges pertaining to the function’s long-term effectiveness, including the CHRO’s representation on Boards. These oblique references have been suitably addressed, and HR function continues to surge ahead to be at the forefront of change.
For several decades it was about cost arbitrage alone - and understandably so - but with new age technologies making rapid progress, this model may not be sustainable as increasingly the “value” angle is being emphasised. Someone has rightly pointed out that this is India’s decade and the way we respond to disruption will be most critical. It will determine whether we will be able to reach pole position and stay there. The country enjoys demographic dividend because of the sheer number of young people in the economy. Interestingly, the millennials look at careers very differently. It is no longer sufficient to just ensure that they are made job-ready and compensated by the age-old system of fixed / variable salary component. HR managers need to know a lot more about the millennials, their purpose in life, and if the organisation is able to provide a suitable direction.
There’s no gainsaying, the world is changing by leaps and bounds. A few years back, even a mere suggestion that qualified engineers may end up as cab drivers would have elicited rude guffaws. Today, the Olas and Ubers of the world have created a whole new set of opportunities for the educated middle class in pursuit of their dreams. A generation which is most impacted by mobile phones would want their employers to treat them at par with consumers – level of engagement and responsiveness. To them, a job is about an experience sharing with very high levels of engagement from both sides. These challenges have no real precedents, and how economies would shape up in future would be significantly impacted by the way HR managers are able to address these issues. The raging debate never ceases - is Ola a tech company or is it in the business of providing taxis?
The future growth in salaries will be much higher than what we are witnessing today, and employers may have to forego the idea of hiring in large numbers. This will result in smaller team sizes with niche skills. In addition, the number of Asian companies entering the league of Fortune 500 is increasing. HR managers would have to play a very important role of ensuring that there’s smooth transition, coupled with a high degree of cultural fit. In comparison, American and European companies have been in India much longer. As talent war intensifies and nimble companies dominate, HR managers will have to ensure that communication with employees remain continual and not just intermittent, “at a point in time”, as was the practice earlier.
The stage was ably set by the speakers, for an interesting day ahead.