47% Indian tech firms ready to offer flexibility to lure talent: Survey

20% companies in APAC to prioritise hiring temps/contractors to bridge skill gap

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Due to the pandemic, the year 2020, saw the hiring activity plummeting. There was an 18 per cent dip in hiring in India last year.

However, that was a year gone by, and the new year brings in lot of positivity. According to a survey by Michael Page, around 53 per cent of companies in India are looking to increase their headcounts in 2021. The sentiment is similar among employees as well. Among the respondents, 75 per cent of those employed anticipate looking for new job opportunities in 2021.

This is not all. About 60 per cent of employers intend to increase salaries in 2021, and 55 per cent of companies intend to give out bonus payments. Out of these 43 per cent of companies were willing or planning to give out more than one month’s pay as bonus.

The increased positivity in hiring will also fuel the talent war and companies will have to regear their talent attraction strategies. Around 56 per cent of companies are optimistic that things would change for the better from Q2 2021 onwards.

Here is what companies across India and Asia Pacific are planning to do:

FLEXIBILITY:

Most businesses are desirous of focussing on staffing flexibility to optimise and allocate resources. More businesses will want flexible staff, in the form of temporary or contract employees, as they allow the freedom to increase or decrease headcount as per short-term business needs.

While businesses are assessing the resources presently available, they are also looking at ways for maximum optimisation. About 20 per cent of companies wish to prioritise hiring short-term contractors/temp workers to bridge skill gaps that emerge from investing in digital tools and organisation redesign. No wonder there was a 58 per cent rise in the number of contract/temporary job listings on LinkedIn globally last year.

In India, however, in the technology sector, 47 per cent tech companies are ready to offer remote/flexible work arrangements to attract quality talent. About 23 per cent of Indian healthcare and life sciences companies are willing to allow remote/flexible arrangements to lure good talent.

In the BFSI space, 37 per cent companies are ready to offer remote working options to draw quality talent. A significant 46 per cent Indian e-commerce companies and 24 per cent property and construction firms are ready to offer flexibility to suitable talent.

NO ‘ONE SIZE FITS ALL’ WORK MODEL:

Although four in five employees in APAC feel equally or more productive working from home, only five per cent prefer a full-fledged (100 per cent) remote working model. Most prefer a combination of remote work and work from office, as they crave social interaction.

The findings also show that employees prefer to have flexible work timings across the same workdays and total working hours. There is no “one-size-fits-all” workplace or work model.

A good 87 per cent favour blended flexibility, and would appreciate a choice. About 52 per cent are willing to work for the same number of hours across the same workdays but with flexible timing. About 27 per cent would be fine with a completely flexible schedule at their discretion. Thirteen per cent would prefer fixed timings to begin and end work and eight per cent would prefer a compressed work week, with four work days and extended hours.

TECHNOLOGY:

A good 68 per cent of the companies in APAC plan to increase investment in technology and digital tools in 2021.

The three areas that will receive maximum investment are: communication tools (video and web conferencing, enterprise social networking services), collaborative suites (calendar sharing, file sharing, document synchronisation, cloud storage, whiteboards), customer-relationship management (CRM) tools (operational, analytical, collaborative, campaign management and strategic CRM).

Naturally then, professionals who can help facilitate this transition to digital are much sought after. In India too, the demand for tech professionals has gone up. In fact, in the technology sector, 74 per cent companies expect a 14 per cent increase in headcount in 2021.

There is increasing demand for experts in SaaS, health-tech, ed-tech and gaming industries. Many organisations have taken advantage of the availability of Indian techies who are happy to return to India due to the pandemic. To rope in quality talent, startups are also allowing them to work remotely or opt for a hybrid model.

While artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are amongst the key skills, the roles in demand are that of architect (cloud / enterprise /solution / software), engineers (backend / full stack / mobile), and CTO / head of engineering.

Maximum job seekers apply for the roles of CIO or head of technology, chief technological officer, director –engineering, digital transformation, enterprise architect.

ORGANISATION DESIGN:

Many respondents felt that it is essential to review focus on organisation design for future business recovery and growth. This will affect existing employees, demand the drawing of new talent and will also require a mix of staffing strategies that involve solutions that are permanent, temporary and outsourced.

Only 26 per cent of companies in the APAC say that they will not go for restructuring in 2021. With the desire to make the environment agile and progressive, 53 per cent of the companies surveyed expect to restructure in 2021. While 38 per cent admitted to planning minor restructuring, 21 per cent are not sure whether they would go for restructuring.

Clearly, 2021 will be about embracing technology more strongly and hiring suitable talent to help in this process. It will also be a year of hybrid work arrangements, with more companies offering remote working options to lure and woo quality talent.

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