Tech talent will be most sought after in India in 2020

A look at the trends that will drive the workforce of the future

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Technology talent with the ability to navigate the digital future will be in high demand in India this year, as concluded by Korn Ferry, on the basis of inputs from experts in the field of talent acquisition, development and compensation. Also, trust, purpose and agility will be the main forces driving the workforce of the future, according to the Korn Ferry survey.

Organisations will be increasingly seeking talent that can comprehend the changes in business models, and also possesses the ability to invest rightly.

Given the technological advancements and emerging markets, companies will always require able leaders and talent to take on technology-driven roles.

According to Navnit Singh, chairman & regional managing director, Korn Ferry India, “For economies, such as India, the shift towards building an agile work force and further developing world-class local talent whilst remaining attractive as a global innovation hub is going to be critical for its future proofing. Companies that offer opportunities to employees to continuously develop their capabilities to stay relevant in the future workforce, and adopt holistic rewards strategies, that consider the priorities of different generations, will have a distinct advantage.”

So which are the trends that will drive the workforce of the future?

  1. Trust, purpose and agility: According to the survey, almost 59 per cent professionals say that it is the belief that their work has meaning and purpose that drives them. Rigid structures and controls have already become a thing of the past. Leaders are not as tight with controls and are willing to let an agile workforce following an adaptable culture to take on. The business is driven forward by a workforce that is aware of why they exist, what they stand for, and who they are as an organisation. A good 96 per cent respondents believe that organisations see a long-term financial benefit in committing to purpose-driven leadership. Some companies are even rewarding employees for their individual contributions to the organisation’s goals.
  2. Cautious hiring and controlled compensation: Organisations are being extremely cautious about hiring and compensation practices. Priority is being given to recruiting people for roles that directly influence the bottom line—research and development, and sales. In addition, given the digital transformation taking place globally, the demand for tech skills has gone up, and companies are hiring experts with niche skills in anticipation of future requirements. At the same time, they are being careful about offering cost-of-living increases, to avoid increasing fixed costs. Rewards, bonuses and other discretionary incentives are being given more importance.
  3. Focus on diversity and inclusion: Companies are increasingly focussing on structural inclusion, that is, ways to address the conscious and unconscious biases affecting the talent systems resulting in pay disparities, unequal representation, and inequality in terms of visibility, access and opportunity. Organisations are going out of the way to eliminate the bias in their processes, build inclusive leadership capabilities in the higher rungs, and make people managers more accountable for achieving better diversity and inclusion. Almost 63 per cent of executives believe that their diversity and inclusion (D&I) programmes help retain employees, while 76 per cent believe their D&I initiatives lead to greater innovation.
  4. Transparency in compensation: The study found that 24 per cent of professionals feel comfortable sharing their salary information with colleagues, while over 37 per cent believe that nowadays employees are more comfortable discussing their salaries than they were five years ago. About 80 countries have passed a legislation to ensure equal-pay-for-equal-work, with a significant number requiring mandatory reports of compliance. With CEO salaries being made public by many companies, it does not come as a surprise that 75 per cent HR professionals feel that pay and rewards-related transparency will become very important this year. While HR teams are coming up with strategies to create equitable pay programmes, managers are being trained to communicate and discuss grievances of employees who feel underpaid.
  5. Continuous senior-level succession planning and diversity in the board room: Boards of directors are proactively working towards understanding the executive and enterprise leadership pipeline. Many have set up compensation and talent committees to ensure an appropriate approach to the review, even while looking at addressing pay equity and transparency. As a result, planning for CEO position becomes an ongoing and strategic process.

With about 25 per cent of public board directors being over 70, significant turnover is clearly in process. As a result, the succession activity has made the board room more diverse, a trend that looks set to continue.

  1. Increasing use of AI to enhance candidate/employee experience and engagement: With the introduction of sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as chatbots, more companies are now using AI programmes to inform candidates quickly and efficiently on where they stand in the hiring process, help them navigate career sites, schedule interviews and give advice. This is not only transforming the candidate experience, but also enhancing engagement and elevating overall satisfaction. Chatbots are also helping and guiding employees to apply for new roles within the organisation, by giving the details of what the job would entail and assessing their suitability for the same.
  2. Reskilling for the future: Professionals across industries are seeking programmes that will help them gain certifications, accreditations and niche skills, to stay relevant and abreast.

Organisations are being proactive in this area, and putting in efforts to reskill their existing workforce. Over 27 per cent of HR professionals surveyed feel that reskilling has become their top priority. Therefore, formalised, ongoing training in hard and soft skills is becoming important.

  1. Continuous transformation: Simply reskilling workers is not enough. Continuous transformation has become crucial instead of just one-time change initiatives. Companies are redesigning their jobs and structures to ensure more agility and scalability.

With culture driving strategy execution, companies realise that any change they make in terms of strategy will have to take into account the impact it will have on culture.  Transformation will have to embrace all levels of the hierarchy to be effective.

  1. Frequent job switches: The tribe of ‘career nomads’—high-performing, talented professionals who switch jobs, organisations and even careers rapidly—is increasing by the day.

While it is true that about 88 per cent of professionals believe that frequent job switches have only helped their careers, most organisations are wary of hiring such career nomads. This is only because these organisation fail to see the benefits of having nomads in the workforce. The diverse experiences, intellectual curiosity and high learning agility of these nomads can stand the organisations in good stead. That is why, many employers are now taking necessary steps to keep these high-potential, diverse and agile job hoppers in their companies.

While organisations seek successful and experienced talent, there are many that look for candidates with soft skills to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, which is essential for growth.

  1. Focus on brand image: Candidates of today are not attracted by a competitive pay package alone, but also by a company’s brand image. Therefore, organisations are increasingly creating comprehensive, multi-channel initiatives—apps, events, videos and chatbots—to attract a wide range of candidates with their unique employer brand proposition.

They are also making their hiring process more candidate-centric, cutting down on the number of interviews and eliminating the need to enter their information more than once.

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