“Build a culture of resilience & agility for future challenges,” Jaikrishna B

Jaikrishna B, president - group HR, Amara Raja Group believes that organisations that desire to thrive in 2023, "will have to constantly ensure that the relationship between the organisation and the employee is always close."


2022 was a volatile year for HR & workforce

The Great Resignation took place due to several factors arising after the experiences of the persistent pandemic. This included the changes in workplace expectations, increased remote work opportunities, changing mindset of all the generations in the organisation after their combat with the pandemic, and the consequential effects on health, wellness and well-being. There was an increased realisation that health and quality of life is more important than anything. With several sectors getting back to better normalcy after the peak of the pandemic, coupled with the job market becoming very competitive, there was prevalence of better pay and work flexibility available for talent leading to an exodus of talent in several organisations much more than before. Layoffs followed later. Global inflation is on the rise and also recession and economic slowdown. The Ukraine war, etc. instilled a sense of fear and caution and large corporates started laying off their employees as a matter of austerity. Leaders tend to believe that layoffs can help survival. When one large organisation does that, it immediately reduces confidence, enhances fear in other organisations and more start doing the same.

2023: Will it be a turmoil again or peace?

It need not be a turmoil if one is well prepared. However, it will be wishful to think that it will be peaceful. So, it is better to see that the world of tomorrow is beyond VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) and it will be like a BANI world (Brittle, Anxious, Non Linear, Incomprehensible). It is critical not to see them as turmoil or as challenges rather be well prepared to overcome the challenges and see how to convert or pivot from these challenges to opportunities.

The world of HR professionals need to realise that there will always be some hindrance in work flow; either a pandemic, or climate change challenges, or inflation, recession or an armed conflict or some other crises. The world has transformed exponentially between 2020 to now. Business operations have entered the era of the new normal, where we think, act, and live a lot differently.

More importantly, all of us in HR had the onus to lead and support businesses in a significant manner than ever before. We have encountered new ways of working including that of hybrid or fusion working, changing expectations of people of different generations, the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, moon lighting and so on.

Given the context, HR has a phenomenal responsibility; to rub shoulders with business leaders, work along with them in steering business continuity, and driving growth through people.

The need of the hour is to design for building organisations fit for the future. Its success lies in our ability to foresee that, internalise, and make changes as required in an appropriate manner.

Some of the important focus areas will include building a culture of resilience and agility in organisations to face any of the challenges as and when they emerge. Beyond this, we have to continuously foster a culture that boosts higher levels of psychological engagement and productivity all the time.

Any enterprise desirous of thriving will have to constantly ensure that the relationship between the organisation and the employee is always close

Looking beyond work output and outcome

As the famous quote goes, ‘To win in the market place you have to first win in the workplace’. Any enterprise desirous of thriving will have to constantly ensure that the relationship between the organisation and the employee is always close. Those who err on that are destined to fall.

People who experience trust and belief from their leadership are far more engaged and productive and thereby that leads to better growth and performance of the organisation. After all, ‘culture’ is about how people feel and experience the organisation. Thus, one of the critical elements of culture building is to bring that ‘closeness’ and ‘connect’ between the employee and the organisation.

Organisations will be and should be concerned about work, output, outcome and ultimately profits and sustainability. However, these can’t be achieved without winning cooperation and engagement of employees in the organisation. Hence people connect will continue to be highly critical for organisations to thrive. It is the role of every manager to stay psychologically connected with each of his/her team members, building a culture of informality, appreciation, continuous feedback, collaboration, empowerment and so on. It is about connecting across.

Employee connect is to care more and control less. With the need to keep increasing digital enablement across systems and processes, care should be taken to ensure that we are providing a real human interface at all points in the employee journey where personal contact is critical. HR leaders need to build a more human employer-employee relationship consciously, make people listened to and valued.

Diversity to be linked to upskilling & reskilling

It may not be appropriate to say that diversity will be linked into upskilling and reskilling. It could be rephrased to say that while organisations consider a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) strategy, it is important for that organisation to examine how to cater to all the upskilling and reskilling needs of all its people. For a business with multiple generations, people from diverse backgrounds and with different preferences, it is important to examine what career growth aspirations and needs it will be, for each of those diverse employees. Thus, a DEIB programme clearly linked with upskilling and reskilling initiatives will provide the competitive edge.

Upskilling and Reskilling will end up strengthening the pipeline of diverse employees, building their growth alongside the organisation growth which in turn also has a positive impact on recruitment and retention. The World Economic Forum predicts that 50% of the employee population of today will need reskilling itself by 2025 in view of changing technologies and its fast adoption that’s happening. Investments in upskilling and reskilling employees will lead to substantial growth in productivity and DEIB.

Technical proficiency does not assure high performance whereas on the contrary leadership proficiency is likely to guarantee high performance and success with lesser technical expertise

It is the responsibility of corporates to plan and implement rural growth through skilling initiates and creating employability and employment. A more higher and mature step will be to locate the business operations to rural villages wherein skilling initiatives can happen and also provide the rural population non migratory employment opportunities. Amara Raja Group has always done this for all their business operations. All the manufacturing operations are predominantly located at rural villages wherein there are ‘state of the art skill development centres’ established and 80 to 90 per cent of the workforce are skilled and employed from those villages itself.

Given the enormous challenges of migration, concentrated growth and congestion of metropolitan cities, corporates and Government together have to play a more proactive role in developing new urban centres and promoting rapid industrialisation in hinterland Bharat.

Evaluating a leader: Transparency, empathy, loyalty, mentoring vs business/functional excellence

The primary focus will be more on leadership attitude and behaviour. Gone are the years that people get promoted into leadership roles because of only their technical skills and expertise in their technical domain. That will no more translate into effective leadership and organisation growth. The leaders’ attitude and leadership behaviour will be far more important than the technical capabilities. It is always better to bet on a leader with less technical capabilities and more people management and leadership skills. Technical capabilities can be acquired and developed faster in people than leadership traits.

Also, leadership proficiency is likely to guarantee high performance and success with lesser technical expertise.

Thus, leadership skills will be at the top of the list of competencies that an organisation should be concerned of while selecting a leader for a critical role and over time it has to ensure that there are high levels of leadership skills and the desired levels of technical proficiency as well.

33 leaders predict the upcoming trends for 2023. To find out more click here.

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