Needless to say that there is a major change in the world of work in the last decade with the advent of digital technologies. The campaigns of Trump and Sanders for the upcoming US Presidential elections found an anchor in the fact that many workers in the US are already struggling with their employment and scared of their employability in the future. Digital bots have been threatening many jobs – teachers, clerks, journalists, drivers, factory workers and so on. Similarly, in India, there has been quite a bit of transformation in work and workplace. Ways of doing things have changed and many more are slated to change. We experience them every time we visit a restaurant, a factory, a construction site or an office. No longer we find an overwhelmingly local population amongst the labour pool. Someone said jokingly, Bangalore has more people knowing Java than Kannada. English seems to be the real unifying language in many cities in India. Lifestyle in many towns and cities has become widely varying than what it used to be a couple of decades ago.
Employee wants to know (WIIFM) ‘What’s In It For Me’!
Preferences and choices of people have varied a lot – some are interested in earning more money and maximizing their earnings at the cost of their social life. They are driven by fulfilling their material needs and bridging the gap between their desired financial state and the current. They are concerned about the short-term and prefer to not think of their future deeply. They are significantly concerned about themselves and very rarely worried about the ecosystem and the society.
And there is another set of people who need a balance between the returns or the earnings in the short-term as well as the potential returns in the future. They choose careers which have a balance between the short-term and the long-term. While this seems like an ideal choice, but it’s a tight-rope walking. Life is subject to a lot of stress emanating due to conflicts of various kinds. An example of such a conflict is the pressure to maximize one’s income to acquire certain materialistic possession and the job security a few years hence. In such a situation, there is a trade-off between one’s short-term benefits and the long-term financial health.
Organizations will need to craft their value proposition clearly. Every organization will not be able to match all possible expectations. Hence, it would be appropriate to articulate what one believes in so that the potential employee is clear. And at the same time, the right kind of talent is attracted to the job minimizing the potential dissonance after joining the new organization. So, employers have to address the WIIFM factor for the employee.
Leaders have to walk their humility!
The leaders would no longer be the experts in everything that their organization delivers. Secondly, employees will be more individualistic than ever before and at the same time, will understand the power of collaboration. Last but not the least, speed of doing business has increased significantly. So, it’s super-essential that the leaders have to demonstrate their understanding of their workplace by creating the environment of collaboration while allowing expression of each person’s individualistic prowess. People have to be provided the space and time to explore a few things that may not be in alignment with common wisdom. Leaders have to consciously show their relatedness to the workforce in general rather than sitting away tucked in the ivory tower somewhere!
Our world is going to change fast – there is going to be growth in GDP but, jobs are not going to grow at the same rate; the rich are going to acquire bigger wealth compared to what the poor is going to acquire. Every year, 10 million people are going to join the labour force for the next couple of decades. The rate at which our economy is adding jobs, we are way short of that number. We could be staring at a social problem in the next decade unless many jobs move to India from the countries with aging population or our youth move to those places. So, our governments, schools and organizations have to be extremely agile to ensure that the talent in India have the skills that the employers are looking for and the policies are right to facilitate movement of jobs to India and people abroad for work.
In essence, we need to define ‘who we are’ so that the right people come on board and stay productive. Secondly, the leaders need to adapt their style to create a collaborative workplace while promoting individualism. Last, but not the least, every stakeholder in the ecosystem needs to be agile in putting the money where the mouth is.