The wings of transformation are born out of patience and struggle.
History shows us that the world of work has changed significantly after major events such as pandemics and wars. In the 14th century, the virus made large parts of Europe desolate killing millions of people. The nobles who survived the virus were faced with the problem of finding enough peasants to till their land and brought in rules to prevent peasants from changing their masters. On the other hand, the peasants felt marginalised and exploited. Amidst the clash of these ideas and beliefs, took birth a new concept, peasants’ rights. The engagement between the landowners and the workers got transformed.
Why Great Resignation?
Similarly, the last two years have gripped the world with COVID19. Humans have made numerous adjustments and changes in their beliefs, habits and behaviours to deal with the challenges on their way. Millions of lives have been lost in the pandemic. For the people who witnessed the loss from a close quarter, it will be a long time to get over the trauma of the loss. They have realised the importance of family, the support from friends and the value of well-being. Many of them are disenchanted with the demanding work schedules they have to put up with and have started wondering if their work is meaningful.
Western economies have been able to provide welfare measures to their citizens, significantly more than what the developing economies typically provide. Thus, the citizens of the western economies have been more confident than their counterparts in other nations about their ability to take care of their financial obligations. They can walk out of their current jobs in favour of a healthier work-life balance and fair rewards and recognition system. The situation in the economies like India is significantly different. They do not have the wiggle room to walk out of jobs without a safety net.
What’s the Indian situation?
India has emerged as a unique destination for global investments. As a result, we see private equity investments and capital market participation by foreign investors on the rise. Secondly, enterprises across the world are accelerating their digitisation programmes and the service providers in India have been busy catering to the rise in demand. The environment for IT professionals has been extremely rewarding due to the rise in demand. Employees are maximising the opportunities for them in terms of salaries, benefits and flexibility. We see the resignations higher than ever before, largely because the opportunities are higher than ever before.
In sectors like manufacturing, engineering, construction, energy and mining, we see a greater amount of automation, giving rise to an inadequate number of new jobs. Investments in these sectors have not been consistent in recent times and hence, the opportunities have been limited. We do not see the impact of hurried resignations in these sectors as much as we see in the tech sectors. Similarly, the resignations in all other functions and industry sectors have largely been guided by the demand and supply situation, rather than by any disenchantments we see in western societies.
How do we respond?
While the resignations have been motivated by an increase in demand, they are rooted in the pandemic. Similarly, the changes in the work habits such as remote working, hybrid work and use of a clutch of tech tools at work have been the results of the pandemic. We will do a world of good for ourselves if we recognise the fact that there are transformations in the world of work taking place around us. Employees are increasingly aware of work-life balance, mental well-being, the value of flexibility and the possibilities of leveraging technology.
The leaders have to inject the missing pieces, if any, into the culture puzzle of the organisation and at the same time reinforce the culture canvas. Employees have to experience transparency in communication, empowerment to act independently and the spirit of collaboration to work in a safe and responsible workplace. We have to be patient to witness the results of these interventions by the top leaders in the organisation. The wings of transformation will keep growing and our employees will find enough glue in the organisation to stay put and grow in their roles.
At the same time, we need operational excellence in everything we do in the HR (human resources) function to make sure that the new employees feel welcome and get seamlessly integrated with the mainstream; all stakeholders are cared for; employee performance, rewards and recognition are managed fairly and consistently; career growth opportunities are available equally for people across the levels and functions. These are the expectations of the new world of work and HR leaders have to soon get the answers right to these questions.
Like a caterpillar keeps up its struggle and shows patience until it transforms into a beautiful butterfly, our world of work has to transform. We have to be patient and keep the struggle on!