The Land of Business, in the Times of Corona
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Once upon a time, in the land of ‘Business’, there were people who lived together. ’The King’ Employer, ‘Mr. Money Bags’ the CFO, ‘Mr. People’ the CHRO, ‘Mr. Revenue’ the Chief Sales Officer, ‘Mr. Cost’ the Production Head and a lot of employees.
Over the years, the Kings ascended the thrones and brought about changes in the land of ‘Business’. At one time, the Employer saw the Production Head as the key leader to deliver value and winning the customer. Over a period of time, like any kingdom, Business witnessed power shifts with Production becoming ‘Mr Cost’ and the poster boy was ‘Mr. Revenue’ until the land of Business realized that it’s the quality of employees that defines the business and hence ‘Mr. People’ became the show stopper. All other things being fine now, the emergence of Mr. Money Bags was inevitable because he was the modern-day Sanjay guiding the King Dhritarashtra (Employer), with his own interpretation and analytics, towards a glorious future of Business, while the other warriors fought in the battlefield. The war was not about strength, skills and talent only but also the power of data interpretation leading the Business to a glorious future. So, who out of these leaders is the King more dependent on? The answer lies with The King/Employer.
And then comes COVID with the army of Corona, a force no King had ever seen, no Leader had experienced before and a reality, the people/employees never dreamt of. The King/Employer did what any protector would do, ask his People/Employees to stay inside, assuming it’s a passing by army. As the attack escalated and no end seemed in sight, the King/Employer called upon the Leaders to hold fort until the attack subsided. The King solicited advice, attempting to understand the future of ‘Business’.
Today, employers are facing unprecedented times, challenges of staying afloat, managing cash flows, costs, preparing for the uncertainty. From the employers’ perspective, the immediate priority is going to be optimizing utilization of every resource, while keeping an eye on the market shifts. While the key word is going to be ‘efficiency’, equally critical will be the need to be effective, lest the customer buying patterns or needs shift. In the Covid era, where the end does not seem in sight, the impact of Covid on Business will be multi-layered, like an earthquake with multiple untimely tremors. As each industry will try and work out their survival mechanism, the world of business will change. What is written here is mere conjecture, as the new normal remains undefined until the dust settles. A few of these changes are going to be elastic and a few permanent.
Employers will have to in Before Covid (BC) era invest in helping employees develop or adapt to new skills. To align the larger set of employees, it would be critical to empower the leaders, boost and retain morale, create a climate of experimentation, identify and retain talent that will help Business bounce back. Apart from the conventional skills required in the BC era, the AC era will demand a set of competencies that will become pre requisites such as learning ability, agility, adapting to change, curiosity, and resilience amongst others. Pressures on cost could lead employers to look at an Open Talent Economy more favourably. Source the talent, deploy until necessary, manage output and optimize cost. Alongside, invest in an environment, systems and a culture that supports Plug and Play mechanism and help bring in high agility in banding and disbanding teams.
On the other hand are employees, who have just witnessed a change, helping them see a different world of virtual work, family time, new interests, living comfortably without extravagance and self-discovery. Employees would be more open to learning, seek more freedom and flexibility, seek convergence of professional and personal pursuits and would be ready to exercise their right to seek an employer of choice.
In addition, employees are going to choose employers based on the employer intent to respect and support employees during these times while understanding how the employers were arm twisted into unpleasant decisions. For eg. supporting employees who were losing their jobs, with either a tick mark to showcase support or truly value driven support like a well-designed outplacement programme.
There are two new terms that the employers will get categorized into - QOQs and the HSCs
QOQs –organizations that live Quarter on Quarter and driven by numbers. The pressure on these organizations to manage costs will be very high because the management is dictated by the unseen stakeholders. They are run by professionals for the investors who call the final shots. One can expect these to succumb early to layoffs across sectors .
HSCs – are Humane Social Contractors where the organization is run by Visionaries or founders and have a direct relationship with employees. While these organizations are also sensitive to the numbers, they are the ones who will do their best to accommodate the interest of employees.
As this categorization becomes more rampant, employees are going to use this as a yardstick to make future choices. The employees will be divided into 2 categories – one that is going to be driven and competitive, prefer working relationships without long term bonds or shackles and like to command a premium for their talent like in the Open Talent Economy. The other will seek security, respect, flexibility, learning opportunities and growth in absolute measures.
While the land of Business looks to select, induct/re-induct and skill /re-skill/upskill, with even more precision than in the past, guided by ‘Maximize output with Minimum resources’, employees will watch out for indicators of QOQs and HSCs and make a choice.
The one person who will define the future of Business and will have the King’s ears and eyes, is going to be ‘Mr People’ once again. Time for Mr People to step up , take charge and support ‘Business’, regain its lost glory.