The Land of Business, in the Times of Corona

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

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By Ankkush Puri


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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.

Ankkush Puri

Consultant - Talent Management and Organisational Development

From forging & casting metals in shape & form of utility as a Mechanical engineer to creating the shape & form of a high performing organization as a Business Leader, Transformation is at the heart of Ankkush Puri’s career graph of 20+ years, spanning Sales & Business Development, Talent Management & Organizational Development. Ankkush Puri (Hogan Certified Assessor & Coach by Hogan Assessments) is an accomplished business leader as well as consultant in the domains of talent management and organisational development.

He thrives on challenges & is passionate about turning around businesses- both,in his role as the Director with LHH & as a consultant to clients. One of the earliest professionals in the country who introduced Outplacement services and educated clients around it, has played a major role in creating this sector in India and has seen it evolve, over a period of time.

The high ‘I’ on his DISC profile enables him to work through & with people as a people leader, and has been able to create a culture of high performance through enthusing & empowering team members. His people orientation also reflects in his expertise in human capital advisory where he has had an opportunity to provide sustainable solutions to clients to enhance organization effectiveness through effective talent management & development.

Prior to Lee Hecht Harrison, Ankkush served in the capacity of General Manager at Piaggio Vehicles Private Limited for four years and institutionalized progressive HR practices for recruitment and selection, compensation and benefits, performance monitoring, retention for sales staff at the channel level. He was also responsible for designing and executing an assessment centre for over 100 dealership sales managers. Ankkush has in his initial years been attached to Adecco and NIS Sparta as a training consultant and Professional Management Training Centre (Dubai) as a business development manager.

When not curating strategic roadmaps for talent management, Ankkush in his free time loves to watch Hindi films, dime, and a dozen. His love for films is not limited to just viewing, he likes to believe there is a parallel side to him, the filmy side that has contributed immensely to his being, both personal and professional. 


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