The Key Instigator Of the Great Reshuffle Is Not More Salary, But Better Flexibility The simultaneous exodus and influx of employees is a surreal experience for any employer to come to terms with

By Sumeet Doshi

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The last 18 months have been actioned packed for employers with attrition in high teens and hiring in thousands. Resignations in junior to mid-level positions are at an all-time high, as millennial and Gen Z workers prioritise work-life balance. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, freshers with less than a year of work experience, who account for 94 per cent of the "great rearrangement", and "Gen Z professionals", are more likely to contemplate changing professions in 2022.

The simultaneous exodus and influx of employees is a surreal experience for any employer to come to terms with. But this disruption, like any other, would need attention, assessment and evaluation to address it in a sustainable manner. Given that this is a phenomenon that every company of size, scale and repute is experiencing, there is a need to approach it objectively. Let's understand this better by tracking back to how this employer-employee equity has been shaped since the Internet revolution in the 90s.

As India got its first Internet connection and people were exposed to borderless interactions and possibilities, the country's green card to the global economy, the IT/ITES industry came to the forefront. A six-figure salary on a plush campus with a known big entity was the dream of many youths. It became lucrative for the industry to hire in huge numbers. As demand went up, working hours became erratic but ample incentives were provided in terms of monetary incentives, pro-employee policies, free food and conveyance, etc. And these workers took absolute pride in who they worked for and what they did even at the cost of work-life balance. Here clearly, employers were in power as they provided the pride, security and wealth that people didn't have access to easily. In fact, a lot of what workers identified themselves as was in context of their work and position. This was in fact the case until very recently.

But today's highly mobile workers who have global exposure are very aware of their circumstances, strengths and opportunities out there. And this exposure has given them the aspirations they harbor today which goes well beyond their work-related identity. What seemed to be a prestigious opportunity to work with coveted technologies and give workers a sense of pride and belonging is now being offered by several industries making it a thriving marketplace for jobs. With 80-plus Unicorns in India and several global companies setting up tech centres in the country, the opportunities are immense and these emerging employers are tapping into the white space in the employer-employee dynamic.

Interestingly, several employee-facing surveys have indicated that workers are valuing flexibility over remuneration, designation and brand. According to the global research from The Workforce Institute at UKG, one in every five Gen Zers (21 per cent) wants a stable and predictable schedule, but they also want companies to provide flexibility (23 per cent).

This is because today's workers identity has broadened beyond work to accommodate their personal and social lives. Today, people like to work to make a living and want the life balance to be able to fulfil their social and personal aspirations. This is possible only if they are able to work at a flexible schedule and are willing to move jobs that offer them this flexibility, even if the brand is an upstart with five employees.

Organisations should invest in modern work and time scheduling technologies to enable automated and predictable scheduling accessible to their hybrid workforce. Workforce management tools can help organisations to listen to their employees, understand their concerns and communicate frequently. In this day and age when we are moving to hyper-personalization of experiences, organizations should leverage technology to understand the voices of their employees and to build a happy, productive, and engaged workforce.

In today's remote and hybrid work environment, policing workers is not feasible and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, each worker should be empowered with enterprise-grade tools that are easy to use and operate, such that they have a view into how much needs to be done within what time and they can plan their schedule around it. This is when employees will respect the relationship because you have given them the flexibility to prioritize as they need with no sense of false work-related urgency. It will also help address any underlying anxiety that may arise in remote workers who could be worried about the recognition of their contribution even if it's delivered virtually and not at the office.

The dynamics of how flexibility can be offered could vary from industry to industry. And in some sectors like essential services, this may be accomplished very differently. For a hybrid employee, a scheduling tool can help him plan his/her time in the office vs home. For an essential services employee, the same tool could provide capabilities to plan which shifts to pick based on his/her schedule at home. And for a gig employee, he/she could pick what time he/she want to work.

There are intelligent technologies that enable smooth orchestration of work even with a mixed workforce and these one-time investments can go a long way in improving employee retention, promoting employee wellness and most importantly limiting hiring and training costs that are constantly impacting a company's bottom line.

Sumeet Doshi

Country Manager-India, Ultimate Kronos Group

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