Year 2021 has been a defining year for organizations and their relationship with employees. While companies are dealing with the knock-on effects of the pandemic, more and more people are re-evaluating their professional choices.
Several organizations face talent issues. Attrition has always been proportional to the number of jobs available in the market. The pandemic has changed how businesses operate leading to upheaval and shift in demand for skills, especially tech and data skills.
Organizations need to re-evaluate strategies to retain and attract skilled workers. As younger generations join the company, remote or mixed work environments become challenging for everyone. The core reasons for the paradigm shift in the trends of hiring and retention of employees are a demand for flexibility, improved quality of life as well as the need for employees to improve their professional offerings. To retain talent and reduce attrition, organizations will have to cater to both these employee requirements.
Professional development for a promising career growth
For many employees, professional development is paramount as it adds value to their careers. Employees will be loyal to a company that is loyal to them and invested in their growth. Organizations should create and communicate their professional development programs and initiatives clearly.
It is imperative for companies to create and invest in effective training and development programs to retain employees. Organizations are introducing upskilling programs for their employees to ensure that their skills remain relevant and in line with the current trends. It will also build trust among the employees for the organization they work with.
A practice that has seen good results is ensuring Individual development plans for every role. Apart from performance on the job, individual development plans take into account factors that are related to long-term growth and do not show benefits immediately, such as taking a course in a related field or attending seminars. This can be decided between reporting managers and employees and should include what employees can do in their current assignment to improve certain skills, behavior, and knowledge. This forms part of the formal evaluation criteria of the employee. This form of participative policies/strategies ensures that the people are at the core of an organization and they feel valued.
Apart from formal training and upskilling programs, companies should invest in developing clearly defined mentorship programs for employees. While much of professional success is about the individual’s skill, experience, and dedication, mentors provide very specific guidance to mentees which is outside formal upskilling such as knowledge of managing people, developing contacts, or identifying areas of improvement in the mentee.
Individual growth to create and maintain a work-life balance
Employee safety and satisfaction increase productivity and retention opportunities for employers. It also makes it easier for employers to attract top talent in the industry.
Since the global pandemic, many employees have faced challenges in striking the perfect balance between work and life. Suddenly, people were facing 18 hour working days! Therefore, several organizations allowed employees to take time off to deal with sudden lifestyle changes. Half-day Fridays, leave without reasons or declaring that no meetings would happen after a certain time helped restore work-life balance.
Employee stress levels became the talk of the town in the HR industry. Many organisations introduced active initiatives that promote mental health and emotional stability to reassure employees and help them manage the crisis. Mental wellness programs, group coaching, personal development workshops, and meditation are some of the key initiatives executed by major global organizations. Such programs make employees feel valued as people, rather than as ‘productive resources’.
The pandemic gave an opportunity to show commitment to employee well-being, unlike any other event. Providing tangible and concrete support at the time of crisis had a direct impact on the employee-employer relationship since it inculcated a sense of belongingness among employees. Some organizations set up programs for professional psychological, financial and legal aid, free of charge, for employees. Companies providing logistic and medical support to employees and their families made headlines, during the second wave. Many even channeled employees to form volunteer committees to pool resources, gather information, provide support and overcome the crisis together, as a group.
Organizations that focus on professional commitment & employee development are positively evaluated by both employees and consumers. Attractive workplace culture and strongly managed employee relations are the keys to higher retention of the workforce. The need of the hour is to evaluate the evolving industry and place employees at the core of an organization.
(Ashish Chattoraj is CHRO, PayU India)
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