Talent as top operational priority
How CEOs support and attract talent is changing because of the challenging economic situation and CEOs’ growth goals. CEOs in India recognise employee-driven business transformation. The employee value proposition to attract and retain the necessary talent is the top operational priority for CEOs in India towards achieving their three-year growth objectives (28 per cent, up from 21 per cent in August 2021 for CEOs in India). Globally these numbers stand at (25 per cent, up from 19 per cent in August 2021).
In addition, 62 per cent CEOs in India compared to 71 per cent CEOs globally agree that the ability to retain talent with the pressures of inflation/rising cost of living are top of mind, as are the long-term impacts to organisations from the pandemic and geopolitical tensions.
A business’s (ESG) approach is increasingly seen as a differentiator when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Of the CEOs that mentioned they were seeing significant demand for greater ESG transparency and reporting, 26 per cent CEOs in India as well as globally noted the biggest demand was coming from employees and new hires. CEOs in India also note that one of the primary downsides to not meeting ESG expectations were recruitment challenges (26 per cent CEOs in India), right behind the ability to raise financing (28 per cent CEOs in India).
Sunit Sinha, Partner and Head, People, Performance and Culture, KPMG in India says, “Having the right people with the best skills is integral to any organisation’s vision and strategy for the future. The question organisations need to ask today is - How can we continue to be inclusive and sensitive for everyone? Over the last two years, employees are expecting a flexible and dynamic approach towards benefits, learning and engagement. CEOs surveyed in India demonstrate an openness to work flexibly. Many also consider brand building through internal engagement a key imperative over the next three years”.
Top operational priorities for CEOs in India to achieve growth objectives over the next three years
Anticipated recession driving talent freezes
With an anticipated recession looming, there is a significant short-term emphasis on hiring freezes and headcount reductions: 33 per cent CEOs in India; 39 per cent globally have already implemented a hiring freeze, and 47 per cent CEOs in India compared to 46 per cent CEOs globally are considering downsizing their workforce over the next six months. But when CEOs take a longer-term view, 79 per cent CEOs in India and globally expect their organisation’s headcount to increase over the next three years, and CEOs are still investing in their existing workforce, with 34 per cent CEOs in India compared to 50 per cent CEOs globally focused on boosting productivity.
Preparing for an anticipated recession
Fostering a spirit of experimentation
Hybrid working has had a positive impact on hiring, collaboration and productivity over the past two years. However, many organisations in India are launching return-to-office plans to usher in a ‘return to normal’, and 65 per cent CEOs in India as well as globally envision in-office as the go-to-office environment in three years’ time. The below chart shows how CEOs in India envision their working environment over the next three years.
Employee expectations, when it comes to hybrid work are evolving, so it’s important for CEOs in India or globally to develop better working structures that suit their people in what is still an emerging area.
Even if the supply-demand side of labour shifts in favour of businesses (giving managers more scope to insist on being in office), CEOs across the spectrum in India or globally need to make sure their people have purposeful interactions. How do CEOs define what an optimal structure looks like? Now is the time to experiment and see what works best. Active listening, empathetic communications and a commitment to finding the right balance over the long term will be key.
Ideal working environment CEOs in India envision over the next three years
Over the last two years, employees are expecting a flexible and dynamic approach towards benefits, learning and engagement. CEOs surveyed in India demonstrate an openness to work flexibly. Many also consider brand building through internal engagement a key imperative over the next three years.
Exploring opportunities for growth
- Experiment with ways of working: As organisations launch return-to-office plans, it’s important for CEOs in India to develop working structures that suit their people. Active listening, empathetic communications and a commitment to finding the right balance over the long term will be key.
- Tell your ESG story: A business’ ESG approach is increasingly seen as a differentiator when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. And with 50 per cent of CEOs in India saying they are struggling to tell a compelling ESG story, it is important for them to articulate for stakeholders the steps they are taking to address ESG in their organisations.
- Build, don’t follow: Organisations and their employees are changing and leaders need to reinvent the enterprise workforce. The old talent management playbooks are out of date, and the challenge is that there aren’t new ones to replace them — yet. The way forward involves strategies that include reinventing the workforce, focusing on the social side of ESG, leveraging analytics and designing a nurturing experience.