What are your insights on business trends and changing landscape?
Earlier, there were people who said, I will do a nine-to-five job and then rest of the time is mine, the way I would like to use it for my personal aspects or for my passions. And then that led to an era where every organization was saying, we will be rating people for their performance over and above the set goals. And at this point of time, suddenly the norm started shifting, people had to do more. And then there was also a lot of peer pressure that they were going through at that point of time, then COVID hit the world, making people sit back reflect and then think about what’s really important for them. While that happened, silently a number of new technologies came in, and started changing how work gets done. This left a psychological impact on people.
My own reading of this entire concept is what we are seeing as quite quitting, or career cushioning are all surface level issues. At a deeper level, people want to be more purposeful of what they are doing. They want to stay relevant. People like me want to be able to have the ability to earn for myself and my family and have an identity for myself in the long term. I think these issues were not very prevalent earlier. Now, we will need to start addressing the bigger picture right now. And in the process, I think I need to learn more. Therefore, I want to create more time, but how will I create time? I have the same 24 hours, and therefore let me just do whatever it takes to keep my job. But I will start allocating time for learning. So quiet quitting is like, “Okay, I’ll do what it takes for the job and then career cushioning is like I will start thinking about a future that I want to create. And I’ll start investing time and money in that.” So, I think that’s how it’s all emerging.
How should organisations balance a multi-generational workforce?
I don’t believe it is generational. It just starts emerging at different points of life for people. People used to spend 30 years in the same organization, same kind of career, to maybe when someone started working for these three, four years, five years in an organization. And now, if people stay for 18 months to two years in an organization, then we are grateful, there is this transformation that’s happening. If you look at it, in the earlier scheme of things, when people had 30 years of career, after 15 years or so they started looking for meaning they started searching for the purpose, because life stages also moved along. But they were probably looking for some of those outside of work. A few of them were trying to search for meaning in work. But life has changed so much that in a 24-hour day, people end up spending over 12 hours in their work, though we say it’s eight-hour work, nine-hour work. It’s never that nowadays. But then we are also globally networking across different countries. Technology has made some of these capabilities available. The other aspect is about the financial need, which has transformed. When my parents were working, and I was growing up, I know that they had to earn to make ends meet. When I started working, I knew I have to earn to secure a future. But when my daughter is going to work, she knows she already has a secured future. So if you look at Maslow’s hierarchy, you may be familiar with them, the lowest of social needs, security needs, all of those, this generation would have already crossed and then they are looking at meaning, self-esteem and everything much early on. And then you have these generations that are in 40s and 50s. So in fact, I wouldn’t say that it is easier for organizations to start looking at these aspects, while devising new programs and policies. On the contrary, organizations are actually looking at how do I retain paying money benefits? And then how do I have programs whereby I can enhance my brand? You see, there is this gap that’s getting created with people wanting something, organization giving something and then the gap is just getting wider. So there has to be some level of focused effort because this is a common phenomenon that’s emerging quite clearly in the last couple of years, at least.
“We just think of big moments of failures or successes, but the everyday lens is important.”
There is a gap between hiring talent and seeing them deliver results. Why do you think this happens?
There are multiple reasons for this. Number one is that skill life is shrinking; it has shrunk from 15 years to five years. For example, I think around 2018, in the US, there were about 1.5 million jobs, around sales, IT, HR, and a few other functions that were posted. There were, on an average, 18 skills required to perform these jobs. Fast forward in 2021, again, same set of jobs were posted. Now, the number of skills that were required were 21, you could think it’s just only three. But that’s not the truth, half of the 18 skills of the year 2018. We’re not relevant, which means in 2021, somebody who had to perform similar jobs, had to learn 12 new skills to perform the job that existed just three years ago. It’s about the pace of the change in skills, and our ability to cope up with those skills. Our ability to anticipate which skill is going to come up tomorrow, and where should one invest in. So, number of these elements are playing together to make it a very strong case that we are not able to find the right talent right now. Because what’s needed is emerging very quickly. And then who we need is known. Or we know, but then we have our past baggage saying I want 80% fit, 90% fit, I think organizations leaders will have to flex saying, okay, I’m okay with the 40 50% fit. Rest of it, I’m willing to invest in training, because there’s just no option and you have only so many people available. Even if it’s available, there’s a serious change in the supply demand equation, and that’s causing this.
How did you create that habit of storytelling, Janani?
Storytelling and creating stories started much early on in my life as a student. At six or seven, I started writing articles for my school. And then growing up in college, I used to be an editor for the college magazine, I used to do those things, because I just used to write and love writing. I later started seeing that that was one of my fundamental ways of creative expression. At some stage, I thought if writing helped my mind in reflections, then why not I write about it more often in a way that’s consumable. That’s how my journey of