5 ways Indian employers can avoid a mass exodus of young talent

Companies who expect new hires to 'hit the ground learning, not running,' can unlock greater business growth in today's dynamic world of work

Ashutosh Gupta
Updated: Feb 25, 2022 10:45:33 AM UTC
As India continues to brave the war for talent in a tight labour market, it's time to think about what's causing the Great Reshuffle

As businesses continue to invest in tech literacy and innovation, the job market is witnessing a large influx of new roles and a subsequent demand for new skills across industries. As a result, employers are now turning to young professionals entering the workforce, expecting them to bring a fresher, more digital-first approach towards developing and growing businesses in these transformative times. LinkedIn’s recent research echoes this sentiment by showing that 9 in 10 business leaders in India believe that younger professionals will be a key to developing fresh marketing strategies as businesses continue to grow more tech-savvy.

But taking centre stage has a downside for new hires and, ultimately, their employers. According to LinkedIn’s recent jobseeker research, the Great Reshuffle in India is being led by freshers with up to 1 year of work experience (94 percent) and Gen Z professionals (87 percent), who are more likely to consider changing jobs in 2022.

Diving deep, we realise that the rate at which businesses are adopting a tech-first approach has raised the bar for new hires, where organisations expect them to shine bright since day one. And while they don’t seem to mind this hustle at first, given the sweet taste of early success, the pressure to remain a high-performer gradually engulfs them in a “fulfilment paradox.” New hires continue to push themselves to consistently perform at a high level since the beginning, as companies continue to set unrealistic success metrics and performance expectations. The result? An exhausting hustle culture that fuels unfulfilling careers and eventual exit plans.

The writing is on the wall: Unless organisations step up to break this chain and inspire long term talent growth, management, and retention, the Indian workforce will witness a mass exodus of young talent, which could drastically disrupt our labour market dynamics. Here’s how companies and employees can avoid this and set the tone for the leadership of tomorrow:

Don’t hire for ‘who they are’; hire for ‘who they could be’ 

In today’s dynamic professional landscape, a transformative culture of learning is key to long term organisational success and employees who come in with a growth mindset are necessary for shouldering this process. When looking for new talent, organisations must hire candidates not only for their present skill-set and experience but also for their personalities, which will ultimately determine their success. Personality traits such as curiosity, collaboration, determination, and not being averse to failure are critical metrics that employers must track when hiring someone new. This will help them hire the right talent that not just complements their values, but also offers the potential to improve organisational culture in the long run.

Free your new hires from the ‘A1 since Day 1’ pressure 

The consistent pressure on young professionals to perform well since day one has left them feeling anxious about their abilities at work. According to LinkedIn’s recent jobseeker research, a staggering 90 percent of professionals are being pushed to consider a job switch less than a year into their jobs.

Organisations must acknowledge that while new hires don’t necessarily bring all their skills on day one, managers with the ability to coach and inspire employer trust are critical for young employees to feel more competent and confident about driving their organisation to new heights.

Peak performance is a journey, not a short trip

Not only is performance pressure at a new job detrimental to employee well-being and overall confidence, but it can also create many unrealistic performance assessment metrics for new hires. This pressure to ‘hit the ground running’ makes them less likely to reach out for help and collaborate with team members, which is critical in their early days. Organisations must take the cue and allow new employees to use their initial period to "observe and learn", rather than "action and implement". By giving them the space to find their groove into the company's systems and culture, organisations allow them to build their unique professional identity and eventually achieve the peak of their performance—not immediately but one or two years into the job.

Ace the right mix of digital and soft skills

Jobs are changing and the skills required to succeed are evolving at a rapid pace. Skills for the same job in India have changed by about 29% on an average, from 2015 to 2021. At this rate, professionals’ skills are expected to change by as much as 48% by 2025. India’s young professionals are looking to back their tech literacy with the right human skills. Twice as many Gen Z Indians are learning more soft skills than hard skills today. With the right mix of workshops, training modules, and on-demand learning alternatives for hard and soft skills, organisations can nurture this need for employees to upskill holistically and help them excel at their jobs.

Think long-term growth over short-term benefits

As India continues to brave the war for talent in a tight labour market, it's time to think about what's causing the Great Reshuffle. Professionals today are looking for more than just attractive job titles; they are looking for self-growth and fulfilment. With talent in the driver’s seat, organisations must focus on finding and retaining employees who are willing to learn on the job and understand what works best for their organisations. Putting employee success at the forefront by way of investing in a thoughtful L&D strategy will help organisations attract the best and most competent talent for years to come.

The past few years have pushed businesses to explore creative ways of reinventing themselves in the face of these changing times—in that sense, this time has been a test of organisational agility as much as of resilience. As we approach an era of fresh, exciting challenges, we must continue to hit the ground learning, not running, to best prepare for the dynamic future of work that we’re already navigating in the present.

The writer is LinkedIn's India Country Manager.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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