Of jobs & job markets in the year 2010

TRENDS At a high level, the markets are opening up though the talent pools have not really changed. Hiring is expected to move to the next level of ma
Last Updated 26 January 2010, 13:09 IST

With the economy slowly regaining its lost lustre and several software companies announcing hiring plans, 2010 promises much more than its predecessor years did. DH Avenues speaks to some industry professionals to understand what’s in store in 2010.

A new direction
As the economy continues to shift, organisations are looking for answers to key questions related to how can they successfully attract and retain creative, innovative individuals who will enable them to execute their business strategy and position themselves for growth. Other key questions that need addressing at this juncture include if current employees are positive brand ambassadors and whether potential employees are inspired and motivated by their organisation’s vision and mission. “Policies don’t change year after year unless there are meg-trends that dictate long-term shifts. Practices however are impacted based on immediate business needs. Two trends are inevitable; enterprises that have used the down-turn to sharpen themselves should want to preserve the positive benefits going into the future. Enterprises that are seeing quantum growth opportunities should seize the opportunity to innovate and adopt new approaches,” SHRM India Managing Director G Ravindran says.

“With India demonstrating consistency in optimism of hiring plans and the recruitment pace reminiscent of the pre-recession levels as we enter 2010, we see that hiring has risen across all sectors. Job seekers in the professional services, technology and insurance/financial management will be welcomed.  We also see opportunities grow in public administration, education, mining and construction, real estate, and the wholesale and retail trade sector,” M Strat Consultants Managing Director Joy Basu adds.
Though many of the world’s labour markets are beginning to show signs of recovery, India still sees growing numbers not just from Indians but as well as other nationalities, seeking opportunities to work in India, driven by the quality of work and opportunities for learning and personal growth.

Trends: At a high level, the markets are opening up though the talent pools have not necessarily changed.
 Hiring is largely expected to move to the next level of maturity, where employers take a careful, discerning look to ensure quality of hires. Focus will be on overall talent grooming and retention programmes.

“Companies, however, will be highly cost conscious and may negotiate contract terms/ rates with their vendors. Fast emerging social media tools have become ubiquitous at workplace raising a legitimate concern about employee productivity. The issue is highly debatable among social and corporate pundits and might find place in HR Policy book 2010. Some companies may reinitiate continuing educational training programmes. A pay hike may well be on the card of many IT firms,” Mindteck (India) Limited Group Chief Financial Officer and India Operations Head Suresh Rao says.

In fact today, there is more value on specialised skills which will directly impact the positions that support the organisations’ near term business plans. Demonstrated performance is as critical as the assessment of potential, as organisations look to bring in new talent to drive many of the initiatives that had been put on hold.
There seems to be a noticeable surge in demand for skills in business development, sales and marketing, as organisations poise for growth.  This different from last year’s focus on bringing on board talent focused on cost-cutting and improving operational efficiencies.

Individuals seeking new options are also more specific on the nature of the role they will be expected to perform and are beginning to understand the value of equity in their current organisations.
People with a track record of performance want to ensure that the organisations they join have the staying power to allow them to learn and deliver even if the future economic environment turns turbulent again.

“We will continue to see need based lateral hiring trend through the first half of 2010. The second half of the year might see a northward push on overall hiring.”
“A few companies may start revisiting campuses scouting new talents and honour some of last year’s offer letters that were put on hold due to the recession. Companies will be forced to initiate job and salary appraisals in 2010. We are likely to see returns of various training and talent retention programmes,” opines Rao. 

Abode Systems India Director (human resources) Jaleel Abdul adds: “2010 would definitely see marked increase in hiring by technology product companies. Campus hiring will become more competitive and companies would invest more in strategic University relationship development. Wages will continue to stabilise and quality of work and work cultures will be the deciding factors in talent retention. Pay increases will move towards pay for performance and critical skills alone (instead of across the board pay hikes).  Pay revisions for select employees will start becoming more prevalent. Differentiation in rewards would be sharper between acceptable and superlative performance. Total Rewards (combination of cash, equity, benefits and investment in employee development) will start to replace cash skewed compensation packages. HR professionals will need to elevate themselves to broader dimensions of employee engagement rather than be preoccupied with stand alone people challenges.”

Continual challenges
The pace of recovery will give time for organisations to take a measured approach and retention of quality will assume importance. From an employee’s point of view, the last few years have been a new experience, where people understand the ‘value’ of good organisations. Enterprises have the opportunity to build a core-critical mass of hi-quality talent around which the future will evolve.

“We may not have fully leveraged the opportunity to build/improve the quality of India’s talent pipe-line. This is and will be our biggest challenge. This is not just about governments, but also institutions and businesses alike. Effort and investment needs to be pro-active to meet oncoming needs. The opportunity is there for all to see in our country’s demographics. This is our immediate and biggest challenge. From a talent perspective, we need all three to actively engage in backward and forward integration. Apart from making economic sense, it will also help build sustainable enterprises,” Ravindran said.

The need to constantly review current capabilities and see how they can be enhanced will remain a critical function of the enterprise leader. Opines Basu, “the need to ensure performance management systems remain mature and well run is critical as strong feedback processes and open communication have been enablers to help people understand that they need to remain adaptable and change quickly and nimbly.
Today HR professionals understand that having faced the need to reduce head count or restrict hiring, they need to ensure that they now keep a check on natural attrition of high performers and when hiring new employees ensure they fit the future profile of the company. Over the last year they have focused on making sure they know who the top talent is in their organisations and now need to invest in programmes that develop the best leaders and high performers.”

Another key challenge at this point in time will be to keep the workforce occupied and not lose any potent talents. “Finding replacements are always costly and time consuming. Therefore, it will be crucial for organisations to explore retention programmes and find work for its employees. As the overall job market condition improves, employees will be keener to look out,” says Rao.

“Attracting and retaining high quality talent would be the greatest challenge in 2010. Creating a rounded employment value proposition in the face of similar work offerings from competing organisations would come a close second,” adds Abdul. In all the year has started on a positive note and certainly promises good tidings for all, whether seeking employment or seeking a change!

(Published 26 January 2010, 13:08 IST)

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