Redefining careers in india


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As per Towers Watson's research, 56 % of employees in India believe they must leave their organization to advance to a better job. Comparative figures stand at 43% for the United States, 41 % percent for the United Kingdom, 38 % for China and 37 % for Germany. This clearly suggests that a large number of employees in India have come to seriously consider job-hopping as a means to advance their careers.

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Redefining careers in india

  1. 1. CAREER MANAGEMENTredefiningcareers in india C ompanies in India have been struggling with high employee attrition rates for manyEmployees’ hitting a career years now. Excessive employee turnover increases the costs of recruitment andadvancement ceiling poses a training, apart from hampering employee productivity. In service industries, attrition at senior levels can even lead to losing key clients toserious challenge to companies in competitors. In Towers Watsons Global Workforce Study 2010,India. An overemphasis on which surveyed 20,000 employees globally, including over 1,000 in India, career advancement was themanagerial careers may be one biggest influence on employees decisions to join an organization. Consequently, the study also found thatfactor driving this persistent trend. employees in India who reported improvements in their advancement opportunities over the previous 12 months were more engaged compared with workers without such opportunities. High attrition■ BY RICHA GULATI & SHATRUNJAY KRISHNA rates are often blamed on the lack of career42 ■ December 2011 ■
  2. 2. CAREER MANAGEMENTadvancement opportunities. Figure 1. Age structures in the U.S. and IndiaSupplementing this thought is asurvey of senior managers andexecutives in India conducted by CIIand CSEND, which found the lack ofcareer advancement as the secondmost-important factor, salary beingfirst, fueling high employee turnover. In order to study the careeradvancement opportunities in Indiaand the need for employers todefine new paths for their employees,it is important to understand thefollowing: 1) the mismatch betweenemployees career aspirations and theopportunities available, 2) changesin organizational workforcedemographics over time and 3)employees perceptions of theircareer needs.A mismatch between careeraspirations and opportunities As per Towers Watsons research,Fifty-six percent of employees inIndia believe they must leave theirorganization to advance to a betterjob. Comparative figures stand at 43percent for the United States, 41 Source: Towers Watson 2010 Global Workforce Study.percent for the United Kingdom, 38percent for China and 37 percentfor Germany. This clearly suggests option plans (ESOPs) along with expansion. It could be inferred thatthat a large number of employees in managerial promotions. But again, these growth plans do not necessarilyIndia have come to seriously consider this solution often makes a bad include generating challenging careerjob-hopping as a means to advance situation worse. These plans give paths for the majority of employees.their careers. employees some "skin in the game," Instead, many organizations are Employing some standard through owning a share of the dividing and even sub-dividingretention tools, a few companies company in the form of stock. But existing career opportunities byhave responded to the mismatch the strategy has the unintended implementing faster promotions andbetween career aspirations and consequence of making similar such practices.opportunities by offering fast-track entrepreneurship more attractive to As a result, we observe anpromotions. But this practice only them, thereby pushing turnover rates overemphasis on managerial careerexacerbates the attrition problem. higher in the IT industry. paths in companies in India and theSubject matter specialists cannot Entrepreneurship imposes growth in management coursesautomatically become good managerial responsibilities and confirms this observation. India hasmanagers and leaders and a myopic requires a willingness to take risks, witnessed a sudden upsurge in theapproach towards employing and to invest in yourself and your number of MBA institutes/coursespromotions alone to retain talent is own company. It is a well known in recent years. Between 2005 andbound to have counter productive fact that TechSpan, NIIT, Pertech 2011, the number of All Indiaimplications. Computers, Global Infotech, Council for Technical Education Recent media reports also InfoTech Enterprises, STG and (AICTE)-approved managementobserve that employees are working Infogain were all set up by ex-Wipro programs jumped by 100 percent,longer hours at the expense of a employees. Other leading software and the number of managementreasonable work-life balance to gain firms too are alive to these concerns. seats grew by more than 200 percent.faster promotions and bonuses. It is ironic that employees A number of technical institutions, Another retention strategy perceive a dearth of opportunities such as engineering colleges, haveadopted by companies in India, for career advancement when so also started offering MBAs as anespecially IT companies, is to offer many organizations in India are additional degree. In the long run,the technical staff employee stock planning for substantial growth and this trend is likely to create a skills ■ December 2011 ■ 43
  3. 3. CAREER MANAGEMENT deficit in non-managerial academic the organizational value chain as they studies. become more capable or skilled. In In the next section, we investigate these industries, quite naturally, the the overemphasis on managerial traditional path of becoming a career paths in light of the underlying supervisor is not necessarily changes in organizational workforce applicable. Workers can grow into demographics in India. their next career stage by becoming more competent. Changing workforce To understand the different shape demographics of todays workforce, we plot the Recent changes in organizational age structure for a representative workforce demographics partly sample of employees in large explain why the emphasis on organizations in India and the U.S. managerial career paths is misguided Clearly, there are stark differences today, according to Tamara J. across countries, possibly arising Erickson, who has authored a from differences in business models research paper on the future of work as well as demographics. Emerging in People and Strategy. economies like India are reaping a Erickson says, "Many of todays demographic dividend, and their organizational principles are knowledge-based and service centered on the premise that the industries, such as IT, are savouring workforce is shaped like a pyramid." the benefits that accompany Over the last century, the pyramidal explosive growth. As shown in Figure or bell shape of the workforce - a 1, a huge pool of young talent - those small number of older workers, between age 25 and age 35 - makes moderate number of mid-career up as much as 60 percent of the workers and many young workers - total workforce in India. The U.S. facilitated traditional upward workforce, on the other hand, looks mobility. The result was a workforce more like an inverted pyramid, with with a few top managers, somewhat a concentration of aging employees. more midlevel supervisors/managers As Figure 2 shows, the workforce and many workers. used to be compatible with a The pyramidal workforce traditional career path, with the harkens back to the prominence of largest concentration of workers at manufacturing or process-driven the bottom of the climb. The "Now" organizations, such as the military, diagrams reflect new demographic railways and government. These realities in India and the United organizations thrived on multiple States. Traditional upward career supervisory levels, and employees trajectories may not be available for would move up the hierarchy to all young professionals, as there are become a manager or supervisor. too few managerial positions The business model required available Thus, companies need to command and control and a vertical create innovative and unconventional hierarchy to emphasize supervision career paths to keep workers happy at various levels. and control attrition rates. However, changing economic Differences in the shape of trends have gradually come to favor organizational demographics across tertiary industries where supervision countries also implies that career is not central to the success of the advancement strategies may need toRICHA GULATI organization. With the emergence of vary from one country to the next - service/knowledge-driven tertiary for example, an approach thatSenior Economist ■ Towers Watson industries in India comes a variety succeeds in the United States mightRicha Gulati works as a Senior Economist of roles that create value for not work in India. This has significantwith the Research and Analytical Services customers mostly through the implications for multinationalteam at Towers Watson. She has a capability of the workforce. organizations, which mustMasters degree in Economics from Delhi Accordingly, emphasis is shifting to accommodate the uniqueSchool of Economics and specializes in becoming a more capable worker requirements of different countriesresearch related to talent and rewards rather than a manager or supervisor. in designing their global careerissues faced by organizations globally. In other words, employees move up frameworks.44 ■ December 2011 ■
  4. 4. CAREER MANAGEMENTFigure 2. Workforce attitudes in IndiaHow do you define career advancement in your job? (% of respondents) Manager Specialist/ technicianIncreasing my compensation 65 61Acquiring new skills that make me eligible for other jobs 61 63Achieving higher status or recognition 60 58Obtaining a position in senior leadership 60 52Acquiring new skills that help me do my current job better 59 71Moving up a well-defined career path 56 59Moving laterally across the organization to take ondifferent but equivalent roles 32 35Some other way 7 6Three most significant barriers to career advancement (% of respondents) Manager Specialist/ technicianThe organization has reduced the number of job levels so 57 41there is less advancement opportunityIt is difficult to obtain a transfer or lateral movement 55 51It is difficult to identify the opportunities available to me 42 35There are no career advancement opportunities in 33 35my current roleEmployees in positions above me are choosing not to retire, 32 36reducing my options for advancementMy manager does not advocate on my behalf 28 36I do not believe I have the skills required to advance 19 22I do not have the personal desire to advance 13 17Source: Towers Watson Global Workforce Study 2010. As has been reported in the their career aspirations and availablemedia, large Indian companies are opportunities. As part of Towersalready luring away talent from Watson Global Workforce Studymultinationals in India with the 2010, a sample of 1,101 employeespromise of better career from midsize to large organizationsopportunities. Foreign multinational in India shared their thoughts aboutfirms in India, being offshoots of career parent companies, tend to Our comparative analysisoffer fragmented and stationary roles highlights the differing careerto employees. Large Indian aspirations of managers andcompanies, on the other hand, are specialists. While 65 percent of SHATRUNJAY KRISHNAriding the wave of explosive growth managers regard pay raises as the Senior Consultant ■ Towers Watsonand are offering their employees most important manifestation of Talent & Rewards Group, Indiaexciting opportunities to innovate advancement, 71 percent ofand manage large-scale projects. specialists rate acquiring new skills Shatrunjay Krishna is a Senior Consultant more highly. Other important with Towers Watson Talent & RewardsEmployees speak out rewards include (1) gaining high Group in Gurgaon. He has over eight yearsWe now look at employees own status and a senior leadership of experience in large scale transformationopinions (Figure 3) before proposing position for managers, and (2) higher projects and their implementation on thesolutions to the mismatch between compensation and a well-defined ground. ■ December 2011 ■ 45
  5. 5. CAREER MANAGEMENTFigure 3. Multiple career laddersSource: Towers Watsoncareer path for specialists. model. These ladders reflect the programs that align employees As expected, no more than one- organizations job families/functions expectations with business realities.third of managers and technical staff and define progressions within and These career ladders must beview lateral job movement as career across them (see Figure 4). rooted in the organizational contextadvancement. However, more than These career ladders serve three to work. Deployed appropriately, this50 percent of them consider the fundamental purposes: career framework can be central todifficulty of transfers or lateral 1) Inform associates and managers the strategy of creating an engagedmovements a significant barrier to of the multiple career tracks and productive advancement. available. This helps them understand the rich universe of opportunities and empowers them to plan their ConclusionThe way forward: A Towers Employees hitting a career own careers.Watson perspective 2) Identify advancement oppor- advancement ceiling poses a seriousAs there is not enough room at the tunities in terms of both lateral and challenge to companies in India. Antop for everyone to be promoted vertical movement. Supported by overemphasis on managerial careersup, offering multiple career tracks is clear competency requirements, may be one factor driving thisone of the most viable solutions, these ladders also help employees persistent trend. Todays workforceespecially for 25-to-35-year-olds. understand their natural talent and will not fit into a traditionalEmployers can restructure their move in the direction of their own organizational hierarchy. One solutioncareer paths from the traditional competencies. This is a business is to adopt multiple career tracks thatmodel of grade promotion to enabler in terms of developing a identify different job families/competence development. competency-focused workforce. A functions and thus open up career In our work with clients who have diagram like the one in Figure 4 movement within and across thesesuccessfully taken career illustrates how these career ladders jobs. For the strategy to succeed,development thinking to the next help identify potential career paths. however, organizations muststage, we help them redefine careers 3) Help companies forecast their carefully align all aspects of talentin terms of parallel ladders in line workforce requirements at various management (including rewards)with their business and operating stages of the ladder and build HR with the new career models. HC46 ■ December 2011 ■