Companies need to relook at their Employee Value Proposition: Mahesh Medhekar

Companies need to relook at their Employee Value Proposition: Mahesh Medhekar

"It is extremely important for the senior management to set the tone for strategies related to workload and quality assurance," says Mahesh Medhekar, Vice President-HR, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India. Read this exclusive interview to know more about the rewards and challenges of a blended workforce in the hybrid future of work.


Although the blending of workforces (full-time, part-time, contingent, bots, in-office, remote, etc.) is not a new trend, it has gained new momentum following the pandemic. Which roles in the automotive industry are best performed by full-time employees, and which are better suited to contingent talent? Do you foresee certain full-time jobs veering into non-traditional domains?


The COVID-19 Pandemic has compelled a realignment of the workforce which has led to a growing demand for contingent talent. Furthermore, owing to the economic uncertainty at a global level, companies are increasingly investing in a more flexible and hybrid model of employment. For the auto industry, in particular, data analysts and scientists, process automation specialists and industrial and production engineers are among the highly skilled positions that demand full-time organisational commitment.


The hybrid model consisting of a mix of full-time, part-time and contingent workers is a smart way to expand the talent pool and alleviate pressures that come with a tight labour market. Leadership roles, governance and administrative functions require full-time jobs. Technology oriented roles designed around product development or services are seen as a blended workforce. There is a high demand for digital tech roles like full-stack developers, DevOps, machine learning, data analytics, cloud infrastructure specialists etc.


The pre-pandemic war for talent and the pandemic-triggered acceleration of digital transformation across organisations is further bound to enhance the scarcity of talent. How do you believe the automotive sector will rise to this challenge of talent scarcity? Do you think the pandemic will transform the manner in which talent is acquired and onboarded?


I believe digitalisation is heralding a new era of talent acquisition across industries and the automotive industry is no different. With rapid adoption and integration of technologies like advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, sensor technologies, the internet of things, blockchain, cyber-physical systems, machine learning and robotics, companies are now looking for specialised skillset. This might drive a significant gap in the demand and supply of the existing talent pool. Hence, it is imperative for us to recognise this growing discrepancy and take steps to fill the gap by encouraging young talent to opt for highly skilled professions.


For this, companies need to relook at their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and incorporate the professional aspirations of the new-age talent in order to stand out as a unique employer. Another important aspect will be regular opportunities for employees to upskill and polish their existing skills. Upskilling ensures that employees’ skillset does not become obsolete given the rapid pace of technological advancements and also stirs a level of confidence in the employees towards their own work and the employer. Organisations that provide continuous training and development opportunities to employees find themselves more agile and capable to manage future challenges.


HR needs to engage and try to address the root causes for the scarcity of talent. Collaboration between industries and academia to co-create curriculum for skill development of engineers or software professional and reskilling and reorganising internal talent could be beneficial for business as well as talent development.


In developing a blended workforce, do you believe that the senior leadership is required to bring about a mindset shift within the company that full-time employees alone cannot ensure the completion of work/projects? If yes, how can leadership channelise such a mindset change within an organisation in your industry?


For any organisation, to instil a cultural change or transformation while maintaining collaborative productivity among the employees, leadership plays a crucial role.


The attitude of the leadership causes a ripple effect on the work environment, employee engagement, and overall performance of the company. It is extremely important for the senior management to set the tone for strategies related to workload and quality assurance. The focus should not be to make the employees feel that they are not enough, rather, it should be to make them less burdened, help them manage work and channelise their strengths towards career progression.


Depending on the sector, the nature of the work that people do, and the setup an organisation prefers, some companies are going virtual-first while others are rallying to get employees back in-house or piloting a blended working model. Do you believe the office to be an important hub for collaboration, creativity, and innovation?


We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented humanitarian challenges across the globe. Companies were driven to act expeditiously to protect employees and migrate to a new way of working that even the most thought-out business-continuity plans did not anticipate. In my opinion, one of the significant learning from this pandemic has been the adoption of flexible model of working. We can use the lessons from our large-scale work from home experiment to re-imagine how work is done and what role offices should play to define the future organisational framework.


A hybrid model may provide a balance of a collaborative office space and remote working. Such decisions are taken keeping in mind the nature of work and requirement of functions in the organisation, as there is no onesizefitsall solution. However, every organisation needs to re-envision its priorities that will reflect on its culture and employee engagement.


Employee experience (EX) has been typically associated with fulltime employees and often goes unaddressed for other workforce segments. With non-traditional talent becoming an increasingly important source of competitive advantage, how can organisations deliver optimal EX for them?


It is time for organisations to step up their game to provide a holistic employee experience not limiting to only full-time employees but to all the workforce segments. It is important to go beyond the narrow focus on organizational culture and employee engagement and develop an integrated structure of employee experience by bringing together all the workplace, HR, and management practices that impact people on the job. Along with restructuring the existing employee strategies, it is vital to maintain a consistent, clear and robust schedule of communication with the full-time and contingent workforce to ensure that they are being heard and concerns are being addressed.




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