With a blended workforce, the culture is bound to evolve: Ravi Maithani

With a blended workforce, the culture is bound to evolve: Ravi Maithani

"With a blended workforce, the culture is bound to evolve; while cultural values remain the same, their interpretation will undergo a change" says Ravi Maithani, Head of People and Culture, Tide (IN). Take a look at this exclusive interview to know more about the rewards and challenges of a blended workforce in the hybrid future of work.

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 Fintech 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?


Talent mobility was a major constraint in the pre-pandemic era, and strategic decisions around the choice of city of operations were dependent on the availability of Talent. Post-pandemic, the fundamentals have shifted. With remote working getting wider acceptance, companies can tap Talent without geographic constraints in mind. However, there is a flip side to this - the Talent in your city can be tapped by a company working in a remote location. Companies have actively adapted their strategy to convert this threat into an opportunity.


Enabling remote working and blended workforce


 Building on employee benefits and engagement to enable remote working and keep employees connected


Adopting new technology for more efficient remote onboarding, such as on-demand audio-visual onboarding tools


Leaning into building an extended engaged talent pool. So, interviews may not be held for a role which is presently available, but for forthcoming opportunities as well, and the desirable Talent may be tagged and kept engaged for a long time


Shifting from identifying the best Talent for a job to identifying the best Talent, and then finding suitable roles that fit their skill sets.


Many years ago, NASA engineers were apparently against employing crowdsourcing platforms for the simple reason that they stood to eliminate the culture of NASA—collaboration and brainstorming. What are the possible fallouts of a blended workforce on the culture of an organisation?


Some of the possible fallouts are cited below:–


a. With a blended workforce, the culture is bound to evolve; while cultural values remain the same, their interpretation will undergo a change. For instance, workplace, we all know what that transcends into. However, in the online workplace, Respect has additional dimensions - joining meetings on time, turning up for meetings after accepting invites, paying attention while the others speak, etc.


b. It will become even more difficult to preserve the culture, or shape it in a way that the leaders want. It will require different strategies, intentional effort, making difficult decisions on anti-patterns quickly, at least until the time the community starts driving the culture. Hiring for the right culture fit will become more important than ever. Organisations unable to do so will struggle to preserve their culture, or as a matter of fact, will be unable to shape the desired culture. An even bigger minefield is for those companies who employ a large number of gig workers, working for more than one organisation. It will be interesting to see whether these gig workers will be able to live up different organisational cultures.


In light of the pandemic, it has been witnessed that organisations are hiring CXO-level talent on an on-demand basis. What are the pros and cons of such an engagement in your industry?


The pros of on-demand hiring are:–


1. Access to some of highly-skilled resources 


2. Scale up and down on demand


3. Could be easier to find such talent on demand rather than finding talent that would join on a permanent basis.


The Cons are: -


 No skin in the game: For Fintech organisations, the results take time to come through, and mistakes can be killer. You want to have someone with high stakes, and high upside, hence most CXO-level positions have a sizable stake in the company. On-demand CXO-level talent does not receive equity, and therefore, do not have a stake in the game. They are often paid a fixed daily or monthly amount, without regard to their performance.


• Institutional knowledge: CXO-level roles most acutely benefit from building institutional knowledge that comes with spending time at the company. Such knowledge allows these execs to connect the dots and be more effective. On-demand CXOs would take a longer time to arrive at correct decisions and would struggle to operate within the company’s normal modes of operation.


• Culture fit: CXO (whether in-house or on demand) will drive the culture, how do you ensure they drive the culture the organisation wants?


• When looking for a CXO-level candidate with in-depth experience in a specific domain (e.g. Fintech), the wider market may provide more options


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?


At Tide, for instance, while we are definitely going by a blended working model, many employees prefer working from the office. Based on a recent employee survey, almost half the employees stated that they would like to come to the office 2+ days per week.


The same survey had a whopping 49% of employees citing collaboration as the main reason for coming to office, while another 39% found the office to be a great place to socialise, and a mere 12% voted the office for being a productive work setup. Similarly, several employees are seen to be suffering from “virtual interaction fatigue” - too much screen time, and less room for off-topic conversations. We, as human beings, are social animals, who require interaction and physical proximity.


We believe the ‘office’ - a physical workplace - will continue to be a social need, a place to collaborate, brainstorm, get to know people better and develop a bond.


Employee eXperience (EX) has been typically associated with full-time 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?


The term EX will be replaced by TX - ‘Talent eXperience’, which will include not just people working with you (full-time, part-time, consultant), but even the future talent. It will start right from the organisation’s perception in the talent market, which is driven mostly by the existing talent, and reinforced by ex-talent(alumni). It will be more of a need-based requirement (experience is enhanced when it meets the needs) than a status-quo.


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