In conversation with All Things Talent, Mr Vinay Trivedi shares his experience of working across different industries and how that has made change his second nature. He also discusses the importance of focusing on employee enrichment and wellbeing rather than fixating on satisfaction. Vinay tells us how he feels employers can encourage an environment of trustworthiness at the workplace.
With your diverse and rich experience of over a decade in the HR industry, how has this journey been so far? What’s the greatest risk you took to get where you are today?
My journey of being an HR professional has been superb; I have and still do enjoy my HR adventures! Well, I do not like normal roads, so I keep taking risks in my career. And because of these multiple risks I’ve taken, I have been able to work across five different industries – IT, BPO, Banking, Insurance and now I am working with a start-up! Every time I moved, I took two risks – Firstly, I took up a role unlike any I’ve been in before, that too when I am at the peak of my current role; Secondly, I tried and took that up in a new Industry. Boy! The amount of learning, unlearning and re-learning I have been required to do is insane, but these risks have paid off. Always remember this, we tend to be stuck in “Analysis-Paralysis”, while I am not saying we should not analyze, it sometimes pays to go with your gut as well.
As interesting as your journey has been, how did the changing paradigms of HR impact your career?
As I kept moving roles and changing industries, my appreciation for “change” and response to that change became my second nature. This helped me pick up new trends, new ideas and new technology very soon. So adapting to changing paradigms was business as usual. If you are very comfortable doing what you do, you are in a danger zone. If you need to grow, you need to keeping moving.
Employer branding has become a buzzword in the world of talent attraction and recruitment. Do you think Employer Branding today is more important than 5 years ago? If so, why and how?
Employer branding has become very important for a couple of reasons:
- Today candidates have more options on the job front than they could ever think off
- Candidates have become picky and choosy because they want to do very particular roles and to do something as “default option”
- Employers have to sell themselves more than they ever did in the last three decades to attract talent given the hyper-connected world we live in
Moreover, curating an employer brand is critical as it creates your social identity. People also see-through clichés these days as they can get a bite of the employer through various online review platforms. Employers have to create a genuine brand proposition, a branding that spells who they actually are, one that will help them attract and retain talent.
For instance, at ToneTag have a very simple employee branding approach: We promote the ideation of a lot of unique ideas at work.
We love to experiment with those ideas. Some of these ideas fail to get traction, while others are loved by people. The ideas that we successfully adopt, I talk about them in multiple platforms on social media. The stories I share become our brand as they are personalized, talk about real things happening in the organisation, people who read them relate to it easily. This helps in creating a great brand for the organisation when it comes to talent attraction.
The amount of learning, unlearning and relearning I have been required to do is insane. Always remember, we tend to be stuck in “Analysis-Paralysis”, while I am not saying we should not analyze, it sometimes pays to go with your gut as well.
People also see-through clichés these days as they can get a bite of the employer through various online review platforms. Employers have to create a genuine brand proposition, a branding that spells who they actually are, one that will help them attract and retain talent.
How would you define employee satisfaction? How do you see changing demographics and technology affecting job satisfaction in the future?
Employee Satisfaction is a very debatable topic. Let me ask you something – in a family of four to six members, are all family members equally satisfied with everything that happens in the family? Of course not! Now, if a small family may not have satisfaction, how can we talk about it in an organisation set up?
I am not saying we should not look at this. All I am saying we should talk about employee wellbeing, employee job enrichment and employee upskilling/reskilling. This will eventually lead to higher levels of satisfaction. Technology helps in making the process quicker and smarter and we should make the best use if the same. Don’t chase satisfaction, that is an outcome and you can’t control outcomes. Chase input parameters like wellbeing, enrichment of jobs and upskill/reskill. That will show results in increased engagement and satisfaction.
What are some of the most successful Employer Branding tactics or campaigns that you do at ToneTag?
Well, I believe we should do things that impact people instead of doing things to manage a branding tactic or campaign. Most of us chase initiatives that will give us a good branding spot. However, we simply chase great initiatives for our people and showcase the same once it is a well-oiled initiative. Speaking of initiatives, I would like to mention some of the things we do at ToneTag, as an Indian startup:
- We meditate at work for 5 mins: This helps us focus better at work and helps in creating a high impact workforce. Every manager should do this with his/her team at least three times a week, really helps.
- We have an official gossip meeting: Can you imagine, we promote gossip at work officially. This establishes a culture of trustworthiness.
- We wear Indian formals to work: As an Indian startup, imagine you are meeting a UAE or an African client in Indian formals, the confidence it gives is amazing. This is like a confidence booster. Not many have realized the full potential of impact when you are fully confident.
- We have Yoga three days a week: This is not compulsory for anyone to attend, people are free to come and practice it per their will. We believe we should work on creating platforms that genuinely help people, it is for them to adopt. We also realize when you do not make it compulsory, people tend to adopt for a longer-term.
- We allow a paid leave for spouse’s birthday or anniversary: This is our way to say we care not only for you but also for your loved ones.
- We storyboard our people: We have moved away from traditional onboarding. For information required to integrate new joiners, we have presentations. What is important is to tell the story behind the concept.
So all leaders spend time in telling the Story of the organisation. I strongly believe that when you share the story behind your thoughts, it helps in creating a very long term impact and also makes it easy to align with the vision and mission of the organisation.
All I do is write about this on social media, talk about this on multiple forums, proudly and passionately discuss this at various round tables, encourage employees to write their version of the story on social media. My posts on LinkedIn alone have garnered around 1.6 Million views, I have hired 14 people in 2019 just by interacting with a candidate through my posts (this means one every month).
So my mantra is to have great initiatives for people in your company, talk about it at all social media platforms through “Storytelling Mode” and you will slowly but surely create a great brand.
All leaders should spend time in telling the Story of the organisation. I strongly believe that when you share the story behind your thoughts, it helps in creating a very long term impact and also makes it easy to align with the vision and mission of the organisation.
Can you shed some light on the evolving pattern which you have witnessed in the hiring processes over the past decade?
The process has been evolving and few notable patterns that we see:
- 10 years back you would see full-page ads in newspapers about walk-in-interview drives. We no longer see them as the whole ecosystem has moved online. Remember the Opportunities or Ascent pages?
- We have a lot of companies that are moving to machine-based interviews, thanks to the machine learning algorithm. There are no face-to-face interviews for a few standard roles.
- Video CV’s are now a reality and most platforms including IIM Jobs have an option to record a bite, this helps in screening processes.
- Social media checks in the recruitment process have firmly made their ground. We by default look at social profiles of candidates when hiring. This was not the case 10 years back.
- Employers using social media more actively for hiring process, this has grown over the last decade
What technology does for Gen Y (brings about the excitement to use it), Human Touch will do for Millennials and Gen Z (this is totally missing and is a major cause for discomfort).
Accept changes and keep learning-unlearning and relearning. This will be the only thing that will keep you agile and continuously ready for a dynamic VUCA world.
Today, Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce and GenZ will soon outnumber Millennials. According to you, how can organisations successfully manage this generational shift?
This is another topic that gets too much undue attention than it actually needs. If we talk of Millennials, I am one myself, but someone five years younger to me has totally different motivators than what I have, so here are my two cents on how to manage them:
- Both millennials and GenZ need to be left alone without too much focus; no generation likes unwarranted focus. So, leave them kids alone!
- The workforce is a digital native, so they will not get as excited with technology as Gen Y would have been because for them it’s normal.
- Further, what technology does for Gen Y (brings about excitement to use it), Human Touch will do for Millennials and Gen Z (this is totally missing and is a major cause for discomfort).
- The best way to motivate this generation is to inspire them, not merely inform them. The moment you will inspire them with your idea, vision and the big picture, they will give their 100 percent. This is just like for Gen Y we had to appreciate them in public and they would do anything required of them.
Hiring the best talent is critical for business growth but talent acquisition is fraught with issues like unconscious bias. How can we leverage technology to overcome unconscious bias and make recruiting smart?
There are three things that we should do to reduce unconscious bias and leverage technology:
- Use psychometric assessments to understand personality traits, don’t just administer them, use insights from there in the recruitment process
- Have masked interviews, this means no one asks questions like – Name, Surname, place of origin, schooling, favourite sport etc. all of these tend to create a personal bias
- Interviews by neutral panels and not hiring manager, this will also eliminate the bias in peoples mind.
According to you, how advances in digitalisation, artificial intelligence, communication and robotics can help in creating growth opportunities and generating new insights? What changes do you expect in the coming years?
Well, I am no baba to predict this. All I can say is – accept changes and keep learning-unlearning and relearning. This will be the only thing that will keep you agile and continuously ready for a dynamic VUCA world.
TRUST & COMMUNICATION
A lack of trust in the workplace is responsible for a multitude of issues that detrimentally affect the bottom line. How do you think HR can work together with business leaders to build a healthy workplace that operates on trust and communication?
Have official gossip meetings! It does wonders. Sounds very bizarre right? We have tried this and have seen great results.
The reason for the lack of trust is often because of the Grapevine channels at work. All we did was the following:
- Created a forum where we do not transact work but gossip
- This platform started bringing out the grapevine in the open
- We would listen to it, laugh at it, dismiss it if untrue and close it
- This way we bring the grapevine in the open, we nip it in the bud and laugh about it.
This method has helped us build an open work environment, better trust and happy work environment overall.