The Talent Culture Divide

At the ripe old age of 21, I decided that I needed to leave the illustrious career of being a business analyst at one of the leading consulting houses. At that time, I didn’t have the “hr lingo” to state that the top reason for me leaving was that I felt, I was a cultural misfit.

I moved on to become a lawyer, and worked as one and once again more than the work, the hours or the perks there was a feeling of not aligning with the “core principles” of how people were treated.

In the traditional companies set up, ranging from consulting firms, to manufacturing, the era of our parents, to the aspirational FMCG – the core people management bordered on the basic assumption of: “People were resources and organisations were entitled to make a set of demands, for the payment rendered”

Enter the technology wave. Back in 2010’s the emergence of the new IT Services, changed some basic dynamics of how people were treated. Small offices, gave way to large complexes. Every need of what a person may need was taken care of. Dressing in formals, gave way to the casual dress code, check in and check out, merged to flexible hours, diversity thinking started to become the buzz word, sports facilities, educational courses, paternity leaves, first name basis of addressing each other, locational flexibility – or as Disney puts it – it literally opened up a WHOLE NEW WORLD of how we worked and crucially HOW WE TREATED EMPLOYEES

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The Talent Culture Divide – was further deepened with the influx of technology companies, the rise of the start up ecosystem. The new manager made agile calls, had autonomy, impact was created and the aspiration to sit out of the global headquarter diminished.

As we head towards 2020 – there are 3 interesting forces jostling for space

  1. The “People First” talent culture is here to stay. The baseline conditions of what is a good place to work has moved. Meaningful work, growth opportunities, flexibility, diversity, and being yourself is inherent
  2. The “Company First” talent culture will struggle to attract talent that desires the new baseline. In the next decade, the need to adapt technology shall be inherent across all industries. From pharma, to real estate, FMCG to consulting, they shall need talent, that needs the new talent culture
  3. What is in it for me? As Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z. Gen New, start to fuel the workforce. The one distinguishing commonality between them is that they are sure of themselves. This means, that they are no longer drawing a sense of validity from the organisation. Rather they “choose” to work for a company, if they can answer – how it works for the, their career, their aspirations, their peers – them. No matter the scale and size of the company – “what is in it for me” will be the number 1 driver.

What does all this mean?

It may be early to predict the result of the talent divide. The Deloitte HR Trends indicate the need to adapt to a people centric culture is becoming imperative. The “Company First” cultures are finding it hard to lure in talent and retain them, specifically if it is the new age, smart, independent talent that they are keen to hire.

  • Changing the talent culture – needs the mindset to change
  • Culture mindsets needs the leaders mindsets to change. Culture can only flow top down
  • people first culture – needs a new approach to balancing Pnl’s and Balance sheets. It may mean lesser profits, better talent – in the short run, and higher profits, better talent in the long run. A logic that has to be proved, but makes intuitive sense

As the tides change and talent decides where they want to work. Talent culture has two choices to resist the change or be the change. The speed of the change is to be determined.

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