With skills in marketing, business strategy development, and management, she has headed the topnotch companies such as Microsoft and has worked as freelance marketing consultant.

In a small business, human capital is always make-or-break, there are no two owners for any given task. In addition, priorities are ever-changing in small, growth-stage companies such as ours. Therefore, hiring the right talent is even more critical.

The looked-first is for the interest match between the candidate and the role in a company, while second is the existing skill set. If there’s a passionate, intelligent person who believes in the company brand and what it’s trying to do as a company, people can help them becoming successful in a role that they are truly interested in. But the reverse of that is not true. If the candidate is a highly-skilled domain expert who is not really interested in a company brand, the category or the role itself, no amount of support or guidance will change that.

In fact, there are several bright employees who are hired, but later found that their true interests lay in other areas than the role for which they were hired. Where possible, a company would actually carve out a new role for that employee, knowing that they could add significant value when given the right set of responsibility areas. I have personally mentored many of our employees to get to the heart of what really drives and motivates them. There were retail employees moving to marketing or customer-service positions, finance employees moving to materials management, and merchandisers moving to business development. If they are doing something they actually enjoy, they are more likely both to be successful and to stay loyal to us.

There’s also an element of being human-centric that makes it critical for employers to be up front and truthful with candidates during the interview process. An interview is not a sales pitch and a job description or not an advertisement. Experience is a distant second to what’s most important – the overall fit between the candidate, the brand, the role and the company culture. That’s why companies get down to brass tacks from the first interview itself.

Upskilling - The New Mantra For Employee Sustainability

In a small, growing company, all employees are exposed to a broad cross-section of the business. That is to be expected as a company’s professionals are all working very closely together— even while they are all working from home.

There shouldn’t be lengthy training programs or huge budgets; rather, give one-on-one training on the job. It is basically learning while doing. Empowering them not only with the ‘What They Have To Do’, but also with the ‘Why They Need To Do It’, ‘How It’s Done Best’ and also ‘How It Impacts The Full Success Of The Business’, ensures they are fully aware of the value they are adding. I believe if employees understand the full impact of their roles, they will be more invested in doing their best at all times and will be an active participant in helping to hone and improve business processes. The more empowered they are the greater their impact the more responsibilities they get the more skills they master the more they advance the more they want to stay and the more we want them to stay. It’s a win-win.

“Most of the employees who are working from home chose to leave their location and move back to their office towns”

Extended Working Hours - Burn Out - Can Be Called The New Normal

There are two sides here. Employees who have resumed work in the office or the stores actually have a shorter work day. The stores and offices open later and close earlier than before the pandemic. Companies are as mindful as possible to try to ensure their good health and safety as priority one.

Most of the employees who are working from home chose to leave their location and move back to their office towns. So, they have the additional support of their family and friends, while also not having to deal with a daily commute and the hassles of dressing up and making lunch and other such tasks. But the physicality of the work everyone does has not changed, so those of us who are geographically close to the office have picked up the slack. So, you could argue, that the WFH workload for many of the employees has reduced.

To the point of extended working hours, I think that is an individual issue. There are people in teams who work extra time as it is just part of their professional ethics to do so. They know the struggle ahead and they are doing their best to help others remaining strong throughout. There are people in teams who are giving the bare minimum too, and everything in between. It’s not that the business is putting this pressure on the team members. Also, there’s an element of time management here. Employees who used to be in the office plus transit time for 9-10 hours per day are now at home. They may be expected to help out more around the house now too. So, there may be added pressure on their time based on the expectations at home.

When a company structured the WFH process during lockdown, it started by creating small work groups on WhatsApp and in email to ease communications. Then they met with each workgroup and asked them to set up their daily meeting time preferences. Working hours are flexible to the workgroup level. If they want to start later in the day, that’s fine. Whatever works best for their team. I believe this flexibility helps employees have a bit more control so they can strike a stronger work-life balance.

Another thing employers can do is encourage everyone on their team to take their leaves even if they are not going on vacation. Set up a zoom call with friends or family members they haven’t met in a while. Spend more time with their kids. Whatever they want – just as long as they get their minds off of work for some time to clear their heads and give themselves a break. We are all going through a lot emotionally and physically. This is extremely important.

Future Of Work And Preparation

The future of work will be shaped by a couple of major trends impacting us today. The first one is related to more and more technology adoption in the workplace. Whether it is AI, machine learning, new SaaS services or other modern tech. Employees should be ready to continuously upskill themselves in order to be more productive with the everchanging tech ecosystem. The second one is related to the fact that the workplace will get more distributed. Covid has intensified digital adoption in enterprises and small businesses alike. Due to this, we will see companies relying less and less on a corporate office environment but rather on a flexible work space—most likely a mix of virtual and physical—which is optimized for greater productivity and better business results.

On the one hand, I think young professionals are extremely blessed as they have ready access to learning almost anything they want to learn at any time with just the click of a mouse button. They just have to take the initiative and make time for their own self-improvement. I’m a seasoned executive, but I find myself enrolling in a variety of online courses that I do late at night or on Sundays. It’s my own way of staying relevant and up-to-date.

On the other hand, I think with the ready access to information and tools comes an increased expectation on the part of employers for candidates to be capable and skilled at least at a baseline level across multiple disciplines. The ‘table stakes’ have increased. Candidates are expected to have a working knowledge of core business software, to be comfortable with multiple communication and productivity platforms – email, WhatsApp, Google/Microsoft team tools, SMS and more – and, as a bonus, to have a working mobile phone and laptop with broadband access from home.

On top of these foundational skills, young professionals should also seek to increase their comfort with the tools of their chosen focus areas. For example, someone seeking to be in content writing should already be familiar with Grammarly or other such tools. Someone in accounting or finance should invest in learning advanced Excel functions. Someone in social media or creative marketing should be ready to edit video content with entry-level tools. Basically, don’t wait for your employer to train you. Learn it your own. Come into the interview with the confidence of being fully prepared to be successful in your chosen role.