Conversation With Dr. Vishwanath Joshi, Chief People Officer, Hexaware Technologies on the Rise of Gigs amid Moonlighting
Dr. Vishwanath Joshi leads Human Resources at Hexaware as Chief People Officer. Prior to taking up this role, Dr. Joshi was leading the Practice of Journey Programme at Great Place to Work® India, a Culture Recognition and Transformation organization based in Mumbai, India.
VJ (as he is fondly called), is a Postgraduate in Human Resource Management from Pune University and has a Ph.D. in Management and OD from Academy HRD. During his career spanning more than 20 years, VJ has worked with top global IT consulting organizations and some of the biggest and most recognized names in business.
His professional career has been a unique combination of corporate roles, consulting, academics and research. In his last role at Great Place to Work Institute, he was involved in designing and delivering organizational culture-building and employee engagement interventions for medium to large organizations, across different sectors.
True to his academic pursuits, VJ has published and presented several papers in the areas of Innovation, Customer Centricity, Strategic Leadership, Career Management, and Creating High-Performance Organizations in national and international journals.
How do you anticipate the future of work in changing workplace culture?
With the constantly evolving workplace culture, the approach determining the future of work will be felt on a global scale. Gathering my experience as a leader in this space, I segment the future of work into four broad trends. Gartner®, in its Future of Work Trends Post-COVID-19, has elaborated on similar future of work trends and suggested appropriate HR actions to create a sustainable workplace ecosystem.
The first is an increasing number of aspirational people who possess the right balance of passion and ambition. They seek accomplishment by envisioning work as a means to an end, not an end itself.
The second trend is an extension of the first one, as the aspirational workforce would want to create an impact through meaningful roles. I have witnessed a growing eagerness for substance and value among the workforce, something that lends a sense of purpose to their work, which will definitely influence the future of work and workplace culture.
The next trend that will have a substantial effect on how people approach work is flexibility or, as we commonly know, a flexible mode of work. A Gartner® report shows the percentage of employees working remotely has increased from 30% (pre-pandemic) to 48% (post-pandemic). The desire for a permanent hybrid or remote working model will be crucial in shaping the final trend I will discuss.
The fourth trend that will be transformative in a literal sense is work-life integration. I would like to emphasize its variation from work-life balance. In the case of work-life integration, an individual will integrate his work with life and not view them separately, inspired by the values in their work culture.
What are the challenges you realize when it comes to the workforce in a Hybrid work model?
As I visualize, there are three main challenges in the hybrid working model, although it is a preferred one by the modern workforce, especially in the post-pandemic scenario.
The first challenge entails effective leadership performance. To convey that, as leaders, we have long worked in a physical environment or location where it is convenient to connect and collaborate with teams. So, delivering leadership guidance, inspiring the workforce with meaningful involvement, and acknowledging the workforce’s contribution will require enormous efforts.
The second challenge is team productivity. We know that superior productivity results from the synergy team members achieve when together. The pace of communication, decision-making and conflict resolution is very high. In a hybrid model, attaining the same level of collaboration and spirit is a challenge.
The third challenge I would point out is aligning with organizational values. Staying connected and engaged within the organizational ecosystem isn’t going to be easy for individuals and organizations.
As a human-centric organization, we started an initiative called ‘Hexaware in your City,’ wherein we traveled across India to connect with our employees and give them a feeling of belonging. We observed 70% of the participants in this drive were new employees who wanted to experience a close connection with the organization.
How do you visualize the rise of gig workers, especially amid moonlighting?
Gig working is here to stay as a viable work model and an accepted employer-employee relationship pattern. It will undoubtedly garner momentum as time passes. However, the concept of gig working and how it is perceived is industry-specific.
A couple of factors contributing to this mindset could be the industry and client requirements and how it fits in the larger scheme. It requires a consensual approach and needs to be projected and viewed with optimism to extract the best activity outcomes.
Organizations are still at a stage where they are experimenting by branching out their tasks to gig workers, opening new avenues for enhanced flexibility, quality, and variety. I stress experimenting as some crucial aspects, like data security, must be considered while onboarding gig workers.
How to better engage temporary, seasonal, and gig employees?
I feel the principles of engagement do not change based on working models. The traditional and fundamental tenets of engagement are equally applicable while engaging temporary, seasonal, and gig employees. The first one is consistent and clear communication which is essential to keep every stakeholder informed and updated and enable improvement.
The second one is establishing a connection beyond projects and captured hours. I am talking about a level of association where they are ready to be available for a project depending on the business requirements.
The third principle is recognition, which is pivotal for any engagement model. Their contribution and achievements should be the parameters rather than their employment model.
The last one is to create a progressive culture where they are provided ample opportunities to socialize and interact with the rest of the teams, like permanent employees. This is vital regarding the association with a high-performance.
Any final words?
From what we have witnessed in the last couple of years, technology will continue to be critical in connecting the work, the workforce, and the organization. So, organizations are investing in futuristic technologies to secure a promising future of work.
As an active part of the workforce myself, the basic feeling of being invited, respected, and rewarded will continue to motivate talent in the years to come. These realities of talent acquisition and retention will consistently apply to hybrid, onsite, or remote working models. Organizations are revisiting their strategies to tailor them to these realities.
Thank You, Vishwanath!