Rendezvous with Yuvaraj Srivastava Group Chief Human Resources Officer MakeMyTrip on Workplace Challenges and Trends 2022
Yuvaraj is the Group CHRO with MakeMyTrip which owns 3 most significant Travel Tech brands of India viz MakeMyTrip, GoIbibo, and RedBus. He also leads MakeMyTrip Foundation (CSR arm of MakeMyTrip Group) and drives social agenda of the organisation.
In his career, he has held various HR leadership roles and contributed in entire spectrum of Human Resource function. Prior to joining MakeMyTrip in 2014, he served with Asian Paints, The Oberoi Group of Hotels, and PepsiCo India.
Before transitioning to corporate world in 1997 he served with Indian Armed forces for 6 years and participated in various counter-insurgency operations in J&K Sector.
Yuvaraj is a graduate in Industrial psychology from University of Allahabad and MBA in HR from IMT Ghaziabad.
He is President of NHRD Network Delhi NCR chapter, Member Advisory Panel of CBFC Govt of India, Member of HR Committee of FICCI, Member of ETHRWorld Advisory Council besides advisory member of various other institutions and bodies.
Q- What are the biggest challenges CHRO’s face in current times especially in travel industry?
We are a tech–product organization that enables travel, hence while we work closely with travel organizations, primarily technology is at the core of our business. The last 2 years have been a roller coaster for most of the industries on all the front, be it customer service, talent, revenue, or overall growth.
At this juncture, Tech-Product organizations are facing the biggest talent challenge. High attrition, un-predictable offer dropouts, last-minute no-shows, constant job shopping, etc., has raised numerous questions on the process, mindset, and approach of professionals and organizations.
All the conventional wisdom around building careers, focusing on learning in the initial periods, career stability has come under serious debate and that is the biggest challenge we are facing. The issue is not of people moving jobs or having multiple choices, while that is a good development from the prospective employees’ perspective, but will it affect long-term career trajectory, learning, and skill-building is a burning question.
It is great that opportunities are galore for capable people but the lesser noticed fact is that many of the people who moved jobs, again moved a job in a short span, there are also some who are keen to head back ‘home’ and join the earlier organizations. All this not only comes up as a challenge but also brings out numerous points of reflection.
Q- What is the future of workplace? how do you see the workplace challenges in 2022?
No one can predict how long health hazards created by Covid infections will continue, However, looking at the reports, I think that things will settle down with a new normal in the next 6 months or so.
Hybrid workplace set up will continue for some time, driven not only by health issues but also due to various variables including real estate strategy of the organizations, many organizations shelved part of their floor areas to bring in cost efficiency and it will take some time for the outfits to go back and acquire additional workspace to hit pre-pandemic levels.
Interesting to note is that despite being affected by COVID, businesses have been hiring and building capabilities since future is great in terms of economic growth and possibilities. New age organizations or for that matter many organizations, leaving aside exceptions, were already back to office with a hybrid workplace model before Omicron spread its wing. As things will settle down, workplaces will move back to their normal workplace models which may even amount to near 100% return to office after a year or so subject to new variant of COVID creating havoc.
Challenges in 2022 would be around transition of people and their immersion in the new setups, we have seen high turnovers during the year and these people will still be working thru hybrid or WFH model. How effectively such joiners can be ingrained in the organizational culture and made effective would be a challenge to pick up.
2022 will also see huge workforce joining from the campuses, there will be a strong need to train and induct them effectively into the system, I am suggesting this because especially post-grad students would have spent very little time at the campus during their 2 years’ course and would require longer hand-holding. Engagement with employees during WFH would be an interesting area to address and I think effective use of technology would be of help and value.
Q- How do you ensure workplace health and wellbeing at MakeMyTrip?
Health and well-being are mostly driven by the professional as well personal circumstances of the individual and I think Organizations do have a role to play in the overall well-being of the individual. While plethora of initiatives can be launched to impact well-being to address issues after symptoms have been noticed, bur there is a need to work on the root causes that create health and well-being issues. Running counseling sessions, webinars and other support systems mostly help in management of physical and mental health impact but not the root cause.
The best way of managing health and well-being of the team members would be to create and have a culture of care and positivity in the organization. We have focused on preserving and strengthening our culture of “Care”, we constantly guide, coach, and mentor our leaders to be empathetic and compassionate in their decision-making and team handling.
Besides strong coaching and communication process, at Go-MMT (MMT, Goibibo, and Redbus), we have a strong task force consisting of team members from diverse functions who help and guide people who encounter health concerns. As an organization we are cautious and follow abundant caution to keep our team members safe and not unnecessarily expose them to infection and health hazards.
Access to teleconsultation with the Doctors, regular sessions for the workforce on well-being and health precautions, annual medical check-ups for employees above certain age, facilitation of vaccination, mental health counselling sessions are regular and are effectively being used by a large population. Our internal communication process through recorded videos, communication leaflets, strong connect of the HR Business Partners with the team members have been of great help.
Q- What are the emerging trends in the workforce, and the changing nature of work?
Our internal surveys and conversations with people throw up some important expectations and trends, workforce which predominantly consists of younger generation is hungry to work with organizations and leaders who can help people solve problems of scale, desire to work with the best of the talent is another important need and trend that will compel organizations to keep notching up the organizational talent quotient by hiring superior talent.
With respect to the talent hunt, trend will be to look at the talent in the smaller towns and tier 2 and 3 campuses and invest in grooming and developing this pool. There will also be a strong trend of workforce looking at options closer to their home to leverage their personal support system in times of need.
Nature of work will change with respect to the measurement of productivity. Strong reliance on lag indicators and output will redefine the workforce deployment patterns. In case of performance measurement and reward metrics, increased focus on performance and development feedback will be seen since in new age organizations, with dynamic business realities it will be difficult to differentiate performance levels due to macro factors affecting the deliveries.
Q- What will be the Top 5 HR priorities in 2022?
At go MMT we live with the core organization values of people demonstrating and embracing tenets of CARE, CURIOSITY, and CREATIVITY and delivering to the stakeholders’ values of Customer Centricity, Continuous improvement, and Commitment to results, I believe championing these values on ground will be the priorities. Besides, these following will require disproportionate bandwidth to keep pace with the changing times.
- Managing employees transition and immersion in the org culture and business.
- Creating ring fencing strategies to “Bunker” critical talent.
- Spreading the talent net wider to improve top of the funnel for hiring.
- Develop customized solutions to engage and communicate with the workforce.
- Un-build redundant HR processes to align them with the current realities.
Q- Any concluding remarks?
The year 2022 will be a watershed year for the organizations where the focus will be on redefining people, processes, and policies. Bold and audacious moves will have to be taken to retain and ring-fence talent.
While COVID affected years have negatively affected most of the businesses, they have also presented us with an opportunity to reflect and revaluate our methods to reach the end goal and I think we shall not miss on this opportunity.
Thank you, Yuvaraj!