Published on June 18, 2022
This conversation with Rahul Kapoor, the Chief People Officer of Himalaya Wellness has been nothing less than enlightening. Understanding the factors that play a key role in employee retention blended with Rahul’s honesty and experience was quite refreshing and informative.
Rahul comes with over two decades of strong HR experience across FMCG, manufacturing , financial services & healthcare industries. He is a professional who has seen the ebb and flow of the industry, with multinationals like GSK, GE, ITC , Dr. Reddy’s and now Himalaya across different markets. He has led the People agenda for organisations during different business life-stages. Progressive HR Leader driving & leading HR transformations, building capabilities & culture throughout his career. But what sets Rahul apart is his conviction in his principles, strong business acumen & HR fundamentals.
Team Peergrowth had an engaging conversation with Rahul where he shared his professional views on the most burning topic in the current times i.e., RETENTION!
Fundamentals of Retention:
Rahul feels retention of talent is a subject that nobody has cracked. Because if this topic were to be cracked massive labour markets like US and India would not have been bleeding right now, retaining talent is an interesting topic to explore however there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer for it. He believes there is no certain formula that when applied, will lead to a high retention and lower attrition.
Although compensation is the “elephant in the room” and a major factor to retain top talent, it being the most important is an absolute myth. Compensation is in fact the last factor as to why employees leave their organizations. He believes there are 4 fundamental aspects that are key in retaining top talent.
Building Capabilities: (Fostering Future Leaders)
The first key factor is opportunity for development that helps build capability. If top talent in an organization feel that the organization is investing in them, they are more likely to invest their loyalty in the organization. When speaking of opportunity for development one must take into consideration aspects providing a variety of assignments that enhance employee’s growth/skills.
The amount of time an employee remains with an organization is of less significance, but what actually counts is the variety of roles, the new jobs and responsibilities one has done in the past few years, the new geographies that have been managed, the new projects one has done, the new cultures experienced and so on and so forth. He believes that if organizations are able to provide them with a clear career graph and a long-term path, only then they will be able to effectively retain their talent.
Job Satisfaction and Engagement: (feedback, recognition, validation & vision)
Employers need to ask themselves, are they really providing their top talent with growth opportunities and are the employees experiencing the growth? He believes that retention alone will not work unless the employees are engaged, retention along with engagement is the key. Additionally, employers can retain their talent and keep them on the same job for 10 years straight, but are the employees really engaged? Are they really adding value to their job? Disengaged employees eventually end up becoming a challenge more than a solution to their employer. Retention of a demotivated employee for a 10-year period can be worse than retention for a 5-year period where the talent is provided a variety of assignments and is proactively engaged.
The challenge arises when organisations are unable to showcase the long-term vision and the discussion is limited to their current role. For instance, a management trainee must be given a road map to becoming a General Manager. This road map must consist of the experiences, capabilities, and skills an employee will need to build to become a successful General Manager, now this will lead to real talent retention. The moment an employee is able to see that the organization is investing in him/her, giving the right messages, and is putting forth the right opportunities, there is no reason to seek an exit.
Line Manager : (‘People do not leave companies, People leave People’)
The next key factor is the role played by an employee's manager. The day-to-day interaction with their line manager is in fact the most critical; is the line manager empowering, supporting, understanding and inspiring the team on an everyday basis? A problematic line manager will almost always be a roadblock in an employee’s career and stop him/her from flourishing.
Rahul also very firmly believes in the saying the ‘People do not leave companies, People leave People’, the impact of a mis-hire will not just be stagnating but also counterproductive. When an individual is being hired, the benefit of doubt sits with the organization however, once the hiring is complete, the benefit of doubt lies with the candidates. If the right chemistry does not exist between the manager and the hire, it can create long-term misery for both parties.
Compensation (The hard truth):
Compensation alone will never be able to retain talent. However, compensation in combination with the factors mentioned above is key in retaining talent. Rahul states that in his professional career of over two decades he has not come across top talent make decisions solely based on compensation. Top talent will analyse the entire picture and they will analyse whether the boxes of learning, development, management, culture, environment, and compensation are being ticked.
Organizations must be able to carry out a close and critical analysis of themselves and see if they are actually providing employees with an environment wherein, they are enjoying their work and are motivated to give their best every single day. Multiple instances exist where employees move with a salary cut purely due to the quality of work being offered.
He goes on to add that the unusual hikes in compensation after The Great Resignation and/or the pandemic is a highly unsustainable practice and the market will eventually correct itself.
“At the end of the day, People are People”
Rahul has worked across different geographies and individuals from South-East Asia, Japan . S Korea , Russia, CISR, Indians and Arabs. He believes fundamentally aspirations are not different as we are all human. Whether you speak to an Arab national or a Korean national, the wants/needs are almost always the same, you will have tweak your interventions depending on the geographies, Cultures , practices but the fundamentals will remain the same and if one studies employee behaviour globally, they will realise that employees seek a quality career, the need to be recognised, the need to be seen as doing well, the want to be paid well, and great work-life balance.
The Importance of Diversity:
He personally feels diversity is extremely important within an organization, in fact, building diversity is not an HR case but rather a business case. Diversity for him is not just limited to gender and nationality but also to professional experience, individuals from different backgrounds unlock different insights into the business, these do not have to be restricted by culture, gender or experience; multi-faceted benefits can be achieved through effective diversity.
Closing thoughts: -
Rahul states the critical aspects of HR leadership would be courage and conviction, these two are extremely important long-term qualities of a great leader; Additionally, providing employees with a career development trajectory will help retain and engage them in the long run and finally, the line manager can individually make or break an employee’s career, and although compensation is critical, it is almost never the sole reason top talent will stay with or leave an organization.
Lastly, HR leaders must be empathetic with the company’s goals as if they were their own. If you operate with that mindset, the right decisions will be taken.
People might question your judgement however; nobody will question your intent.