The year 2023 has seen quite a few learnings for the world of jobs and careers. Even as people got ready for the shift from remote work to back to office and hybrid work environments, the global market conditions, technology shifts and funding scenario also led to shifts in hiring patterns and increased layoffs in certain sectors. What were some of the most critical lessons when it came to hiring and firing?

Overall hiring shifts:

Jaideep Kewalramani, COO & Head of Employability, TeamLease Edtech says recruitment saw a boost with technology. He highlighted trends such as the integration of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning has revolutionized the recruitment process. Automated screening tools, chatbots, and algorithmic assessments are streamlining the initial stages of hiring, enabling recruiters to sift through large volumes of resumes efficiently. “This not only expedites the hiring process but also ensures a more objective evaluation of candidates based on merit and skills,” he adds.

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Industry specific shifts for CEO level hiring:

Mr Harold D’Souza, Co-Founder and Director, WalkWater Talent Advisors, Executive Search and Talent Advisory Company shares, “Consumer related industries saw relative stability and new CEO hiring was not very high except in new promoter driven entities. Government spending contributed to the growth of manufacturing and infrastructure industries in India and the latter part of the year saw some big hires in Energy, Manufacturing and Infrastructure, especially in new Energy. The BFSI industry saw some big CEO hires largely driven by ending tenures as per regulations, but some hires in new age Fintechs were driven by business model changes. Fintech as an industry emerged as a big employer and a new generation of leaders will emerge from this sector.”

The clear trends in CEO hiring according to D’Souza are around movement to larger diversity and inclusion focus, greater stress of sustainability and environmental impact and a move towards a deeper understanding of technology especially new areas like Gen AI and its application. He feels that there is also a better awareness of India’s emergence as a go-to economy with a bigger presence in the world.

Kewalramani adds that as businesses undergo rapid growth and transformations, organizations are placing a greater emphasis on reskilling and upskilling initiatives. Instead of resorting to mass layoffs during periods of change, companies are investing in the development of their existing workforce. This proactive approach not only ensures employee retention but also contributes to a more agile and adaptable organizational culture. Employers are leveraging the gig economy and searching for innovative gig models to tap a seasonal and on demand workforce. Simultaneously, workers are finding new avenues for professional growth through diverse and dynamic engagements.

“While technical skills remain crucial, the spotlight is increasingly shifting towards soft skills. The remote work environment demands effective communication, collaboration, and emotional intelligence. Employers are recognizing the importance of these attributes in fostering a cohesive and productive virtual work environment. Consequently, hiring decisions are being influenced by a candidate’s ability to navigate the complexities of the changed workplace environment. Also, HR heads are embracing work-integrated degree programs to transform talent acquisition and development. ” he adds.

Human-Centric Approach to Firing:

Kewalramani also adds that on the flip side, the concept of firing or letting go of employees has undergone a transformation as well. Best-in-class organizations are adopting a more human-centric approach, recognizing the impact of job loss on individuals. Outplacement services, career counseling, and support systems are being integrated into the termination process, aiming to assist employees in their transition to new opportunities. This empathetic approach not only safeguards the well-being of departing employees but also contributes to a positive employer brand. However, not all companies are following these best practices when it comes to firing and layoffs.D’Souza shares that at the senior levels, CEO exits were largely in Tech and related areas, not only in India but globally.

Outlook for 2024:

“Our view is that 2024 will see a boom in senior hiring, if there are no other black swan moments. Funding will increase, start ups will see renewed energy , and focus and also learn from past mistakes. The Indian economy especially post the election results will see a big boost and this will result in Indian companies hiring bigger global leadership for new business to lead their ambitious growth plans. The IPO rush of late 2023 will continue post election and this in turn will again lead to more CEO hires.” D’Souza concludes.

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