The21ST Century Workplace

Employees deliver key projects, write lines of code that form products and applications, and are the faces of the organisation as they sell the services and solutions to its clients — all aided by the necessary management support. Employees, I believe, form the very core of the company. They form the linchpins to success by being ‘the’ deciding factors that influence the company’s ability to compete in today’s dynamic economic environment. Hence, more than ever before, it is key that organisations work towards inculcating an entrepreneurial culture among the employees.

Before I start describing how to nurture ‘intrapreneurs’ in a company, we need to realise how the talent industry is changing due to technological advancements. The technological revolution that began in the last few decades of the 20th century has evolved and impacted nearly every walk of life in the 21st century — the way we shop, the way we interact and the way we run businesses. It has led to the globalisation of economies and a change in client demands. But most importantly, rapid technology adoption has led to a transformation in the talent workforce.

While technology adoption is the main catalyst for this transformation, the steady change of the workforce is also amplifed by four other factors — globalisation, shift in demographics, changing environment and social trends. To address the dual problem of changing employee characteristics and the evolving business requirements for talent, we have to focus on two key areas — nurturing high-skill knowledge workers and encouraging employees to become ‘intrapreneurs’.

Nurturing high-skill knowledge workers

At one end of the spectrum, we are witnessing a signifcant and disturbing skills gap in fresh graduates. According to the Aspiring Minds’ National Employability Report 2014 for Engineering Graduates in India, less than 20 percent of the estimated six lakh engineering students who graduate every year are ‘employable’ for software jobs. At the other end of the spectrum, we are witnessing a requirement for a rapid skills shift for experienced employees.

Therefore, training is important to continue to be relevant to our clients. However, a long-term model to sustain our relevance involves indoctrination of a sense of curiosity among employees with respect to work. Trained employees with a high level of curiosity are the crème de la crème, who have the ability for critical analysis, question the status-quo, and deviate from traditional methodologies. These trained employees will ultimately create the ingenious and innovative solutions that organisations are looking for. In fact, these curious employees are the ones who turn into intrapreneurs.

Empowering employees to become ‘intrapreneurs’

Mobile and cloud technologies have brought about a sense of independence and individuality, which in turn have created abundant freelance and outcome-based opportunities. There is a growing trend among employees to choose work over company, and short-term projects over long-term commitment. Hence, it is even more critical that companies capitalise on the strengths of employees and inspire them to become ‘intrapreneurs’ within the organisation.

So whether it is internal training, the grooming of intrapreneurs, or the use of various engagement mechanisms, in my opinion, the power of an organisation’s innovation potential can only be realised by the collective empowerment of its employees with a strong commitment to its clients.