Talentscapes

Is Your Talent Oversight Derailing Your Startup Dream?

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Stories of startups failing due to lack of “right” – leadership, culture or environment are abound and leave us with hints on “What not do as a startup?

We at Aon Hewitt through the Talent Hack@Startups research have attempted to unpack the startup talent paradigm across different stages of evolution and help outline some of the essential tenets for startups to help create a business-aligned talent strategy that can help fuel growth.

Talent Strategy as a Differentiator

Startups are both the disruptor and the disrupted
While the Ubers of the world are changing entire industries, it is not uncommon to see a startup move from healthy to struggling status in a matter of months, if not weeks or days. Given the dynamic environment of startups, it is often assumed that any startups’ talent strategy is largely a function of its scale of operations, current number of employees, revenues, valuation, etc. However, we have seen that most mature organizations that have proactively mapped their business imperatives to talent needs, have succeeded to leverage their talent strategy as a marketplace differentiator. The same can be applied to startups. We hope our research will help you create a talent blueprint, enabling you to be future-ready.

The genesis of Talent Hack@Startups We segregated startups into three categories: Hatchlings, Rising Stars and Trailblazers – basis their respective stages of growth. The online survey was followed by detailed interviews with startup founders and HR Heads of participating organizations. The research covers all aspects of HR across talent acquisition, talent management, talent development and talent engagement.

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Hatchlings – Build the Right Team

Some make it in the wild, most don’t!

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While most hatchlings try to create a new age culture, however, the culture is primarily based on the gut-feel of the founders and leaders. Inability to articulate culture and link the same to competency frameworks and other people programs leads to inconsistency and quick dissatisfaction within new hires.

The Journey Ahead for Hatchlings

Aon Hewitt recommendations
Hatchlings are starting a new organization from scratch without the baggages of conventional firms. This gives them the opportunity to build new and innovative practices. Focus should be on articulating and clearly defining a performance-oriented culture and implementing the same through right selection and performance management systems.

Rising Stars – Pre-empt and Build for the Future You Can’t See!

What happens when you succeed at steading your ship?

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The Journey Ahead

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As startups grow and evolve from hatchlings to rising stars, there is not only growth in business but also in the size of teams managing the business. This requires dedicated efforts to:

  • Attract and retain the best talent
  • Build and communicate the organization’s brand
  • Develop and groom leaders of tomorrow
  • Create an engaged workforce

Cost of failure at this stage is high and building the “right” talent strategy while scaling-up the business is like trying to ride a tiger, make it run faster and prevent from getting eaten, all at the same time.

 

Most of the rising stars reported to have a low attrition and consider it as an outcome of their strong organization culture.

Trailblazers – They are in the Big Leagues: Profitable Growth is the Only Survival Strategy

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The Journey Ahead

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As trailblazers progress, they start to slowly shed the “startup” tag. This becomes a significant point of inflection in the lifetime of a startup. The expectations of employees change significantly. Growth opportunities start to become limited, the organization becomes more process-oriented to ensure economies of scale. Talent management and development need to be strengthened to ensure that performance is optimized and employees see a future for themselves.

Create a Differentiated Talent Strategy That Enables You to be Future-ready: Get It Right Before, It’s Too Late!

Whether it be startups or established firms, the impact of having the right talent strategy and culture pays in the long-run. Our research1 shows that Best Employers typically deliver 2.6 times higher shareholder return as compared to the market average. Business strategies and technology models are relatively easier to replicate as compared to the talent strategy and organization culture. Culture is the DNA of an organization which provides a clear competitive advantage that is difficult to imitate.

Businesses today are experiencing breakthroughs faster than ever; lifecycles for innovation are shortening, the East is gradually becoming the new West and more importantly, technology is the new fuel disrupting and enabling businesses. Leading firms are leaving behind the traditional models of market access; instead they are creating new markets and controlling consumer experience like never before. Startups have the opportunity to innovate and create Next Practices rather than adapt existing Best Practices.

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As a startup, you would need to think through these three questions:

  • Is your talent strategy linked to business or is it an afterthought?
  • Does your talent strategy enable innovation, agility and speed?
  • Have you created a work culture to deliver 10X impact?

Design your talent strategy to be a marketplace differentiator, rather than blindsiding you to failure.

Trailblazers are often in the quest to create a best-in-class workplace. However, most are still struggling to put in place the right fundamentals. Value proposition should be on building Next Practices rather than modifying conventional people practices to suit their needs.

 

Data Source:
Aon Best Employers study for 2016

 

 

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Abhishek Sen
Director – Performance,
Rewards & Talent Consulting,
Aon Hewitt Consulting
Twitter @AbhishekatAon

 

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Arkesh Mishra
Senior Consultant,
Talent & Performance,
Aon Hewitt Consulting

 

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Shephali Karn
Consultant,
Talent & Performance,
Aon Hewitt Consulting
Twitter @ShephaliKarn

For more information, please write to us at talentscapes@aonhewitt.com
Follow us on LinkedIn at Aon India & Twitter @Aon_India


 
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