Culture, not pay alone, will attract CXO talent

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MUMBAI: Money alone perhaps can’t buy happiness. Ask top C-suite executives. Compensation is said to be losing its magnetism in attracting talent, with workplace culture gaining traction among top executives.
According to a survey, the top three factors that a CXO hunting for a job in 2024 will look for are company culture, potential for growth and empowerment.Compensation comes fourth, finds the survey conducted by global search firm Executive Access among 225 CXOs/CEOs across industries and geographies.
On the other hand, top traits that organisations want to see in talent are adaptability, growth mindset and resilience. These do not come as a surprise, given that firms are operating in a BANI (brittle, anxious, non-linear, incomprehensible) world. But the fact that candidates are prioritising company culture and empowerment more than compensation appears to be a paradigm shift.
Executive Access (India) MD Ronesh Puri said, “Talent looks at company culture far more closely than ever in the past indicating a more mature view of a career. Apolitical informal culture, behaviour of bosses and peers, respect, learning and investment of the company in growing and developing talent are valued… Talent doesn’t want to be suffocated and gets put off by politics, toxic behaviour and a cut-throat culture.”
Puri added that even working in organisations where the compensation is higher but work-life balance has to be eschewed is a no-no for a vast number of candidates. “Employees today do far more homework on culture and are not overtly attracted by the brand or size of the business of a prospective employer. They want to work in a happy organisation rather than best paying one,” said Puri, while adding that working in an organisation heavy on bureaucracy and limited empowerment is not considered an ideal destination by talent today, too.
Prem Singh, president (group HR), JK Organisation, who is also the president of National HRD Network, however, cautioned that the data needs to be viewed keeping the context in mind. “After Covid, a large number of CXO candidates have been seen to be prioritising culture, with an emphasis on operational autonomy, work-life balance and an ability to make an impact. While this is true of a large number of established businesses, in the startup ecosystem, most candidates are still prioritising wealth creation opportunity as the key lever, given the higher levels of risks associated – so, wealth creation tends to act as a trade-off,” said Singh.
On CXO hiring, Singh said companies have been laying a lot of emphasis on a strong entrepreneurial mindset as one of the key traits in candidates. “Digital literacy, a frugal mindset and team leadership are the next important factors. Of course, the texture of these would vary based on the specific needs of businesses,” added Singh.
The demand for top talent – which is adaptable and can deliver in any environment – is tied-in with India’s standing globally. “With economic winds blowing in India’s favour, organisations are far more optimistic and keen to exploit the vast opportunities that businesses have today. The environment is more business-friendly and hence, organisations today require talent which is hungry and has a growth mindset…,” said Puri.
The pandemic changed the dynamics on this count greatly. Puri added that going forward, organisations realise fluidity and volatility will only increase and hence, adaptability becomes critical.

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