Accelerated career paths, exposure to new ideas, and work independence are some of the value propositions that the workforce appreciates, says Livspace CHRO, Joyita Poddar.
Incepted in Singapore in December 2014, Livspace is a leading omni-channel home interiors and renovation platform, poised to provide a one-stop renovation solution for homeowners — from design to managed last mile fulfilment for all rooms in a home. The platform has organised a fragmented industry, bringing together designers, brands, manufacturers and contractors to enable an eCommerce-like trusted and predictable experience.
Livspace currently serves Singapore and Malaysia, as well as 30 metro and non-metro areas in India.
With the company having raised around US$450mn in capital from global investors including Ingka Group Investments (part of largest IKEA retailer Ingka Group) and Goldman Sachs, Joyita Poddar, Chief Human Resources Officer, Livspace, is excited to be leading HR through this period of rapid growth.
In this interview with Aditi Sharma Kalra, she talks us through the talent challenges this sector is facing, such as finding talent to complement the speed of startup growth, and how she's solving those issues.
Sector spotlight: Online home improvement
Based in: Singapore (with an Asia-wide remit including Singapore, Malaysia, and India)
Interview with Joyita Poddar, CHRO, Livspace
Q What's the #1 talent challenge that your sector is facing?
Livspace is a tech-enabled home renovation and fit out company. Our business model connects the dots from consumer to designer, to the entire supply chain that enables a seamless experience for our customers. That has allowed us to create jobs and livelihood for over 7,000 people in different capacities, helping people build enriching careers.
The startup environment within Livspace is exciting, providing staff with great work opportunities and flexible hybrid working models. People aspire to work here to experience accelerated career paths, exposure to new ideas and work independence. Sometimes, the challenge is in finding talent that comes in with the right set of skills and values that complement the speed at which startups operate.
Together with keeping up with how Gen Z wants to work, which comprises the largest majority of our workforce, we constantly adapt and ensure we allow for work freedom, flexibility and personal aspirations to be met.
Q Could you share some key developments that are intensifying this challenge?
The world post-pandemic has its own new norms of hiring, retention and work preferences. While we did well in being one of the early adopters in finding ways to hire and engage our talent remotely, what has not changed is the continued need for flexible working arrangements and ensuring we (respect) value that.
As the startup sector is becoming aspirational, our biggest learning has been to ensure we offer the same speed of work output, growth and career advancement, and ensuring the work output is more measurable.
Setting in place clearer objectives and key results (OKRs) and output-driven work helps.
Q How are you tackling this challenge? Do share some strategies that have worked, and how they have helped.
To cater to employees’ need for more work flexibility, Livspace offers different work models where entrepreneurs and freelancers can come work with us on a per project basis, giving employees more work independence and freedom. Besides that, we also offer the flexibility of where people work from. While some of our roles do require people in face-to-face capacity, we have been accommodating in allowing our staff in some roles to work remotely.
In a competitive environment, our value proposition is the biggest differentiator. A strong employee value proposition speaks volumes about the culture and workplace dynamics. At Livspace, employees can feel the impact of their contributions on the trajectory of the company, and have myriad opportunities to wear different hats, take up leadership roles, and be more hands-on in their day-to-day activities.
Q Going forward, what should be the next big priority for HR professionals in this sector?
We believe that businesses are only as good as their people, and hiring and retaining good talent is key. In recent years, diversity, equity and inclusion have become increasingly important for companies looking to attract and hire top talent. People look up to companies that celebrate diversity and ensure equity and representation in their workplace. Employees want to join a workplace that enriches their life experiences with opportunities to learn and grow.
A good company is one which has a work environment that employees enjoy coming into, where they feel like their contributions are being valued, and their efforts are being driven towards a greater purpose.
For HR professionals, some of the biggest challenges will be to ensure employee experience remains seamless in the new ways of working - so dependence on HR systems, communication platforms, and ways to over invest in employee engagement. All of this assumes a strong leadership layer that enables this experience - investing in mid level managers is crucial to ensuring this happens.
Q Finally, how are these challenges affecting your role - how are you proactively preparing for the future workplace?
In the coming decade, a human resource professional will have the opportunity to become a vital enabler of an organisation’s ability to thrive in an ever-evolving world. We stay true to our values and that is reflected not just in how we hire but also in how we recognise and promote people.
Holding people accountable to the work they do, and living our core values has enabled us to ensure outcome-driven metrics. To ensure the process captures performance through the year, we work on a half-yearly performance cycle. Our employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is a true reflection of the pulse which we track regularly, respond and act on instantly. With the ‘Employee First’ mindset developed by multiple HR initiatives, we are striving for a better future!
[Read more in the Industry Insider series to find out to tackle sector-specific talent challenges]
Lead image / Livspace