Family beats salary in pandemic times

Family beats salary in pandemic times
© Provided by The Times of India

Mumbai: A senior executive in a plum posting at a large organisation in Mumbai wanted to relocate to Bengaluru to be with her family, but her application was rejected by her organisation. She then decided to look out for another job as the desire to be with her family was strong. However, when she landed a good offer, her current organisation relented and decided to retain her by allowing her to relocate to Bengaluru.

“It was a critical role and the organisation valued her and thus eventually gave in to her demand for relocation when she was about to quit,” says BTI Executive Search MD James Agrawal. In another instance, an executive in a CXO role based in Pune wanted to quit the organisation for no other reason but to be with his family in Hyderabad. “He was desperate to move back with his family and was even okay with giving up a good position for the relocation,” says Agrawal.

Career and job decisions now increasingly pivot around location as candidates — mid-level and senior executives alike — want to be based near their families. The earlier jet-setting, pre-pandemic trend of long-distance relations between spouses and families appears to be reversing with several anecdotes strengthening the new trend of candidates demanding a location of their choice while hunting for a job.

Earlier, the lure of money and perks were the overriding factors, while location was secondary. But today, some are also willing to take a cut in compensation, say executive search firms. There are a couple of assignments BTI Executive Search is handling in which the candidates are willing to even take a 20% cut to be close to their parents in their native place. “One of them works for a top organisation based in the US and is keen on relocating closer to his aged parents. He’s not concerned about either the package or the position. When we asked the candidate why he was giving it all up, he said all his life he has only been working away from his parents, and now when they are old and they want to see him more often, he can at least make that effort to be closer to them,” says Agrawal.

The trend cuts across sectors. A woman executive from an FMCG company moved from Delhi to join a large Indian conglomerate in Mumbai, where her family was located. Another senior marketing head shifted from Pune to Mumbai — a distance which can easily be covered in about a couple of hours by road — to be with the spouse. Sharing these examples, Claricent Partners managing partner Jyoti Bowen Nath says the pandemic has re-defined priorities. Health and family, she says, are now paramount. “Homecoming has never seemed sweeter. More professionals, like homing pigeons, are looking at returning home to be with their spouses and families. We see professionals consciously relocating to be with their spouses and ageing parents,” says Nath. Also, wives are not necessarily trailing their husbands. “It’s now not unusual for a husband to relocate to facilitate a wife’s ongoing career journey. A senior executive from a telecom company relocated to Mumbai, and her husband followed suit by joining a bank there,” says Nath.

Earlier, candidates would move to the so called “greener pastures” — many a times away from the family, with whom they managed to catch up over weekends and holidays. Executive Access India MD Ronesh Puri says, those days, travel was not such a problem. “Post-pandemic, given the changes in regulations, mobility — which was earlier taken for granted — is now mired in uncertainty. There have also been cases where people have suffered as a consequence. People are taking pay cuts for being together with their family.”

At least 15% of the searches by Executive Access are of such nature. “At times, candidates are happy with their jobs and company but seek a change for only one reason, which is to be with their family,” says Puri.

With greater demand for certain skills, most organisations are relenting and offering not only the location of a candidate’s choice, but also compensation and a good post. A freelance intelligent automation consultant, who lives near Chandigarh, was offered a permanent job that required him to be based in Noida. However, being averse to the idea of moving away from his family, he rejected the offer. “Not only has the company now accepted his demand to work from anywhere and visit the office once in a fortnight, but also offered him a substantial jump in compensation. In the end, he got the role, the package and the location of his choice,” says Agrawal.

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