Today, the customers have more complex problems and are looking for specific workforce solutions
A lot of companies in India still continue to do their own recruitment and many of them have not yet dealt with the outsourced functions
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Dhirendra Shantilal, Senior Vice President, APAC, Kelly Services, talks about how India is maturing toward partnership models in recruitment and where India stands vis-à-vis other APAC nations
You have over 30 years of experience in the recruitment space. How do you think recruitment has evolved over the years?
The recruitment space has become quite sophisticated over the years. Today, the customers are looking for specific workforce solutions and not just placements or staffing solutions; they come to us with more complex problems. So, we’ve moved away from being transactional to a more consultative environment. The size of industry has also grown over the years and exceeds $300 billion. Earlier, it was just about getting a job for someone, but today we are addressing customer’s complex workforce problems and providing solutions. So, today if a customer comes to us and says that he is looking for setting up centers in India, we hunt and search talent for them and recommend locations where he can set those centers. Hence, the whole process has become more consultative than transactional. The second change is that the employees of today are more sophisticated. They look for jobs in stable companies and hope to grow with the organization. Today, the Gen X or Gen Y workforce is more about ‘now’. The changes that have taken place in the last 15-20 years at the workforce and recruitment levels have also changed the way organizations work.
If you compare the recruitment scenario in India with other countries in the APAC region, where do you think India stands?
If you look at the markets in developed countries like Australia, the staffing industry there tends to be looking for solutions such as contingent workforce and outsourcing. India still is an infant in this case as it is still developing. Although new processes and trends like Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) are coming in, but looking at the economic growth, there still is a huge need for more recruitment to be done. Different countries have different challenges and different scales with which they operate. However, the core is that every country depends on foreign investment to a great extent. And those foreign companies investing in a particular country look for the best talent available. Be it India, China or Japan, the essential job of any recruiter remains the same – to find the best talent.
2008-09 saw hiring dipping across sectors. However, with the market opening up now, what hiring trends can be observed?
Hiring is directly linked with the performance of the economy. We recruiters easily realize that if the hiring has gone down, then economy is not doing well, and vice versa. But fortunately, we were one of the few economies to come out from the downturn very quickly. The recruitment of talent is happening at all levels. A lot of companies who had frozen headcounts in 2008-09 are coming back to us saying they need talent at all levels. Hiring is happening across the board – BFSI, Telecom, Life Sciences including pharmaceuticals, healthcare, bio-technology, et al. There is a big need for engineers, and so, we’ve launched Kelly Engineering Resources in India where we have engineers recruiting engineers. We have seen a tremendous need in this professional segment.
As you have an interest in the Gen X and Gen Y, what is your opinion on this segment of the workforce? How can the two co-exist along with baby boomers in the same organization?
I have an interest in the Gen X and Gen Y because they are the future work leaders. And I’ve an interest in them because I need to know how they think, behave and act. About their co-existence, this is a challenge all organizations are facing. This is a very unique time as we have two-three generations working together in the same workspace and the challenge is how we accommodate all of them. You may have Gen X boss with a baby boomer employee, or a Gen Y boss with a baby boomer or Gen X employee. There has to be a lot more flexibility within the organizations. Different companies have to tackle this situation differently and very sensitively as it will impact the entire work culture of that particular organization.
Do you think that job portals can susbtitute the traditional recruitment space?
Initially, when job portals were launched many thought that they will take away business from our industry. But one thing that has never changed is when companies want to recruit people, they want to meet and interact with them face to face. Earlier recruiters used to place an advertisement in the newspapers and invite applications. Job portals do the same thing but the medium is different. I think the online medium is a fairly good way to get in touch with people. I don’t think that job portals will ever be able to change the traditional practices of recruitment. Job portals complement the recruitment process as even we use them. But if they start eating into our business, we will stop using them and become a competition to them. Job portals should remain job portals; they have a role to play and should limit themselves to their role only.
Talking of work force management, what differentiates India from other APAC countries?
Volume! India is a country with a huge mass of volume. One challenge that we face in India is that since industries here are still in their infancy, we have to show our customers the value of the talent available here. A lot of companies in India still continue to do their own recruitment and many of them have not yet dealt with the outsourced functions. Invariably, it has been the HR function that has been focusing on retaining and developing talent. Indian companies have not yet started outsourcing their need to attract, develop and retain talent to RPOs on a large scale.