Technological advancements and automation in the automotive industry have increased the demand for skilled workforce and to keep up with this pace of development Schaeffler India considers nurturing and developing their employees as its key agenda.
Santanu Ghoshal, Vice President- Human Resource, Schaeffler India shares the challenges of skilling and managing a multi-generational workforce and the strategies to overcome these challenges. Here are a few insights from the interaction:
Q. Tell us about your role at Schaeffler India.
My role at Schaeffler is that of a transformational leader. Along with functional responsibilities of HR, I am also the member of Executive Council of Schaeffler India. My role is that of more of a change leader. I work very closely with the CEO in the cultural transformation journey of Schaeffler India.
Q. How are automation and the technological transformation in the automotive sector impacting Schaeffler?
The automotive industry in India is in an exciting phase. It is undergoing rapid transformation and has created both challenges and opportunities. The automotive business is witnessing a rapid technological shift, and we see a lot of opportunity in this. However, we are also aware that it creates the challenge of finding the right talent and skill. If we look at India as a country, we have this paradox – where there are billions of people, out of which we have engineers who graduate every year from colleges, but only a few are industry ready. So as a company, we are always focused on working with academic institutions and industry bodies to ensure that how can we contribute to creating a set of people who are more industry-ready, who can integrate into organization quickly and be productive.
At the internal side, we believe in creating tomorrow’s technology with a focus on providing our employees with necessary modules of competence building in this ever-changing environment. We ensure to create a welcoming and an inclusive environment for all from the beginning of one’s journey with Schaeffler. Our employees are the center of all activities and nurturing and developing them our key agenda. An amalgamation of programs for our young and accelerated leaders along with a dire focus on programs offering international exposure and real-time projects to ensure the continual development of our employees is our focus. This helps us remain ahead of the curve to serve our customers in the best possible manner.
From a larger perspective, Schaeffler as an organization itself has transformed. We have deployed a new long-term strategy of Mobility for Tomorrow and have aligned the entire organization towards the external megatrends of Urbanization, Climate change, Globalization, and Digitalization.
Q. Can you talk about the L&D initiatives that Schaeffler is taking to upskill the talent to prepared them for the shifts in the industry?
When we hire people, we focus more on attitude and commitment than technical skills alone. For us, values are as important as other skills. We hire based on these attributes and then we have a set of development initiatives within the company to prepare the employees for their respective roles. While we hire engineers, we make sure that they have relevant knowledge of the industry and simultaneously, we also focus on their learnability and agility. Besides this, we also have a strong leadership development pipeline in the company. We focus on ‘High Potential’ employees within our company and give them challenging assignments to broaden their horizons and get them out of their comfort zone.
Schaeffler also works with academic institutions as we believe that the students are the future of the country. We give them the platform to learn and apply their knowledge by providing the opportunity to work with the automotive industry.
Often employees do not take ideas into action because of their fear of failure. At Schaeffler, we encourage the opposite. We strive to build a culture that inspires people to ideate and implement. We have the concept of where someone can work on new ideas without pressure on return on investment. The talent always stays with the company and grows with the company. We encourage our employees to experiment and learn from their experience.
Q. Besides technological advancements, gig economy is also impacting the future of work. How true is this for the automotive industry?
Gig economy is something which has not yet disrupted our ecosystem. We still have fixed employment and fixed salary culture. However, we have seen some movement in this area, and it will get more prominent as we move along. But the pace of this trend becoming prevalent in the manufacturing sector is currently not being observed.
Q. What are the talent challenges that Schaeffler’s currently facing and how are you managing them?
One of the biggest challenges has been – how do you manage the aspirations of multi-generational talent. If you look at the demographic profile of our company today – there is a mixture of different generations who have their own set of priorities and aspiration. Even millennial is passé, now we have Gen Z, and they have different aspirations from the company as compared to the need of the older generation, and we look at this conflict as a critical challenge. And to address this, we have a multi-pronged strategy. We work closely with our managers to sensitize them about changing priorities and different traits of other generations. We also promote the concept of ‘coaching’ as against ‘controlling’ to get the maximum out of them. What these millennials need are strong anchors, and we are training our managers to become those anchors. It is a continuous process but I can confirm that we are on the right track.
Q. What is the one message that you have for the budding HR leaders?
One thing which I believe in and practice as well is that cost of not trying or not acting is much higher than the cost of trying and failing. One should always try and act. If you fail, it’s fine because you have a chance to learn from that experience. There are three things which I believe are crucial to success- Be curious, be empathic and collaborate.