Bensely Zachariah, the Global Head of HR at Fulcrum Digital, shares insights on tackling the evolving dynamics of the workplace, addressing employee expectations, and the innovative talent acquisition strategies and technologies that position Fulcrum as a frontrunner in attracting top talent. Additionally, he sheds light on professional development goals and the commitment to fostering a culture of continuous improvement within the HR department as they prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the coming year.
What were the most significant accomplishments and challenges for you in 2023? Can you share a specific accomplishment where your HR strategy contributed directly to the achievement of the company's overall strategic objectives?
The 2023 Global Technology Leadership Study by Deloitte indicates that over 50% of executives anticipate their digital transformation initiatives in the next two years will concentrate on creating new tech-enabled products, services, and/or platforms. However, paradoxically, only 13% of surveyed employers express confidence in their ability to recruit and retain the essential tech talent needed to create said offerings. The industry has shifted from degree inflation in the early part of 2000 to skills-based hiring (hiring based on demonstrated skills and competencies) in the past few years based on demand due to the unprecedented pace of digital transformation.
Apart from the scarcity of the appropriate skills, it would not make business sense to fulfill all these requirements from the market. The biggest challenge in an uncertain market is to have a clearly defined strategy on how to develop these skills. Data analysis on the past & present skills hired/required confirmed that seventy percent of our requirements were from a couple of tech stacks which helped us in hiring and developing the right type of people. This has helped us build a technically robust team for a leading financial services client in the past year, which is a direct contribution to the company’s overall strategic objectives.
The challenge for the next year is to build a scalable model of creating capability using Gen AI tools that can understand customer preferences, adapt to market dynamics, and implement continuous learning to redefine our talent management strategies
How do you plan to adapt HR strategies to address evolving workplace dynamics and employee expectations?
Before the pandemic, most of the companies in our segment created their employee value proposition around development, career advancement, culture, rewards, & engagement. However, in the past few years, employee engagement has matured into a more holistic concept of employee experience- a way in which employees internalise and interpret their interactions with their organisation. The concept of balance between work and personal life has changed.
We believe that any change cannot succeed if done abruptly and hence, we started seeding the ideas of a return to their workplace almost a year back. We currently work on a hybrid model where they work out of the office for a couple of days. This enables them to socialise and build bonds with their colleagues and collaborate for innovative ideas which can help them learn and work better.
As an organisation, we have enhanced our retention model to ensure that they are provided with roles that provide them with horizontal and vertical growth where they can utilise their core skills to succeed in their defined roles. To enable this, we provide them with an environment where they can unleash their potential while doing meaningful work and challenging work. This would also mean working with them to develop and help shape their careers by way of integrating their development plans (IDP) with the business strategy and providing them with the coaching and mentoring required to achieve them.
Are there any specific talent acquisition strategies or technologies you are considering to stay ahead in attracting top talent?
At Fulcrum, we believe that apart from competitive compensation/benefits, one of the top priorities for tech talent would be opportunities to work on cutting-edge technologies or projects that can offer sufficient challenges. A positive work environment that offers flexibility in focusing on results rather than methods, coupled with a talent model supporting diverse career paths and providing them a sense of purpose we believe would further enhance our chances to attract the best talent.
From a technology perspective, we are working with our AI division on a Gen AI tool that streamlines resume parsing on our ATS by stack ranking the candidates based on customized skill-matching scores. Apart from being able to identify the most suitable candidates, it also enhances the experience of the prospective candidates by providing prompt application status, fitment scores, personalized feedback, and even recommending the most appropriate open position for them.
We are also planning to experiment with a chatbot that can be used during the screening process which can substitute a traditional screening call with personalised two-way discussions with hundreds of candidates at the same time. They can process the prospective candidates’ responses to qualify them efficiently within minutes.
Are there any professional development goals you have set for yourself or the HR team in the coming year?
As a function, HR is divided into HR Business Partners, HR Operations, Recruitment, and Learning & Development. We have a role mapping done for each function with an outcome-oriented KPI & KRA which are set in alignment with the organisational objectives. Individual Development Plans (IDP’s) are created in consultation with managers and are reviewed, feedback provided, and course corrections applied every quarter. The primary purpose of the IDPs is to help the team member attain their short-term and long-term goals, as well as improve their current job performance. As a part of their IDP, learning plans, and certifications are aligned, additional responsibilities apart from their functional tasks/roles are given and their progress is measured every quarter. The focus is always on the core competencies of their current and future skills, and then on specialist skills and competencies.
In 2024, this will also be augmented with the required training in AI for the integration of our AI platform ‘Ryze’ within the HR function, for covering most of the administrative functions carried out in HR and for some of the HR specific tools that will be built for the function. At a personal level too, I undergo at least a couple of HR certifications every year to enhance my competencies in certain strategic areas.
How do you encourage a culture of continuous improvement within the HR department?
Continuous improvement is an organisation’s incremental but sustainable efforts to improve the processes of the organisation. This can only be successful if integrated into the culture of the organisation. As a part of our yearly PMS, we conduct an individual and a sub-function SWOT analysis, to enable the individual/team to improve by using their strengths to exploit opportunities, while working on the weaknesses to overcome them to avoid the threats.
We also sit down as a team for brainstorming sessions mostly to identify problems in our process and to optimise them. We also conduct a value stream mapping on some of our process in recruitment and learning and development to deliver high quality employee experience.
One of the other areas that we concentrate on is operational excellence, which also is a part of our KPI & KRA for the function. Continuous improvement and innovative practices form a major part of our alignment with our business strategy to achieve our goals of operational excellence.