Article: Talent acquisition adapts to the evolving work landscape, says SBI Life's CHRO

Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition adapts to the evolving work landscape, says SBI Life's CHRO

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Subodh Kumar Jha, EVP & Chief of HR and Management Services, SBI Life Insurance, shares insights into the company’s recruitment landscape, skills, and competencies needed for the insurance sector, among others.
Talent acquisition adapts to the evolving work landscape, says SBI Life's CHRO

SBI Life Insurance's Subodh Kumar Jha sheds light on the innovative strategies driving their talent acquisition amidst industry evolution and the rise of hybrid work. He extensively talks about embracing technology to foster a versatile workforce.

How are you planning to leverage technology and automation in the talent acquisition process to improve efficiency and identify the right candidates?

In the age of digital progress, the recruitment landscape has undergone a significant transformation, marked by a dynamic and technology-driven approach. Organisations can now boost the efficiency, data-driven nature, and ability to identify suitable job—applicants by strategically integrating technologies into their talent acquisition processes. These technologies are not only helpful to identify and attract top talent but also to retain them.

We have been embracing digitalisation in our talent acquisition practices, SBI Life Insurance is in the process of implementing an advanced Human Resource Management System. This system is equipped with contemporary and user-friendly technological features, aiming to bring about a revolutionary shift. Our goal is to optimise not only our talent acquisition procedures but also to enhance the overall user experience for both our employees and the HR team. This transformation will provide us with cutting-edge tools for resume screening, ensuring a more streamlined and efficient selection process. Furthermore, it will empower us to scrutinize candidate data with precision, facilitating informed decision-making based on a comprehensive understanding of skills and qualifications.

Given the evolving nature of the insurance industry, what new skills and competencies will you prioritise in potential hires in 2024?

Amid dynamic transformations within the insurance industry, at SBI Life our recruitment approach persists in attracting individuals who possess a unique blend of traditional expertise and emerging skills. These skills mirror the industry's pivot towards technology-driven solutions, customer-centricity, regulatory compliance, adaptability, learning agility, collaboration, and ethical decision-making. It's important to note that specific needs may vary based on the focus and specialization within the insurance sector.

In this modern era of work, we aim to leverage cutting-edge technologies. Consequently, we actively seek individuals proficient in utilising these technologies across diverse functions such as business strategy, operations, product development, marketing, and more.

Our quest for talent extends to individuals with a solid foundation in digital literacy. We need candidates who not only grasp the complexities of insurtech but also demonstrate adaptability in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

A top priority for us is recognizing the enduring value of soft skills, effective communication, adaptability, and a customer-centric mindset remain crucial, emphasizing our dedication to delivering top-notch service to our customers.

Therefore, at SBI Life our hiring strategy in 2024 will focus on assembling a versatile workforce characterized by technological proficiency, ethical grounding, and the essential soft skills required to excel in the continually evolving landscape of the insurance industry.

How are you planning to align the talent acquisition strategy with the changing needs of the industry?

We strategically realign our talent acquisition to meet the evolving demands of the insurance industry, our approach integrates a versatile skill set encompassing technological expertise, regulatory awareness, and essential soft skills.

In embracing digital transformation, we are refining our assessment criteria to identify candidates with strong digital literacy and adaptability—qualities crucial for success in an increasingly technology-driven sector.

The emphasis on soft skills, such as effective communication, customer-centricity, and adaptability, remains pivotal in our selection process. This ensures that our team adheres to our customer-first approach.

Through these strategies, we will be able to enhance our ability to attract, recruit, and retain talent that aligns with the dynamic needs of the industry.

Beyond industry expertise, we actively diversify our talent pool by exploring new sources. In line with our people strategy, we recruit talent from graduate colleges, infusing our workforce with fresh perspectives and energy.

In summary, our comprehensive talent acquisition strategy is specifically crafted to align with the dynamic requirements of the industry. It combines diverse skills, a robust technological foundation, and an influx of new talent from graduate colleges, ensuring our organisation remains agile and forward-looking in this ever-evolving landscape.

How has the talent acquisition strategy evolved to align with the increasing prevalence of hybrid work arrangements?

The increasing prevalence of hybrid work arrangements has significantly impacted talent acquisition strategies. As we adapt to new ways of working, talent acquisition strategies are evolving to attract and retain employees who can thrive in hybrid environments. Talent acquisition has become more dynamic and adaptive to the changing nature of work, with a focus on attracting, developing, and retaining talent that can excel in hybrid work environments.

At SBI Life, our strategy for talent acquisition is not merely adapting but actively embracing the transformative shift underway. We acknowledge that talent is no longer confined by geographical boundaries, and we are proactively utilising technology to tap a diverse pool of candidates possessing specialised skills and industry expertise.

Our recruitment processes are undergoing a profound transformation, assessing not only technical competencies but also the ability to collaborate seamlessly in virtual environments. We prioritise identifying candidates who can adeptly navigate the unique challenges and opportunities posed by hybrid work. Key aspects of our approach include remote hiring practices, a focus on digital skills, technology adoption, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Moreover, we recognize the significance of soft skills in a dispersed work setting.

How is the company building and maintaining talent pipelines for critical roles? Do you have succession planning strategies in place to ensure a steady flow of qualified internal candidates for key positions?

At SBI Life, we have a well-defined succession planning framework to take proactive measures to build and maintain talent pipelines for all crucial roles.

For the identification of individuals with high potential, we provide them with targeted developmental opportunities. This includes specialised training programs, mentorship, and exposure to diverse functional areas. We aim to cultivate and expand their skills and competencies.

We actively cultivate a culture of continual learning and growth. Alos, encourage our employees to upskill and position themselves for future leadership roles within the company.

Our emphasis lies in nurturing talent pipelines through a strategic combination of internal capability development via structured development plans. This approach ensures the acquisition of new skills and perspectives, thereby fortifying our workforce and leadership pipeline to meet the future needs of the organization.

As an Insurance company, what has been your recruitment strategy? What is the net addition in the employee’s strength at SBI Life every year?

Our recruitment strategy is aligned with our company’s objectives, culture, and values.  It is crafted to attract, identify, and hire the best talent at all levels and be among the industry’s leading employers of choice to provide substantial career prospects to our workforce, not just employment. 

The strategy encompasses various processes and approaches, which are flexible and adaptable in response to changing market dynamics and hiring demands, ensuring the selection of fitting candidates to occupy our open positions.

 Some of the key steps in our recruitment strategy are:

  • Promoting our brand identity, corporate values, positive work environment, employee benefits, and growth opportunities actively across various platforms and channels to attract high-caliber talents.
  • Harnessing the potential of employee referrals to channel well-suited candidates who harmonize with our corporate culture.
  • Need-based strategic engagement of recruitment agencies for lateral acquisitions, broadening the spectrum of potential candidates and enhancing screening efficiency.
  • Nurturing affiliations with business schools and colleges to tap into nascent talent pools through campus recruitment.
  • Commencing this financial year, we have initiated a pioneering initiative by recruiting recent graduates from normal colleges in small towns across the country, ensuring gender parity and inclusivity.

We at SBI Life formulate our workforce budgets by assessing business opportunities, and our growth strategy, and accounting for anticipated attrition rates. Although the attrition rate in our company is one of the lowest in the industry, keeping these criteria in mind, we strategise to onboard a significant number of new employees with a 10-15% net increase in workforce size on a YoY basis. Around 15% of our total hiring for the current financial year consists of fresh graduates and our strategy is to recruit more fresh graduates during the coming years ensuring gender parity and inclusivity. 

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Strategic HR, #HRCommunity

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