In today’s times, where the world is increasingly becoming global with accessibility to global resources, the focus is paramount on creating a unique experience for the consumer. It is no longer, business as usual. According to CK Prahalad and MS Krishnan (authors of The New Age of Innovation: Driving Co-Created Value Through Global Networks), there has been "a significant transformation from a business process focus on the firm to a business process focus on each unique customer experience."
In the world of talent acquisition, we are slowly but surely waking up to this phenomenon with a mounting focus on candidate experience. This also has a lot to do with the “Gen Z” entering the work force. HR teams are familiar with smart and tech-savvy Gen Y, but Gen Z has grown up in a world where information is not only real time but voice and gesture controlled.
HR teams are increasingly looking to technology and tools to manage the five generations in the workforce that are functioning side-by side. Machine learning, algorithms and Artificial Intelligence are the buzzwords currently flitting through hallowed halls of corporate offices and HR professionals’ minds. Artificial intelligence is about devices or applications designed to think and act rationally, taking decisions based on the data that is fed into the programs. Some of the most advanced AI tools are “artificial assistants” that are solely focused on improving the candidate experience. These tools help to automate and customize communication processes with candidates during the entire hiring process. Machine learning was developed as a branch of Artificial Intelligence that with Internet amounted to a huge increase in digital information being generated, stored, and made available for analysis. Engineers realized that rather than teaching computers and machines how to do everything, it would be far more efficient to code them to think like human beings, and then plug them into the Internet to give them access to all of the information in the world.
As SHRM Online reported last year, an AI tool “Mya” uses natural language technology to ask questions to candidates based on job requirements. It also answers applicants' questions about employers and keeps them apprised of their hiring status. Mya answers candidate questions on company policies, benefits and culture around-the-clock through SMS, Facebook, Skype, e-mail or through a browser window called a chat client where people can chat instantly. This saves recruiters from having to field the same questions time and again. If Mya is stumped, it contacts a human recruiter and then returns to the candidate with an answer.
Another noteworthy tool is IBM Watson, which helps recruiters derive insights from ATS data, build knowledge and offer recommendations for candidates. Watson can help recruiters measure the degree of efforts required to fill certain job openings and help prioritize job requisitions, predict with accuracy the likelihood of candidates being successful and perform social media "listening" to create insights that help recruiters improve messaging to candidates. There are other AI tools that automate the entire scheduling managing multiple calendars at once, freeing recruiters to concentrate on the strategic aspect of talent acquisition.
While there are these tools and self-learning machines, we need to pay attention to the reams of data collected – “big data analytics”. This has been successfully implemented in the business areas for organizations and is now being more frequently applied to various areas in the human resources function — talent acquisition, onboarding, training, talent management, employee engagement, and attrition. Since Talent Acquisition is the first and one of the most important, not to forget, also one of the most expensive stages in the employee life cycle – it is perhaps the most sensible area for the implementation of data analytics.
It is widely understood that as compared to a telephonic conversation, video calling enables you to have deeper conversations, where you are able to pick up on subtle non-verbal cues of human behavior. In the SMAC world, with an increasing penetration of mobility devices and Internet, the playing field has been vastly leveled. Information, ideas are accessible even in the remotest parts of world and helps create a better, smarter world.
With AI tools and machine learning taking over more and more operational tasks, areas and jobs that cannot be automated are going to be even more powerful and valuable. We, unfortunately, tend to give the short end to the human side of things under pressure of processes, tasks and odd menial jobs. With technology helping to tackle these tasks in a faster and more efficient manner, we as a class of people would be able to concentrate on the more human attributes which cannot be programmed in a robot. The Indian consumer has always been pretty tech-savvy, eager to latch on to latest innovations in the technology. The talent acquisition space has seen the advent of some of the available tools like utilizing social media for employer branding – creating employee growth stories and creating a brand worth working for. At Mahindra Finance, we have painstakingly built the brand and created a trusting relationship with the heart of India –rural and semi-urban markets, which is the core of our organization both from a customer and employee perspective. It was a part of our strategic vision to maximize hiring from the areas which act as our primary customer base so that our employees understand the culture, topography, business cycles and most importantly customer sentiment.
Following through the philosophy of hiring locally and the strong brand pride that we have in our employees, it is perhaps not surprising that our largest source for new hires is employee referrals. More than 50 percent of our hiring every year has been through our employees. This in itself is a strong indicator of the sense of pride, engagement and commitment that our employees feel for the brand.
We also encourage internal growth for employees and have a very active Internal Job Portal to promote lateral and upward movement for employees within Mahindra Finance.
Around 30 percent of hires across India were closed through IJP movements in FY15-16. We also have a very active Internal Job Portal within the Mahindra group, leveraging talent from across industries but with the same sense of internal pride and values.
Intelligent technology has touched and improved upon almost every aspect of the employee lifecycle and talent acquisition arguably is one of the areas which has greatly benefitted by it. From ATS (Applicant Tracking System), posting vacancies to multiple job boards, to intelligent resume parsing and screening, we have seen it all. Mahindra Finance has several aptitude and psychometric tests in place at various levels for testing candidates’ various functional and behavioral competencies.
We are also in the process of upgrading to a new HCM suite which will help us to complete the entire talent acquisition process right from job posting to onboarding with minimum human intervention.
We are also adopting a completely new on-boarding process which is based on principles of gamification to create a better connect with the new employees and making the on-boarding process enjoyable and fun.
As a concept, balancing ‘human’ and ‘tech’ may soon be replaced with the word “Integrating”. Integrating the human connection with the new age technology would make us efficient, productive and at the same time relevant.