For companies, both large and small, the hunt for top talent never ends. Lately, in its efforts to cut costs while increasing the odds of employees being successful in their positions, many businesses are utilizing new innovative techniques to find talent. But to understand what lies ahead, a reflection into what has already existed is a much needed analysis in today’s world.
Recruitment has changed drastically over past few decades. Although it is very difficult to give a first-hand experience of the pre independence era, it is however possible, based on available literature, to get a picture of the employment scenario. The recruitment trend over the years has been analyzed in different periods. These periods are marked by important changes in the external environment that influenced the way people and organizations looked at recruitments in India. From a period of unorganized labour with numerous small businesses in the pre independence era to the present, modern way of functioning by organizations we look at recruitments have evolved in the Indian Market.
The pre independence era had a large number of unorganized small businesses. This era was marked with bad working conditions with bare minimum restrictions or laws safeguarding the interests of the employees. There still was no concept of HR. Reference checks were the only form selection process that existed.
Post-Independence and rise of Industrialization
Post the Independence, Socialism and Industrialization changed the face of the India and created employment opportunities in organized sector. People were required in large numbers. Concepts like "On the job training" and “people management” took care of basic skill requirements. This led to the development of a number of skilled jobs. This industrialization led to the creation of more trade unions. They were evolved for solving the issues of the employees. Collective bargaining started. The government intervened and created laws to solve a lot of the issues that were put up by these trade unions. Businesses realized that IR (earlier avatar of HR) should be part of selection process along with the people managers to avoid future IR situations. Selection process included personal interview apart from reference check.
Populist Measures and the Rise of Skilled Manpower
The government during this time followed populist methods of providing job guarantees to its employees. Although done with the right vision, structural problem led to several issues with this system. Large availability of manpower and lucrative "limited" sarkari naukri was the right mix for breeding corruption. Lack of business acumen and populist measures pushed government enterprises towards losses. All this happened while the external pressures forced government to open protected markets for global competition. A new era began. It was an era where government moved out of businesses and shifted its focus more towards governance. The external competition made the Industry, Labour Unions and Government to introspect and adapt to the new scenarios. Although the laws were slow to change, practices became relatively business friendly and flexible. New businesses emerged. More opportunities came with them. Businesses became large. Requirement of skilled manpower increased more than ever. Businesses started realizing that even skilled professionals pose challenges. Recruitment became joint responsibility of people managers and HR, even for skilled professionals. The right balance became necessity. Selections were competency based. Loyalty and length of service started fading as ample opportunities were available and skills became more of a priority.
The subsequent opening of Indian markets for foreign players was a part a larger global movement within the products and services market. Globalization started settling in. New markets opened up. Technological advancements and improved connectivity created more opportunities for basic skills especially in IT and BPO space. Businesses adopted role based jobs. Selection criteria for the jobs converged. Monthly salary became a norm. Recruitment focused on checking people for potential issues through personal interviews and reference checks. The ability to learn and adapt to different situations it emerged as important selection criteria apart from the functional skill requirements.
With the advent of technology in the Indian market, businesses explored automation to eliminate people issues. Unskilled workers lost their jobs. Only relevant skilled jobs survived. Work became more structured and recruitment became job of a HR function. The idea was to make the process fair and provide employment based on competencies. Skilled workforce expanded during this time.
The Era of “Levelisation”
The era represents recent past and near future. E-commerce and mobility led to the creation of a level playing field to small businesses. These small businesses by acquiring the right skills are able to give a tough time to big businesses. Skill levels have increased significantly and smaller businesses now are able to attract talent by luring it with ownership options.
A new concept of project based assignments has started becoming the flavor of the time. Companies have already started working with consultants for specific projects with defined outcomes rather than having permanent employees with loose job descriptions and subjective annual targets.
In days to come, society will formalize this concept. Jobs will become assignment based instead of role based salaried jobs. This will give flexibility to businesses to optimally and flexibly use individual services at an optimum price. Individuals will also have an option to take multiple jobs at one point in time. Other professionals like doctors work on similar model. They get engaged with multiple hospitals and run their own practice as well, rather than having full time employment at one hospital. This way earning potential of doctors is much more than usual. At the same time, Hospitals spend minimal fee for enrolling doctors on their panel and share revenue on per patient basis to optimize their expenses.
This era will change the recruitment practices and contracts to a large extent. Owners will become part of selection process. HR will have a role to play but that will be more of a governance role rather than administrative one. This era will be very similar to Pre - Independence Era as lot of small businesses will flourish and provide employment. However working conditions will be much better.