HR leaders must tackle the ever-changing nature of skill demands. Given the nature of tech advancement and shift in consumer preferences, companies hoping to accelerate growth must invest in more impactful hiring practices to source the desired candidate at the right time. Inevitably, the increased need for business agility begins with agile recruitment solutions which today must be responsive to changing skill demands. And so in conversation with industry leaders, we tap into actionable solutions and powerful tools that can help HR leaders and Talent Acquisition Heads to hire better and support their organisation’s growth.
Here are some key takeaways from the session.
Today’s skills landscape: An overview
In the age of digital disruption, expanding geographies, and a diversified workforce, the skills of the future will be cognitive skills such as critical thinking, creativity, self-leadership, innovation, emotional intelligence, communication, collaboration, stakeholder management, curiosity, etc. Tarunpreet Singh, Director and Global Human Resource Business Partner at Capgemini shared a study that highlighted how by 2030, 85% of today’s workforce will be engaged in roles that don’t exist today. Renu Bohra, Chief People Officer at DB Schenker elaborated further and shared that in a day-to-day journey, we don't see this shift so prominently, but if we cut across generations spanning only three to five years, it is definitely happening.
Hence, the topmost priority for organisations is to create a culture that fosters free-flow information-sharing, acceptance of failure, emotionally intelligent supervisors and most importantly, recognising that all ideas matter. This is especially true in the gig economy where different work formats place an emotional load on the individual, added Venkatraman Girish, Head of Human Resources at Larsen & Toubro Geostructure. Apurva Sheth, Executive Director and Head of Enterprise Business at Imarticus Learning mentioned that it is not just about what skills, but the how - “HR is about how to enable people to become productive for a longer period of time in the ongoing skills shift.” Venkat added that this is possible only by relating to people, building relationships, and trust.
New models for a new-age workforce
Two workforce models exist today: ‘hire-train-deploy’ and ‘train-hire-deploy’. Apurva suggested that the choice of model is about how quickly people become billable because this is what will ensure management buy-in for skilling.
Renu added that the decision also depends on the business context. For hire-train-deploy, HR must add elements of assessments to enable the entire campus-to-corporate transition fast and save costs. She also shared, “We have a huge focus on hiring internal talent across the organization. As a Great Place to Work, people want growth in an 18-month career path. So we identify aspirations, culture-fit, etc. and when a person is 70% ready for a role, we train and move”. A lot of front-level role fulfilment at DB Schenker happens by deploying NAPS (National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme) interns and training them over 6-9 months before onboarding. Similarly, hiring interns is a great way for both the person and the organisation to gauge if they fit the domain, culture, industry, geography, etc.
After choosing the right model, HR must invest in the relevant tech tools to ensure a fair and unbiased evaluation of talent across diverse backgrounds.
The technology arm of trust
The scope for integrating technology is not limited to technical skills: online testing, psychometrics, hackathons, and online simulations help test managerial skills too. Tech-enabled smart assessment frameworks not only provide scalability and objectivity in talent assessment but also help build a perception of fairness amongst candidates and internal stakeholders. L&T uses virtual assessments at the entry level, and Venkat believes in its tremendous scope for mid-level and leadership assessments too.
Apurva shared that when infusing technology, many companies make the mistake of merely making things fancy without actually creating a winning EVP. The key to tech success is balancing personalised training with broader skill requirements. HR must develop a very good funnel by inculcating thought leadership around the quality of employees and must also focus on how these prospective employees absorb the culture of the organisation. This is a huge change exercise that entails identifying the skill gap, restructuring the job responsibilities, mapping specific roles with specific skills, assessing a person’s personality traits, and offering a very personalised onboarding so that people are productive when they join from day one. At the business end, HR must allocate the right talent for the right project, and at the employee end, HR must empower employees with personalised growth plans.
Externally, a comprehensive end-to-end hiring and onboarding system can enhance the candidate experience. AI-enabled applicant tracking systems (ATS) not only help assess people adequately through resume-parsing and video interviews but also ensure timely and appropriate communication with potential talent. Renu highlighted how gamified onboarding through their Game Studio provides personalised simulation-learning that is location agnostic, compatible with different LMS and handheld devices and has great UI/UX, thereby creating a stickiness with joiners.
The most important is to formalise tech interventions into a roadmap and feed it into the KRAs of employees with feedback mechanisms to enable year-end assessment.
Complement tech with culture
Tarunpreet talked about four key aspects of talent success: building the right skills and capabilities for the future, engaging and retaining top talent, enabling seamless adaptation of the changes, and tying all this to the business narrative and growth roadmap. One step towards this is to emphasise learning as a core cultural trait. The ‘LeeFo package’ concept creates an employee-centric learning journey within the workflow. It suggests learning basis user profile, job role, personal interest, career aspirations, manager recommendations, peer learning, etc. On these lines, Capgemini launched a Learnathon i.e. a learning marathon which personalises learning at an employee level and seamlessly aligns with a long-term strategy. HR’s role as a catalyst is to create a push that nudges the user to experience this learning journey.
Culture is not just employee-facing but external-facing too. Venkat shared how their key differentiator is agile and high-touch recruitment, “People often look to our recruiters, not just through the recruitment journey, but even through the mid stages of their career in the organisation." When candidates get to talk to fairly senior people early in the recruitment discussion, it makes a difference. Giving developmental feedback to candidates during the hiring process also enhances the employer brand through ‘word of mouth’. And at a mid or senior level, building a relationship with good performers across the industry can make one a talent magnet. Conveying the employee value proposition with a human touch helps build a positive employee and candidate experience.
Closing Lines: Culture is key to success
The human touch comes from actually experiencing the journey, it cannot be conveyed in a booklet or workshop. Here, the role of HR is critical and ever-evolving. As a bridge between talent and organisation, HR themselves must be tech-savvy to be able to leverage both tech and touch for better talent outcomes. They must have strong business acumen, analytical skills, stakeholder management, and most importantly cognitive flexibility i.e. the ability to adjust to multidimensional ways of thinking and be prepared for unplanned situations.
“I think how effectively an HR professional uses AI to make the whole process more human to hire humans is going to be the future”, emphasised Apurva.
HR leaders have an ongoing commitment to ensure a seamless balance between business needs, learning trends, and aspirations of the employees to create a personalised learning pathway that nurtures business priorities. With AI continuously evolving, the role of HR will become more strategic in nature, as they look to shape the talent actions that drive efficiency, performance and business growth.