The unemployment rate is the highest ever in the country, and with new skill sets required to keep pace with head-spinning technological advances, it is no surprise the talent acquisition environment is incredibly competitive.
However, it is not only the global economy, technology and markets that are changing—workers are changing too. Talent acquisition professionals can’t rely on what worked in the past.
In the month of June, we focused on “New-age Talent Acquisition” as the editorial theme and explored the new age hiring practices to find answers to the challenges related to this function. We touched upon the different trends shaping the TA landscape and changing the way employers attract, hire and onboard employees. Supporting us throughout the campaign this month we had with us Suvamoy Roy Choudhury, CHRO, Vodafone Idea Ltd. as our first Guest Editor.
Suvamoy with over 30 years of experience has worked in diverse sectors and built capabilities in organizational effectiveness and change, learning and capability development, talent management and resourcing. He has worked with companies like Motorola, Baxter Healthcare, and Reckitt Benckiser.
In this interview with Suvamoy, People Matters brings to you the past, present and future of talent acquisition, where as a Guest Editor, he shares how organizations can rewrite the rules for new-age hiring. Also, read about his interesting experience as the Guest Editor for People Matters editorial.
Q1. Five years ago, compensation (i.e., salary and benefits) was the top reason why a candidate chose one employer over another. How do you think this trend has changed over the years?
A: Saying ‘compensation is not important’ would possibly be a wrong trigger. While compensation is still important today, it has become far more important to look at career sustainability. In the last 20 years, the world of work has changed considerably. The intellectual and educational inventory has a shorter shelf life. What you know today may not be enough to do things five years or seven years from now. So it is increasingly important for people to focus on their own sustainability and own continued relevance. In this ever-changing world of work, people need to invest in developing themselves and keeping themselves relevant with the right skills. You are as good as the skills you possess.
Job is an overall package - it has got a compensation element, benefits architecture, ability to learn new things, and the ability to get satisfied in what you do. In the overall mix of things, the balance has shifted a little where people seek more from the job and also consider: ‘What am I doing today and how will it enhance my CV after 30 months?’ or ‘how will my current job help me do things differently after 30 months from where I am now?’
So, career sustainability will definitely impact a candidate’s choice while associating with an organization.
Q2. What do you think has driven this change - is it the changing demographics (Millennials) alone?
A: We sometimes over emphasize demographics and Millennials. Change is a state of mind. It is incorrect to say people below the age of 30 are incredibly agile and everybody above the age of 45 are dinosaurs.
What has changed is the way businesses are done. Technology is changing the ways of working.
The change cycle in workplace, like in other facets of life, has become sharper and speedier. Those who are able to cope with this continuous change, accept change and relate to change will do well and do better.
So, demographics have a limited play in change adaptability to the extent that millennials have possibly seen rapid societal change cycles as an inherent way of their lives as compared to GenX. Hence, Millennials can be expected to be more equipped to cope with change than older generations, who might have to strive to adapt to changes. But, as I said, we cannot generalize.
Q3. Employer branding has become a lot more crucial these days. We see a lot of posts on LinkedIn by HR professionals/communication teams sharing images of onboarding or employee engagement activities. Do you think these prevalent methods are enough for becoming a brand that people want to work for? What is missing?
A: I believe that your employees are your brand ambassadors.
Whatever story you put out in the outside world, unless it is being complemented and authenticated by the experiences of people within, it will never strike roots or appear to be true.
Therefore, it is necessary to place your house in order before you advertise your house to the outside world.
Another concern to ponder upon is that earlier there used to be a few blue-chip companies like TATA Group, Unilever, Aditya Birla Group, P&G, etc. But today there are many companies and the shelf life of new ideas are limited which means what you do differently is quickly copied/customized by others. The challenge here is the number of companies has increased and number of differentiators have dwindled. Hence, in the current scenario, only those companies which are able to differentiate themselves and build a sustainable practice of consistently delivering a rich employee experience will become the brand.
Q4. So what is Vodafone-Idea strategy for employer branding?
A: We are a new company - we are starting from scratch. We have a wonderful situation and a not-so-good situation. Let me explain:
The good part is, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of rebooting the company mid-life. I can scratch out everything from the past and create something new which is relevant for today and tomorrow. However, the challenge for us is that, being a new company, we have to re-build our inventory of internal experience narratives that in some ways breaks away from the past and distinguishes us as unique.
We have anchored our Employee experience journeys on four pillars - simplicity, trust, transparency and fairness. Our strategy is to provide a bouquet of experience that will make people from both the erstwhile entities say:
Things have changed but for the better.
Things are different now, but we are different in a good way.
Q5. Talking about employer brand, where do you think organizations need to adapt and focus their value proposition on to remain relevant in the new digital era of talent acquisition?
A: People should talk about your brand in a good way. They should respect your brand and have a good perception about it.
As part of any employer branding exercise, it is important to segment the target audience, skill group or managerial demographic. Who are you trying to reach out to? Brand messaging has to be customized to that group. What do you have to offer that would be relevant and interesting for the target group.
As a standard rule, whenever you are coming in touch with someone from the outside, it is important to treat her/him as a potential customer or a potential employee and deliver an experience that the person treasures. It doesn’t matter whether the person joins your company or not, but that is how people will create a perception about you and the brand you represent.
Q6. With the advances in technology, a lot of tasks have been eliminated from the recruiters and hiring managers’ lists. With the ongoing technological changes, how do you think recruiters can make themselves more critical to organizations than ever before?
A: I think we are going through a very interesting phase. The innovations and advancements in technology are supporting and complementing many facets of recruitment.
However, before investing in any technology, the recruiter has to ask - where do I need help and what can technology do for me? What am I trying to solve? Is it efficiency, productivity or reliability?
The second piece is to ask the question what will ‘good’ look like? Because, that will have a bearing on the selection of the solution. Given the choice of available options, it is important to scout the market comprehensively before settling for a choice.
There has to be very clear and articulate financial merit in the decision or choice. Otherwise, the solution architecture will always remain vulnerable to questioning.
And last but not the least, there has to be an honest assessment and evaluation of performance KPIs versus promise for any new tool that one adopts. In fact, it always makes sense to validate a tool for reliability through a customized pilot in your respective environments before its scale implementation.
And in the midst of all this, the core of recruiting remains unchanged. While technology lends objectivity and science to acquisition, the recruiter ultimately remains responsible for the art of engaging and seducing, if I may say, the candidate.
Q7. We have been working together to curate relevant content for the new-age technologies impacting the workplace today. We touched upon concepts like digital transformation, employer branding, hiring campaigns and onboarding, hiring agility, etc. What do you think are the most pressing challenges in front of the TA community today?
A: Earlier, the challenge for the TA community was to position the business before candidates. The HR function has evolved dramatically and most HR professionals today have a grasp on their business and can engage with authority with candidates on nuances of business.
Today, a different challenge confronts us. Recruiters and TA professionals need to know the world of skills – particularly emerging skills. This may be less so in the true tech companies where everybody is conversant with the tech ecosystem and new age skills naturally gravitate towards them. However, when you are hiring for such skills from a more conventional sector, the need to convince and relate are higher.
Q7. You were the Guest Editor for People Matters this month where our theme was ‘New-age Talent Acquisition’. While working on the content plan and suggesting your inputs, is there anything new that you discovered about talent acquisition and would like to share with our readers?
A: Definitely! I discovered and got exposed to a lot of new things while working as the Guest Editor and attending the People Matters Talent Acquisition Conference. The range of new solutions and possibilities is indeed phenomenal. I was particularly intrigued by the strides being made in areas of predictability and reliability. It is fascinating as every year we see new things and whatever impressed us earlier appears mundane!