Article: Tackling the hiring beast

Talent Acquisition

Tackling the hiring beast

This year's TA Leadership League shows firms leveraging new models and technologies to deal with hiring challenges
Tackling the hiring beast

Intel’s referral program is notable because it involved an ‘outside ERP’ approach through social media to target referrals with the aid of marketing campaigns and videos


The People Matters’ annual TA League brought together several cutting-edge practices across the course of 2014. Eight practices were rewarded at the conclusion of the league. They reflect ingenious uses of social media, assessment methods, and candidate sourcing. At the same time, they demonstrate greater leadership commitment in this severely competitive space.

Meeting challenges at Bajaj Allianz

Bajaj Allianz faced two critical diversity challenges — to have more women employees across the country, and to include skilled and unskilled workers in politically unstable regions such as J&K. The company targeted improving its women employee base from 16% to 20%. Its campus hiring strategy was chosen primarily to improve its gender diversity numbers. Of its management and executive trainee hires, 50% to 60% were women. Bajaj Allianz also partnered with a central government initiative called ‘Udaan’ to address the hiring problem in risky locations.

Before these initiatives were implemented, the TA team acquired permission from both the Managing Director & CEO of the company. The business case was built mostly out of the market demand and the impact of these approaches on hiring and overall business revenue. The company’s L&D team also intervened to create a structured learning process for each candidate hired under ‘Udaan’ and the Executive Trainee process. Bajaj was able to grow its business in the J&K region as well as improve its diversity numbers substantially.

Employer rebranding

Well-established as a manufacturing unit in the talent market, Bosch was finding it difficult to create a credible presence in the IT talent market for which it was recruiting. Most good talent pools were looking to join the IT/ITES industry. The company needed to establish its credibility as a place offering high-value jobs and great careers. Volume hiring was a key challenge. Moreover, skilled talent was spread across India and not localised. Bosch was finding it difficult to abolish its cost centre and low cost unit perception in the talent market.

It decided to focus on hiring quality talent and provide great careers and also become a profit centre executing high-end and high-value work. Bosch could have improved its existing talent brand and associated processes. While it was cost effective and low risk, it also meant little impact. Instead, Bosch focused on creating a niche talent brand through innovative approaches, through a segmented branding strategy. It formed a cross-functional taskforce comprising HR, Marketing and Communication teams. External branding was done through campus hiring, academia connects, and strategic-tie ups at the fresh talent levels. At the lateral levels, the focus was on referrals and making existing employees ambassadors. Bosch also rolled out an alumni initiative. Not only did it successfully shed its earlier image in the market, it experienced an unprecedented low attrition of top performers of 1%.
Rebranding a strong brand in a different segment

While employer branding was always serious business at Intel, it needed to rebrand itself in a different talent segment, from a ‘Semiconductor Company’ to a ‘Computing Organisation.’ While it commanded a good brand in its established market, repositioning that image in a different segment was a challenge. The company’s EVP is based on 3 pillars — Great People, Great Company, and Great Technology. The new brand positioning for the company was in an already busy talent market and competitive pressures were high.

The company rolled out several targeted initiatives to create a strong employer brand, including a software talent market community on LinkedIn, showcasing Asia talent opportunities to other regions, one-on-one conversations between leaders and candidates and company-supported employee referral program. The referral program is notable because it involved an ‘outside ERP’ approach through social media to target referrals with the aid of marketing campaigns and videos. When the company measured pre- and post- branding metrics, such as talent flow data, engagement, and attrition, it showed truly remarkable outcomes.

Solving diverse challenges through social hiring

Lenovo, a diversified high-tech company, needed highly skilled people for its entirely different product lines, thereby limiting cross-functional synergies. Thus it had to work with several recruitment partners, each specialising in an individual area of hardware or software. It was causing a fragmented and expensive recruitment model. Lenovo was also unable to tap into the passive talent pool effectively. Rolling out an RPO model meant high costs, especially at the leadership hiring levels. So Lenovo created a leading-edge social hiring model. It bought a LinkedIn Recruiter access to leverage on the existing recruitment pool. The social media platform was connected with its recruitment management tool, thereby ensuring a single repository of candidates across sourcing channels.

The platform simplifies the multi-functional challenge and provides access to the passive talent pool. Other benefits included significantly lower hiring costs, talent brand lending itself to the product brand, and higher offer acceptance rates. It is also helping the company build a rich database of talent for the future.

Candidate experience focus

Candidate experience has been a focus area for Sapient from the beginning but after the 2009 economic crisis, the company’s employer brand had dipped. Brand recognition and number of referrals were low, time to hire and no-show rates were high. Some of the prime challenges with the hiring process included candidates dropping out between hiring stages or after offer and skewed ratio towards direct applicants than referrals. As a result, the cycle time was high, as was cost.

Sapient identified that its talent brand problem was trickling down to actual business and revenue issues.  Adding more recruiters to the hiring team or creating better brand campaigns would have been stop-gap measures. Sapient decided to make a long-term sustainable solution to the problem. Among the measures were naming its recruiting coordinators as ‘Experience Stewards’, shifted their attitude towards overall experience. After building a solid business case by showcasing the “voice of the candidate” survey feedbacks, Sapient radically altered its hiring approach. Not only did this improve its brand image in the market, it also doubled the number of candidates fighting for a position compared to the past.

Branding through customer experiences

SPI Cinemas’ had to define and executing its employer brand and embarked on a conscious initiative involving the leadership and staff. It had to break away from its ‘just another entertainment services’ image in the talent market. The involvement of leaders and staff in arriving at a strong employer brand was done through two key channels. The first channel, ‘Power Lunches’, involved the opportunity to lunch with the CEO. The second initiative was to standardise the employee life-cycle with the employee experience.

The Power Lunch leadership initiative was a series of events aimed to define the key levers of the company’s employer brand. It involved rewarding outstanding performers by capturing video bytes of their families and their employment experience. SPI also built an experience team to understand the complete customer lifecycle to determine points where consistent customer experiences are required. The company rolled out a pilot program of both initiatives with stringent auditing programs to streamline and formalise the process. The resulting engagement, both in the internal and external talent market, translated into several outcomes. Among them were higher manpower demands, shorter time to fill and more referrals.

Comprehensive overhaul of talent assessment

Wipro faced a three-pronged challenge driven by changing customer market expectations. These were the demand trend evolving from transactional to consultation work, changing operating environment, and new leadership expectations from the business. As a result, the company needed people who were adaptive and prepared for these new conditions. Failing to have a new set of people attuned to the new business expectations meant a direct impact to the company’s bottomline. The company was in need of transformational leadership, delivery efficiency and higher successor-to-leader ratio.

Quick-fix measures included assessment of past performance to identify key people, or augmenting performance data with a personality tool to better predict success during business transformation. The company, however, chose to deploy a comprehensive assessment model with a long-term view to creating a sustainable talent management model. SPI created a talent assessment team to align employee aspirations with organizational goals. A talent ecosystem was created, comprising a published talent assessment policy; role and competency frameworks; detailed assessment designs and training academies. Besides that, role and competency frameworks were also created. At all points, the business leadership was kept in the loop. The framework was comprehensive, involving specific people and financial resources. Almost immediately after this new principle was put in place, Wipro saw improvement in several desired measures, including higher revenue, repeat customers, lower cost of delivery and a pool of ready-to-move-in leaders.

End-to-end hiring process transformation

Being a rapidly growing global business process management (BPM) company, WNS hires thousands of employees every year. The task at hand was to reinvent its recruitment strategy in the face of changing talent market conditions to ensure that it continues to recruit high-quality talent. Re-engineering its recruitment process was an ambitious aim that involved effective database management; reducing cost per hire; improving the source mix and finalizing best-fit candidates. Also, the challenge was to ensure that it was done in a scalable manner.

While WNS could have hired an external product expert for a solution that could streamline the end-to-end recruiting process, it was unable to find an end-to-end service provider that could match the unique set of needs. WNS, thus, decided to develop a customized in-house solution. The initiative involved setting up a sourcing centre of excellence(CoE) to source candidates from Facebook, LinkedIn and other social and referral platforms. The company also researched and improved its existing hiring process to enhance the overall candidate experience, including candidate registration, interview process execution and joining formalities. Technology was the backbone of the entire re-engineering process. Using the power of technology, WNS put its strategy in action with the launch of E-Recruit and Tablet hiring app tool. The results of the transformation initiative were evident in terms of database quality, sourcing mix, candidate satisfaction and recruitment efficiency.

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, #IHOWeek

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