Workforce of the future: Staffing leaders' perspectives
Technology has rocked the boat and established itself as the new-age enabler of disruption. This is not a new phenomenon; technology having changed the fundamentals of work through the first three Industrial Revolutions. However, in this age of the fourth “Digital Revolution,” the magnitude and velocity of change is quite unprecedented, sweeping organizations into a haze of dynamism. There are organizational ‘gurus’ who look doubtfully at technology, especially amidst all the discussions around automation and job losses. And then there are those, who look at buzzwords like artificial intelligence, analytics, and robotics as opportunities in the making; tools that will help redefine organizational DNA.
Building a future-ready workforce to fit this redefined organization involves looking at people as the ultimate strategic differentiator and placing human skills at the core of organizational methods. LinkedIn took a deep-dive into the subject in their “Annual Staffing Coffee Table Book - Leaders That Inspire”, and captured through the eyes of staffing leaders, the trends that will transform the talent landscape in 2018.
Here are some interesting insights:
Understanding the Change
Employees of today expect to be treated differently, aided by the seamless technology-access and experiences they enjoy. Technology has created always-on, instant gratification and convenience for people in their personal lives, and they expect the same in their professional lives as well. As Sandeep Mitra, Director, VBeyond Corporation said, “Talent today expects the same kind of user experience when interacting with a staffing firm and the employer, that they expect when asking for a cab or a restaurant booking on a mobile app”.
Some key changes that technology has brought about in the workplace are:
- Agile workforce: Work flexibility regarding schedules, cross-border roles, open-ended project roles, challenging projects, etc.
- Temporary workforce: The gig economy is here to stay.
- Collaborative and connected workplaces.
- Democratization of data: Decentralizing decision-making.
Leverage Technology to Stay Ahead
Consequently, the means for a staffing agency or an organization to become a talent magnet has shifted. Today, attracting, engaging and retaining top talent is all about meeting (or rather exceeding) these new-age expectations by creating the right employee experience, thereby establishing a “desirable employer brand.”
A technology-led approach coupled with human insights is key to keeping agile staffing agencies ahead of the game. Here’s what recruiters can leverage by way of technology, at every stage of the recruitment funnel:
- Machine learning-based tools to help speedily source, screen and filter through millions of CVs.
- Video interviewing and online assessments to eliminate the time, money, and effort involved in the first level of screening candidates.
- Robotics & AI to start eliminating routine tasks in recruitment like interviewing, scheduling, and coordination.
- Advanced Applicant Tracking Systems to manage vast databases better.
- Recruitment aggregator platforms to facilitate the consolidation of a disaggregated recruitment market and help build recruitment companies without any recruiters!
Mehul Shah, Managing Director, Collabera Inc. substantiates how technology can be integrated effectively in processes, “As per the technology landscape changes, we have re-oriented our sales force. Classroom sessions as well as online courses on latest technology like AI, IoT, Automation Analytics, are made available for our employees and consultants through our specialized training arm - Collabera TACT.” The sooner leaders realize that this is not just a passing phase and prepare to remodel the talent acquisition agenda, the better it is for their employer brand and therein, their company brand.
Retain the Human Touch in Recruitment
It is critical to complement this technology-engagement with the right “human touch.”
With a comprehensive view of both talent and organizations, staffing agencies are well poised to avert this potential crisis by proactively working out people-centric solutions. Here are the key directives for existing and potential employees:
For Existing Employees
- Educate people: For change to be successful, people must first be aware and responsive to the change. Senior leaders must drive adoption by providing an open and transparent process, and the right resources for employees to empower themselves to excel.
- Re-skill employees: While some jobs will become redundant, the industry foresees roles evolving into broader, strategic, and more productive ones. Employees must have access to state-of-the-art, intuitive learning offerings with a mix of classroom sessions, online learning modules, micro-learning, etc. Roles involving creativity and innovation, social intelligence, and other cognitive abilities will remain “future-proof.”
For Potential Employees
- Wider talent pools: Today, a large number of workers seek contractual and freelancing opportunities by choice. Organizations that are ignoring these talent pools are missing out on some great talent. TA professionals should connect with online freelance marketplaces that connect independent professionals with companies and potentially lower cost of training and other expenses.
- New leadership roles: In the digital economy, leadership is bound to demand new tools of working. Some of the key leadership skills that recruiters may need to look out for are agility, change-management, team spirit, continuous strategizing, decision making, etc. Shailja Dutt, Founder & Chairperson, Stellar Search, says “A new addition to the C-Suite team is the Chief Digital Officer, who will don the hat of the Chief Transformation Officer. He would not just introduce digital initiatives, but also be instrumental in planning and executing the changes in the system, to take the organization to a completely new level.”
- Evolved ways of working: Whether it is data and applications in the cloud or online file-sharing functionalities, organizations must change the ways and tools they use to engage with existing and potential employees. New ways of working call for adopting new attitudes. As Antal International India MD, Joseph Devasia puts it, “We let each consultant run her own business. They are given the liberty to plan their desk regarding revenues and profits. The more revenue they bring in, the more they earn on incentives.” This is the “human touch” that understands the millennial mindset and caters to their aspirations. The important thing is to communicate these new ways of working in the employer value proposition.
The future of work lies in a healthy collaboration between man and machine, necessitating the evolution of the “recruiter role.” Staffing leaders must don the role of talent advisors and not just recruiters. As Shiv Agrawal, Managing Director, ABC Consultants says, “This change is reshaping the staffing industry permanently. The role of a recruiter may diminish, but not that of a consultant. Clients will always need a trusted advisor by their side. And recruitment firms are the frontrunners to play that role.”
On the business side too, leaders must put on the learning hat in search of top talent. “Being a perpetual learner about how trends impact them will help leaders take effective decisions to shape the future of their respective organizations,” says K Sudarshan, Managing Partner - India & Regional VP, Asia, EMA Partners.
In the face of technology disruption, it is the nimble and agile staffing agencies that will take the lead in leveraging technology and transforming roles as we now see them.