Latha Emmatty Gupta is a Whole-time Director on the board of METRO Global Business Services. She leads the Captive Shared Services of Metro in India and plays an international HR role for the other centres. She has over twenty five years experience with MNCs and has previously held HR leadership roles at Royal Bank of Scotland, American Express and NIIT. She is passionate about leadership development and Workplace wellness through mindfulness. She is an accredited executive coach and yoga and meditation teacher.
In an exclusive interaction with SCIKEY, Latha talks about challenges of talent acquisition that come along with hiring trustworthy and commitment binding candidates more.
With years of experience in the recruitment hiring industry, what are your current biggest significant challenges/concerns during talent acquisition?
There are many challenges when it comes to talent acquisition. The first one is, Resumes are plenty, but there is a scarcity of relevant profiles. It is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The selection rates for us is 1-2% out of the pool of resumes we receive. When it comes to approaching and shortlisting, it comes down to 10 out of 100. Post the interview process, some candidates drop out. In the end, after screening 4-5, you pick one.
Secondly, when organizations are in start-up mode, they don’t have the time to invest in training people. You want people with exact skill matches from the market. Additionally, people change jobs faster then before. In the future they will change their line of work, companies, and even geographies.
Apart from the challenges of candidate availability and skillset, there is a piece on prices. I’ve found it very common now for niche candidates to negotiate for obscene amounts of money. This disturbs your compensation philosophy and parity and often we let go people from the pool.
These problems are surfacing often and takes a lot of HR time and attention to work through them. Innovation in thinking and solutions is the need everyday. This is where we’ve tried a multi-pronged approach, which has worked to some extent.
What does your interview process look like for finding the right fit?
Two types of interviews happen. One where technical skills are being evaluated and an interview with the hiring manager. Sometimes we even have online professional tests that are used, followed by a deeper technical round of interview. HR evaluates fitment into the organisational culture and framework.The interview with the hiring manager is crucial to ensure they fit into the team.So, there are three rounds of discussion and if it’s an international project then there’s an onsite interview.
Apart from the effort you’ve mentioned that you put to employ candidates, is there anything you do to attract the right talent?
Some of the other things that we do successfully is employee referrals. We find that employees are our best ambassadors, and when we get people through a referral, there is much more commitment and trust. In fact, we’ve had many people who’ve left us and are now coming back. Returning home is what we call this phenomenon.This has also created the pull that this place is unlike some others and they like it here and would like to come back here.
How do you ensure that the right candidate does not drop out?
There is a multi-level approach that we take. The first is until the offer stage; there is a scheduled discussion that happens. Then there is the background verification, and medical, which is typical to take place in the first month of the offer. If the person does not complete these on time , then you know that they aren’t serious. As far as possible, we try to get them over for a coffee or dinner when they are visiting leaders. All of this becomes an excellent opportunity for them to interact and feel the culture of the place as well as see whom they will be working with. We share material on the company , programs, induction and on boarding plans etc.
How do you tackle the challenge of not giving the rejected clients feedback on the same?
We have done an entire project on candidate experience. Everything from candidate wait time to the response time to the sharing feedback is part of that. We’ve managed it well. So, if somebody hasn’t made it, then we tell them about it well on time. If there was an onsite interview and they aren’t happy we even arrange to have a conversation with them. If the person for an interview has applied through a vendor, then the feedback goes to the vendor. If it is for a managerial position than one of the recruiters would speak to them directly.
What is the latest technology adoption you are seeking or adopted or adopting to cater to the above challenges?
Automation has reduced the manual effort to a large extent. So, you post the job, and everyone gets it at the same time, and people can apply directly. All this takes away the manual effort required. All the tracking, managing, shortlisting process has become less cumbersome. The other system is an automated interview process which enables online interviews. The candidate gets the interview time during which they log in, and no recruiter is sitting here, and they are given a set of questions that they answer which is recorded. So, it’s kind of a video interview. Once the video interviews are done, the recruiter is free to go through them in their time. This has taken away the whole burden of candidate not being able to come on the set day and time. It also gives the candidate flexibility and ease of going through the process at their convenience.
What do you think are the latest HR tech trends that will transform the HR function?
I believe HR is right on the crossroads of a transformation enabled to a large extent by technology. The role of HR is going to shift significantly from being gatekeepers to any processes to becoming a more contributing partner at a strategic level. I see it happening with chatbots. A lot of query handling has become automated, so you no longer need to visit the HR department. Chatbots are quite efficient in query handling.
The other big trend that I am seeing is the power of predictive data analytics. If you have your data in one place and you know what you want to look for through algorithms, there is much predictive work that can be done.In the past, it was about what was attrition? Why did they leave? And what were the leaving trends that were happening? Whereas now it is about, how do you get ready for the future? how do you upskill your people in order to work in an environment alongside bots? The mindset has to be very different. The jobs are no longer as simple as it used to be because the simple jobs have been automated, so the tasks are more complex. It’s about bringing the right skills to the table to work in an environment like that. Also, how do you collaborate with colleagues not just here but in virtual teams? These are some things that have come where HR plays a role in terms of enabling them. So future skill proofing your organization, having predictive rather than post-mortem approach are imperative.Gone are the days when those mundane, repetitive processes made the day.
One key message/strategy to the HR fraternity that needs attention or should be considered today and tomorrow for building a productive workforce.
I would say a couple of things. Never shy away from innovation. Spend more time thinking of what is it that you can do innovatively. Some things will fail , so fail fast , learn fast and move on. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Many times, people get stuck in one loop. The other is, be very clear on how everything that you do in HR aligns with the purpose of the organization, the leadership strategy and the building culture. That’s the space in which HR should focus more. If you aren’t clear on what the purpose is, then things can’t go right.
Also, if the culture does not support the strategy, then things can fail. That whole piece has to be aligned well.
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