Industrial Revolution 4.0: What’s a bigger challenge – recruiting or retention?

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The fourth industrial revolution will have an impact on how organisations look at recruiting and engaging with talent.

Times have changed and so have perspectives about talent sourcing, selection, engagement and retention. Experts say we are currently experiencing the fourth industrial revolution and it will have an impact on how organisations look at recruiting and engaging with talent. But whether a dramatic change is really underway or whether the base challenges remain the same, is something most businesses are still trying to understand.

At an HRKatha and KellyOCG event—Cocktails & Conversations—in Bangalore, an eminent panel deliberated on what it will take to find, attract and retain the future workforce. The panellists for the session included, Richard Lobo, EV-P HR, Infosys; Sudheesh Venkatesh, chief people officer, Azim Premji Foundation; Srikanth Karra, CHRO, Mphasis; Sailesh Menezes, director & head-human resources, India, at Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Sunitha Lal, head-people operations & strategy, Ather Energy; Suhas GY, head-HR and IR, L&T Equipments; and Girish Menon, CHRO, Swiggy.

We need a a hybrid model of employment. In such a scenario, HR will have to be cognizant of the different kinds of expectations that full-time and freelance employees may have. For instance, designing the benefits and rewards differentiating what each one wants –

Shailesh Menezes

The discussion was moderated by Amar Ganeshan, director-global solutions, KellyOCG India and attended by a group of close to 30 HR leaders, all from various industries and organisations. It began with all the panellists sharing how they see the workforce of the future evolving and the free-agents setting in a part of the workforce. Despite industrial differences, all of them had experienced and engaged with the contract workforce in one or more ways.

Sharing a perspective from the traditional manufacturing sector, Suhas explained what helped them survive and grow as an organisation— over the years they maintained (and still do) a balance with the fluctuating talent demand by outsourcing talent when the demand for it goes up, while making do with the internal resources when demand is limited.

Organisations either re-skill their talent or they risk perishing. The challenge will always be that someone whom you invest in and re-skilling may move to your competitor. However, that doesn’t stop you from making those efforts – 

Srikanth Karra

On the other hand, Lal shared that with about 40 per cent of their workforce being outsourced or on contract, they need to keep engaging them and letting them see purpose in what they do. In her industry, it is the need for super-specialised skills that drives them to find people on contract, and also because these skilled professionals do not want to be associated with just one organisation.

Clockwise: Shailesh Menezes, Girish Menon, Sunitha Lal, Srikanth Karra, Amar Ganeshan, Suhas GY, Sudheesh Venkatesh & Richard Lobo

 

“Culture and values are fundamental to us, and since the contract staff and other stakeholders are all involved in creating our product, they represent the organisation, and hence, should also reflect the company ethos,” she said.

Culture and values are fundamental to us, and since the contract staff and other stakeholders are all involved in creating our product, they represent the organisation, and hence, should also reflect the company ethos –

Sunitha Lal

Taking the discussion ahead, Karra shared that the real concern around the workforce of the future is the fact that while traditional skills may be slowly getting outdated, not many organisations have still mapped what digital skills of the future really are. “Irrespective of whether the talent is on the rolls or on contract, are these skills even available out there?” he introspected.

Talking of the availability of skills, Venkatesh, who is dealing with an altogether different league of talent in his organisation, shared that while we may be talking about free agents, majority of Indians, however, still seek permanent jobs. “To find teachers, especially, who are well qualified and ready to go to remote places, where we want them to be, is extremely difficult in times when everyone wants to move to the cities,” he opined.

To find teachers, especially, who are well qualified and ready to go to remote places, where we want them to be, is extremely difficult in times when everyone wants to move to the cities – 

Sudheesh Venkatesh 

Partially in agreement, Menezes believes that while it may not be possible to completely shift to free agents, he foresees a hybrid model of employment. In such a scenario, HR will have to be cognizant of the different kinds of expectations that full-time and freelance employees may have. For instance, designing the benefits and rewards differentiating what each one wants, he explained.

Lobo said, “We’re looking at another disruption that should allow us to take advantage of the talent dividend available. The shift in employment opportunities for freelancers will also give people the lifestyle they want, without having to stick to just one job or company.”

We’re looking at another disruption that should allow us to take advantage of the talent dividend available. The shift in employment opportunities for freelancers will also give people the lifestyle they want, without having to stick to just one job or company –

Richard Lobo

A classic case of balancing out the workforce with contract workers and full-time employees, Menon shared how at Swiggy they need a strong combination of on-roll and freelance workers. Talking of newer hiring models, he shared that unlike how it was a decade or so back, the power has now shifted to the candidate, and candidate experience is extremely important to sourcing and engaging great talent.

Talking of engagement, Karra asserted that it’s critical for organisations nowadays to re-skill their people. “There’s no choice,” he said. “Organisations either re-skill their talent or they risk perishing. The challenge will always be that someone whom you invest in and re-skilling may move to your competitor. However, that doesn’t stop you from making those efforts,” he added.

The power has now shifted to the candidate, and candidate experience is extremely important to sourcing and engaging great talent –

Girish Menon

As the discussion progressed towards engagement and retention, Lobo shared the three drivers that make people join an organisation—compensation, learning opportunities and emotions. The last one is the most critical and under-rated. According to Lobo, whether people have enough and good friends at the workplace, whether they experience fair treatment and so on makes for an important element.

“However, it is in those organisations that are able to get all three right, that people tend to stay longer,” he concludes.

What helped us survive and grow as an organisation— over the years they maintained (and still do) a balance with the fluctuating talent demand by outsourcing talent when the demand for it goes up, while making do with the internal resources when demand is limited –

Suhas GY

From times when employers had an upper hand to times when the power to choose lies in the hands of the candidate, loyalty towards the employer is a concept that is fading. With the gig economy approaching fast and wide, and free agents coming in as the new breed of talent, organisations too need to make changes—in mindset, policies and culture—to let this new-age workforce seamlessly merge with the existing workforce, to be able to work towards the organisational agenda. While the discussion was seemingly an ever ongoing one, the panel closed with important takeaways to deliberate upon if the change is to be embraced well.

1 COMMENT

  1. Recruiting, training, retention and replacements can be managed very well. We are a surplus manpower and educated country. The bigger issue is industrial relations, productivity and bureaucracy. We are in lac of genuine IR managers, sincere employees and conducive IR policies. We do not have sufficient IR institutions, unbiased bureaucrats and sharing entrepreneurs. Let us build-up it quickly.

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