Indian organisations are becoming increasingly open to adopting global hiring concepts such as having a 'flex' (flexible) workforce, say Jacques van den Broek, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board, Randstad Holding and the India CEO of Randstad, Moorthy K. Uppaluri. In a conversation with BT's Ajita Shashidhar, Broek and Uppaluri share insights on key HR trends in India as well as around the world. Edited excerpts:
Q- What are the latest trends in hiring talent?
A- Broek: Our clients are faced with demand, and they are grappling with this on a day-to-day basis of how do they get the right kind of people. This started in the US and it is going through Europe and it will definitely hit India. Getting the right talent is at the top of a CEO's agenda. Earlier, it used to be an HR topic; HR was responsible for getting the right people.
We now see a trend towards growth in what we call recruitment process outsourcing (RPO). We take care of this process for our clients, so that they have the final selection of staff, they get ready available talent. This enables them to re-prioritise their own HR. If you talk about trends, there is definitely high attrition rates. It's not just about getting the right talent, but it's also got to do with keeping the right talent.
So, we tell our clients to let us help them get the right talent in, and they can concentrate on employing them, training them, and put their full attention on the people who are there in the company so that they put down their attrition rate. So, over time they improve their workforce. We are growing across the globe in this activity.
Q- What kind of services do you offer as part of RPO?
A- Broek: You can do end-to-end RPO, so, we say, these are the kind of people we are going to hire in the next one year. They arrive at your doorstep fully screened, they have got the tools to go to work, they have got the introduction course and they hit the ground running. For some clients we only schedule interview appointments, we can give them a pre-defined, pre-screened group of people and they do the final assessment. So, there are lots of different services.
Q- Do organisations use the RPO services to hire a particular level of people, or is it across levels?
A- Broek: It is across levels, but in India it is more mid-level white collar professionals.
Q- What kind of trends do you see in India in the HR/hiring space?
A- Uppaluri: The new government is making statements in terms of 'Make in India'. Any time you have rise in talent in manufacturing, the first step that we have seen across countries is the demand for 'flex' (flexible) workers. People would want to try to meet the demands with the flex workforce and once they know that it is stabilising, they hire a portion of them as 'perm' (permanent) workers and they strike a good balance to maintain flexibility of demand fluctuations.
In India, we are beginning to see the flexibility requirement moving up the organisational pyramid into mid-management and senior management positions; previously it was more confined to the basic positions.
There is an increasing demand in 'specialities' as we call in Randstad. These specialities are niche functional areas like sales and marketing or in healthcare with regard to nurses and doctors or maybe some professional skills such as accountants. These niche skills have high demand and they are also becoming flexible.
RPO is a trend in the perm space. When somebody needs lot more of recruitment work to be done, they realise that it is not their core competency and it can be very well done by an experienced professional company. Around 43 per cent of the CEOs who have been surveyed have clearly said that they are ready to outsource their recruitment.
We as a business have been doing it but it has significantly taken off in the last one year. RPO grew for us by 130 per cent in the last one year and companies across sectors want to opt for these services.
Q- What are the other global trends?
A- Broek: Let's talk a little bit about demographics. We put out a study every three years where we analyse trends in the workforce. The first trend is ageing. The strength of the Indian workforce is that they are very young, but countries like Italy have a shrinking workforce, Japan too, and over time China will be in the same boat. We say that most certainly there will be a move to more flexible arrangements.
The second trend is de-layering of organisations. So, banks, insurance companies etc. will have less management because there is a free flow of information. There is a management trend of giving responsibility at the lowest level of the organisation, so, you just need less management layers. Also, quite a few jobs that used to be management jobs are being automated. That is quite a trend we see in Europe, we also see it in the US. Asia will probably skip that trend.
Q- How is India different?
A- Broek: It's a young market. If you look at the global market in our space, the BRIC countries represent just 6 per cent. They have relatively low penetration rates. India stands out as it has a very small regulated workforce to start with. Young markets have high attrition rates, our clients suffer from high attrition rates. That's the biggest challenge in younger markets.
Q- There is lot of discussion happening around diversity of workforce in India, what's your take?
A- Broek: Diversity is a container here. Companies need to open up to the effect that everyone needn't be a full-time employee. You can have part-timers, flex workers. Companies need to open up their minds.
How open are Indian companies when it comes to gender diversity, to offering flexible working hours?
A- Uppaluri: They are very open. It's becoming more of a business priority and imperative to attract talent and to tap into all segments of the workforce.
There is an old article that I often think of. It was published by a professor in Carnegie Melon almost 30 years ago, where he talked about different strokes for different folks. When you are young you are probably looking for compensation, when you are at a certain level you are looking for a title, at a certain level you are looking for flexibility. So, companies will have to create this environment and they are becoming aware of these requirements and are creating these facilities for both attracting diverse talent as well as retaining young and mature talent.
Q- Is Indian talent equipped for the digital onslaught?
A- Uppaluri: India is the fertile bed for the world's digitisation. We have been providing IT talent to the world. The talent is there but the readiness of the talent is the question. The skills gap prevails with the advent of cloud or the advent of e-commerce, the specific domain skills that the entrepreneurs begin to expect may not be readily available. So, there is a little bit of bridging that gap that needs to be done either by the companies in terms of orienting their own people or helping them on board, or leveraging companies like Randstad for mapping people who are ready to hit the ground running and to map those skills in the niche pockets that might exist.