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New Points Of Entry

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We probably have the leanest recruitment team in the country,” claims Divakar Kaza, head of people resources at Lupin Pharma. He recounts how 1,200 people were recruited for the sales function by only three recruiters. That happened because 600 of the candidates got selected through employee referrals. “I have 4,000 of my employees hiring for me at any given time,” he beams.

Nearly 55-60 per cent of the mid-level hiring at Lupin is through a “hyperactive” internal referral programme called Parichay, a structured process that the company introduced last year. “Happy employees want their friends (to join the firm too),” says Kaza. Apart from employee referrals, Lupin mostly hires from college campuses and tries to build a bank of talent, he adds.

As the referral programme has grown, Kaza says his use of executive search firms has dropped dramatically. And the era of print classifieds is drawing to a close, he believes.

Maruti Suzuki has a similar story to share. “We try to fill most of the vacancies through internal sources; the hiring is 60 per cent through internal sources and the rest, external,” says S.Y. Siddiqui, chief mentor at the automobile major. “Our company is also utilising social media portals to source and verify credentials of various candidates.”

The story that’s emerging from recruiters is how the channels of hiring are changing. Smart, cost-effective hiring and innovative practices introduced during the recession years are here to stay and gaining momentum.

The BW-Naukri Survey shows that employee referrals are inching up the ranks and are second only to job portals as a means to bagging a position. Social hiring has climbed up the charts too, overtaking placement consultancies, while print classifieds languish at the bottom.

What the channel shift indicates is that companies have worked hard during the recession years to cut costs and now use internal processes more, including creating career corners on their own websites. Take hotel major Accor. It  has beefed up its own job portal AccorJobs on which all vacancies in the group are posted. Accor’s HR head Ashwin Shirali says the hotel group uses social media heavily to drive traffic to AccorJobs. “Facebook, in particular, is used to popularise AccorJobs and also engage potential employees to seek a career in Accor,” says Shirali. “We also actively post vacancies and seek and engage talent on LinkedIn, with additional presence on YouTube and Twitter as well.” Rival hotelier Starwood, too, uses its own job portal to seek candidates. “Our internal job portal Starfinder is extensively used both for internal moves and external hiring. We also integrate the use of social media and networking sites such as LinkedIn to attract and engage with prospective employees and have seen some encouraging results from this,” says Dilip Puri, managing director, Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Interestingly, job hunters seem to have cottoned on to the methods of hiring, with our survey showing that most of them park their CVs on job portals and only 8 per cent rely on word of mouth, and 4 per cent on social media. It might behove them to rely on these two channels more as these are growing in influence.  Do search firms need to worry? That’s another story (see page 70).

Innovations In Hiring
“Tougher economic conditions have increased the need for creativity, productivity and innovation — and for an organisation’s HR strategy and polices, it’s no different,” says Tata Teleservices chief HR officer Richa Tripathi. “In the next 12 months, pressure will continue on corporates to do more with less.”

Certainly, innovations are happening. Nasscom’s senior vice-president Sangeeta Gupta shares how IT companies are using hackathons to source talent. At a time when companies are seeking niche skills such as Coffescript and Bootstrap, coding challenges can unearth talent in these areas. Wipro, Mindtree and Cognizant are some of the firms that have used hackathons to source talent.

A new imperative, Tripathi says, is to find talent that can work collaboratively rather than individually and in these, hackathons are quick ways to identify the right attitudes.

“The Rule of 3 we like to follow when hiring is fast, good and cheap,” says Prashant Bhatnagar, director, hiring and staffing, SapientNitro India. However, he admits it’s rare for a company to meet all three critieria in the hiring process. Temp staffing is one way of doing it though. And more companies are adopting flexi-staffing. 

Starwood, too, has ushered in innovation. Puri talks about a drive called Asia-Pacific Starwood Careers Day, a division-wide effort aimed at attracting talent. Candidates are invited to walk in and meet HR specialists from different hotels in every city to discuss opportunities. “Another innovative approach we adopted this year and from which we got good traction was a live chat show on one of the online job portals,” says Puri.

“While a range of new tools for hiring has come up, there is far more on the way: communities that grade talent, software that delivers at scale to customer unique hiring needs, forward integration with assessment tools,” says Shiv Agrawal, founder,

Longer Hiring Process
Bhatnagar may talk about faster hiring, but 71 per cent of our survey respondents say the job on-boarding process is getting longer at companies. Their reasons are varied. In many ways, the fact that companies are taking longer to decide on a candidate is again a by-product of the slowdown when utmost caution was taken before closing a hire. Unlike the good times, when you could afford to shrug off a few bad hires, recession has made companies try to make every new hire count.

A repeated response we heard from recruiters was that job seekers themselves had become more demanding and difficult. “Nowadays, people are doing more research on companies. They ask a lot more questions during interviews,” says Kaza. “The good old days when people worked blindly for a company are gone. Now they are more aware. They meet senior employees in the firm. The tables have turned. Candidates are sizing us up now.”

Interestingly, solutions to speed up the process are also emerging. “Bringing in a culture of joint interview will help accelerate the process and allow skill sharing between the hiring panel,” says Himanshu Kapadia, manager, HR, DBS Bank. Making line managers accountable for hires and making this a part of their key result area (KRA) would correct the situation, suggests Meenakshi Roy, senior vice-president, human resources, Reliance Broadcast Network.

Shamik Vora, vice-president,HR, at The Bombay Store, recounts a situation where every candidate from the available talent pool was interviewed and all of them rejected. His solution in such cases: “During the review meetings, I shared a list of candidates interviewed, their interview rating and the expected cost to company (CTC). This, in a way, forced the hiring manager to choose the candidate on a comparative basis rather than an absolute basis.”

Compensation A Tricky Issue
When it comes to the raise a job-seeker should get for switching companies, recruiters and candidates are not on the same page. While people say they will switch jobs only if they are offered a 20-30 per cent hike, 65 per cent of the recruiters we surveyed barely offered a 10-20 per cent raise. Also, while pitching a job to potential candidates, most recruiters spoke about increased responsibility, or organisation culture. Only 18 per cent of them sold the job on monetary rewards.

On the job-seekers’ side, salary and perks were the main motivation for changing jobs — 42 per cent of the respondents said they would shift for a better deal. Clearly a mismatch here between the expectations of the job hunter and the employer.

“The differentiating principle governing replacement hires is to opt for talent that, whilst having the required skills for the role, has greater hunger to achieve more, better and bigger in a shorter time and at a lesser cost with no adverse impact on quality,” says Shirali. A bit of a tall ask? Well, everyone wants more for less, we found. However, Shirali himself is quick to add that cheap can end up being more expensive.
Rewarding Star Performers
Retaining key talent has become a huge focus for India Inc. Almost every employer is now identifying star performers and pampering them in a bid to retain them. Shirali says at Accor the philosophy to retain star performers is to ensure a high level of engagement with them. There are four ways to do this, he says. One, by setting challenging assignments for them to keep them excited. Two, by constantly equipping them with new skills, three by managing their remuneration so that they become unaffordable to the competition and lastly, through constant feedback that pampers their self-worth.

According to a salary survey by Aon Hewitt, differential payouts to star performers has emerged as a major trend. Top performers are projected to receive an average 15.3 per cent increase in 2014 — almost 1.5 times the average increment provided to employees meeting expectations. With overall wage costs soaring, companies have no choice but to get selective regarding the increments they dole out.

Women Are Welcome...

Diversity recruitment continues to be a focus area for companies. “Women managers constitute 23 per cent of the workforce at our company,” says Arun Sehgal, executive vice-president of GSK Consumer Healthcare. “Most of them are in R&D and marketing sections and some in human resources — these three functions have the largest numbers.”

Placement consultancies say diversity hires have become a big ask for MNCs.  There are whispers of a higher commissions offered for women candidates (denied by companies, of course). And yet the irony is that women managers continue to be paid less than their male counterparts. Last year too, we had flagged the salary differential and the inequity in pay to women employees.

…But Get Paid Less
A male worker in the information technology (IT) sector receives a gross salary of Rs 359.25 per hour, while his female counterpart gets Rs 254.04 per hour, according to a salary survey released by Within the IT industry, only 30 per cent of employees are women.

Says Sanjay Modi, managing director,, India, Middle East, South-east Asia and Hong Kong: “It is surprising to see that the most modern sector of India is not only predisposed to a certain gender but is also paying women employees less than their male counterparts, with a grave salary difference of 29 per cent.”

Imbalances in Compensation

India Inc. is a story full of imbalances in compensation.  A TowersWatson report highlights the big differential in top management pay and entry-level compensation here — among the highest in the world. While wages have remained flat at the entry level, senior levels have seen jumps, leading to higher wage inequity. Adjusted for inflation, salaries at entry may actually be reducing every year.

Given these gamut of challenges, hiring managers really have their task cut out for them.  

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(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 22-09-2014)