Genesis of Technology-First Talent Practices 0

In an exclusive interview with All Things Talent, Ojaswini Mishra, Head of Talent Acquisition and Diversity at L’Oréal talks about how technological disruption is taking over the HR function, enhancing employability, and helping HR professionals create a more diverse workforce. Further, she talks about bridging the gap between acquiring talent and engaging it. True to the theme of the edition, she also sheds light on how talent folks can future-proof our workplaces with proper talent attraction and retention tools.

Ojaswini is the Head of Talent Acquisition and Diversity at L’Oréal, India, where she leads talent acquisition, employer branding and candidate experience. She also leads the diversity and inclusion agenda for India. In the past, Ojaswini has worked in generalist and specialist HR roles for the Godrej Group and consulting organisation Synygy.

Q. You’ve over 12 years of experience working at organisations like L’Oréal, Godrej, and Synygy. Please tell us about your journey thus far. Is there an instance that left a lasting impact on your professional life? We would love to hear.

A. I have been fortunate to work in an environment that has been driven by entrepreneurship and innovation across these organisations. My professional journey has been focused on talent detection, development and deployment in the varied context of the businesses. Attracting and hiring a diverse talent pool using new age programs, digital and delivering a positive candidate experience makes my current role very exciting. My L’Oréal experience has been truly enriching. We like to test and learn so it is okay to fail and this gives a great sense of ownership in whatever mission you are driving.

Advances in technology, machine learning, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence is still evolving and we will see solutions that are more advanced in future. AI is presenting powerful capabilities to reduce or eliminate the time consuming and repetitive tasks of HR operations significantly.

Q. With the advent of AI, there is a large possibility that certain roles could become less frequent or obsolete in the future. How can HR evolve to stay relevant in the near future?

A. Advances in technology, machine learning, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence is still evolving and we will see solutions that are more advanced in future. In the past, we have seen the HR function use ‘lift and shift’ technologies of paper-based working practices onto new IT platforms. This necessarily has not helped much in building efficiency, productivity or overall HR service delivery. AI is presenting powerful capabilities to reduce or eliminate the time consuming and repetitive tasks of HR operations significantly. People processes and programs will need to be re-designed with the main objective of enhancing candidate and employee experience as a customer through more value-adding activities that provide personalization, prediction and promptness of HR service delivery and people management initiatives.

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Q. On the other hand, how the disruption that AI is likely to bring to work can be used in solving today’s talent crisis?

A. Talent crisis is a larger question of finding and retaining the right mix of people, skill and culture in the context of the organisation and evolving definitions of work that we are experiencing today. Automation, AI and other emerging technologies are fundamentally changing the way we learn a skill, use real-time insights, and manage routine, repetitive tasks that enable high value-adding activities at work. This means a stronger partnership between student, academic institutions and industry to enhance employability and the diversity of workforce.

Automation, AI and other emerging technologies are fundamentally changing the way we learn a skill, use real-time insights, and manage routine, repetitive tasks that enable high value-adding activities at work.

Q. How are you at L’Oréal using Chatbots on company websites and social media channels for attracting talent and making deeper human connections with candidates?

A. L’Oréal is committed to innovation and research as a whole, therefore the group is interested in testing AI tools in various fields including recruiting. AI automates time-consuming tasks such as CV screening in a context where L’Oréal receives around 1 million applications per year. At a global level, we are piloting Mya chatbot and Seedlink for enhancing candidate experience and diversity. AI can enable a significant amount of time-saving for recruiters to concentrate on developing stronger talent detection of a candidate profile, aspirations and fit and driving candidate relationships. It also amplifies recruiters’ capabilities by way of reducing the potential human biases during the initial first steps of the hiring process.

Q. Even though there are myriad of online job platforms and talent acquisition platforms yet companies are still struggling to find the right candidates. Where’s the disconnect?

A. While being discoverable across a variety of platforms is important, it needs to be complemented with a stronger EVP and employer brand that connects, engages and adapts the candidate’s experience on where their head and heart is.

Q. Company’s hiring practices have a brand effect. How have marketing and technology shifted the candidate experience?

A. Like any product, marketing and technology have helped in enhancing personalized candidate experience to drive engagement and finally application. The evolving nature of talent demographics requires content and communication to be easily discoverable, accessible and responsive. Mobile first approach and using technology effectively across text, live chat, and AI can help in creating a positive candidate experience.

Q. When we say ‘preferred employer of choice’, what does it mean? What initiatives are been taken at L’Oréal to ensure positive candidate experience?

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A. A preferred employer of choice is a top employer that attracts, engages and retain the best talent. We strive to reflect the cultural diversity of products that cater to all kinds of customers in our talent here at L’Oréal. Our EVP and employer brand is built on what we do best i.e. beauty for all and what we stand for i.e. leading the beauty space with an entrepreneurial, innovative and collaborative mindset. We target both active and passive candidates with a strong online and on-ground engagement that prioritizes our culture, mission, quality of work-life and employees sharing their personal moments and stories. Our job guidelines are gender balanced; using Avature has helped us in informing the candidate at every step and measuring candidate and hiring manager feedback for every position. L’Oréal invested in continually upskilling recruiters and hiring managers to deliver a consistent candidate experience.

Q. The idea that companies should treat their candidates as they would treat their customers has been around for a while. How has candidate experience become a leading indicator of employer brand nowadays?

A. EVP and employer brand has become an imperative for all organisations to attract the right talent pool. Candidate experience is simply about creating moments of truths that resonate with the potential candidates and drive messages that are rooted in their preferences and purpose. With the rise of social web and technology, candidates are researching even before applying and expecting engaging content and advocacy about the employer brand across varied resources. There is a growing need for micro-segmentation to drive tailored messages on the needs of specific talent groups e.g. gender, generation, specialization, life stage, passions etc. Chatbots and other evolving AI technologies are disrupting the recruiting process by assisting potential candidates with information when they are searching for it, helping recruiters with screening through voluminous applications and scheduling.

Q. As HR professionals how can we future-proof our workplaces with proper talent attraction and retention tools?

A. The future of the workplace will focus on specialized skills, multi-generational workforce and a new flexibility paradigm in conjunction with technology and business outputs. The gig economy is already here with output-oriented work becoming more important than face time. Digitization and automation of HR tools, people processes and better data analytics in future will enable HR professionals to deploy an even stronger workforce planning, attraction and management strategy that reaches out to a wider talent pool and empowers candidates, employees and employers equally to choose, engage and contribute.

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