With the optimism that every new year brings, 2023 will also come with its share of hiring and recruitment challenges for organisations in India as well as overseas. The macroeconomic climate will continue to be tough and this as well as other factors – high attrition rates, changing employee priorities, and reduced funding, for example – are likely to make it more difficult for organisations to recruit talent. Meanwhile, competition is bound to escalate with so many companies vying for the same piece of the pie in a stressed economy and an organisation’s ability to employ and retain talent will, therefore, define its growth trajectory.
Upskilling and reskilling existing employees are, therefore, likely to be favoured approaches to fill talent gaps and cut down on hiring and other costs. Experts also predict a shift to proactive recruitment and a transformation in the role of HR professionals. Here are some of the important changes that experts see on the cards in 2023.
There’s also a focus on pre-hiring skilling, especially in institutes in tier II and tier III cities. A lot of organisations that typically hire people at junior levels from these institutes will engage with institutes when students are still in classrooms. They will groom students to be ready on day one of joining their organisations. – Satyam Arora, CHRO, Rivaara Labs
Focus on skilling and talent retention
According to McLean & Company’s HR Trends Report 2023, organisations that have an employee value proposition (EVP) are 1.2 times more likely to report that their HR department is high performing at recruiting compared to those that report they do not have an EVP or are currently creating one. The report states that “This suggests the EVP is paying dividends by fulfilling its purpose (i.e. helping to attract talent). Conversely, organisations that have yet to develop an EVP struggle with talent acquisition.”
Gartner’s employee survey 2021 highlighted the need for organisations to evolve their EVP to deliver a ‘human deal’, i.e., a plan centred around the whole person. Gartner posited that this new ‘human deal’ comprises five components: deeper connections, radical flexibility, personal growth, holistic well-being and shared purpose. Skilling, upskilling and rewards programmes are going to become indispensable in EVPs going ahead, say experts.
Satyam Arora, CHRO, Rivaara Labs, which harnesses the power of molecular diagnostics to offer affordable and innovative need-based diagnostic solutions, says there’s also a focus on pre-hiring skilling, “especially in institutes in tier II and tier III cities. A lot of organisations that typically hire people at junior levels from these institutes, will engage with institutes when students are still in classrooms, and either through partners or through their own programmes, they will groom students to be ready on day one of joining their organisations.” Arora expects there will be tremendous opportunities for companies that can be part of this value chain, “because this will be required given cost pressures and the talent crunch.”
Like attracting talent, it will be the ability to hold onto existing talent that’s important, according to Mukul Chopra, CHRO, ConveGenius. “Organisations understand the need to identify passive talent and institute upskilling and reskilling programmes. But it will be vital for HR teams to relay the value of this training to employees, to help employees understand how that training will actually help them in their career path,” says Chopra, pointing out that organisations will have to figure out how to keep their people engaged.
“One way may be to consider shifting to a milestone-based rewards system, rather than a calendar-based one,” says Chopra. He says that ConveGenius, which operates in the edtech space, has been able to retain its best employees thanks to a flexible employee value proposition that’s tailored to match the needs of employees.
Greater adoption of tech tools
Companies are gradually recognising the value of leveraging HR Tech to transform organisational processes. Technology has the potential to allow HR to become more strategic. Interestingly, while 58 per cent of organisations surveyed by McLean & Company stated that their HR departments had not undergone a digital transformation, organisations, where HR had seen a digital transformation, were 1.3 times more likely to report that they are high performing at quickly changing at scale to capitalise on new opportunities. They were also 1.2 times more likely to report they are high performing at generating and implementing new ideas and workforce productivity.
Biren Anshu, CHRO, The Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz Ltd, qualifies this optimism around digitisation with the need for technology to support other trends such as a greater focus on DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging). “The way I see it, technology is an enabler to address the challenges around DEIB and around improving the work-life balance of employees. The global pandemic highlighted the importance of self-care and employee well-being and this will remain a key theme, too – the right tools need to be available to help the workforce feel valued,” says Anshu.
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Scott Hickman, director and recruitment manager, Recruitometry, which has offices in Kanpur and St Petersburg, Florida, adds that his company has been modifying recruitment channels to incorporate two key trends: Data Centric Recruitment and the induction of more Gen-Z professionals into the workforce. “Data Centric recruitment is when companies use tangible facts and statistics to inform hiring decisions. Essentially, companies will create scoring systems based on blind resume reviews, online technical tests and interviews,” says Hickman, whose agency helps the IT industry recruit C-level executives by training Indian, UK and US recruiters on how to source and place talented IT professionals. Automations are being used to support Recruitometry’s processes, too, Hickman shares: “To further improve candidates’ scoring and to facilitate our clients’ process, we have invested in our own online technical test screening software”.
Arora, CHRO of Rivaara Labs, adds that there’s been a lot of conversation about the introduction of chatbots to take care of HR operations. “This has been adopted aggressively in the last three to five years, but now HR professionals, as well as technologists, are actively pursuing this as a solution to things like the geographical distribution of employees, hybrid work models and so on. It’s possible that chatbots will be introduced at all levels and categories of organisation – for functions like HR operational queries, internal policy details, the space of hiring, and so on. When potential candidates want to understand the role, culture, policies and recruitment processes, these chatbots will answer a lot of questions. Leena.ai is doing well, but there is room for more companies in this arena,” says Arora.
We’ll definitely see business leaders put DEIB, employee experience and ESG (environmental and social governance) at the heart of operations and this will have a strong influence on the nature of work and the culture in workplaces. – Biren Anshu, CHRO, The Hi-tech Robotic Systemz Ltd.
Shift to a people-first approach
“Digitisation cannot be at the cost of application,” says Chopra, CHRO, ConveGenius, “there has to be a human touch. This becomes even more important in a scenario where we encourage employees to communicate via chatbots.” To this, Anshu, CHRO, The Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz Ltd adds, “We’ll definitely see business leaders put DEIB, employee experience and ESG (environmental and social governance) at the heart of operations and this will have a strong influence on the nature of work and the culture in workplaces.”
Chopra believes that workplaces can be transformed by “bringing humour back.” He says: “The proliferation of standup comics is proof of the fact that people are looking for ways to de-stress, to unwind; a people-first approach – initiatives that boost morale, help employees return to hybrid or 100 per cent on-site work models, and feel a sense of belonging at work – is the need of the hour in these uncertain times”.
New performance appraisal processes
“I feel annual appraisals will become obsolete,” says Rivaara Labs CHRO, Arora. “There is a debate around what would constitute the ideal cycle time of appraisal and reward processes, and in my view, the more agile these are, the better,” he says, adding that performance management systems are likely to be redesigned and transformed entirely. “A lot of organisations have already adopted agile, technology- and data-driven performance management systems which are development-oriented and allow for greater personalisation”, says Arora.
In 2023, these experts feel, performance management systems may evolve in various ways including accommodating flexible goalposts, for instance, to factor in different criteria based on job roles and to gather high-quality performance data and provide feedback continuously through the year.
All of these changes fall under the overarching theme for 2023, which is that the role of Human Resources is changing to make the department a key influencer of company strategy.