The ongoing transformation of HR will make its role pivotal to driving revenue, increasing profit margins, and brand building, says Lavanya Nandakumar, VP & Global Head of Talent Acquisition for Prodapt
Research conducted by McKinsey in 2017 showed that typical HR departments used to spend almost 60% of their time and resources on transactional and operational functions. In most organisations, HR is so caught up with day-to-day tasks that it simply does not have the bandwidth to focus on a higher strategic mission. This has been changing rapidly in the last few years, with organisations rethinking the value that HR can deliver on the strength of technological advancements.
As Lavanya Nandakumar, VP and global talent acquisition head for IT service management company, Prodapt, points out: “Large hiring teams can now be managed remotely with greater efficiency, and massive amounts of data can be reconciled and reviewed with [technological] tools. The entire process is now systematically measured at every stage, which was not the case a few years ago.”
While digital transformation had started snowballing into an enterprise-wide movement even before the pandemic, most efforts in this sphere were aimed at modernising customer touchpoints (54%) and enabling infrastructure (45%). For example, while many of the technologies for enabling remote working had existed for at least a decade before the outbreak of the coronavirus, most firms had either been reluctant to adopt them or extended this option to only a few favoured workers.
The pandemic changed all this, with lockdowns forcing teams to work from home. HR had to innovate and embrace new technologies to rapidly facilitate new ‘work from home’ models and to help shape C-level strategies around the complex people-centric challenges posed by the circumstances. Reflecting on her experience of the pandemic, Lavanya shares that talent acquisition came to a standstill for at least a couple of weeks after the first lockdown. “Remote working has disconnected candidates from recruiters and hiring managers to a large extent. It took months for TA teams to reconcile data and ensure reviews and processes align with the new ways of working.”
Changes in the business environment are occurring so rapidly, it’s getting increasingly harder for resources to remain updated and relevant. Hence, the talent war is going to heat up and become a lot more significant than it has ever been in the past.
Innovations changed the workplace
“Automation and video-conferencing technologies were written into business continuity plans,” Lavanya remembers. In the pre-Covid world, business continuity plans (BCP) were drawn up with a view to helping organisations function through power outages or natural disasters, events that had the potential to shut down operations for a matter of days, not months, and certainly not years. If the pandemic highlighted two things above all, it was the need for organisations to prepare for longer interruptions and the importance of connectivity.
Lavanya recalls that while the hiring process wasn’t fully automated at the time, it helped that at least certain segments were digitised. “The entire process did not break down as a result,” she says, adding that digital tools for sourcing, hiring, proctoring, and streamlining HR tasks took a lot of the pressure off HR teams.
The changes that were effected—practically overnight—acted as a catalyst for organisational transformation, requiring the HR function to become more strategic, and cross-functional. “They are more ‘business partners’ than mere ‘recruitment managers’,” as Lavanya puts it. TA, she predicts, will no longer be limited to enabling functions but involve actively consulting organisations on critical talent issues. “The role is no longer focused merely on onboarding people into the system. Recruitment leaders are equally responsible for revenues, [profit] margins, and brand. The business context is key here,” says Lavanya.
Talent acquisition takes centre stage
For talent acquisition leaders, it’s now a case of “one player, many games,” as Lavanya puts it. “Changes in the business environment are occurring so rapidly, it’s getting increasingly harder for resources to remain updated and relevant. Hence, the talent war is going to heat up and become a lot more significant than it has ever been in the past.” She elaborates that while connecting with candidates has become easier thanks to technology, “the world is now too small as a talent marketplace. The competition is overwhelming. It is a job-seekers market.”
A Gartner report lists this labour shortage as one of three unique talent-related challenges that are contributing to unprecedented uncertainty. “Today’s economic pressures are complicated by a so-called triple squeeze,” says the report which talks about the unusual concurrence of factors like hyper-competition for talent, challenges around salaries, and strained global supply chains. The report thus states that organisations will rely heavily on the support of HR to help them overcome “the substantial threats posed by the absence of the critical talent required to execute organisational strategies and mission-critical priorities”.
The connection that recruiters manage to establish and maintain with candidates will thus be critical, and Lavanya points out that organisations will have to prioritise investments in sourcing and candidate relationship management strategies. And to this end, teams will have to be empowered with not just the tools but also the skills to make the best use of data analytics and insights to attract, engage, and retain the best talent.
About the author: Lavanya is a seasoned HR professional with over 23 years of HR expertise. She has worked across business segments and managed large global teams. At present, she is the global head of TA at Prodapt.
Registered Name: Prodapt Solutions Pvt Ltd
Year of Incorporation: 1999, Prodapt is part of the 128-year-old business conglomerate, The Jhaver Group.
Number of Employees: About 5,000 technology and domain experts work for Prodapt in more than 30 countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Name of the founders: Vedant Jhaver, Chairman/CEO
Name of the key execs:
Harsha Kumar, President
Ramanathan J, CFO
Rajesh Rathod, CTO
Jagan N, Senior Vice President
Sandip Mishra, CHRO
Sriram Natarajan, Chief Operations Officer
Business Line: Prodapt builds, integrates, and operates solutions enabling next-generation technologies and innovations. Its customers include telecom operators, digital/multi-service providers, and technology and digital platform companies in the business of ‘connectedness’.
Key HR Factor: We believe people are our biggest asset. Prodapt is always working to build and keep a culture in which employees can learn, grow, and feel respected.