An Engaged Workforce Is The Greatest Magnet To Attract More Talent Into The Organization

Hemal Varma, Associate Director – Human Resources, Capita India Pvt. Ltd. believes that the skills needed by people managers in the early 2000s were mostly around customer service, quality control and decision making. However, the focus has now shifted to creativity, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and complex problem solving. She talks to The Human Factor about her views on the various aspects of HR.

What has been your journey like as an HR professional?
My career spans 20 years, with experience across diverse business segments. The core HR role is relatively new to me – however, 20+ years of Human Capital Management experience backed by a PG in Human Resources, has made my move from Operations to Human Resources a natural career progression and I am loving the dynamics of this role. Q. What were the biggest challenges you faced? A. Amidst fierce competition for talent and uncertainties in the BPO space, attracting and retaining talent is a challenge. Youth in India have immense talent, but they’re also an ambitious lot. How well HR supports their aspirations while also managing costs will be a key determinant of our success as a function.

Q. What are the challenges HR faces in the new era of the ‘digital age’?
A. When I think of ‘‘digital age’’, a few words that come to mind are ‘technology/tools’, ‘accessibility’ and ‘networking’. With information available at the click of a button, there is no room for ambiguity in roles and the expectations we have from our people. Also, with technology changing so rapidly and boredom setting in quickly, the role of HR is key in ensuring people are constantly engaged, are learning new skills, are moving towards more complex roles and that their career path is clearly defined.

Q. Any advice you would like to give on how to manage people/teams as the workforce becomes more diverse, as the ways of working change.
A. There is a need to understand that everyone is different, with different needs and different aspirations. The GenY workforce will not be able to work in a rigid environment and there needs to be more flexibility around people practices and policies. This generation is used to two – way communication and there must be internal channels where they can be heard and communicated with.
Secondly, one must learn to build trust. Relationships are fundamental to any transaction or business dealing and people should be able to trust the individuals that they work with. The focus should not only be on “What” you are doing, but also on “How” you are doing. The skills needed by people managers in the early 2000s were mostly around Customer Service, Quality Control and Decision Making. However, the focus has now shifted to Creativity, Emotional Intelligence, Critical Thinking and Complex Problem Solving. Recruitment processes need to be robust enough to evaluate a candidate’s aptitude in these areas right at the recruitment/selection stage.

Q. How effective and how important are rewards and recognitions in strengthening employee engagement and retention?
A. It is vital that employees who perform well are appreciated and recognized. I believe both monetary rewards and non-monetary recognition contribute significantly to lifting employee morale and ensuring continued success. People always have a choice to move and when their loyalty is perceived by the company as ‘’being complacent’’ or ‘’in their comfort zone’’, they start becoming disgruntled. You need to continuously remind your people how valuable they are to the organization.

Q. How can a company attract the best people?
A. An engaged workforce is the greatest magnet to attract more talent into the organization. Companies that have successfully created a culture where employees feel valued, respected, productive and nurtured, drive positive association with their employerbrand. Employee referrals work both ways: higher quality candidates for the company, and the assurance of working for a good employer for the candidate.

Q. What is the secret to hiring the right candidate?
A. It starts right with the basics: having an accurate role description, which reflects the actual demands of the job and the skills needed to perform effectively and mapping the right candidate to the job. It is also important to ensure that the candidate is a “cultural fit” for the organization and that his personal ethos matches the brand ethos.

Q. What advice would you give young candidates if they want to stand out and get noticed during an interview?
A. With increasing competition, it is imperative that one must keep oneself updated at all times and ensure that the skills are still relevant in the marketplace.
A few tips:
1. Take out time to know more about the company you are applying for
2. Don’t oversell or undersell yourself – Be and showcase what you are
3. Be positive and show enthusiasm
4. There is no second chance – be well dressed

And finally, be honest and on time!