3 ideas for Multi-location Recruiting

ciel blog - rcruiting from multiple locations

Talent Acquisition Leaders plan recruiting calendars and methods based on what the business leaders need for their teams. This is fun and excitement; regular day at work. This gets a bit tricky when the plan is to hire in large numbers or there is a demand-supply issue. In such situations, recruiters get out of their familiar territories to explore new possibilities. They source talent from multiple locations, adopt new methods to attract talent, review their assessment methods just in case they are losing out good candidates, focus on candidate experience, challenge existing norms and so on. Though organizations keep doing this during their growth phase, each time such an exercise is undertaken, it becomes unique in many ways because we live in a highly dynamic environment. What are the top considerations for one such multi-location recruiting exercise?

Who is Recruiting for You?

Recruiters deliver the moment of truth to an applicant. They take your Employer Brand out there to the talent market. They need to have a good grip on both sides of the equation : demand side as well as the supply side.

The demand side point towards the Employer brand. So, they must have a good understanding of what you stand for, your future plans and relative positioning with respect to the employer brands competing  with you.

On the supply side, they need to have a good understanding of the behaviours of the candidates in the local market. We have technology-enabled databases such as job portals, social networks of professionals and various job search engines. Yet, it is critical to have a good understanding of candidate behaviours, availability of talent, their typical expectations and the dynamics of local talent market. It is important that the recruiter has a physical presence in the market and has a good connection with the candidates there.

Do you have many recruiters working for you? Are they all well-qualified and competent to work for you? When you have many recruiters tapping the same market, they compete against one another and often work at cross purposes. Secondly, recruiters tend to give their everything to an assignment which is exclusive to them, especially when the pool of eligible candidates is small. And at the same time, when you put them on a contingency mode alongside many other recruiters, you do not get any of them to deploy their strategic bandwidth on the assignment. So, the value that you receive becomes sub-optimal.

It is important to make the right choice of Recruiters.

Right Methods to Assess

You must have the right methods to screen applicants so that the right candidates do not drop off the process, great candidates feel encouraged to apply and misfits get eliminated early on. This is easier said than done. The context of demand and supply could be unique in each market. Hence, the methods for attraction of talent and doing prelim screening needs appropriate improvisation. For example, one could introduce a method of group interaction when you have far too many walk-ins and you do not see a challenge in picking up the desired numbers. Another situation could be to screen candidates online right at the stage of expressing interest. On the other hand, one could encounter situation of tight supply of the skillsets being hired. In those cases, you could hold challenges or seminars to engage with potential talent and network with them to build a long-lasting engagement.

Keep track of the Efficiency

It is exciting to go places and attract talent from various pockets. There is always a cost involved and the returns that we get for the organization. The costs include the fees paid to agencies, online databases, logistics and the person-hours invested by the personnel involved in the process. The returns are to be measured in terms of number of hires, average cost to company of the hires vs the company average, the retention rate of the hires vs the company average and the value of diversity on customer satisfaction.

At times, companies do not keep track of these metrics and hence, have no idea if the system is working well for them. It is not enough to keep a track of the efficiency but also, one has to make course-corrections in the system based on the outcomes.

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Hasslefree Onboarding for New Joiners

ciel blog - onboarding

Organizations hire new people to fill either a new position or a vacant slot. As soon as the new joiner arrives, a payroll record is created and various stakeholders in the organization start their tasks to help the person start his or her work. Everyone is well-intentioned to make sure that the new person gets on with his or her job at the earliest.

A Check-list

Most often, the best case scenario of a hasslefree onboarding means, the employee has a welcome mail, a bouquet, a set of forms to fill, a few documents to read, a few videos to watch, a meal with a bunch of folks, a tour of the workplace with quick introductions and handshakes by many and assignment of a workstation with a bag of office stationery. This seems to be a well-organized check-list, but it takes immense efforts to organize. An HR person has to co-ordinate with several departments and seek some approvals to get these in place. Needless to say that many organizations find this tough to get all of these done free from glitches.

And some organizations have a longer list of activities in the list. They need to be delivered on the 7th day, 30th day, 60th day and so on.

Emotional Connect

Is onboarding all about organizing a set of tasks? Do these activities make the new joiner feel at home and make the person get onto the expressway?

A set of well-organized tasks can make someone experience a machine-like accuracy. However, it does not give the confidence to the person about the future that lies ahead. Starting a new job is much more than getting an appointment letter at hand, signing a few documents and getting introduced to a few colleagues and seniors. A new job inspires the person with new dreams, hopes and aspirations. An organization needs to think about these and create the space in the program to touch upon these vital aspects.

Normally, organizations treat onboarding as a transaction. Hence, a new joiner is most often just a headcount and a row in the HRMS database. While these are important pieces in the labyrinth of a firm, it is equally or more important for the leaders to build systems and processes to make the new employee feel valued.

Performance matters

Ultimately, an organization has a purpose and a mission to accomplish. It has its systems and processes. It has a set of tangibles that define the journey. There are roles and responsibilities for people working there. The organization has a structure that facilitates the employees to perform various tasks. Also, it delivers rewards and recognition to the employees. Onboarding must include this critical aspect the life at work.

Many organizations do not have an onboarding program that gets down to the brass tacks. A new joiner is not sure what is expected of him to be considered successful in the role. LEaders shy away from explaining the targets, the methods by which the job is evaluated and what support will be provided along the way to aid success. The measures of success must be clear for the new joiner.

In sum, there are three aspects of an ideal onboarding program : carry out a set of tasks driven by a check-list, build emotional connect with the person and define the key indicators of performance.

Handling Employee Queries

ciel blog - employee query handling

This is such a basic topic that nobody talks about it, not even the HR folks! Ask any line manager how easy it is for their team members to find answers when they have a query for the HR team. Employees often do not know who the right person is in the HR team to deal with their queries. Even if they know, it is difficult to reach the concerned HR person. Sometimes, they reach the person, but she is busy when the employee has reached her! One has to cross three obstacles to be able to discuss a query. Isn’t this a problem really?

Back to Basics

We know, the HR folks have to listen well, show empathy, gather facts before they decide, deal with employees respectfully, explain the decision transparently and so on. They are also expected to observe the pattern of queries coming up; reflect upon them in the background of queries they encounter in open house interactions and feedback from the line managers. Then they are expected to go to root cause of the queries, take not only corrective actions but also preventive actions in collaboration with various stakeholders. HR team must communicate the decisions, watch the impacts of the decisions and make changes in due course of time. Do the HR folks deliver consistently on these aspects?

Effectiveness matters

Some organizations have impersonalised the process. They have a toll-free number or a common email or an e-platform where a query can be raised. Sometimes, there is a set of FAQs given to the employees so that they can find answers on their own for most of their questions. Some organizations have outsourced the process to a Shared Service Centre where SLAs are defined to handle employee queries with speed and efficiency.

Sounds good to you? Some love this while some cringe at it. The context of each organization is unique. If you have scientists working, you would put some of your best HR folks deal with their queries and at the same time, create multiple channels such as tech-enabled self-service, emails, phones, chat, call back option and so on. If you have a large number of employees largely on transactional activities, you would possibly set up a lot of automation for them to respond to their needs efficiently and ask their managers to play a role in HR. One size doesn’t fit all. You have to choose what works well for your context and is effective for you.

Are you Agile?

Given the context of instant gratification that we love, employees want quick answers to their queries. The HR helpdesk needs all the information at one place to be able to give the answers quickly. Employee queries range from leaves, holidays, taxes, reimbursements, salary components, deductions, needs of special documentation to issues related to career growth, nature of work, behaviour of supervisor, interaction with peers or sub-ordinates, workload or a point on ethical behaviour. We can see, it’s a wide range of subjects on which an employee could have a question. Some of these can be addressed by automated systems, FAQs or bots to provide quick answers. However, there are a whole range of other topics on which the HR person needs to listen, understand, empathise and resolve.

At times, organizations deliver poor experience to their employees because they do not have all the information at one place such as leaves, holidays, payroll record, employee record, history of the benefits availed and so on. Oftentimes, each of these topics are handled by different desks and hence, the HR helpdesk doesn’t have the access to all the information at one go. Hence, an employee cannot get quick answers and have to keep chasing the HR department for these.

In sum, the HR team or the Agency has to do the Basics right, ensure that they are Effective and Agile!

Should you outsource Recruitment : 3 Questions before you!

ciel blog - outsourcing-recruitingYou need the best talent on-boarded and retained to fulfill your ambitions. Do you hire them by your own team or get a service provider to do the job? Or you take a combination approach? While it could be safe to go for a combination or hybrid approach, let us have a formula that determines when to do it in-house and when to outsource. There are multiple factors: cost, efficiency, returns on investment, expertise, capacity, focus on core business, flexibility to match the peaks and troughs of hiring demand. Can we organize these factors into a simple format that facilitates easy decision-making.

Do you have a talent strategy?

This is not a rhetoric question. Talent strategy gives a clear idea of the roles and the number of people for each role they need to hire during the year. And for each role, they should know what competencies they require, the budgets, timelines and where the desired talent is available. They must also have a path for each role to develop and progress further. Not many organizations have this clearly defined and agreed among their top management.

Ideally, you should know the roles which give a competitive edge to the organization. These need not be the senior-most roles in the company. Depending upon the strategy, the competitive advantage of your army could be the foot soldiers or in some cases, it is the Generals; and in some other cases, it could be the mid-level managers like Captains and Majors. Irrespective of the level, the roles which give you the edge in the market, need to be the focus of the Board. Specialists must be deployed to fill these roles. Even when you have a team in-house sourcing talent, you get internal references and you have your own database of candidates, you outsource the activity to an expert organization to deploy one uniform method.

There are roles which are essential for the day to day functioning of the organization. You look for efficiencies in this case. Most often, you would have outsourced these roles to a Staffing company. A well-oiled machinery can service these requirements well. Do you run this machinery in-house or outsource?

The answer lies in the cost vs benefits. Typically, the fully-loaded cost of a recruiter in India is  1.0 to 1.5 million INR per annum for a company. This figure does not consider the opportunity costs. These are just the direct costs such as wages, tools, infrastructure and the cost of supervision. Many organizations fail to see the hidden costs associated with a full-time employee, let alone the opportunity costs. If the cost savings by in-sourcing recruitment are higher than the direct costs, it is a no-brainer to set up an in-house team to acquire talent.

How confident are you in attracting talent by yourself?

Top talent is not easy to come by. Depending upon the skill-set being hired, the depth of experience being looked for and the demand-supply situation for that kind of talent, candidates behave differently. When your target market for talent is experiencing extreme levels of demand (too high or too low), candidates are likely to have many questions regarding the opportunity. They feel at ease in asking questions to a third-party than the potential employer. Hence, such queries are best addressed by your recruitment partner rather than by your own team. If you haven’t outsourced recruitment in such cases, you are missing out on the best talent.

Sourcing candidates is just one of the many steps in the recruitment process. However, this is one of the most crucial steps. How confident are you about the expertise and capacity of the in-house team in attracting the best from the market? Depending upon the role that you are trying to fill, your Recruiting partner deploys the recruiter who regularly fills such roles. It is most likely that the agency will be able to do a better job in attracting the best than your in-house team.

You may have an in-house team filling a set of roles which are non-strategic but essential for day to day functioning. Let us assume that the cost vs benefits equation is in your favour and hence, you are happy to run the engine under your direct supervision and control. What do we do to ensure that the best talent is being picked up and at the optimum cost? We need to benchmark our processes to ensure that they are fit for the purpose.

Do you have the intent?

Leadership intent and belief plays an important role behind the decision of outsourcing. If your context is short-term, the answer is simple : you have to do everything hands-on, fight multiple battles at the same time, minimize cash outflows and ignore the opportunity cost. If you think in the long term, you have to decide what is strategic and what is not; secondly, you need to evolve a talent management strategy and execute it accordingly. Often leaders do not find the bandwidth to define the strategy for the talent attraction, assessment and development. Hence, their execution steps in recruitment become haphazard and hence, inefficient.

Leaders in HR, Procurement and Finance negotiate with a service provider on aspects like replacement guarantee, ownership of candidate, scope of work, MIS, penalties and so on. Unfortunately, they do not find the time to discuss talent strategy, employee value proposition and market trends. In-house team or an outsourced team, both need investment of time and efforts to co-create talent attraction ideas and fine-tune talent acquisition processes. That calls for not only an intent but also deep commitment.

In summary, ask yourself the 3 questions and decide what you should outsource. Needless to mention, these are strategic and deeper questions than the run-of-the-mill ones such as hiring plan timelines, numbers and expertise to hire. Outsourcing or doing it in-house is an important decision. The questions which help making this decision better be tough!

Engaging your Temp Employees : 3 ideas

ciel blog - Engage-your-Temp EmployeesYou have full time employees and at the same time, employees outsourced through a Temp Agency for certain roles. This strategy of combining full-time roles with temp roles is critical for your long-term sustainability. You stay agile to match the peaks and troughs of business demands; exercise the possibility to hire the best among the temp workforce onto full-time roles; draw upon the expertise and scale of operation of the Temp agency for all the aspects of HR for the Temp employees right from hiring till exit.

The strategy of outsourcing or Temp Staffing works well when the Temp employees are cared for, mainstreamed and aligned with the purpose of the organization. Not only the business sees results in terms of productivity but also builds a sustainable future for itself.

Setting Expectations Right

Most often, the new joiner comes in with a set of expectations about the job, the organization and her days ahead so that the time beyond the contract period becomes brighter. She looks forward to training inputs, careful orientation on the job, freedom to operate, opportunity to learn, transparent practices of performance evaluation, fair targets, rewards and recognition, and many more.

On the other hand, the rank and file in the organization are not clear why some roles are outsourced. They do not know how to onboard the person. They are not sure how to communicate the temporariness of the job and what objectives to set. One is not sure what training is to be provided to the new Temp employee. Many a times, the employee is simply put on the job with a set of tasks. Managers believe, the best way to use Temp Employees is to push them into the water so that they can learn swimming. This approach hurts productivity in the short-term and raises questions on various long-term aspects such as employer brand.

The leaders on the top have to communicate clearly the purpose of temp staffing as a component of their talent strategy and ask upon the leaders at various levels down the line to interact with the temp employees as their own. This is the first and foremost step to engage the Temp Employee.

Dealing with the Dichotomy

Temp employees are on the payrolls of the Temp Agency and not employed by the organization where they are working. They receive instructions from managers and work with colleagues who may be full-time employees to service customers of the organization. The HR policies that govern them are different from those on the full-time roles. They choose to work on a temp role because they value the experience on their resume. They are a cog in the large wheel of the organization in a way similar to a full-time employee is and at the same time, they do not belong to the organization’s payroll. This dichotomy needs to be dealt with appropriately.

Though a Temp employee comes in for a short period of time, plays a role in turning the organizational wheel. It is important that the first-line supervisors provide special care to make the person feel valued and cared for. The person must understand the purpose of organization, its values, the rules of the game, the targets, evaluation process, examples of best performance and potential rewards.

We have seen a handful of organizations deal with the dichotomy very well. They have been able to attract top quality talent for Temp jobs there and retain them for long. Not only their employer brand has emerged strong, they have also been able to create value in the short term.

Temp Agency has a Role to play in Engaging the Temp Employee

Many agencies restrict their role to process payroll, pay employees, remit the statutories and answer queries. They may be doing a fine job as far as the contractual obligation is concerned. However, the organization needs its provider to play its role in executing its talent strategy.

Engaging a Temp Employee is not the exclusive responsibility of the organization. The Agency has a role right from the time recruitment starts. The first step is how the Agency conveys the promise of the employer brand and the employee value proposition to a potential candidate. Failure to make a meaningful pitch denies you the opportunity of getting the best and engaging them. Hence, you need an agency who understands this and has the ability to deliver well on attracting the best talent for you.

Secondly, until the person starts work, there are multiple interfaces that he or she has with the agency. In each interaction, the agency unknowingly sets expectations of certain kind. Since the assignment is short, one doesn’t get an opportunity to clarify and reset these expectations. These expectations when are different from the reality, could create unpleasant surprises and disenchantment leading to low levels of engagement. There is very limited option at the hand of the employee after one starts work. Hence, you need an agency who has the capability of communicating responsibly to the future employees.

Last but not the least, the agency plays a role during the life cycle of the employee working with you. They play the role of HR department for the employee. Are they capable of engaging the employee meaningfully? Do their engagements reflect how you as an organization deal with employees?

We need to think if we are doing a good job in choosing the right agency and engaging them the right way to make sure that the best talent is attracted and retained well. We have to make sure that the Temp employees not only enjoy their stint with us but also advocate us as an employer brand. Talent is indeed a competitive advantage. We must leverage on it. Returns are manifold!

Get the best of your Recruiting Partner : 3 ideas

ciel blog - get the best out of your recruiting agency

Recruiters build organizations. They help companies pick the best and retain the talent longer. They are like the specialist doctors we visit to not only fight an illness but stay healthy. Do the CXOs and HR Directors see the recruiters as specialists who help their organizations with the right nutrition to grow?

Help them understand your context

Every organization has a context that is unique to itself. This context guides its actions and priorities which are different from another in the same industry sector. The choices an organization makes about talent are very different from another because its culture, leadership and strategies are different. Interestingly, these three aspects are not tangible; nobody can touch and feel them. These have to be experienced over a period of time and absorbed. The Specialist Doctor understands not only our body but also our mind; hence, she can treat us the best. Again interestingly here, our mind is not something that can be touched and felt. The doctor understands it through her interactions with us over a period of time and advises us accordingly. Do you interact with your Recruitment Partner such that your culture, leadership style and strategy are understood well by them?

Get strategic

Many a times, organizations think that recruitment is about finding a bunch of Resumes that a recruiter should submit and coordinate a few meetings as and when demanded. If this is all that you need, it is worthwhile doing it all yourself. You can post a job on a few platforms, subscribe to a few databases and use its search feature to find a bunch of matching candidates. You do not need a recruiting partner!

Your recruiting partner must have the domain expertise, the intellectual bandwidth and curiosity to understand your context. Secondly, they must be able to integrate their experiences to help you develop an insight about the talent market. If you run recruitment in-house, you normally get limited by your vision of the talent market. Get the best out of your recruitment partner by understanding the market trends and gathering various insights.

Invest your time and energy

Relationships evolve over a period of time. Trust and commitment get built over time like any other natural process. At times, organizations engage many agencies for recruitment. So, they do not have the bandwidth to transform any of these engagements to that of a partnership. Moreover, Talent Acquisition teams, Supplier Engagement teams and Senior Management Teams often do not find the time and energy to engage with the recruitment partner. In the absence of investment of time and effort, no relationship can gain strength. You need to give the time at the right levels in the organization to build mutual understanding and deepen the engagement.

Organizations can potentially make huge changes in their talent strategies based on the insights that they gain from their conversations with the partners. They can save valuable time and energy by improving efficiency of the recruitment partner. Given the nature of engagement, the partner is likely to get a lion’s share of the business with you and hence, a likely cost advantage for you. As they understand the context better and feel valued, they fortify their commitment to find the best talent for you in the shortest time. That’s a competitive advantage for you!

Evaluate your Staffing Partner : 3 point Scorecard

ciel blog - evaluate staffing partnerOrganizations call a Temp Staffing company when they want employees but not in full-time roles. They may need the talent for a fixed period of time or they may want to try before they offer the full-time role. At times, organizations need certain tasks done but the tasks are transactional in nature and not at the core of what they do.In such a case, they get the help of a Staffing company to find them people who are employed by the Staffing provider but carry out the job under the direction of someone in their organization. Question arises how to quantify the engagement and evaluate if the value generated for the organization is optimum.

Talent mix in terms of Full-Time Roles and Contract Roles has been changing in India over time. It varies across industries and companies. A decade ago, full-timers were 30x of temp-employees; today, it is 20x or lesser. As the share of contract employees has been on the rise, the bills of the Staffing company are in the radar of the procurement department. There have been attempts across industry sectors, particularly the multi-national companies who spend huge dollars to reduce service fees of Staffing agencies. Globally, large Staffing companies generate a gross margin of nearly 20% while the same companies generate a meagre 5-7% in India. Heads of Finance and Procurement argue, there are agencies who offer competitive bids with a set of promise which match the best. It is no-brainer that they should choose a partner who offers the lowest cost and promises the best service levels.

Do you have a framework to evaluate if the ground realities match the promises?

Sustainability metrics

All ethical providers do the basics right such as payrolling, remittance of statutory dues and payment of wages. However, the Staffing partner stands at a significant position when it understands the business of the client organization and solves their challenges through its staffing processes. The context of each organization is unique to itself. Sometimes, an organization might have providers who do not deliver on the hygiene issues of issuing offer letters, running the payroll, calculating statutory dues and so on. In that context, all the organization looks for is quick-fix of the basics. For some other organization, it could be the quality of talent, setting expectations of the Temp employee, orienting the Temp employee on business ethics, productivity improvement and so on.

As the context keeps evolving in an organization, the Staffing partner needs to keep discovering those and adapting them. Hence, the parameters of evaluation must keep changing. Hence, all the stakeholders in the client organization have to collaboratively evolve a set of metrics against which the ability of the partner must be evaluated. We call this sustainability metrics that tells us if the partner has the necessary flexibility and bandwidth to keep adjusting its focus on the long term. Accordingly, the Finance and Procurement Team must evaluate if the partner will go the distance or lose steam along the way.

Agility metrics

It is not enough for the Partner to understand the context of the client organization and demonstrate the adaptability when the focus of the program changes. Speed of action matters! Organizations want their partner to not only adapt but also demonstrate the speed of response on a consistent basis. Let us say, the focus of the program is recruitment. In this case, the client must evaluate the agility by tracking the Turn-Around Time to fill a vacancy and the success rate of candidates presented. If the focus is retention, in all likelihood, the Staffing provider will run a one-to-one employee connect program. The agility metric in this case will be program coverage and action taken based on the insights gathered in the employee connect program.

Efficiency metrics

It is essential that the Staffing Partner is agile and brings the prowess to go the distance. There is another dimension when done well, delivers the best value to a client. That is efficiency in cost, time and effort. When an organization works deeply with the staffing provider, there is mutual understanding and trust. Commitment to each other increases and hence, honest conversations take place. In the setting of a business to business (B2B) engagement, value for money is one of the most important governance parameters.

The vendor gains efficiency as the client organization invests energy and time in making the engagement effective. They win a bigger share of the client’s wallet and do not mind passing on a part of the gain to the client. Apart from the cost advantage, the client gains good-will, reduces the risk of failure and assures itself of the best efforts to fulfill its requirements.

Do you combine the power of these 3 metrics : sustainability, agility and efficiency?