Talent Acquisition at HCL Technologies

Talent Acquisition at HCL Technologies : India is ranked among the strongest emerging economies across the globe (Hill, Khanna & Stecker, 2007). Information Technology is one the fastest growing sectors of India (Govil S. K., 2013), and HCL Technologies is leading name in this sector. It has been ranked as the “Asia’s Fab Companies” in the Forbes list (Ramaswamy, 2009). Dutta, Mishra and Manimala (2015) demonstrate that few years ago, HCL was facing several internal management issues, specifically in the domain of Human Resource Management. To illustrate, the organization had a decentralized system, whereby the talent acquisition process spread across three domains including software, infrastructure and BPO. Departments in the company were not working with integration and cooperation. Correspondingly, at some instances, a single candidate was interviewed by different departments a number of times, while others were offered the job simultaneously. The need for centralization of talent acquisition was evident from the fact that around 66% of total operational cost was attributed to talent acquisition and workforce management (Dutta, Mishra & Manimala, 2015). Certainly, recruitment process is costly in its nature. As the IT sector of India is growing at a fast rate, the competition in this sector is intensifying. Furthermore, when an economy boosts, firms operating in that economy compete for hiring the best employees (Wilden, 2010). Under such circumstances, it was necessary for HCL to make its employee resourcing both efficient and effective. This essay analyses the talent acquisition process of HCL Technologies.

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Employee resourcing is defined as the process of linking the capabilities of human resources with the needs of businesses whether they may be strategic or operational (Armstrong, 2012). Certainly, only the employee with the right capabilities and skills will be able to cope with the strategic and operational need of organization (Dainty, Raidén & Neale, 2009). Employee resourcing can be done internally and externally. Internal employee resourcing includes internal labor markets and external employee resourcing includes outsourcing vendors, agencies, a changing labor market and developing technologies. However, it is costly process because of several stages involved in it, and each stage requires appropriate human resource strategic development. The stages involved in the employee resourcing process include HR planning, Job and Role analysis, Job description and competency definition, recruitment and selection. Each stage needs to be accomplished with the mindset of maximum utilization of resources (Becker & Gerhart, 1996). The final selection of employees needs to ensure that skills and capabilities of new hiring is according to the organizational strategy. Nonetheless, this process is quite hectic, lengthy and costly. Additionally, it involves utilization of both tangible and intangible resources of organization. The organization spends these expenditures to ensure its long-term growth. However, the intense effort exerted in the process becomes useless when companies have to face offer renege (Brady, Burrows & Geary, 2011) and turn over.

HCL Technologies also faced the issue of offer renege that had a negative impact on its economic fulfillment. Offer renege is the denying of offer at the eleventh hour (Brady, Burrows & Geary, 2011). Tracking and minimizing offer renege became a huge concern for HCL because of the loss it faced due to renege and delayed joining. The higher administration of the company was concerned with overcoming of the potential losses incurred due to offer renege. One way to overcome offer renege is to make excess offers based on an industry joining ratio, but the problem with this approach is that it would increase the cost of hiring due to increase in bench strength and resultantly it will decrease the profit margins.

To overcome these issues, HR took ‘pro-active change agent’ role, which actively progressed cultural change and organizational transformation. As far as modes of consulting are concerned, HR assumed process-consultancy model, which has been defined by Schein (1988) as set of activities that enable the client to gain insights and act into process events that take place in client’s environment with the aim of improving the situation of client. In the case of HCL, a process model is evident because systematic issues were addressed as they appeared. Through constant consultancy, it moved from PEP-C initiative to iTAP, talent acquisition metrics and finally to gamification. In case of HCL, five stages were involved in consultancy process as shown in figure-1:

Figure 1: Consultancy Process at HCL Technologies

Talent Acquisition Group of HCL Technologies devised an innovative and creative way of Post-Offer-Follow-Up (POFU) gamification to determine the probability of offer renege and forecast who will join the company and who will not join it. The POFU process enabled the company to take corrective actions to avoid the extra cost associated to both renege and delayed joining. The idea behind the POFU gamification strategy was to observe the engagement level of those candidates who had been offered the job. It assessed the candidate’s nature and predicted his interest in the job. Correspondingly, the process started when the job was offered and continued till the candidate was on board. POFU game was designed with different features according to the need of HCL Technologies. Link of the game was sent to candidates as soon as they accepted the job offer. Candidates could play the game at their own decided time. A potential candidate usually took 6-7 days to complete the game. Also the game introduce and familiarized the candidate with the culture, environment, philosophy and practices of HCL Technologies. POFU game was designed in such a manner that it enhanced the engagement level of future employees. Also, the challenges being offered to potential candidates while playing the game enhanced their self-esteem, individual motivation and cognitive inquisitiveness.

POFU gamification strategy allowed HCL Technologies to identify potential candidates who were likely to join the company with almost 90% accuracy. The prediction of offer renege in the post offer wait period reduced from 30% to 25%. Furthermore, the strategy enabled HCL to minimize resource wastage caused by denying job offer at the last moment, as compensatory offers were made in the meantime. Offer reneges were tracked by mapping the skills and locations which increased the accuracy of prediction in the early stages of offering a job. In short, tracking offer reneges at the proper time ultimately resulted in minimizing the economic and financial losses of the company, and the hiring cost was reduced from $650 per joiner to $517 per joiner. It is worth mentioning that the scope of Gamification strategy was not only restricted to potential candidates but it was also used to identify the developmental need of all of the company’s employees. Identification of employee enabled managers to devise necessary measure to address them. HCL Technologies had the “Employee First, Customers second” strategy. Addressing employee needs ultimately helped in improving the overall performance of employees and improve the productivity level of all lines of business teams from “Good to Great”.

HCL Technologies adopted electronic recruitment to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of employee resourcing process. Certainly, developing recruitment strategies based on e-Techniques increases the efficiency gains, speed and just-in-time recruitment (Nikolaou, 2014). By using e-techniques, HCL Technologies reduced both the time and costs needed for filling the job vacancy.

HCL Technologies has neglected the aspect of strategic sourcing. Though POFU gamification strategy has enabled organization to achieve its objective of increasing profits and decreasing cost, the entire resourcing process needs to be aligned with strategic goals of HCL.  A comprehensive strategic resourcing plan has six components including workforce planning, developing employee value propositions and employer brand, resourcing plans, retention, flexibility and talent management (Armstrong, 2012). Table-1 shows what HCL technologies has done and what it has not done in this regards:

Table 1: Evaluation of Strategic Resourcing at HCL

Elements of Strategic ResourcingWhat HCL has done?What it has not done?
Workforce planningDeciding on people requiredThere should be more focus on assessing future needs
Value propositions and employer brandPOFU gamification provided platforms for value proposition Developed a strong employer brand 
Resourcing plansDeveloping plans for finding people within and outside of organization e-recruitment 
Retention HCL needs to prepare retention plans so that valuable employees can be retained
Flexibility HCL needs to plan for increased flexibility
Talent ManagementStrong talent management through TAG initiatives 

Another element that HCL needs to focus upon is ‘diversity management’, which Armstrong (2012) refers to as acknowledging that employees are different and properly managing the differences will enable work to be completed in an effective and efficient manner. HCL needs to clearly adopt a diversity management policy, by stating that it values different qualities that different people bring to the organization.

Globalization and increasing competition have played a pivotal role in changing the dynamics of business world (Andreadis, 2009). Organizations are continuously striving to enhance their performance; every strategy of organizations is designed in a manner that contributes to achieving the organizational goals and objectives (Andreadis, 2009) . HCL Technologies was also concerned about initiating reforms that could increase its performance. One of the major task of HCL Technologies was to reshape its TAG, which was responsible for recruiting and hiring the finest candidates from the market. However, decentralization and lack of standardization led to low quality hiring. Low quality hiring makes an organization less productive and organizational efficiency decreases drastically (DeNisi & Smith, 2014). An outstanding workforce is the backbone of any company which can make an organization progress by leaps and bounds (Wilden, 2010).

For developing a strong workforce, HCL Technologies formulated “Employee first; Customer second” strategy. However, it still needed to achieve clarity about ‘quality of hire’. The objective of talent acquisition teams is to provide a competitive workforce to organization (Dainty, Raidén & Neale, 2009). A competitive workforce can only enable an organization to compete on global level. There are different parameters for measuring the capabilities and effectiveness for a candidate including qualification, communication skills and interpersonal skills. The defined parameters identify whether a particular candidate is suitable for a business environment or not. Working environments vary from organization to organization, and so, the requirements for hiring candidates change accordingly. Quality of hire is considered as the most important determinant for rating the recruitment functions performed by talent acquisition teams (Naveh, 2007).

Hiring and selection done in a systematic way always bring results that cater the needs of an organization (Bratton & Gold, 2012). A rational and systematic process of recruitment is an important constituent for quality hiring. The rational process of recruitment leading to good quality hiring involves different steps:

  1. Identifying what is the requirement of business: for which position hiring is required and also identification of job role is mandatory at this stage
  2.  Selecting assessment method: Identifying and selecting criteria for assessing the candidates
  3.  Generating applicants: Advertising on different job portals to attract the attention of potential and relevant candidates who are searching for job opportunities
  4.  Applying chosen selection method to applicants
  5. Select “best” candidates on the basis of defined parameters
  6. Monitoring and evaluating the performance of selected candidates through performance appraisal systems

The adoption of proper recruitment procedure will provide recruiters with sufficient knowledge on the basis of which they can make an informed decision. The way information is used in the decision making process determines the quality of decision. Similarly the information gathered through the recruitment process will result in hiring of competitive and skillful candidates.

Different determinants are considered for assessing the quality of hiring. In this era of high competition, demand of efficient and effective labor has been increasing tremendously; the criteria of identifying the best suitable candidate has also changed with time. There are some pre-hiring attributes and some post hiring attributes that determine the quality of hiring. The pre-hiring attributes on the basis of which an employer evaluates a candidate include skills and competencies, structured interviewing, panel interviewing, background information, past experience, communication skills, creativity and innovation and reference checks (Wilden, 2010). The post-hiring attributes for determining the quality of hire are job performance assessed by performance ratings, employee turnover, early aborts and P-O (Person organization) and P-J (Person job) fit assessment (Nikolaou, 2014).

The nature of the business and job roles require different skills and capabilities. Candidates having required skill set will fit best with hiring requirement, thus ensuring a quality hiring. Interview is another determinant to identify the quality of hire (Ulrich et al., 2009). A candidate who is more capable of demonstrating his personality-fit with organization will be preferred by employers. Interviews usually identify the candidate’s confidence, communication skills and capabilities which will determine whether the candidate is suitable for the company or not. The scope of some organizations require creativity and innovation to comply with the rapidly changing market trends; in such case, candidates complying with the organizational need of being creative and innovative will be considered a better option for hiring.

Similarly, once the candidate is hired, post hiring evaluation is also necessary to determine the quality of hiring. Organizations conduct performance appraisals regularly to determine the performance level of employees. A good performance rating of an employee will reflect quality hiring by talent acquisition teams (Mayer & Davis, 1999). Employee turnover is the rate at which employees leave the organizations; if the employee turnover rate is low, it reflects that talent acquisition teams are working effectively (Dainty, Raidén & Neale, 2009). A good quality hiring will show a low employee turnover rate due to employee satisfaction. The extent to which employee’s productivity benefit the organizations in terms of revenues and profitability will determine the hiring quality. If the employee’s productivity is higher, it will reflect a good quality hiring which is contributing in the growth of an organization (Bratton & Gold, 2012).

HCL Technologies after bringing strategic changes in the recruitment process of the company, focused on measuring the efficiency and effectiveness level of Talent Acquisition Group of the company. The higher authorities of HCL determined 20 different parameters for measuring the functioning of TAG. These parameters comprised of gender mix, cost per joining, channel mix, lateral tier mix, demand fulfilment, economic fulfilment, average lead time from requirement received by TAG to offer made, attrition rate, performance rating distribution, tenure distribution, early attrition, joiner per recruiter and offer renege rate. The parameters were adopted with the motive of improving the maturity level of recruitment process across the organization, as increase in the maturity level of organization ultimately increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the workforce (Becker & Gerhart, 1996). HCL Technologies also devised a metric for determining the performance of talent acquisition teams at group and individual level. The standards for measuring the performance of individual and group recruiters were aligned with strategic business needs. If the productivity of recruiters was in accordance with the business needs of HCL Technologies, their performance were rated as satisfactory and if the productivity of recruiters was not in accordance with the business needs of HCL Technologies, their performance were rated as unsatisfactory.

HCL Technologies formulated a TAG rule book which was circulated across all departments of the organization. The book was aimed to publish reports about the performances of employees which was based on the defined key metrics critical to business. HCL Technologies also focused on the “Just in time” hiring to minimize the cost per joining. Too early or too late hiring of candidates made the company to bear cost which negatively affect the economic fulfillment metrics of the company. TAG defined their metrics to measure the effect of early and late hiring by identifying both the lead and lag indicators. Lead indicators include sourcing turnaround time, screening quality, and candidate aging. Lag indicators include economic fulfillment, SLA fulfillment, and time to on board, cost per joiner, hiring manager experience, and candidate experience and background verification compliance. Measuring and identifying the different indicators enlisted as lead and lag indicators helped talent acquisition group to improve their quality of hire in accordance with the business needs (Hill, Khanna & Stecker, 2007).

Figure 2: Quality of Hire Predictors, Source Adler (2016)

Adler (2016) suggests that quality of hire is predicted by job fit, managerial team and cultural fit, track of results, talent, quality and trend of growth, career move and team and individual achiever pattern. Murphy (2016) put forth ‘talent analytics maturity model’ and suggested that the quality of hire should be based on predictive analytics (see figure-3). The author explained that resumes contain unstructured data which falls in primitive analytics. Evaluative analytics presumes mathematical analysis of relevant data, for example giving points to candidates on basis of job-relevant experience and coaching. Predictive analysis acquires the top position in maturity model and it includes experimental and correlational analysis of structured and job relevant data. Predictive analysis can be utilized to optimize hiring criteria, thereby leading to a high quality hire.

Figure 3: Talent Analytics Maturity Model (Source: Murphy, 2016)

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            In my opinion, while cost of hire and time of hire can be determined easily, the quality of hire is complex and measuring it is challenging. A major component of quality of hire includes the employee’s fit with organizational culture. Other components include the readiness with which he takes over his responsibilities and shows an acceptable level of performance. Determinants of quality of hire include pre-hiring and post-hiring attributes. Employee turnover, performance matrices, person-job fit and person-organization fit are some important determinants of quality of hire. For measuring quality of hire, organizations need to collect structured and job-relevant data of employees, which should be analyzed rigorously by statistical techniques as suggested by Murphy (2016). Organizations should develop performance matrices of employees, and the matrices should be updated on run-time, in order to ensure a high quality of hire, thereby leading to a strong workforce. It is suggested that innovative measures like iTAP and POFU gamification should be taken by firms to measure and increase the quality of hire. 


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