Re-energising HR and re-vitalising organisations

September 2017
| India

Neeraj Tandon, Director – Workforce Analytics and Planning, Willis Towers Watson India

Technology is disrupting the business landscape like never before. The domain of Human Resources is no different. Technology is likely to play a bigger role as organisations strive to enhance the overall employee experience across the employee life cycle, and ultimately support business goals. Technology and talent analytics (built on data collected leveraging technology) will have a significant contribution to make the function of HR more efficient towards enhancing the overall employee experience. Across different facets of HR whether recruitment, engagement, learning and development, or talent analytics, businesses are applying technology seamlessly in achieving employee engagement goals, reduce cost and therefore supporting in achieving business goals.


Technology led efficient applicant screening
Applicant screening, whether done internally or outsourced, can be painstaking and time-consuming. Therefore, the line managers often complain about the extended time required to hire the right candidates. However, deployment of automated screening solutions backed by artificial intelligence has helped IT majors in India save millions of dollars by cutting the involvement of sourcing agents and automating multiple tasks performed by sourcing team and line managers. The organisations are able to save in advertising costs, reduced time to hire, reduced and coordination work and increased social media exposure.

These solutions provide recruiters with critical inputs about candidates even before the start of the recruitment process. The skillset match in such cases are likely to be far more accurate than human screening, thus reducing the “Time to Hire” by approx. 50-70%, approx. 70% more hires directly thus reducing the overall advertising costs by 30-50%.

With the advancement in technology, we can expect this solution to be increasingly “human” in the way it analyses and reviews job applications, presenting recruiters and hiring managers with a more holistic view of a candidate’s skills and experience.

Improved predictions for candidate outcomes
Given the limited salary budgets, CXOs and business leaders are increasing seeking consistency in identifying and hiring high performing individuals’ i.e Quality of Hire. Companies are fast discovering that traditional methods of hiring are no longer successful in identifying high performers.

Use of advanced talent analytics solutions can help organisations reduce the risk of a bad quality hire by quantitatively bringing different candidate attributes into a single model and objectively score the probability of success of an individual in the organisation.

Based on the model scores for candidates, it is possible for the talent acquisition teams to determine the probability of success of a candidate in that organisation and help set an objective criteria for selecting the right candidate. Although these algorithms cannot fully replace human judgement for selecting the right candidate but algorithms can definitely act as an aid for recruiting managers to take fact-based decisions.

It is estimated that approximate cost of a bad quality hire in India ranges from “1.5-8” times the annual salary of the employees depending on the seniority and criticality of decisions taken by employees. The talent analytics recruitment solution has helped multiple organisations doing bulk hiring of similar positions in reducing this risk drastically. An American banking and financial services company having its operations in India has been successfully using predictive analytics to hire employees since 2012. Right from pre-employment screening of over 2 million candidates and selecting the ones who are able to better meet their performance requirements and fit into their corporate culture, the company has benefitted from these technology backed solutions.

The rise of talent platforms
The world of work is changing fast – resulting in organisations leveraging alternative work arrangements to meet changing business needs. The employee-employer relationship is no longer the only sourcing strategy used by recruiters to get the right talent. Talent Platforms like Top Coder cloud based work solutions, offer alternatives to regular full-time employment to source the right kind of talent to execute the work. These platforms act as sophisticated marketplaces for organisations to find and employ free-agents to do work that would have previously required full time employees.

Technology-enabled assessments
Historically, assessing a candidate’s ability to deal with the requirements of a job role is generally confined to the interview room. However, technology enabled technical / psychometric assessment tools such as Saville is playing a big role in supplementing the inputs from qualitative interviews by providing information like behavioural attributes on how the candidates might react in certain practical situations or how well the candidate is likely to adapt to the culture of the organisation. The tool is one of the best in the Industry and can predict success of identifying the right candidate.


Just like customers, employees today are empowered by technology and have access to real-time information and empowered employees want to be heard. This is particularly true for millennials, now the largest generation in the workforce, who want to be part of organisations that listen to them and that make them feel valued.

Annual employee surveys provide valuable information, but it is becoming increasingly critical for organisations to supplement that with a technology enabled listening architecture which provides a real time pulse of employee views, opinions and aspirations.

Internal social platforms
Organisations have applied social media inspired platforms such as “Facebook at work”, “IBM connections” and Jive Software for employees to enable constant interaction and collaboration between teams. These social media platforms are often used by employees to express themselves, their preferences, collaborate outside their teams or even give each other a pat on the back and allow co-workers to be nominated for recognition, such as employee of the month, or for going the extra mile. Organisations are increasing using these platforms to capture data and information captured through these platforms to better understand employee sentiments, preferences and behaviours for supporting engagement and retention.

Instant rewards
Online reward platforms allow managers to instantly reward employees for their performance instead of waiting for the semi-annual or annual compensation review cycle. Managers can assign points or credits to an employee’s account, so that they can choose a reward that they genuinely value.

Instant feedback mechanisms
Too often it has been observed that by the time managers provide feedback to employees, the contextual value of the feedback may have been lost. In such cases, instant feedback mechanisms, such as social platforms earlier mentioned in the article, can significantly improve engagement.

Learning and Development

Multiple studies have shown that learning undertaken in the form of gamification makes the learning more engaging and effective for the learner. In game based learning events, learners compete directly against one or more individuals or participate in an interactive experience that rewards the learning performance in some way. Competitive computer-based games serve both employer and employee by improving productivity and positively impacting business results. Games incentivise employees to learn and accomplish more skills, which raises competency levels throughout an organisation.

Talent Analytics

While technology is impacting the efficiency of HR processes, it is the potential that talent analytics presents which significantly adds to the effectiveness of the function. Advanced statistical techniques and Artificial Intelligence algorithms are being used to take HR decisions. Some areas where technology is enabling talent analytics include:

  • Understanding the behaviour of individuals who voluntarily leave the company and using this model to score the probability of attrition among the current employee population. These models can help segment employees based on risk of attrition.
  • Analysing the behaviour of high performers in the organisation to create a scoring model that enables recruiters to quantifiably evaluate multiple candidates with different backgrounds.

Various techniques in Talent Analytics help organisations to move away from taking decisions based on historical data to taking decisions based on analysis which provides insights on what is likely to happen in future. The decisions taken in this manner are likely to be exponentially higher than the ones taken on historical information thus adding tangible value to the organisations.

*First published in Human Capital, September 2017 Issue