The Human Element: Why Workforce Strategy Needs to be More Talent-Centric The introduction of AI tools is helping companies streamline recruitment processes to a large extent, thus helping to make them faster and more efficient

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There is an abundance of talent available across industries in today's times. Yet, the world over, several companies face a major talent crunch, either in terms of finding the "right' talent, or in terms of it being difficult to retain existing talent. The root of this problem is the lack of people-focused planning and strategy, where these should focus not just on organisational goals, but on understanding the people who will be carrying out the tasks that will help to achieve these very goals. According to a report by Mercer, 62per cent of the participating organisations said they are ineffective at workforce planning. For technical industries, especially with processes being revamped to incorporate a number of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), a carefully tailored workforce strategy can make all the difference in assessing the needs of talent.

The Current Scenario

There are only a handful of Engineering Design professionals in the Oil & Gas sector, with a market size of approximately 100,000 engineers or technical designers. Amongst these, a majority of these professionals tend to stick to the same place and aren't looking for a change. Additionally, though most projects in the field require a large number of staff, they are cyclical in nature and have short deadlines, hence, hires are also time-bound. It is, therefore, necessary for recruiters to understand what will make this skilled labour be readily available for future projects as well.

Competition for recruitment has been on a steady rise. According to recent reports, close to 86per cent of technical hiring managers face difficulties in finding and hiring technical employees. Most recruiters tend to log on to job portals or other platforms to put up job postings.

New Technology and Improved Strategies for Recruitment

Besides posting on job portals and advertising in print media, it has been found that social media and references have been amongst the best channels to add to a hiring strategy for project-based work in engineering. This is because via both of these, recruiters usually get some first-hand information about the candidates, given the relatively personal nature of both. Another method companies are increasingly using is what is called "programmatic job advertising'. Through this, recruiters are able to target individuals based on customisable variables pertaining to both demography and behaviour, thus increasing the chances of securing the right candidates for the role.

Additionally, the introduction of AI tools is helping companies streamline recruitment processes to a large extent, thus helping to make them faster and more efficient. For example, several companies around the world are using chatbots to hold initial conversations with potential candidates. The bots are able to deal with 100s of candidates at a time at any time of the day and can filter them out to determine whether they qualify for the first level of interviews with HR teams. Additionally, using AI tools, companies are able to program the way the software should sort out CVs of candidates based on their requirements such as job descriptions, years of experience required and other skills pertaining to certain roles.

Staffing companies play an important role in the recruitment process for technical jobs, especially when it comes to temporary employment, as their primary focus is on finding, retaining and re-deploying the right candidates for jobs. When such companies implement AI and other related technology, it helps to maximise their efficiency. In this way, recruiters are able to approach the right candidates themselves first, instead of the other way around. Additionally, candidates should be allowed to have some sort of flexibility in their work. Staffing companies can, then, build a network of temporary workers who can be deployed for different technical work depending on their expertise.

Work Culture, Ethics and the Right Balance

It is important for companies to have the right work culture, as the way a workplace operates can have a direct impact on employee happiness and, consequently, productivity. This balance can be achieved when there is an environment of flexibility within an organised system. According to a 2017 report by Accenture, 76per cent of executives agree that organisations are under pressure to bring in more innovation into their workforce and corporate structure. It further states that 73per cent percent of executives' productivity and innovation are being hampered due to the existence of rigid corporate structures such as defined hierarchies and inflexible rules.

For example, if there are multiple layers between the management and other employees in an organisation, chances are that there will be a gap in communication, resulting in delays while trying to resolve even minor issues. A flat structure, however, enables managers to be present on the spot and have fewer levels to go through for any problems that may arise within the workforce.

Businesses that are community-centric have proven to do better than those that are not. In addition to training sessions held to build the relevant skill sets amongst their employees, organisations should hold frequent team-building activities too. Workplaces are increasingly realigning their strategies to give more importance to employee-friendly environments, flexible work hours, downtime, and an increased sense of responsibility and value-addition. All of these are aimed at achieving harmony at the workplace, through increased employee engagement, productivity and the consequent incentive to stick around for the long run.

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