How a good relationship with the CFO can improve talent acquisition

Managing people and managing wealth may seem like polar opposites, but the overlapping responsibilities are Venn diagram-worthy. You can’t hire people without funding, and you can’t make money without people. For companies to fully grow, wealth and talent must walk in lockstep. At high-performing companies, the gap between the two has narrowed considerably.

With the help of finance, HR can better drive talent acquisition, development and management. With the help of HR, finance can better control costs and optimize investment. With access to big data, together they can analyze trends and plan more intentionally.

The huge investment in talent acquisition and development are two of the driving factors to a closer CFO/HR relationship. Changes to business models, along with wider adoption and use of analytics, help nurture the relationship. Higher level data-led decision making is on the rise at most companies as they unlock the value of accumulated HR software information. Where the relationship is strong, the CFO and HR are entrenched in workforce planning, predictive analytics and evaluating skill gaps.

Big data bridges the gap

A 2014 report by EY polled more than 550 CFOs and CHROs globally. On average, respondents from high-performance organizations revealed they spend more than half their time collaborating, and 80% say the relationship has become more collaborative in recent years. The specifics on which HR and finance work together include:

Scenario planning (58% of respondents);

Predictive workforce analytics (54% of respondents); and

Skills gap analysis (59% of respondents).

As businesses analyze the data they possess, the collaboration runs even deeper. HR and CFOs are mining data for:

Strategic workforce planning (71% of respondents);

Driving decisions about acquiring or developing talent (64% of respondents); and

Identifying expertise and knowledge (62% of respondents).

The relationship is symbiotic. For finance, a deeper knowledge of people issues enhances the ability to plan. For HR, understanding the numbers behind the issues enhances theirs. “For organizations that are building their HR reporting and analytics capabilities, input from finance (and other analytic disciplines) can help the HR team develop sound analysis methods and relate analysis findings to diverse stakeholder groups,” Pat Russo, principal and LaborWise leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP, told HR Dive.

Missed connections

Otherwise, employers could be missing out on a golden opportunity. “Very few firms are looking at their Human Capital Balance Sheet holistically,” Russo said. “They are not investing in developing their HC assets and are not focused on controlling HC spend and risk.”

As a result, Russo explained, programs are managed in isolation. Employers, for example, attempt to cut labor spend, but don’t consider how such moves impact productivity. Employee engagement may be negatively impacted with implications on both talent acquisition and retention. A lack of coordination might even lead to competing numbers of employees being reported to executives and stakeholders.

“These dueling systems result in lack of trust in either function and excess management and staff time devoted to reconciling the differences,” Russo said.

Culture collaboration

While many CHROs believe they lead the charge in developing corporate culture, many CFOs say they’re involved as well. A survey by Robert Half reveals 51% of CFOs say they are shaping corporate culture.

“Corporate culture ranks high on the priority list for both human resources and finance,” said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “While HR has long been focused on areas affecting culture — employee morale, engagement, happiness, satisfaction — finance leaders play an instrumental role, as well.”

The possibilities for collaboration in this area are actually quite extensive, Hird added. “The two groups can work together to tap analytics to enhance the recruitment process and spot business risks such as turnover, hiring mistakes and compliance issues. They also can join forces to assess staffing patterns, determine when to hire full-time employees and when to bring in consultants and project professionals.”

Small collaboration pays big dividends

Shared analysis benefits HR, finance and the company overall, said Erik Fromm, Financial Advisor at Janney Montgomery Scott. One big example is retirement, which impacts a growing number of workers due to the present shift in workforce demographics.

“When a person is reluctant or unable to retire, healthcare costs and wages increase, productivity is stifled, and organizational growth becomes stagnant,” Fromm explained. “For these reasons, it is important that CHROs and CFOs work together to make sure they are prepared to weather the generational shift taking place in the modern workforce.”

They call it the ‘Silver Tsunami,’ and it can have more than just a financial impact on companies. When new talent can’t see a clear path to advancement, morale, engagement and ownership are diminished. By the time seasoned employees realize they’re not “retirement ready,” it can be too late.

Enter collaboration: “By aggregating and analyzing data from your organization associated with this liability,” Fromm said, “the result can be clear strategies to move the conversation around your retirement plan from ‘fees, funds, and fiduciary’ to making the plan a powerful tool in taking control of this risk to your cash flow statement and balance sheet.”

When HR and Finance work together, the company benefits. Finance has better insight into the firm’s highest investment and risk: employees. HR has enhanced tools to maximize talent, from recruitment to retirement. It’s a match too long in the making that has the potential to grow even further.

Five Tips For Introducing Intelligent Automation To HR

Intelligent automation technologies make our personal lives easier. Cars park themselves, hit the brakes and will soon drive themselves. Smart home devices can do everything from adjusting the temperature to turning lights on and off to ordering a pizza without us having to get up off the couch.

This level of intelligent automation is starting to affect us at work, too. The ability to automate manual tasks and business processes frees skilled employees up to perform more high-value work, increasing their productivity. For many organizations, their efforts to introduce automation technologies should begin with the HR department.

Those are a couple of the key findings of ServiceNow’s “Today’s State of Work: At the Breaking Point” survey. More broadly, it reveals that a majority of organizations have introduced advanced automation to one or more departments. Nearly half of executives say that they’ll require it enterprise-wide by 2018 to cope with rising work volumes. In addition, a survey from CareerBuilder also shows that 72% of employers expect that some roles within talent acquisition and human capital management will become completely automated within the next 10 years.

The level of automation varies widely depending on the type of business process. For example, IT services are the most automated at 53%, whereas HR services only stand at 37%. Yet respondents most frequently cite HR services — such as employee relocations — as the least efficient. In fact, when asked, executives said that HR was the department most in need of a reboot.

HR departments want to provide great service but too often find themselves saddled with repetitive, transactional tasks. Respondents report that their various HR processes are highly manual with unstructured work processes. This leads to complexity and productivity drain.

Reducing that complexity requires enabling HR professionals to focus less of their time and energies on a number of recruitment activities they have to handle manually. For example, overseeing employee relocations, which can take 14 or more days to process, leaves of absence and onboarding new hires are among the least efficient HR processes.

If your organization’s HR department struggles with these issues, there are five steps you can take to introduce intelligent automation:

1. Identify Areas That Could Be Automated

It’s important to identify the business processes that need improving and whether they’re appropriate for automation. You may identify HR as a prime candidate, but that may not only apply to HR. Evaluate all business units to identify processes that can be made more efficient through intelligent automation.

2. Map It Out

Next, map these critical business services to introduce automation technologies by using a combination of machine intelligence and human skills. This requires determining the process bottlenecks and areas that should prove easy to automate — including purchase order requisitions, submitting IT support or help desk requests — and onboarding new employees with workspaces, computers and badges. Don’t introduce automation just for the sake of doing so. Create a map of the ideal end-state process by investigating whether the existing process can be modified to deliver the desired result. Keep in mind that it may be easier to redesign some processes from scratch rather than trying to modify them from manual to automated.

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3. Communicate

Be proactive in communicating with HR employees. Don’t forget that if you’re planning on automating tasks and processes, you’ll be affecting their day-to-day work. Address their concerns and provide reassurance that just the opposite is true. Make sure that they realize the benefits automation will provide to them, such as reducing the time they must spend on administrative tasks and even job creation. Automating jobs drives up demand for so-called soft skills such as collaboration, creative problem solving and communication. Despite the fear that automation of processes leads to job loss, the opposite is often the case. As technology improves, employees are freed from routine tasks so they can focus their time and energies on more creative and strategic projects.

4. Make Sure The C-Suite Is Onboard

This too requires constant communication with employees. Yes, a structured and measurable program plan is essential, but organizational change is more than simply executing a set of implementation activities. The senior leadership team must be visible in its support and its participation in empowering employees to suggest how automation can make them more productive.

5. Teach Skills

Finally, you’ll need to teach skills to help employees succeed after you’ve created an automated environment. So many of us work through days filled with tedious, manual processes like filling out spreadsheets and replying to long email chains. We’re used to automation and efficiency in our personal lives but not at work. So don’t expect your employees to have the skill sets for leveraging automation tools, which can vary among departments. For example, HR professionals may already have extensive soft skills but need help understanding and interacting effectively with automation technology. It may be just the opposite for the IT team.


There are times, however, when companies would not want to automate some HR tasks. For example, sensitive matters around issues involving employee conduct complaints, medical leaves or a death in someone’s family require what’s referred to in the industry as “high touch when it matters” for these types of situations.

Most HR processes can now be automated, and that requires the role of HR professionals to evolve. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of communicating to HR staff that automation will provide them with more time to work on high-value activities such as high-touch employee services, career development and organizational design rather than spending time dealing with routine cases.

Top Benefits of HR Management Software

Many small and medium-sized companies hesitate to invest in HR management software as they think it is unessential and too expensive. However, the right HR software can prove to be of great benefit to businesses if they select it carefully for their specific needs. To start, let’s begin with the answer to the basic question: what is HR management software? Your company’s employees are your most important asset. HR software enables you to effortlessly manage your people and keep them focused and happy. The HR software market size is predicted to exceed $10 billion by the year 2022. If you are still on the fence, these benefits of HR software are sure to convince you:

It Saves Precious Time

HR software can automate time-consuming processes which will allow you to focus on more productive work. If your company has a sizeable number of employees, you will find it difficult to manage their information on paper. It will be a nightmare to find basic details about how many holidays are available for a particular employee. Even if you use a spreadsheet, it will still take a lot of time to set it up and maintain it. HR software allows you to automate basic process like employee self-services, training, absence, and holiday allowance as well as to streamline workflows to improve work management and productivity. In these ways, the platform can save you a lot of time which translates into money for most businesses.

All Information is Readily Available

HR software makes it easy to access all essential information anytime. It will be available on your laptop when you attend a meeting and face queries from your employees. This simplifies decision-making as all data is immediately available and you do not have to worry about inadequate or out-of-date info.

The software’s analytics tools can help you to spot trends and resolve issues. For instance, if there is a specific role that has a high turnover you can delve into the reasons and find a solution. The system makes it a breeze to collect this information and access it. It would be impossible to use a paper-based process to get similar insights quickly.

Develop Your Employees

You don’t have to recruit new employees to grow your business. It is more affordable to properly train your existing staff members and HR software can help you with this. This platform facilitates employee development from training courses to performance appraisal. For example, regular appraisals can boost employee morale and give them an incentive to maintain high standards of work. The software stores data on the issues you discussed, the feedback given, and the goals and objectives you decided together. Your employees can also access this information anytime which will enhance their engagement with their work and the company. With this data, you can plan your staff members’ career development and give them short-term and long-term goals to achieve.

Manage Your Documents Securely

HR software maintains all information in a single secure centralized location and ensures it is accessible anytime, from anywhere. Thus, it is a boon for companies that have mobile employees and multiple office locations.

If you use a filing cabinet, you cannot be sure how secure it is as anyone can access it.

HR software is more secure as you can control who accesses what information. Plus, cloud-based solutions ensure your data is protected and available even when there are physical catastrophes or emergencies like a fire. You only need an internet-ready mobile device or computer to access the data. A quality cloud-based HR software solution like Zoho People can be quite useful to your company. There are also other good choices in the market so you can always find a Zoho People alternative any time.

HR software also offers complete document management capabilities. You can learn which employee reads what material when. Plus, you can improve productivity by minimizing paperwork. In addition, you get an accessible location to archive training manuals, staff handbooks, policies, and old documents. The platform allows you to go green and run a paper-free company as you don’t need to print out all documents.

Track Leave Requests

It is essential for businesses to properly manage leaves and absence. It can be disastrous if your company faces a deluge of leave requests. HR software helps you to avoid this as you can plan staff holidays more carefully and track the information behind absence.

HR software is more than just a calendar as it enables you to manage holiday requests, monitor remaining leaves, and calculate pro-rata payments. In addition, you can automate the time-consuming process of holiday booking. Your employees can request leaves any time and you can accommodate their requests easily and quickly without worrying about messy email trails.


As there are scores of quality HR software solutions out there, how do you select the right one for your requirements? You can consult a reliable business directory software site to read in-depth reviews and articles on leading HR software platforms. Plus, you can track the latest HR software trends and select a system that incorporates these features. Feel free to share your feedback on this article in the space below.

5 Innovative Ways to Improve Human Resources through Artificial Intelligence

The evolution of information technologies brought significant changes in the way human resources are being managed. Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing how companies develop HR plans and manage their workforce.

Why all this effort? What does AI have to do with more effective HR management? As it turns out, technology can boost the overall engagement and productivity of employees. Organizations with employee engagement programs reach 26% more year-over-year increase in revenue. Is that a good enough reason to accept artificial intelligence as a solution that can push your company forward?

Let’s go through 5 innovative ways to revolutionize human resource management through artificial intelligence.

1. Rely on Talent Acquisition Software

Technology can take loads of the monotonous work off a HR manager’s shoulders. Talent acquisition software makes their work less stressful, but more effective at the same time. It eliminates the majority of candidates from the recruiting process, leaving you with a small percentage you can quickly evaluate.

The recruiter gains immense benefits from talent acquisition software. They get more time to analyze and evaluate relevant candidates. As a result, they improve their overall hiring decisions. The companies gain benefits, too. Avoiding poor hiring decisions saves them a lot of money.

2. AI for Performance Analysis

Recruiters are constantly striving to hire engaged and productive employees. Those qualities are not easy to find, but they are even more difficult to maintain. That’s why it’s essential for HR managers to monitor the behavior and growth of the company’s employees.

Through AI tools, the organization can set specific objectives and monitor how all units work towards them. With this approach, HR managers can easily detect team members who are lagging behind, as well as the productive ones. With those findings, they can implement proper measures to motivate and educate the employees further.

3. Use Technology to Help New Workers Adapt

Once a HR manager hires new people in the team, they have to help them adapt to the new working environment. Even the most talented workers can have problems with the adaptation process. Artificial intelligence can help.

Think about it: it’s impossible for you to dedicate a lot of time to every single new employee you accept in the team. A well-planned onboarding program based on proper technology can make the process of adaptation smoother.

Onboarding is no longer about face-to-face orientation. It’s about connecting the new employees into the organization’s online environment, where all supervisors, workers, and managers are connected.

4. Rely on Technology to Help Them Grow

A good employee never stops learning. It’s important for HR departments to organize learning sessions for the team, so everyone will keep improving and expanding their professional skills. Technology supports the process of successful planning, organizing, and coordinating training programs.

There are tons of online courses to explore. However, your organization can also develop a specialized online course that will fit the specific preferences and needs of its employees.

5. AI Can Help with Retention Rates, Too
Retaining employees is a huge problem for hiring managers. Mark Murphy, the author of Hire for Attitude, found that 46% of new hires failed within 18 months. Thanks to AI, you can analyze and predict the needs of new employees, so you can work towards better retention.

You can use software to analyze the performance and reveal the individual strengths of the workers. Thanks to the information they get from such a tool, HR managers can be proactive and solve problems before they even occur.
Technology Is Everywhere

No organization can remain immune to technological progress. It’s in every aspect of the work. The hiring and retention processes, in particular, can become much more effective when technology is being used the right way. HR executives can rely on AI to make better hiring decisions, monitor the employees, and push them towards better results.

15 years of digitization significantly shifted job requirements

Dive Brief:

  • U.S. jobs in nearly every category require some degree of digitalization, according to a study from The Brookings Institution. The number of jobs requiring significant digital skills grew rapidly between 2002 and 2016, due mostly to digital-content changes within occupations.
  • In 2002, 56% of jobs required low-level digital skills, 40% required mid-level digital skills and 5% required high-level skills. By 2016, the number of jobs requiring low-level digital skills fell to 30%, the number of jobs requiring mid-level skills rose to 48% and positions requiring high-level skills rose to 23%.
  • Digital skills often command higher pay and offer some job security against automation, researchers at Brookings said. But disparities in wages and job growth exist regionally and may be biased on the basis of race, gender or other factors.

Dive Insight:

Digitalization has made life at home and at work easier in countless ways, but the disparities in pay, job categories, regions, gender and race create recruiting and hiring challenges for HR. A recent study by staffing firm Robert Half found that 77% of technology leaders found it difficult to find talent with up-to-date digital skills.

The jobs requiring low-level digital skills fell significantly in number between 2000 and 2016. These jobs might already be marked for automation, a sign that most jobs of the future will require high-level tech skills. The shift has been particularly hard for older workers, who may be discouraged from job applications that specify the applicant be a “digital native.”

In order to stay competitive, savvy employers have already begun the process of investing in worker upskilling wherever it is financially feasible. Vendors, from large to small, have caught on with the trend, launching comprehensive digital tools and integrations to improve employee training programs.

Even the federal government seems to be onboard, with U.S. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta repeatedly pledging his commitment to creating and re-evaluating apprenticeship programs. It’s going to take a lot for employers to overcome the displacement of entire skill sets, but employers need to prepare now.

Opinion: India is sitting on the cusp of a people-centric digital revolution

The announcement last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discontinue Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes will go down in history as a harbinger of a digital revolution in India.

With over one billion mobile phone users and having the second-largest online population in the world (after China), India already has the groundwork for an explosive growth in mobile internet, digital payments, cloud computing and the internet of things.

McKinsey estimates these technologies to deliver an annual economic impact of USD 500 billion to USD 1 trillion per year by 2025 in India.

That would represent 20 to 30 percent of India’s incremental economic growth between 2012 and 2025.

However, as most digital transformation across industries and countries continues to unfold, the people dimension of these transformations has emerged as the key.

Leadership development and external talent acquisition may require entirely different and innovative approaches in the new digital environments.

Take the case of digital payments sector in India. It is estimated to grow to USD 500 billion by 2020, up from roughly USD 50 billion last year.

Driving this growth would rest on budding talents, technologists, the academia and fin-tech experts.

Premier academic institutions such as the IITs and the NITs, besides the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore can practically make a big contribution in this respect, starting specialized branches in keeping with the industry requirements.

The next level of growth would come from future technologies which graduates from these institutes can churn out, new concepts and scalable ideas which would deliver additional value to consumers.

In this game, whoever does the best job of getting best recall, delivering best user experience, will win the race.

A lot of movement is already visible in the fintech space as wallet majors are tying up with banks and NBFCs to offer a host of financial product and services including loans and insurance.

Innovation in delivery of services born out of this alliance would rest on developing cutting edge technologies.

Expansion in the offline world would also to a great extend depend on ease of doing transactions as well as the ease of doing payments on online sites for rail or air ticket.

All of this calls for creation of a pool of talent who can help realise these objectives.

Already, the value of digital transactions post demonetization has jumped 80 per cent and the amount is expected to touch Rs 1800 crore backed by Government’s extra push to realize the mission of a cashless economy.

New age payment gateways with robust security features can only support such large volumes of transactions.

This can be delivered by a rich pool of talent. The platforms have to be upgraded security features and safety features to thwart cyber crime etc.

RBI’s recent guidelines on inter-operability between digital wallets bring with them a host of opportunities for innovations in the payment space and the coming times would stand testimony to this.

Helping the rural populace, with limited access to internet and broadband connectivity, derive the benefits of digital payment is a challenge that talent in hand can help address.

The challenge is to help farmers get access to more buyers, enabling them to run a more profitable business and paving the way to a cashless agricultural sector.

A cashless India is a dream of the Indian Government and this can be met by an employee pool which can drive innovation.

Promoting HR cannot be done overnight: SL

Promoting and protecting human rights is a work in progress and it is not something that can be done overnight despite the most sincere of commitments, Sri Lanka told the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session of the country in Geneva yesterday.

In the opening statement, the Head of the Sri Lankan Delegation, National Policies and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said the UPR, to us, is a process that recognizes this fact.

“The UPR is a process that is aimed at helping each other self-assess, share best practice, and support one another to take steps to more effectively address the concerns of individuals in our respective countries. There are many, both in Sri Lanka and overseas, who question the commitment of the National Unity Government to addressing concerns of human rights. Of course it is natural to be impatient; it is natural to question; and it is natural to feel a sense of frustration. We all know very well that some who criticize do so with the best intentions as they want Sri Lanka to do well,” he said.

He said there is no nation that does not have challenges, and no nation is perfect.

In a democracy, however, he said, it was not easy to always make changes at great speed, or navigate change in a rapid manner, or along a straight and preconceived path.

Dr. De Silva said significant progress has been made in Sri Lanka since the last UPR in 2012 and the National Unity Government has facilitated policy coherence and stability that enabled decision-making required to make the Government’s pledge to its people a reality.

He said the Government is committed to a process of truth-seeking, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and that the reconciliation mechanisms that are being set up are for the entire people of Sri Lanka.

“Investigations into allegations pertaining to human rights and humanitarian law violations during the conflict are unfortunately misperceived by some in my country, as specifically targeting the security forces, which is completely erroneous. As the President recently stressed, security forces will not be unfairly targeted or punished. But, we are committed to investigations being carried out in respect of violations of the law, through judicial processes, respecting due process,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said the Constitution Reform process is prioritised as a measure for guaranteeing non-recurrence of conflict.

In response to the several advance questions that have been submitted in relation to implementation of the commitments in the UN Resolutions in Sri Lanka, the Deputy Minister reaffirmed the government’s firm commitment to ensuring their implementation.

He said Sri Lanka has accomplished much but the government does not consider it a reason to be complacent.

“We remain acutely aware and conscious that there is much more to be done, to ensure that all our citizens enjoy the rights due to them to their full extent. Our efforts to ensure harmonious relations between the different ethno-religious communities, and our commitment to constitutional reform, are often attacked by opponents as attempts to create divisions. Yet, we persevere with strong determination,” he said.

As a democratic country, he said Sri Lanka welcomed robust criticism and debate about its journey towards the full enjoyment of human rights, and sustainable peace and reconciliation.

Later yesterday, in a facebook post, the Deputy Minister said global response to Sri Lanka’s progress in human rights achievements was extremely positive and constructive.

“It was a great pleasure for our delegation to hear State after State commend the progress made by our National Unity Government after I made my opening remarks. Ninety countries made short interventions. They appreciated our commitment and understood the difficulties in implementing our commitments; and encouraged us to do more particularly on reconciliation and accountability,” he said. (Lahiru Pothmulla)

Why Artificial intelligence is vital for winning the war for talent

It’s a challenge that every large company across the globe is facing. As they transform into digital entities, tasks are getting automated with artificial intelligence (AI) taking away repetitive jobs. While, for the individual it finally boils down to how many of their individual tasks are automated, at the corporate level it is a question of human capital management (HCM) that is becoming critical.
HCM is becoming all the more important as while companies reduce the workforce with jobs getting automated, on the other hand, they are not getting key talent for specialized jobs. The War for Talent that global consultancy McKinsey had identified nearly two decades ago is now a reality. Shakun Khanna, Leader of HR Strategy & Transformation, Asia Pacific, at Oracle Corporation explains: “There is a need for building new skills and up-skilling for all kinds of people as existing skills become redundant.”
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Organizations today are fighting two types of battles. The first relates to attracting and recruiting people, while the other is within the organization for retaining and engaging existing employees. At stake are ‘open positions’ that can give careers to professionals and thousands of candidates who can work towards fulfilling an organization’s needs.
But, not everything is negative. According to Gartner 2017, AI is expected to eliminate 1.8 million jobs globally. However, starting 2020, AI will be a positive job creator creating 2.3M jobs. Says James Agarwal, managing director of executive search company BTI Consultants/Persolkelly: Technology enhances our abilities to deliver more and better if used properly and its role is vital for winning the war for ‘quality’ talent.”
To build on an internal pipeline of talent, corporations are redeploying people and do everything to retain the best talent. Many organisations have started thinking seriously on those lines. Khanna points out that within Airtel there is a team that is working only on trying to define how the organisation will be two years from now. That involves getting the right kind of people on board. Vishal Manchanda, National Head – Learning & Development at Indus Towers says Oracle is helping Indus build a strong internal network so that they can help the company set a new paradigm for a networked economy.
Khanna points out that according to a study done by Cognizant Technologies, 12 per cent of the jobs will get redundant, 75 per cent will get augmented (some of the tasks will be done by machines) and that 13% of the jobs will get created. These will be new-age jobs that people do not even know of now in the areas of data analytics and machine learning. The real action is augmented jobs, where machines would over time take over the mundane part of the tasks that people do.
Augmentation comes in three areas – predictive, pro-active and prescriptive. The predictive bit is quite like Google Maps telling you how long it will take to reach your destination by what it considers is the best route to follow. However, an individual can always overrule that and take another route. Pro-active is reminding you to leave for a meeting in advance so that traffic is manageable while prescriptive is something that provides you a solution to a current problem at the workplace.
How is an organisation building an employer brand? Oracle’ Khanna says to find the right kind of people, companies are now looking at the personal social network of an individual and not just their LinkedIn profile. The other is to proactively engage with the talent pool that you may need to tap in at a later stage. The last bit is the ability to understand how the business model of the company is changing and ensuring that HR too understands that quickly. That is imperative as then only will to look in terms of hiring such new talent proactively. But, as things stand, not many Indian companies are prepared for this new reality and could face problems.

An Indian recruitment startup is using artificial intelligence to become a “Google for people”

Belong, a Bengaluru-based startup, is creating a “Google for people,” as co-founder Rishabh Kaul describes it.

The three-year-old recruitment firm is part of a new crop of companies using technology to simplify hiring processes, from sorting resumés to scheduling interviews. Belong, however, goes well beyond all that.

It scours the internet to unearth publicly available information on any and all possible candidates, including scanning their Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, and more. “Earlier, a resume was just like a balance sheet—what you declare about yourself at a given point of time,” explained Kaul. “Now, you have a rich stream of constant data.”

After gathering copious amounts of information, the platform ranks potential hires according to their suitability for a role at a particular company—much like how Google tailors search results for each user’s query.

Belong stands out also because it seems to have cracked the code by selling its product to an impressive clientele. This list spans e-commerce behemoths Amazon and Flipkart, telecom provider Airtel, ride-hailing services Ola and Uber, and online grocer BigBasket, among others.

Talent Hunt

Founded by Kaul, Vijay Sharma, Saiteja Veera, and Sudheendra Chilappagari, Belong’s basic proposition is simple: using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to curate data from social media activity, and from niche platforms such as GitHub, ResearchGate, and Muckrack. “The technology acts like a magnet, finding different pieces of data on every white-collar person,” said Kaul.

The system scans all profiles with uniform precision to match every candidate to a company’s search requirements and previous hiring patterns. Where there is no precedent—say, if the company is setting up a centre for a new technology like the Internet of Things (IoT), or is expanding into an unexplored geographical region—Belong works with the employer to manually feed in ideal candidate profiles.

As companies approve and reject suggestions, the machine learning algorithm learns from the choices and fine-tunes the results further. However, Belong’s system does not eliminate candidates, it only re-orders them. So, while the grunt work is done by technology, the decision-making still lies with the human resources (HR) managers. “We want to make them (the managers) into Ironmen and Ironwomen, so we are being the Jarvis,” said Kaul.

The main cash cow for Belong, which has raised $15 million so far, is annual contracts. Kaul did not reveal how much it charges but said, “typically we need (companies) to hire at least 30 to 40 lateral people in a year for it to make return-on-investment sense.”

Between June 2015 and March 2016, Belong posted revenue of Rs83.2 lakh ($127,000), according to regulatory filings sourced by data platform Tofler. Overall, the company recorded a net loss of Rs6.41 crore ($979,000) during the same period.
Bigger and better

This technology-led process casts a wider net for talent and covers more volume in lesser time than humans can. Besides, it targets not just active jobseekers but even passive talent—those who haven’t even thought of quitting their jobs yet. And connecting with them is merely a matter of clicking a button.

“Can a recruiter write a great email to a candidate to excite them? Yes,” said Kaul. “Can they do it for 500 people or send 3,000 emails? I don’t think so.” AI, though, can tailor messages for a multitude of applicants, saving recruiters between 15 hours and 20 hours of work each week while keeping things personal, Belong claims. The platform also tracks the right time to approach someone based on factors like appraisal cycles at their current company and how often they change jobs.

“We have made offers for highly complex roles in about 10-14 days on the platform,” Abhinav Asthana, CEO and co-founder of tech company Postman, which has recruited via Belong for over a year, told YourStory. At health-tech firm Practo, Belong improved the offer acceptance rate by 65% while Tavant Technologies reported a 55% hike in candidate responses.

As AI becomes smarter, it could even conduct first-round interviews virtually, ensuring “better utilisation of a recruiter’s time and resources,” N Shivakumar, business head of recruitment process outsourcing at Teamlease Services, told Quartz. Overall, it’d help shorten hiring timelines.

Automation also helps curb biases, Kris Lakshmikanth, founder of HeadHunters India, told Quartz. Belong removes political affiliations, religious views, sexual orientation, and other extraneous factors. (The company includes gender so recruiters can exclusively search for women to up diversity. No company can search for only men, though.)

While the algorithm struggles at times—if a person’s Twitter name differs from the real name or if multiple social media pages appear for someone—Belong’s intelligent filtering mostly improves efficiency and saves time. It, however, falls short with personable traits.

Cookie-cutter categories like college degree and technical skills are easy to track but AI is no match for experienced human managers with seasoned instincts when judging if a candidate will fit into the office culture or if they are a team player, HeadHunters’ Lakshmikanth added.

Still, Belong has made attempts to quantify ambiguous descriptors. “(To) make the word entrepreneurial into something mathematical that you can search for…the platform looks for people who’ve scaled something small into something big or people who’ve been with a company since founding,” Kaul explained.

Similarly, someone may be classified an early adopter based on when they joined Twitter. “In 2007, being on Twitter was a big deal. No one knew about it,” said Kaul, “This person would have been on the lookout (for new technologies) rather than someone who joined in 2013, by which time even Amitabh Bachchan had joined.”

And just like human HR managers get better over time, Belong is betting that the machines will too.

Salary increases for 2018

Hong Kong workers will receive one of the lowest salary increases in Asia next year according to ECA International’s salary trends survey. Employees can expect an increase of 4% for the third consecutive year in 2018. With inflation predicted for the territory at 2.2% next year, that translates to a mere 1.8% real-terms salary increase down from 2% in 2017.

According to the survey covering 20 countries in the region, Hong Kong ranked 16th, Malaysia 14th and Singapore 9th with a real salary increase of 2.7%. India received the highest real wage increase in Asia for the second year in a row with a real rate of increase of 4.9%. ECA’s salary trends report analyses current and projected salary increases for local employees based on information collection from 260 multinational companies in 72 countries across the world.

“Although the real salary increases we expect to see next year are low compared to the rest of the region, on a global scale, salaries in Hong Kong are still rising relatively fast,” said Lee Quane, regional director of Asia at ECA International in a press statement. “In addition, the increases are also respectable compared with other developed economies. This reflects the need for companies to continue to use pay increases as a means of attracting and retaining staff in the city.”

China remains in the top 10 countries globally offering the highest real-terms salary increase in 2018 at 6%. Workers in Macau can expect similar increases to that of Hong Kong and lower inflation in Taiwan means their salaries will grow by 2.6% in real terms.

Despite Hong Kong offering one of the lowest salary increases in Asia the region overall offers the best increases globally. In fact countries in Asia hold eight of the top 10 spots in the global rankings of real salary increases with all locations expecting to receive above-inflation salary increases.

The global top spot for real salary increases is taken by Argentina, which is forecast to receive an impressive 7.2% real salary increase in 2018. Salary increases remained low in Europe. Germany can expect real wage growth of 1.2%, France 0,9% and the UK the lowest in the region can expect a 0.2% real wage increase. Uplifts for the USA and Canada are set to remain steady, at 0.9% and 1.1% respectively.