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In IT sector, we are seeing demand in newer skill areas: Prithvi Shergill of HCL Technologies

Source | The Financial Express : By PP Thimmaya

HCL Technologies, India’s fourth largest IT services exporter with an employee headcount of over one lakh is actively engaged on various digital platforms to source the talent which will make it ready with new generation technologies. The IT major which changed its employee appraisal system where performance is assessed regularly rather than once a year to bring more transparency is set out to build an organisation where multi-generational workforce thrives, said Prithvi Shergill, chief human resource officer (CHRO), HCL Technologies in an interview with FE’s
P P Thimmaya. Excerpts:

How do you see the overall demand-supply situation from a human resources perspective for the Indian IT industry?
The demand trend that we have seen year-on-year continues in the similar pattern. I think the IT industry is at a crossroad where the normal demand for people in areas such as application development, infrastructure services continues but we are seeing significant uptick in demand in newer skill areas. If one is used to doing what was being done earlier in terms of acquiring people, it will not be adequate. We have to start looking at talent pool with newer capability. We are seeing need for more skills in areas such as middleware, analytics, business intelligence. There is an increasing requirement for people who can do design. These are some of the emerging areas and it has significantly accelerated in the last 12-18 months.

How is HCL Technologies attracting talent in the newer skill areas?
Our strategy has always been to be accessible and available wherever the talent is there. We need to look at industries, companies, buy or build and also at different geographies. We are very active on digital recruitment. We continuously look at on how do we ensure that our positioning and capability will allow us to hire people faster at the right time and cost. Organisations that have mature talent acquisition practices need to refresh themselves in terms of the speed as the candidate also expects the decision to be made faster.

Will HCL Technologies be looking at nurturing these talent internally?
I think you need to reinvent the training curriculum. The mix between on the job and learning in the class room has to be rethought. Given that lot of these skill areas are young in their own maturity and evolved very recently, one needs to create laboratories internally to create that capability and experience. The days where certain number of years are required for doing a job is lesser of a driver. Today, it is the quality of the person that counts.

What challenges do you see in hiring talent for the newer technologies?
The biggest challenge is that the value proposition you give to the talent needs to be supported by proof point of experience. If you are seen as an organisation not leveraging new technologies and not able to use some of things which they use in their personal life, we will not be able to create that environment. We need to embed collaboration tools into our processes. In HCL Technologies we do that.

Why did HCL Technologies change its employee appraisal system?
One needs to look at it from the perspective of whether we are providing the employee the coaching and be clear what is expected of them including the progress. The focus on appraisal is to improve the quality of feedback. There is a need for a continuous dialogue rather than once a year cycle. We shifted from performance appraisal cycle to a true performance management process. Here, the employees take ownership of their performance. We allow teams to focus on feedback rather than worrying about normal bell curve. The focus is really on the responsibility of the leaders to set out its goal and see that feedback is set properly. If one is giving feedback right through the year, employees knows where they stands and the linkage to reward is always relooked. We are taking away the stigma that if somebody has a bad year, does not mean that life is over. They always have the opportunity to improve.

HCL has managed to keep its attrition rate steady. Comments?
We are happy about the attrition level. It is steady though we would like it to be lower. The industry needs to be smarter about attrition and stop looking at it as a single number. We need to start thinking about the skill areas, line of business where we can provide the opportunity for the right people.

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