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Can HR Give Your Business A Competitive Edge?

Can HR Give Your Business A Competitive Edge?_Skill-based hiring_Yellow Spark Blog
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Can HR Give Your Business A Competitive Edge?

To say that we are living in a volatile world is stating the obvious. The changes are multipronged, geo political; regulatory; technological etc. The impact of each of these forces on our business is real and much faster than we have ever experienced in the past. The need for the organisation to stay relevant in the market place is to comprehend these changes and adapt to them ahead of the competition. The cycle-time to adapt has shrunk significantly. And I strongly feel, HR has a big role to play in the scheme of things.

Let’s consider the change brought about by implementation of GST in India. The businesses had to understand GST; secure their margins and then ensure compliance. This brought about the need for a skill called GST, someone who could help the business understand the GST and help them execute in compliance.

The point I’m trying to make is that the people who execute well in the role are the ones helping businesses realise their strategies. This performance comes about when the role holder executes basis Knowledge – Skills – Attitude. I believe that most of the organisations of a respectable size and complexity would have well-articulated the knowledge-skills-attitude requirements for each role. The armed forces have always emphasised on the need to assess skill more than anything else.

And that is why I’m not surprised that suddenly there is a great emphasis globally, on the intent to hire the most skilled candidate for the role in question. The question though begs to be answered is “Did we not hire based on skill earlier?”. Or let’s just say that HR lost focus of the skills for some time and got enamoured by the education qualifications, certifications etc.

What is skill-based hiring

The skills-based hiring refers to the practice of employers setting specific requirements on skill and/or competency required for a particular role. These skills & competencies may be cognitive such as shorthand, arc welding, turning operation etc. or other professional capabilities, often commonly called “soft” skills such as drive for results, customer service etc.

3 compelling reasons to bring back the focus on skill based hiring

1. Objectivity:

When we are focused on assessing the skill we incidentally reduce influence of other elements thus making it an objective assessment. The possibility of personal biases is reduced to a degree. The decision making on candidates is thus more based on data emerging from the assessment process and less from individual biases. This makes it imperative for the organisation to develop robust assessment processes that help in making a decision about hiring a particular candidate.

2. Skill over education:

Studies find that academic success and prior work experience do not predict performance on the job. Even though education and experience do not harm the candidate’s outlooks, skills-based hiring is designed to assess a far larger range of ability than background screening could. And those employees, hired based on skills rather than transcripts, show significantly higher performance rates and less turnover owing to better ‘fit’ in the role.

3. Fosters diversity:

A lot of initiatives about inclusion and diversity at work places are bias towards achieving a gender balance. When hiring decision is based on the skill assessment it is implicit that we are not biased by elements like age, race, gender etc. This paves way for a more diverse workforce who are selected only for the skill they have demonstrated during hiring process.

HR leaders take the leap

If ever there was an opportunity for HR to grab the CEO’s attention and make a quantum impact on business, this is it. The HR leader needs act like a business leader to comprehend the changes in business. It is a complex process, but then who said the new world order is going to be easy on anybody. HR leaders need to recalibrate our influence pegs in the organisation and work on them. We have the opportunity to influence the whole Talent pivot in a comprehensive way.

HR leaders need to be in constant conversations with the business leaders not just from within the organisation but also network outside of work to understand their perceptions of anticipated changes and its impact on talent strategy. The need is to also proactively read the market and present hypothesis to the business leaders, such that the whole talent strategy is proactive and not reactive.

HR leaders need to foster a culture of constant learning in the organisation. The whole process of unlearning and learning needs to be reinstated as a key element of talent strategy. The performance evaluations should lay emphasis on how well the individual learned a new skill and reward them accordingly.

The recruitment process too should be redesigned to create avenues to assess skills. The hiring managers need to be coached on moving away from resume-based assessment to skill-based assessment. Some new assessment tools like simulation, case analysis, auditioning etc. need to be introduced. The recruitment partners too need to be oriented on the skills-based hiring to ensure that hygiene level assessments are carried out before shortlisting.

Make it your agenda to go out there and scope out the next big influence on your business and calibrate your hiring strategy based on the most relevant skill.

Disclaimer: Views are my own, and do not reflect the views of my employer

Author Profile: Nirav Jagad is an HR professional with more than 16 years’ experience spanning various sectors spanning Infrastructure, Pharma, Auto Components, E-commerce etc. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Management from Welingkar Institute of Management. He is a Hay Certified 360 Degree Feedback counsellor, Hay Certified STAR Assessor, NTL certified Change Leader, Advanced Human Lab from ISABS professional. Nirav was invited by Yellow Spark to share his views in an article as a guest writer.