Pankaj Mittal, Director (India, Middle East and Africa), Archelons, shared his thoughts on the hiring strategies of Indian SMEs and prevailing trends in an exclusive interaction with SupportBiz.
What are the key challenges that Indian SMEs are facing regarding HR management?
The SME sector is probably the fastest-growing sector in a developing country like India, contributing a major share to the country's GDP. However, being in no way inferior to large MNCs, it is still unfortunate that Indian SMEs lose out to such large-scale enterprises in the long run. Although SMEs hold the distinction for being the driving force of the Indian economy, certain pragmatic challenges or restrictions ensure that they function under rather outdated standards. Recruitment is one of the biggest such challenges faced by SMEs in India.
The attraction and retention of the 'right' kind of manpower are critical for any SME. Quite often, these companies don't get 'inclined' and 'skilled' applicants for their requirements. How often have we heard people cribbing about their jobs? Lesser skills lead to lesser efficiency, which ultimately leads to lesser output : in short, it is the company that suffers. However, when these requirements become urgent (which they normally do), SMEs have to hire people with lesser skills.
Not attracting the 'right' talent and the difficulty to 'maintain' a workforce that possesses the right skills is a major deterrent for SMEs, and a major Human Resource (HR) challenge. There is an urgent need to address this. SMEs should take steps to project themselves as a better employer brand and devise effective recruitment strategies.
Recruitment processes are not very well-defined among SMEs. What should be the right approach towards this?
As I said, SMEs should project themselves as a better employer brand that attracts and retains the right talent or, better, minimizes the impact of growing talent crunch. There is also the need to devise effective recruitment strategies. Recruitment strategies should be devised from the grass-roots level, to the level when a potential candidate becomes an employee, and thereon.
The reason why SMEs fall short on performacen as compared to larger MNCs is mere strategy: MNCs are widely seen shelling out large sums of money for their recruitment strategies. SMEs, on the other hand, are poorly marketed among candidates as prospective employers. Not many know that the most important aspect of being employed at any SME is the fact that they offer an excellent learning environment, exposing their employees to a variety of situations and enhancing their risk-taking potential, thereby offering important decision-making opportunities to candidates. This, in turn, leads to overall professional growth - a must for employee retention. These are some of the facts which give an edge to SMEs vis-a-vis large MNCs. It is high time now that SMEs become self-aware, through introspection, of the benefits they offer to their employees, and learn to capitalize on these advantages. In short, SMEs must learn how to sell themselves as a good employer brand. Engaging external agencies and developing internal competence are two ways to do this. Today, SMEs have to come out of the trend of following age-old practices and make their HR functions more professional.
What are the trends that you see emerging in recruitment among Indian SMEs?
SMEs today are trying to bridge the gap between employers and prospective candidates, and are increasingly marketing their talent hunt in a way similar to their marketing their products/services. The SME sector is a great area for HR companies, and they can play a much bigger role. HRs must get into the role of efficient marketers. They must rise from the routine personnel management role and move to pro-active roles like talent acquisition, talent development and talent engagement. HRs are now getting increasingly interested in devising a systematic approach to developing and engaging a quality workforce. At the same time, more and more HR companies are understanding the limitations of SMEs and working more closely with the internal HR department /management, figuring out transparent mechanisms for effective employer and candidate engagement.
How does Archelons help SMEs in the hiring of employees?
At Archelons, our relationship with the client does not end at hiring. We have a separate division that not only assists SMEs in talent acquisition, but also offers them talent management solutions.
What are the key opportunities that exist in this area?
Talent acquisition remains one of the key opportunities in the SME segment. HR companies can help SMEs in acquiring the right talent at the right time, and in a more professional way. SMEs are required to narrow down on the right resources, following a thought-bred process, for the position that is required to be filled in, while being fully aware of the latest updates and changes happening in the market. Technology like the internet and social media can play a major role in today's times in helping SMEs in this respect.
What are the major milestones you have covered so far?
We started operating in the year 2006, and we take pride in the fact that in less than seven years, we already have a people base of more than 100 and boast of several offices in India as well as abroad.
We are aware of the huge supply and demand gap in terms of human resources for SMEs; therefore, we created a focused business unit to help SMEs hire the 'right' candidates, and are supporting more than 25 units right now. In the automobile sector, we are one of the biggest suppliers of trained manpower in India and abroad.