‘HR should not behave in a transactional way’: Randstad CEO
Q: You took charge of Randstad India in April 2017 as the CEO. How do you see India as a market? What have been the key learnings for you?
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world with the youngest workforce which witnesses an increase in FDI due to high rates of investment from global companies. I define the Indian economy as ‘ING’, a term to denote that it is under construction and where things are happening, growing, building or evolving. The Indian HR services market is becoming robust. We are growing steadily in the Indian market and last year was the best year for us as we gained the top position as a result of the internal changes we implemented in the organization.
Q: What are the trends you foresee for the year 2019?
When you look at the labor market itself, certain sectors such as construction, retail, life sciences, and medical care will continue to be robust. Considering the growing economy and population, the rising middle class in India that enjoys a rise in income is probably going to be the major consumer. On the other hand, MNCs are waiting and their conception of India as the cheap labor market has now changed into the aspect of quality of work done. In the context where cost is less treated as a major topic, India is going to rebrand itself in the global arena as a high-quality workforce.
Q: In your opinion, what should be the real role of the HR leader in the organization? What are the things HR should stop doing that it does in its current form?
My definition of HR diverges from the traditional concept. I think HR should be commercial minded, strategic and tactical rather than behaving in a transactional way. It should be in the game, playing a central role in the commercial discussions taken by the company and by dealing with customers. They also have to enable their teams to achieve their goals.
Q: One of the biggest challenges in the labor market will be access to recruitment. There is a labor shortage, and then there is a labor market that is more influenced by project appointments. What do these trends mean from a recruitment perspective?
India is a land of abundance as well as a land of scarcity regarding technical skills. There exists a contradiction between the new age skills and lower to medium skills. According to a study conducted by E&Y, out of the 5 million high learning students coming out, only 30 percent are employable. And we don’t have enough job opportunities for the growing workforce. In this context, government initiatives like ‘Skill India’ and ‘Make in India’ would help to close the widening skill gap.
Q: What do you think about the Asian region when it comes to a region that is more geared to the future?
The macro economy in Europe is slowing down, and the US has been relatively strong, but it slowed down towards the end of the year. We have some shining stars in the eight countries of the Asia Pacific region where we cover ninety-eight percent of the global GDP. The eight pack is playing a bigger role in Randstad, and we plan to invest in this region aggressively and certainly in India, we have an appetite for growth and have formulated ambitious plans for the next year.
Q: According to the latest Randstad Work monitor survey, 74% of employees see the impact of technology as an opportunity. In the Indian context, how is technology changing the ball game in the staffing industry?
A lot of demand and abundance are coming in the new age skills area. The perspective of how people look at work is also changing, and special skills are becoming the high end of staffing. We have implemented Randstad Technology where we focus on the special skills that are expected to dominate in cybersecurity, AI, and ML on a term basis.
India is becoming a model similar to the West where the staffing trend revolves around temporarily appointing someone on a project-based assignment to do routine operations at the time of high staff scarcity. From the workforce standpoint, it is evident that people have begun to look at a job as a challenge rather than as security. The companies are also striving to make the job relevant for an individual by offering challenges for a sustained period.
Q: How mature is the Indian RPO market and how much does it contribute to your global revenue? What are the three key focus areas for Randstad in India?
We have many global companies in countries like India, Japan, and South America. The ten percent of the global temporary workforce is in India. As a multinational company, we have now proven that we can accelerate growth profitably and sustainably and we will continue to add value to our candidates and clients as well. In India, we find abundant opportunities to flourish our existing business and to launch new solutions. We are also planning to build a new organization for the future by including our leadership team.