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5 Ways to Navigate Crisis in 2020.

Last week, Pune became the COVID Capital of India, leaving Delhi behind. For everyone here, the priority in 2020 is to survive the crisis physically and financially. This difficult situation got me rethinking about the priorities of companies navigating through this disrupting environment. 

In today’s article, I have shared some key HR  priorities of Companies to maintain their financial health.

 

  1. Rework People Strategies: As we can witness, there is a lot of innovation around us, most of the business strategies are going through a fundamental change, so should the people strategies. The workforce is to be planned in such a way that it is able to address the opportunities and threats presented by the crisis and digital transformation. So that the organization maintains its current health in terms of cost and revenue.
  2. Create Agile HR function: In this time of disruption sweeping various industries, it is very important to create an HR function, adaptable enough to tackle the digital transformation. CEOs need to value the best HR can bring and empower HR Leaders to evolve to match current and future business needs.
  3. Hire Leaders: If we look around, the organizations who have survived/excelled in the crisis. They are not the ones who had well-defined systems and processes. They are the ones who adjusted their course of action rapidly to match the current reality. The most important trait Leaders must have is being adaptable to change. The capacity to be adaptable and develop an adaptable team.  Organizations need to build a pipeline of adaptable leaders who can overcome the unknown challenges.
  1. Adapt, Adapt, Adapt: Some of the most critical decisions have been people and skills. What are the skills required to win the competition? Can the new skills be hired or can we train the existing people with the new skills? What should be automated and what should be outsourced. In the current climate, sometimes we don’t even know the skills which will be required to face future challenges. So developing/hiring an adaptable workforce is the key to face such challenges.
  1. Conserve the Culture: In the current era of advanced tools, technology, and digital media, it is very easy to forget the importance/value of people. Successful companies were not the ones who used latest technology, tools or analytics, but the ones who used them effectively to bring out best in their people and vice versa.

**Source: Annual Global CEO Survey 2020- PwC

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5 Leanings from the Ganeshotsav (Ganesh Festival )

Ganpati Bappa Morya!! Ganesh Utsav (festival) is celebrated in India every year. It is said that during these days Lord Ganesh visits earth to meet his devotees. During this time, the devotees worship Ganesha Idol by offering prayers, Prasad, and following certain rituals. Yesterday we welcomed Lord Ganesha in our family. This year due to covid19  in most of the cases, the celebrations will be restricted to small groups only.

In today’s article, I have shared my key learning derived from the rituals of these celebrations.

The preparation for this festival starts much before the actual festival begins. It starts with cleaning the entire house, shopping for the puja, booking the eco-friendly idol, etc. I realized there are a lot of things we can learn from these celebrations. Following are some of my takeaways from the festival.

  1. Follow the Rules: As mythology says, Lord Shiva made a rule that before anything auspicious people will pray Lord Ganesha (his son) first. Today also in India, every new project whether it’s entering a new house, office, factory, the job begins with a Ganesh Puja(Worship). As the story goes, Lord Shiva set the rule and in rush forgot his own rule and went for war. He started losing the battle which was very unlikely. While thinking about it, he realized that he forgot to worship Ganesh, his son before the war. He soon completed the ritual and as expected won the war against the demons.
    Learning: The rules are meant to be followed by everyone including leaders, Lead by example.
  1. Processes are for people: Most of the families follow a strict process for welcoming and worshiping Lord Ganesha in their houses. The prayers (Aarti) are offered at a fixed time every morning & evening. This process remains the same from generation to generation, except for some minor changes required based on the situation at times.
    Learning: The processes are not designed for people to follow, but they are designed to bring people together, so they can work together in sync towards a common goal of the organization. Thus leading to greater bonding among the team and achieving optimum use of time and other resources.
  1. Team Work: As mentioned earlier the preparation begins much before the actual festival begins. The entire family right from the youngest member of the family to the oldest member of the family is engaged. In activities of their choice, expertise, or activities assigned to them like decoration, Prasad, sending invitations, prayers, etc. Project Managers being our mothers/grandmothers.
    Learning: This is a classic example of driving teamwork, team engagement, and team bonding and aligns it with the mission of the organization.
  1. Humility & Modesty: We set our ego aside and work as a part of a team. No one of superior or inferior. Learning: Always respect fellow team members, never leave humility & modesty. You never know when circumstances will throw a curveball. Stay Humble always.
  2. Journey is as important as the destination: After the festival is over, it is the time to bid farewell to the Lord. This is a very painful moment and we wait for the festival next year to we can repeat the whole journey again.
    Learning: The people we meet and learning we acquire are equally important as reaching the destination. While evaluating the performance/ allocating a project, along with the goals accomplished/missed, it is also important to consider the learning/network employee has achieved on the way.

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5 team rituals during economic downturn.

Covid19, most of the business are facing a high level uncertainty as leaders having very less visibility about the future. This causes employee anxiety related to their job security. It becomes important for both to empathize with each other and work together, in order to come out of this crisis successfully.

“A team is not a group of people that work together, it is a group of people that trust each other. “- Simon Sinek.

This article is about top 5 team rituals, if followed consistently, can help companies fight and come out of this crisis.

  1. Challenge the status quo: In the situation of crisis, both teams and managers must, work hard to get rid of inertia of older ways of working. Leaving aside ego, perfectionism and old ways of working, think from customer’s perspective. What value we can offer as a team to the customer.
  1. Daily Communication: Communication has become even more vital in current scenario. Communicate with the team on regular basis to understand the new challenges they are facing. Explain the challenges the business is facing and make sure everyone is on the same page. It is very important for ever.
  1. Test & Measure: Try different new customer offerings that emerge out of the brainstorming sessions. Monitor the results and keep improvising.
  1. Do not micro manage: While the employees are working from home, do not micro manage. Manage the project and not the people. If the project is progressing and results are visible, why micro manage.
  1. Mutual Appreciation/Empathy: Don’t forget to thank your team or manager for their support. A genuine appreciation/thank you goes a long way to create a sense of responsibility and motivation.

To survive and thrive, persistence and consistency is the key. Persistence will get you there and Consistency will keep you there. Hope your found today’s article useful.

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5 Essentials to achieve workforce diversity

Thank you very much for your response to our blog. 

Diversity & inclusion, has many dimensions. It can be diversity & inclusion of different thought processes, inclusion of more women in the workforce or D&I of employees  from diverse cultures, race, geography, country etc. etc. There are many organizations talking about it. However when it comes to implementation, very few who are genuinely doing it. Reason because it’s not easy to develop a D&I culture.  

In today’s article, I’ve listed out 5 steps to follow, in order to  to hire and retain diversity workforce.

“Diversity is mix, Inclusion is making the mix work” – Andres Tapia

  1. Create Organizational Awareness about D&I: Hiring new employees from diverse background without creating acceptance among existing employees can lead to discrimination. Hence it is very important to create awareness about the advantages of D&I among the existing employees. To let this idea sink in across all levels, conduct D&I awareness training by hiring a Diversity & Inclusion Manager/engaging an External Consultant.

 

  1. Revisit the existing HR policy: Sometimes unknowingly an HR policy may have some elements which create bias. Review the existing HR Policy thoroughly to make sure there is no bias in interviewing process, on-boarding process and so on.

 

  1. Include it in your Employer Branding: Let the prospect candidates know that you are an equal opportunity employer that believes in diverse & inclusive culture by including it in employer branding message on all platforms.

 

  1. Create job descriptions that invite applicants from diverse background: A company wishes to hire employees from diverse background. However, the Job Descriptions are designed around technical skills and some generic soft skills. This fails to attract applicants from diverse backgrounds. Modify the JD and eliminate words/points which are unknowingly introducing a bias and preventing applicants from diverse backgrounds.

 

  1. Continuous Improvement: Developing a diverse & inclusive culture is not a quick fix. Like all other good skills in life, its an ongoing process of learning from past mistakes and improving.

 

To survive and thrive in this crisis situation, diversity & collaboration is the key. Companies need diverse clients, diverse products/services, an agile society  and diverse & inclusive workforce. Hope your found today’s article useful.
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5 Benefits of Diversity in the Workforce

Diversity is very important in the workforce. Diversity not only in the academic background but diversity related to gender, cultural and geographical background, etc, can have a very positive impact on the organization.

In the current Covid19 situation, with increasing work from home, the location of an employee has become less significant. It is the right time to introduce diversity in the workforce, we can interview candidates from different locations virtually and they can work from their respective locations. Thus introducing cultural, geographical, and gender diversity in the workforce.

Diversity and inclusion start with introducing more women in the workforce, hiring candidates from different cultures & geographies, retired defense veterans, etc in the workforce. Why introduce diversity?  In today’s article, I’ve summarized some key benefits of introducing diversity in your workforce.

According to a Mckinsey report businesses run by culturally diverse leadership are more likely to introduce more new products than a homogeneous leadership.

  1. Availability of larger talent pool: A large talent pool of qualified candidates becomes available, once the organization plans to hire a workforce with diversity. This can reduce the duration of hiring and improve the quality of hire.
  2. Enhance your employer brand and retention: Having an inclusive workforce is a great tool to attract and retain diverse talent. It demonstrates strong company values and thus enhancing the employer brand.
  3. Foster a culture of Innovation: Workforce coming from diverse backgrounds also brings along with them diverse perspectives. Research says diverse teams are more innovative. According to a Mckinsey report businesses run by culturally diverse leadership are more likely to introduce more new products than a homogeneous leadership.
  4. Increase the client base:  Having a diverse workforce increases the capability of the organization to understand the needs of clients from different cultures, geographies, markets, etc. Having an inclusive workforce creates an overall good impression of the brand. Thus leading to an increase in business opportunities.
  5. Increase in overall profitability: It is observed that companies having a diverse workforce tend to be more profitable compared to companies without one. However, if you are a beginner for diversity & inclusion, start introducing it in gradual small steps in order to make it sustainable long term.

 

To survive and thrive in this crisis situation, companies need diverse clients, diverse products, functional society, and a diverse & inclusive workforce. Hope your found today’s article useful.
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Top 5 Pillars to Build a Strong Employer Brand

Thank you very much for your encouraging response to my articles.

Employer Branding, whenever we hear this, we think of a cleverly crafted message to attract talent, fancy videos showing happy employees and happy workplace, career/social media pages on which is in line with the employer brand message, etc.

Employer branding means to be an employer of choice first, to create a great employee experience and later communicating it in a compelling manner via different mediums. Companies who get this right are extremely successful in drawing the best talent towards them and thus creating exponential growth.

There is nothing wrong with the marketing your employer brand, but this activity should be done after /in parallel with building a solid foundation for employee experience. Great branding with a poor foundation is a recipe for failure.

“Strong Foundation = Strong Brand “

In this article, I will highlight the 5 pillars of building a foundation for a strong and long-lasting employee experience/employer brand.

  • Solid HR Systems & Processes: Employee experience starts with a candidate who decides to apply for a job with your company. A systematic process designed keeping in mind employee experience, without losing the sight of the company’s vision is very important. Strong HR systems and processes right from hiring, onboarding, performance management system, etc is the first pillar for a strong employer brand.

 

  • Meaningful Employee Engagement: This involves meaningful involvement with peers and seniors to foster a culture of innovation. Top employers like Toyota, Google, etc have a system of discussing and documenting innovative ideas right from senior management, middle level to Front liners. They have a system to document, implement, and appreciate the innovative ideas of front liners. Of course, not all companies have a budget to support innovation on that scale, however meaningful employee engagement activities, where they get a sense that they are contributing to the larger vision of the company, increases employee satisfaction index to a great extent. Meaningful employee engagement which leads to growth and learning of both employee and employer is the second pillar.

 

  • Transparency in Communication: A Company is an ecosystem, with a variety of employees coming from different backgrounds. Every employee has something unique to offer to the company based on their education, background, experience, culture, etc. Open door policy where an employee can voice their ideas and concerns without the fear of being judged is the third important pillar.

 

  • Creating awareness about the vision of the organization: Clarity of company vision to the entire team up to the frontline staff. When the employees are aware of how they are contributing to the greater vision of the organization, there is a sense of belonging to the organization and greater satisfaction. Thus leading to achieve the company’s vision and mission.

 

  • Team bonding & Appreciation: This is little more than team building activities like learning together, playing together, etc. and employee awards. It is about developing a culture that encourages appreciation/ empathy/teamwork instead of blame/gossips/denial. This is a two-way thing; management cannot develop a culture of gratification without support from the team. Do not underestimate the power of a sincere Thank you from a colleague, boss, or family member. It instantaneously elevates your satisfaction and happiness. So a company where people are frugal in blaming/gossiping/denial and generous on appreciation/empathy is undoubtedly the best place to work.

 

I hope you find today’s article useful.  If you’d like more tips on building your Employer Brand, then please feel free to subscribe to our blog – https://forms.gle/VHLNYzVoys4HbNfR9 or visit our blog www.acesai.in/blog.

We’ve helped organizations right from startups to Multi-National Companies, build their employer brand. Contact us with your queries on contact@acesai.in, our HR experts will be happy to help.


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Gap in the CV-Should I hide it?

The is the most common thought job seekers come across, “I have a break in my career, should I disclose it on CV or  hide it ”

Last week while hiring for one of our clients, two candidates made it to the final round of interview. One with consistent experience and other on a career break due to valid reasons.  They made an offer to the candidate who was currently on career break. Thus, hiding a break on CV is a short term fix, but it can cost you dearly in long term. Today we will look at some common career breaks in India and what can be done about it.

  • Maternity Break/Break after Marriage: Most women employees are required to take this break at some stage of their career. Reason can be geographical move due to marriage or maternity break. 
  • Layoffs/ Made redundant: Layoffs due to change in external or internal changes in the business environment. This is a common reason for a forced career break.
  • Further Education: Employees take a break and pursue higher education mostly a Master’s Degree or some specialization in the current domain/acquire a new skill.
  • Family Reasons: Sometimes employees are required to take a break to nurse a sick family member/ spend some time with family / improve or mend a broken relation.
  • To recover from illness: Taken a break to recover from illness and improve health.


The biggest apprehension of the interviewer while hiring someone who is currently on a career break is that whether the candidate is not updated with the skill/technology. Will the candidate be able to contribute as productively as before? In the following ways we can help them overcome this barrier in decision making.

  • Be Genuine and Honest: Be as genuine and honest as possible. Explain the reason of taking the break in brief, in CV as well as during the in person interview. Presenting supporting documents in some cases wherever applicable.
  • Duration of Break: Just make sure the duration of the break is optimum, not very long, of course based on the reason of taking the break.
  • Acquire new skills & Stay updated: Stay updated with the skills and technologies during the break, by working on consulting projects, freelancing, attending industry events or reading industry magazines.
  • Network: Keep in touch and network with your old colleagues and people who can help you make a comeback.

 

There is no need to hide the career break or feel uncomfortable talking about it during the interview. Answer honestly & confidently with concrete examples how you proactively made most of the time outside office, by acquiring new skills/contributing to the community .Most important why you are excited about the position you are applying for and what value you can offer.

 

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Covid19-5 points candidates are considering before job change.

The coronavirus pandemic has suddenly made us realize that everything around us is so temporary. What matters the most is good health, family, home and having a decent job. Since last couple of months we have witnessed many events which have challenged our older ways of thinking. Like many other things, it has also bought in a huge change in the points employees used to look in a company before making a job change decision.

Some pointers which were relevant earlier have suddenly become most significant, while some have become completely irrelevant.  Following are the top 5 points employees consider these days before making a job change decision:

  1. Change and Stability: Change & Stability in the current job verses Change & Stability provided in the future job. This has come out as number one point, employees consider before making a switch these days.
  1. Work life Balance: Balancing work, family life and family health, comes on second priority. Candidates are looking for companies that provide a good balance to professional and personal wellbeing. They look at the clear understanding of the job roles & responsibilities and the personal growth advancement scope provided by the job.
  1. Compensation: Compensation comes as the next important point under consideration. Under normal situations opting for the best salary package seemed like the most obvious choice. However in the current scenario, candidates are giving equal weightage to health insurance cover, stability, work life balance, company growth and advancement plans.
  2. Commute Time & Relocation: With the increase in the trend of remote working in many industry sectors, the commute time does not really matter these days. Also the trend of relocation is increased due to various reasons like layoffs, increased risk of losing current job relocating close to native places, relocating away from metro cities, company wanting essential function employees to relocate nearby etc.
  1. Company Size and Turnovers (Revenue): Earlier Company size & turnover was directly proportional to stability and growth. However, these days candidates prefer companies which given them a job security, good corporate culture, better growth and advancement opportunities compared to size in terms of number of employees or revenue.                                                                                                                    

Employee hiring, retention and productivity has always been a critical aspect of every business; it’s not a onetime destination to reach and stay. It requires continuous nurturing and improvement from both the sides. Hope this  article will help you decide your next employer or employee.

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Employee Retention – a Journey or Destination?

Most of the Business owners come across these questions, at least once in their lifetime.“ What should I do to retain my employees’ long term?” Well, hiring an employee first and then figuring out the policy to retain that employee later doesn’t work. Actually your employee retention policy starts from the day you decide to hire someone.  I would like to share the story to demonstrate, how my client was able to hire and retain an employee for 6 years for a position that had very high attrition.  

Our client is a manufacturing company with 800+ employees. In the year 2013, they were struggling to hire a Critical Maintenance Department resource. Every time they hired the candidate, the candidate would leave in a couple of months or sometimes days & weeks. They were stuck in this loop of hiring for that one position again and again. This situation sounds familiar to most of us, isn’t it?

Then we got the opportunity to hire and design the retention policy for this position. Before initiating the recruitment process, we decided to find out the root cause of this. We thoroughly studied the company profile, roles & responsibilities of this role, the culture of the organization, and challenges faced by the company & candidate.  Based on the research we requested the client, to modify some aspects of the job and the interview process. The new job designed was very difficult to source, unlike the former role designed. Initially, the client was interviewing a lot of candidates to close the mandate.  We were able to present only 3 candidates which were of course the EXACT MATCH. Of this one candidate was selected in 2013 and he is working with the company to date.

So, what different did we do from others, that the company and candidate did not leave each other for 6 years? We focused on the basics:

  1. Keep Realistic Expectations: Understanding the most challenging aspect of the job role and develop the sourcing strategy accordingly. I would never ask anyone to compromise on the basic skills required to do the job. It can cost dearly. However keeping in mind the reasons for employee attrition in the past, we need to make changes in some aspects. For Example: if there is a problem retaining someone with a Management degree, hire someone with a Bachelor’s degree/Diploma good academics double the years of experience.
  2. Honest & open communication regarding the critical aspects of the job/career: Strengths/Weaknesses, well nobody is perfect, every candidate as well as the company has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Please note, weakness is a very tricky word. Only consider something which cannot be improved as weakness, others are shortcomings that can be easily overcome with continuous improvement efforts.  In the above story, during the interview, both the employee and employer were overselling their positive points. The most challenging part of the job role was missed with the fear of candidates losing interest.  We communicated the challenges as it is to the candidate, result as expected 80% of them dropped, however the remaining 20% we the right ones for us. 

Employee retention is an ongoing journey; it’s not a destination to reach and stay. There has to be continuous nurturing of the relationship from both sides. The above article will surely help you reduce the attrition substantially.

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5 Quick Fixes to Speed up Slow Hiring Process

Slow hiring does great damage to your business.  As discussed in our article (http://acesai.in/5-ways-slow-hiring-is-hurting-your-business/ ), it results in losing top candidates, poor quality of hire, and an increase in indirect costs. All this caused a great impact on your client servicing and employer brand.

On your road leading to the destination of correct hire, there are many speed breakers. Slow down at the speed breakers and apply the given quick fixes. This will help you reach your destination at the earliest and most efficient way. Following are the major speed breakers in the hiring process:

Speed Breaker 1-Lack of clarity of the position to be filled Technical team, Hiring Managers and Recruiters have a different understanding of the job role, which is due to their inherently different perspectives. Resulting in a lot of miscommunication and delays.

Quick Fix Job Description, an hour spent together by the technical team, hiring manager, and recruiter writing a detailed Job description, will ensure everyone is on the same page and will avoid future delays due to unrealistic expectations from each other.

Speed Breaker2-Candidate No shows  Candidates drop the last minute during the initial round of interviews. Thus resulting in repeating the entire sourcing, interview cycle.

Quick Fix: Video interviews, for initial screening and schedule in-person interviews of only the ones shortlisted for the final interview.  There are 80% fewer chances of candidates dropping in the final round of interviews.

Spread Breaker 3-Wrong Hiring Strategy Too many interviews by too many interviewers, leading to the dropping of good candidates from the funnel and delay in hiring.  

Quick Fix Most of the top employers in the world follow the rule of 3.  No candidate to be interviewed more than 3 times.  If more than 3 interviewers are required to get involved. It can be a panel interview (video interviews recommended to avoid no shows).

Speed Breaker 4- Delay in decision making Delayed decision making is also one of the major reasons for losing top candidates.

Quick Fix Provide Decision making checklists (Job Description) and hiring deadline to the technical team, hiring manager, and recruiters.

For less complex roles walk-in interviews/recruitment drives help close multiple positions in a single day. For niche or hard to fill roles, above quick fixes can help reduce the hiring time substantially.  

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8 Essentials of Work from Home Policy

Thank you very much for your encouraging response to the articles.

The Covid19 has caught most of the businesses unaware. Some industry segments are already equipped with the work from home policy and are using it effortlessly. However, some segments of the industry are completely unaware. The transition is not going to the easy, however, it will lead to digital transformation of the workforce.

So now since this has a lot of advantages, let us discuss the essential ingredients of the work from home policy. This will address the ambiguity and loss of productivity issues related to Work from Home.

  1. Policy Scope: This will clearly indicate when employees will be allowed to work from home. Under special circumstances (covid19), fulltime/part-time, medical issues, parenting, a specific department, specific duration, etc.
  2. Technical Aspects: It is the job of the company to provide, all the desired tools required to work from home. It saves employees valuable time wasted dealing with technical issues, thus empowering them.

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  1. Security Aspects: Since employers are giving access to their data, it is very important to make sure that they are not vulnerable to cybersecurity threats.
  2. Communication Channels: Clear information on communication channels and schedules.
  3. Expectations and work schedules: There should be transparency and clear communication about the expectations. Which means the deliverables and timeline? People also need to rest and recharge. So the delicate boundary between the two needs to be addressed.
  4. Leaves policy: Leaves, working hours need to be clear on mutually agreed terms.
  5. Training: Of course training to implement the above pointers.
  6. Health & Safety guidelines: The work from home policy needs to address the different sets of health hazards remotely working employees face.

Clearly, there is a lot of merit in Work from Home since most of the corporates are talking about it.
-Most of the employees feel motivated, due to flexible working hours. Commute time is saved.
-Companies save the operations cost with a full or partial workforce working from home.
-Environmental impact: fewer traffic jams and pollution.

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5 Ways Slow Hiring is Hurting your Business.

You might think it is not relevant in the current scenario. Some industry segments are currently hiring so its relevant for them. For manufacturing/engineering sector segments, who are not currently hiring/ cutting jobs also there is good news coming in the future. Due to changing global dynamics, the manufacturing-related jobs will also soon return. There are high chances of more companies outsourcing their manufacturing to India. So its good to be prepared in advance.

 Slow hiring can do great damage to your hiring and business. Following are the 6 drawbacks of slow hiring decisions:

  1. Losing top talent to the competitors/negotiating at a higher salary: We are looking at a very competitive employee market, where most of the companies are on the lookout for top talent. If the hiring process is slow, there are high chances that the same candidate will be approached by many other companies. Thus a company may end up losing the top candidate or paying a higher salary while negotiating a counter offer.
  1. Poor quality of Hire: Quick action is more important than perfection. It’s a misconception that a longer time taken to hire by reviewing more  CVs, assessing a large number of feedbacks will result in high quality of Hire. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Slow hiring leads to the dropping of top candidates from the funnel. As a result, in most of the cases, employers end up compromising on the quality of the hire.
  2. Increase in indirect cost of hiring: For example, if we are hiring for a Project Engineer role. The longer we take to hire, the longer the position will remain vacant. As a result, the project will be delivered in the absence of this resource. This may result in delayed/ poor quality customer delivery. This will, later on, result in troubleshooting customer issues/delayed payments, etc. Slow hiring costs you dearly.
  3. Loss of productivity: While working on a project in the absence of a team member, the output per input will be less than working on the same in the presence of the team member.  Thus slow hiring process reduces productivity.
  4. Negative Impact on the company’s Brand: Poor or delayed customer delivery, can create a negative impact on the company’s brand. Slow hiring can also impact your Employer brand.

Professional headhunting firms can help save that time by sourcing the exact CVs in a short time. They have access to multiple hiring tools & techniques and well-trained recruiters.  Some of them also provide technical screening services. This saves time for the employer’s technical team, so they can focus on other productive aspects of their jobs.

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