“Lack of work experience and key employable skills have serious impact on job prospects”

Marco Valsecchi, Chief Financial Officer, Adecco, tells CFO India that workplaces across the world are changing and it is time to push against traditional ways of thinking.

The large-scale layoffs in IT, realty and many other industries in India paint a dismal picture. What is Adecco's experience in this regard?
Marco Valsecchi: We are the largest player in HR solutions space in India. With such massive lay-offs happening in this sector, HR companies do experience certain pressure from players. A strong quarter of headcount reduction in the IT industry has impacted us. But I think the picture is a bit fragmented than the ones we are getting in the news. In spite of such lay-offs, we have noticed these sectors are moving in the same space. With regard to hiring, they are looking for great talents. We have noticed that this sector is rapidly picking up and sustaining a healthy growth.

Workplaces across the world are changing, so it’s time to push against traditional ways of thinking. For candidates, we remain relevant as employers either through providing them re-skilling, closing gaps in competencies or being flexible in terms of designation and roles. For clients, we keep on reviewing our strategies; customise them as per requirements to search good talent in the market.

Experts say that companies want to hire only the top 10 per cent of job seekers. How does Adecco ensure better opportunities across the employable base?
MV: Adecco is committed to boost the employability of youth. So, we increase employable base via different initiatives and programmes. We equip youth with hard and soft skills that businesses require today. According to the 2014 edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, lack of work experience and key employable skills have a serious impact on the employment prospects of youth across the world. They need to be equipped with hard as well as soft skills. As a global leader in HR solutions, Adecco had launched the Adecco Way to WorkTM programme in 2013 to fight unemployment. This global initiative, involving Adecco employees in over 60 countries, focussed to address the mismatch of skills and experience that often prevent youth from entering the workforce.

With this pledge, Adecco commits to:
• Provide 5,000 people with a work-based training experience for three-year period (2015-2018), either with Adecco or with an Adecco partner company.  
• Ensure 30 per cent of the work-based training experience will lead to a permanent employment for those who engage in it.

Finance and HR are so intertwined and central to a company's agility that they are the logical first step towards unifying all back office functions...CFOs need better understanding of their company's talent needs.

There is said to exist a huge skills gap in India. What is Adecco's opinion on this?
MV: The advancement in automation and artificial intelli­gence is the source of the most disruptive changes presently in the way we live and work. There will be an unsteady transition, so governments and business must act. The education system reforms are needed to provide right technical skills, and the ability to adapt to change. As a multi-career reality becomes the norm, workers must boost employability by committing to life-long learning. At the same time, employment policies must combine employers’ need for flexibility with social protection. We will respond to challenges only by working together.

As per a study by the Adecco Group in collaboration with INSEAD and Human Capital on Global Talent Competitiveness Index – Talent and Technology, India stood on a relatively solid pool of global knowledge skills compared to other emerging markets but it is not able to retain and attract talent.

Re-skilling is the solution for job seekers to remain relevant in the mar­ket. An understanding of technolo­gies most likely to emerge in their industry of choice will go a long way in creating success for job seekers.

Finance and HR are the new power collaborators in companies across the globe and companies are moving these functions to the cloud. What is driving this and what are the benefits?
MV: These two areas are so intertwined and central to a company’s agility that they are the logical first step towards unifying all back-office functions that exist. As CFOs get more involved with more defining business strategies, they need a better understanding of their company’s talent and resourcing needs. I think the major benefits which can be achieved will be a single data model, the addition points between two areas can be automated, which will become increasingly important as a company grows. Also, one of the advantages which I can see is that we don’t have to grow headcount to manage all these tactical, back-office lengthy processes that become more complicated as the work gets to expand.

What is Adecco India offering to its Indian customers? How is its approach different from other HR solutions companies in the country?
MV: Work is evolving at a fast pace, and organisations must be ready to keep up. At The Adecco Group India, we not only understand the changing employment landscape but work with clients to ensure they can embrace it. As we understand that businesses across the globe, we become more open to new ways of working.

In recent years we’ve seen the global economy fluctuating dramatically. The way we all do business today will be dif­ferent in five years, or in ten years. We don’t know what will happen. But we do know that no business can operate with­out people. That’s why strategic workforce planning is vital.

Make no mistake: we’re not just a service provider. We certainly don’t do ‘off the shelf’. We’ll listen, learn, get to know your business needs in-depth and then tailor the right solution for your organisation. We’ll ensure that you can maximise opportunities and minimise risks.

With expertise gained on the global stage, we’re able to deliver the fully integrated HR solutions that will support your organisation’s development. Adecco India, currently, focuses on executive search, recruitment, temporary staff­ing, learning, and training services to its customers. With the help of global resources, we are able to merge our exper­tise with local intelligence to provide customised services to our Indian customers. We are also in constant interaction and collaboration with leaders and domain experts across industries including retail, telecom, FMCG, engineering, IT, financial services, hospitality, and education. Our experts are skilled and experienced in finding the right candidate. We work on providing consecutive assignments, ensuring talent retention and skill enhancement.

What are the key responsibilities of a CFO in the HR industry? How is the CFO's role in this sector different from other sectors?
MV: In HR industry, people are supreme asset of an enterprise. An organisation’s employees drive growth and performance; and success is essentially related to skill, talent and knowledge of the workforce. This value is more than any physical asset. As businesses seek to grow, the two most likely hurdles they face are paucity of funds and scarcity of human resource.

High-performing CFOs have to play an active role or have the responsibility in strategic personnel planning and con­tinuous forecasting. He has to move beyond the perception of a workforce plan. They bring acumen and analysis to combine external and internal data in a way to help the busi­ness strike the right equilibrium between building, obtain­ing and deploying talent to support corporate strategy.

The new job market would require a different set of skills to be learnt by employees and prospective employees, and also opens up a new customer base ...

I don’t think that CFO roles are different. Of course, a CFO has to wear multiple hats which vary from sector to sector. A CFO with a strategic bent of mind knows well to navigate his way through. Today, CFOs have expanded their skills set and understood the need to control rising com­pensation and benefits costs without affecting recruiting or retention initiatives. In addition, they are also involved in addressing challenges presented by the troubled global economy. They not only display world-class finance skills but they also possess a holistic understanding of business functions and experience in collaborative decision-making.

The HR landscape has undergone sea changes in the past few years. What has been Adecco's experience in India so far?
MV: The HR as a whole, used to be considered with keeping records, ensuring companies followed regulations and were in compliance with laws, and determining wages, compensation packages, and other benefits. Over the past few years, the entire HR landscape has evolved tremendously. All thanks to technologies that automates much of the work traditionally done by HR professionals, the HR department that exist today looks almost nothing like the ones that existed before. In addition to programs that can automate payroll and streamline the on boarding process, there are also platforms that simplify the recruiting process and
talent management systems that enable companies to quickly determine if their employees are getting the right training opportunities.

What would be the hot areas in HR in the next few years and what is Adecco’s strategy for the market?
This segment has been evolving a lot as a function. It is not just considered as a support but is fully involved in business at strategic level in the last couple of years. The war for talent and engagement has been increasing, and as a result of this many firms are looking at it more prominently than before. The future will be decided by the investment of top leaders in some of the most serious challenges it is facing today. So if we look at the upcoming trends in coming years of HR, here is what will be different:
• HR will be more flexible, as they understand that today’s youth want flexibility and will excel in their performance if they are allowed to adjust both their work and personal lifestyles.
• HR will become more social as intranet, internal social platforms, social media platform and many other ways to promote online collaboration and communication across the company.
• HR will be more mobile. Mobile is the new hot trend in almost every industry. The lifestyle of an HR person will not be desktop-based. It will be wherever they are, whenever they want.
•   Data will become a key to strategic HR decisions in future.

Adecco’s strategy is going to be very simple.
•  Making talent management everyone’s responsibility.
• Integrate HR services with other function shared services to help deliver seamless experience.
•  Working across the organisation to deliver a seamless employee experience.
• Create an agile HR operating model that will fit our organisation’s strategy, workforce, and culture.
• Develop more skills through L&OD, within HR team to improve agility and responsiveness.

With automation threatening many assembly line and routine jobs, also in finance, how do you see the job market being impacted?
While automation might be in the process of replacing many assembly line and routine jobs, it has opened the door to a new job market, involving data analytics and machine learning. The new job market would require a different set of skills to be learnt by employees and prospective employees, and also opens up a new customer base that would require a variety of new services that would appear due to this change in operations and services provided. Thus, it is important for companies and employees to grow and adapt to the changing times.

How is the GST changing the services landscape in India? How do you see it impacting companies like Adecco?
The GST is a destination-based single tax on the supply of goods and services from manufacturers to consumers. GST has replaced multiple taxes. A common base and common rates across goods and services and similar rates across states and between Centre and states will facilitate better tax administration, improve tax compliance, alleviate cascading or double taxation while also ensuring adequate tax collection from inter-state sales.

This new system has led to positive impact on ease of doing business as GST had broken the barrier of state tax regulations. This will also have a direct impact on the job market. Jobs will go up specifically in the sectors that are open to competition and export. In temporary staffing, the demand for technical jobs will rise. In my opinion, more jobs will be created.   

GST would bring in a significant change in doing business in India. Companies will invest in GST software to advocate for the best practices, gearing up for a change, training teams and developing IT systems. For this reason, temporary jobs will gain a big boost in the GST regime across all sectors. Talking about the job market scenario, it seems it will gain momentous rise across sectors. However, it will be temporary and fade away eventually.

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