‘Industry 4.0’, known also as the fourth industrial revolution is likely to impact the professional field of Human resources (HR). The new emerging reality of Automation and digitization is expected to bring about changes in all aspects of business management. Already, the corporate world is abuzz with concepts such as: Redefining sourcing and recruitment, Virtual Reality (VR) in Onboarding, removing redundancies in HR operations, Redefining learning for making it more relevant, Employee engagement apps etc. Corporates of today would require a successful ‘Smart HR Recruitment 4.0’ strategy to cope up with the challenges of Industry 4.0. Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IOT), Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have already begun to automate most HR processes, thereby resulting in efficient and leaner HR teams. Both organization structures and leadership style changes would be required for efficient and successful Smart HR 4.0 implementation. Thereby allowing HR departments to play a more strategic role in the overall organization growth. This paper discusses such changes that have happened in the recruitment function and how the HR profession can effectively address the challenges of Industry 4.0.
Keywords: Industry 4.0, Smart H.R. Recruitment, Emerging technology, HR.
I. Objectives of the paper:
This paper has been written keeping in mind the following objectives:
- To trace the history of recruitment.
- To examine as to how recruitment was done during the ‘dark ages of recruitment’.
- To become aware of ‘Industry 4.0’ and consequently HR recruitment 4.0.
II. An overview of recruitment :
In simple terms, recruitment has been a “process of finding and hiring the best-qualified candidate (from within or outside of an organization) for a job opening, in a timely and cost-effective manner”. (1) Traditionally it has been done by analyzing the requirements of a job, attracting employees to that job, screening and selecting applicants, hiring, and integrating the new employee on board to the organization.
[bookmark: _Hlk1066701]Broadly speaking, end-to-end recruitment sees to attracting, screening, selecting and onboarding (2) a suitable candidate for an existing vacancy. The steps encompassing in it can be been seen in the form of a flowchart later. Apart from those steps, recruiters or the recruitment function may involve in preparing offer letters as well as inducting them once the candidates join the organization. Interviews, as a part of recruitment, may be undertaken by in-house managers, members of the HR /recruitment team or certain experts. It may be also be done by recruitment firms, search firms and consultants.
III. Basic definitions of recruitment:
Recruitment, also referred to as ‘Staffing’, can be regarded as a procedure of collecting of suitable people for filling open positions in a company. It can be regarded as the preliminary stage of the entire system. Some scholars have defined it thus: (3)
- a) According to Edwin B Flippo, “Recruitment is the process of searching for prospective employees and stimulating them to apply for jobs, in the organization”.
- b) In the words of Yoder, “Recruitment is a process to discover the sources of manpower to meet the requirements of the staffing schedule and to employ effective measures for attracting that manpower in adequate numbers to facilitate effective selection of an efficient working force”.
- c) “ Recruitment is the process [of] discovering potential for actual or anticipated organizational vacancies”. – DeCenzo and Robbins.
- d) As per William B. Werther and Keith Davis, it is the “ discovering of potential applicants for actual or anticipated organizational vacancies………”.
IV. Recruitment process- a flowchart:
The process of recruitment is embarked upon once the job prerequisites have been understood and evaluated. It involves searching for such candidates who could be encouraged to apply for the vacancies that the company has. A typical recruitment process would consist of the steps mentioned in the flow-chart (4) as discussed earlier. It can be found in the following page:
(EVALUATION AND CONTROL)
V. History of recruitment:
The earliest example of recruitment can be traced to identifying those labourers who were instrumental in building the Pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall of China. (5) As civilization developed, the concept of choosing one’s vocation started to gradually emerge. At that juncture, the industrial revolution brought about a plethora of changes in the way work was being conducted. Many non-governmental enterprises began to enter the market which consequently affected the hiring function. Hitherto, it used to happen at the base level and a major change occurred in the form of hiring that populace who had an expertise or specialization in a particular trade . In some cases, it used to happen face to face and, in some instances, the applicants were subjected to tests. This was to see if they knew the work they were expected to perform if hired. When enterprises were not able to get people from the vicinity of their operations, they resorted to hiring outstation people. At times, they would transfer their existing manpower to those locations where their facilities would be located.
At times, a written test would be administered to incumbents. If they ‘passed it’, they would be made to face an interview. But prior to the interview stage lay the problem of checking if the answers posed in the questionnaire were desirable and accurate! Therefore, recruitment was turning out to be a cumbersome affair apart from time consuming. In India, local recruitment was the norm followed, those days, for industries that had been set up either by the British or local entrepreneurs. Since the fight for freedom was on, not much emphasis was placed on the labour class or the conditions that they worked in. The situation was no different in the Western world as it faced periodic and internal strife. The World War I (1914-1918) and The Second World War (1939-1945) added to the woes of the populace and the labour class. The former at least saw to the emergence of the present-day job recruitment . Here, advertisements were placed by recruitment bureaus so that eligible men could enlist themselves for serving in the armed forces. All these incidents saw to recruitment emerge as a function post the 1950’s in the Western World which subsequently had an impact on India which had attained its independence few years prior.
Having seen certain mentioned issues in recruiting, the last decade of the previous [20th]century saw the emergence of online job boards. These saw to easing the recruitment process as it eliminated the ‘paper and pen’ interface as well as reduced involvement of the HR department workforce. Technology saw to streamline the entire process as well as saw to shortlisting and subsequent selection become easier. Few companies would actually send out forms that incumbents could fill is as a registration form.
The norm, especially from the dawn of the new millennium [ 21st century] has been the usage of ‘Talent Acquisition systems’. These systems are cloud based and hence, execution and maintenance become a relatively easier process. Though it involves significant monetary investment, it sees to tests being evaluated instantly once they have been completed.
Before the advent of technology in recruitment, companies had to resort to traditional techniques to attract suitable manpower to join them. Some of these are still in vogue and are listed herewith: (6)
- Paper AD’s: Apart from the being the easiest way to recruit, advertisements (AD’s) are known to be equally effective.
- Job postings at employment agencies: Employment agencies are typical places where job aspirants would visit to find a job.
- Temporary agencies: They can be referred to as temp agencies or temp staffing agencies. Apart from shortlisting suitable incumbents based on experience, they make the recruitment job easier for companies.
- Internal hiring: This technique is adopted by firms to encourage those individuals who are already part of the organization by placing them in jobs that are existing. By this, the individual would know the position for which they are being hired for as well as the work that is expected out of them.
VI. Dark ages of recruitment:
The era before the advent of the facsimile (FAX) machines, Internet, job portals, social media etc. to facilitate recruitment can be termed as the ‘dark ages of recruitment’. (7)
Recruitment, as a function, had always been carried out quite effectively even before this phase. And it still has been even today without any disruption in the present. However, those recruiters who worked in that critical ‘era’ underwent these challenges listed below and emerged successful despite the rigour:
- Qualifying a job order: Any Job Description (JD) that is typical of the recruitment that happens in today’s scenario was not in existence back then. Recruiters had to get it via the telephone or by meeting the hiring manager/ client face to face!
- Telephone screening: This is used to be the norm of the day back then. Recruiters used to efficiently screen potential candidates over the phone most times. Those who didn’t fit the bill were dealt with empathy and offered direction at times!
- Selling candidates: The onus of recruiters back then was to call up a prospective candidate and ‘sell them in’ when it came to the opening. All this was done by merely going through the Curriculum Vitae (Cv)/ résumé of the candidate.
- Urgency!: This was in the case of walk-in candidates wherein recruiters would try all the tricks in the bag to ensure that the job incumbent went back with a job offer in hand. They would ensure all possible ways to ‘ensnare’ candidates so that they didn’t walk up to a competitor [recruiter] and avail placement from them! All this and more were done just to ensure that the client got the person they were looking out for without any time lag.
- Memory!: A recruiter back then was blessed with a memory befitting an elephant when it was related to their candidates. This was in the case of both potential and placed ones! With minimal assistance from technology, they could rattle out relevant details required either by the hiring company [client] or internal manager.
- Down time.: Once the sun set on that particular day, the recruiter called closed his work accordingly. Since there were no hand-held devices to disturb them, they could go back home and spend time with their families or as they pleased. They didn’t have to worry being disturbed by their boss or client regarding the status of the opening till the next morning while they came back for work!
VII. Analysis of data:
This paper has been written after analyzing the conditions pertaining to traditional recruitment and issues that need to be addressed in the Industry 4.0 framework. All this has solely been done in the form of secondary data analysis that was available in the form of documents, published reports, etc. It made aware of the first industrial revolution which happened from the 18th century and till the early 19th century. Steam was being used as a source of producing energy which got supplanted by electricity during the second industrial revolution which emerged from the later part of the 19th century to the second half of the 20th century. Automation became prominent during the latter half of the previous century and it has been affecting the recruitment in different ways. Apart from bringing an integral part of the ‘Industry 4.0’, secondary data analysis has made it aware that ‘bots’ , ‘cloud’, big data’ analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT, VR, to name a few have become a part of the daily life and corporate jargon.
VIII. Challenges in recruitment:
Lack of skillsets is one of the major issues that companies face when they have to hire either a person or people for a vacancy. This has a direct bearing on the Human Resource function. Some vital and generic challenges that recruiters face in the current ‘4.0 age’ or have faced are listed herein: (8)
- Communication skills have always been a vital part of any job and gauging it is a part of the recruitment vertical under the Human Resources (HR) function. Most often, this is neglected during the ‘first cut’. Though aspirants maybe tech-savvy , it is necessary to keep in mind that communication skills have to be assessed on priority.
- There could be instances of a significant gulf existing between skills required for a particular opening and that which exists in the candidate. A proactive approach, therefore, has to be ensured by the HR department and/or the hiring team.
- Some industries have known to have high attrition percentages. To ensure the hired candidate sticks on to the job, the recruiter has to beforehand gauge whether they would remain in the job on a long-term basis or just for a few weeks. For this, efficient onboarding has to be ensured as research has revealed has a direct correlation to retention!
- The tendency of both current employees as well as prospective ones has always work for a “big-name” in the industry. Hence, they may submit their candidature to such enterprises. This makes Human Resource of those small names to come up with strategies to bring about an appeal in prospects as well as stay competitive in the job market.
IX. Recruitment in the social media era:
Technology has brought about both pros and cons to the staffing function. In our country, though technology has already made its debut, certain one’s that are vital for carrying out recruitment tend to be obsolete. Boolean search and job portals appear to be the only option for sourcing suitable candidates for vacancies. Social media hiring is yet to catch up. Even now, new age recruiters are being trained by giving them ghost written scripts that they blurt out while they call prospects. At the same time, head honchos of enterprises are still debating whether to earmark a budget for technology so that it aides in fast paced recruitment! As a result, unreceptive incumbents are targeted and, in most cases, recruiters find it difficult to handle voluminous data.
At the present, recruitment has to be keep itself abreast of changes occurring in the digital era. For this, they may have to resort to the following so that they are able to attract the right talent among the job seekers: (9)
- a)Targeted recruiting ads: Just as how one tends to search for a particular product upon seeing an ad, one will have to do the same for getting the appropriate candidate for the ‘open position’. From the recruiter point of view, the ad has to be posted keeping in mind the Job Description (JD), the correct key words and other relevant details. If these are taken care, they save precious time.
- b) Investment on Artificial Intelligence : AI, as it is referred to as, is known to considerably reduce hiring time for corporates. Natural language processing (NLP) and machine-learning algorithms are known to make the available openings to the public with considerable ease.
- c) Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Social media platforms such as Facebook for Business and LinkedIn Recruiter can be cited as examples that are SEO enabled and aid job aspirants to apply for jobs by being ‘mobile-optimized’.
Social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter has made it possible for prospective employers to reach out to incumbents. It has become a reality and a boon for companies starting from this century onwards. This kind of recruitment is carried out just like another function of the enterprise. Some of them also social media to gauge the skillsets of prospective employees as well as to conduct reference checks. Certain advanced tools have in fact enabled companies to foresee, evaluate and act on the data that they get of candidates. Example of LinkedIn can be cited here wherein it provides data of all possible candidates who maybe keen on joining and/or to which employer they have joined! All these and more have seen to increase in productivity of the recruitment team and HR department as a whole.
- It is evident that the last few years has seen a plethora of changes in the recruitment function. Apart from sweeping changes in technology, one can see the same in candidate behaviour as well. All these have contributed to the emergence of certain changes in recruitment especially in the digital marketing space. These have helped in carrying out candidate evaluation successfully and they are viz: (10)
- Candidate experience: The onus of corporates is to ensure a personalized communication strategy to candidates. If a prospective candidate feels good about a particular company, it means that they view it as a powerful ‘brand’. This in turn sees to enhancement of the profit of the business.
- Digital: It is necessary for companies to adapt to the digital mode of recruitment so that suitable talent maybe attracted. Apart from the Cv/ resume, companies tend to look into the social media accounts, website, blog etc. of aspirants to gain insights about them.
- Employer brand: It is evident that hunting for the right person for the right job is indeed a challenge. Competition is rampant and this brings about the need for employer branding. If a strong brand is developed, it becomes easy for the corporate to reach to the right prospects. This brings about the need for an effective Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to be in place. The EVP sees to stressing the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of the company thereby bringing awareness about its salient plus points.
X. Few future trends in recruitment 4.0:
From the recruitment point of view, Industry 4.0 and Recruitment 4.0, few trends have emerged. These are known to have a significant impact on recruitment practices on a global scale and a sample of them are: (11)
Around 65% of the current school going populace do not have job functions as of now! This is because those jobs are yet to be created for them!
The renowned auditing firm PwC, through its report, predicts that the forthcoming year will see to widespread digitization. A huge jump has been predicted in the case of defense and aerospace sector wherein they are expected to reach 76% from the present 32%.
In America, Industry 4.0 is set to assume the status of an industry very soon! Certain businesses are earmarking a whopping US$907 billion annually towards it. They expect at least 55% return of the outlay!
In closing, it maybe said that Smart HR 4.0 or transformations in either Industry 4.0 or Recruitment 4.0 are necessary for both companies and industry alike. These technologies, though may appear as challenges, will certainly ensure radical changes in the HR function. A lean HR department would enable both the department and those associated with it to play a role that will be strategic in nature. This paper, though basic in nature, highlights the role of Industry 4.0 as well as Recruitment 4.0 and how changes in technology has brought subsequent changes in the recruitment function.
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