#HRHeroes - Sindhu Subhashini of Brillio on How They Aligned Talent Acquisition and Business

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“Customers will never love your company until the employees love it first” - Simon Sinek, Author and Consultant

A company is its people, plain and simple. And when everyone in a company is invested in bringing the people who truly belong with them, they build an institution that lasts. This is why aligning the business and talent acquisition function is at the very heart of Outbound Hiring. In many ways, the talent acquisition function and business are like an orchestra - when they work together, you hear beautiful symphonies. Yet, if a single player is off-key or not aligned, the result is chaos and cacophony.

But getting to this state of alignment isn’t a walk in the park - it requires a lot of open discussions, a well thought-out framework, trust and hard work.

One place where this harmony exists is at Brillio Technologies. Brillio branched off from Collabera Inc., in 2014, and it is currently company of over 2000, on its way to become a digital leader. Brillio is a people-forward company where focus on employee and candidate experience is placed on the highest priority; here, HR is a strategic partner to business.

I met with Sindhu Subhashini, Head of HR for India at Brillio to talk about how they achieved this alignment, her take on outbound hiring and a bunch of other things. Here is what I learnt from that inspiring and informative conversation.

Hiring is clearly mission critical for business, and that isn’t disputed. Yet, HR and Talent Acquisition are often looked at as supporting functions. What has made Brillio stand out?

Any company with a focus on its people will mandate that HR be aligned with business. It is imperative that this initiative come top-down, that it is hard coded into the culture of the company. The leadership team at Brillio is among the people-centric teams I’ve worked with. Any initiative that brings Brillians together is always met with enthusiasm.

It genuinely makes a difference in terms of how the HR and Talent Acquisition function is perceived, what we deliver and the support we receive.

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How do you think talent leaders can establish trust and credibility necessary to align their teams to business?

First and foremost, talent leaders have to be transformational leaders. Remember that you are hired with a great intent - you are hired to bring out the best in the organization by bringing in the best people. So work around small snags and frustrations to achieve what you were brought there to do.

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Everyone has a different approach to establishing trust, of course, but personally, I believe the best way to achieve this is by getting some quick wins. When I join any company, I spend my first 50 days meeting every business leader and most of the people in the organization. This helps me get a good understanding of the biggest challenges for the company at the moment, how engaged and happy the employees are, what is working and what isn’t. It also helps me identify the first few challenges we should address right away, that would really impact the organization while establishing credibility for the HR team.  

Two examples of key hiring concerns the business had which we were able to resolve as a team were: 

  1. The referral rate was at 10% - not only was this low, but it indicated a deeper issue of dissatisfied employees.
  2. A burning requisition remained unfulfilled for a long time, and it was about to cost us a project with an important client.

The first problem we solved for was of course, the burning requisition. We did so because hiring is always a priority for a growing organization. Every leader and every team member should invest time and effort in hiring the right person and we wanted to lead by example.

What could a talent leader do to transform their team into a strategic partner?

Talent leaders need to demonstrate that they're willing to do what it takes to help business, that we are partners in every sense. For instance, talent leaders can get directly involved in hiring for critical positions. They have to ensure they find the perfect candidate, sell the role to the candidate and inspire them to join. In parallel, they can do blind reference checks personally and really sell the candidate to business - consult them on why that particular candidate will benefit the organization, what could be the possible cons and how to address them. 

This is all it really comes down to - when talent acquisition as a function can equip business to make the right decisions, they stop being a supporting function and become a strategic partner.

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What metrics allow recruiters to demonstrate true business impact?

As recruitment moves towards a more consultative role, it is crucial for recruiters to adopt a data-driven approach to delivering business impact. One obvious metric to track is of course, Quality of Hire. While we talk quite a lot about this in the talent industry, very few Talent Acquisition teams actually track this. One way to assess this is by measuring employee performance every quarter and longevity and tying it back to the source. While this requires significant effort, there is no better way to optimize your sourcing strategy and demonstrate to business that you are with them for the whole nine yards.

The other more important metric would be the Offer to Joining ratio. And this number should be measured for those billable, high-impact roles because measuring the same for campus or bench hires could really skew your numbers. The reason this metric becomes so important is that this number truly reflects the ability of a recruiter to understand the candidate’s mindset. Recruiters should capitalize on the large social footprints of candidates. They could track this data to understand whether or not a candidate is flight-risk. But ultimately, the recruiters must trust their instincts before deciding. Even if the candidate doesn’t join but the recruiter has a backup plan, it clearly shows foresight on the former's part.

Quality of Hire seems like a very reactive way to assess a candidate, doesn’t it? Is there any way recruiters can judge the quality of candidates during the interview process itself?

For this, what has worked wonderfully for us is Evidence Based Interviews. These start by the HR Team and hiring managers identifying the core competencies for a particular role. For instance, the core competencies for the role of Delivery Manager would be

i) Customer centricity

ii) Ability to innovate and add value to clients

iii) Being an inspiring leader

iv) The entrepreneurial drive.

Once this is defined, the right interviewers who can get the best candidates are selected. Then, the interview process is structured to obtain evidence/specific examples that would prove that the candidate possesses this competency. We’ve seen over 45% improvement in  various stages of the hiring process with Evidence Based Interviews, which is a clear indicator of quality.

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How do you think Outbound Hiring has transformed the talent acquisition function? Would you say Brillio has gone outbound?

I believe Outbound Hiring has the solutions to many critical challenges faced by the talent acquisition teams today. The philosophy of Outbound Hiring is highly candidate-centric and it makes perfect sense for this candidate-driven market. As talent acquisition teams go outbound, they have to fundamentally rethink their hiring strategy from a candidate’s perspective - whether it is creating a persona, how they measure quality during sourcing or nurturing  relationships. This is what will truly help hire the right people for an organization. 

To answer your second question, I think many outbound practices have always been in play at Brillio! As I mentioned earlier, hiring is a C-suite priority here. Each team leader and hiring manager works closely with the recruiter hiring for their unit, to exchange ideas, suggestions and feedback.

But we find outbound practices become particularly useful when hiring for niche roles. When the availability of talent is limited, sourcing becomes a last minute scramble when a role opens up. At Brillio,  instead of scrambling to source when the mandate comes, we try to maintain a pipeline of nurtured candidates. We also build talent maps for these niche roles with details such as companies at which they work, location and salary range. This vastly cuts down effort and time to hire.

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As you perfectly put it, Outbound Hiring is extremely candidate-focused and the need of the hour is delivering a memorable, stellar candidate experience. What does Brillio do towards creating a great experience for candidates?

At Brillo, we take a very holistic approach to candidate experience - this starts right from the time a candidate hears about us, all the way to engaging them after an offer is made. One among the key areas of interest for us in the upcoming months is refining our hiring process to provide a “wow” experience for everyone involved; not just the candidates, but the interviewers and the recruiters as well.

We are adopting a two-pronged approach towards this. One part involves our recruiters are partnering with the hiring managers to provide not just candidate profiles, but also all the data necessary to analyze the candidate and judge them for fit. This includes skills, experience and projects they’ve worked on, along with softer aspects such as their ability to work in teams, what motivates them and interests them. This part is aimed at creating a seamless process that is fruitful for the interviewer.

The HR team is also working alongside the marketing team to delve into making the hiring process more transparent and hence, enjoyable for the candidate. Candidates are very much like customers these days - they are used to very simple processes in their person lifes and they very much expect the same experience in other areas of life. Recruitment is no exception.

We clustered employees based on roles, age and longevity to understand how we can improve engagement during the joining period. Through this exercise, we’ve narrowed down 15 touch points between the candidate and the organization throughout the hiring process. We are currently working on how to leverage these touchpoints to build a relationship with the candidate.

Alright then Sindhu, this has been a fantastic hour with you. If you could leave us with one last thought, what would that be?

Well I’d say that be driven and be innovative - nothing can stop you from being the absolute best if you have these qualities. In this day and age, the opportunities for us to shine are endless. Make the best use of them. Good luck!

HRHeroes Outbound Hiring
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