Agility, adaptability and resilience are key skills to survive the new normal, says Reliance Nippon Life Insurance CHRO

Updated on Jan 09, 2021 10:04 AM IST

Srinivas Ladwa, the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) of Reliance Nippon Life Insurance, explained the various challenges faced by the HR department and ways to deal with them in an email interview with

Hiring and retaining the right talent is one of the key challenges faced by organizations in this competitive world.(HT file)
Hiring and retaining the right talent is one of the key challenges faced by organizations in this competitive world.(HT file)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByNilesh Mathur

Hiring and retaining the right talent is one of the key challenges faced by organizations in this competitive world. The ongoing pandemic situation has made this challenge even tougher, with increased virtual hiring and possibility of recruiting talents from different locations, as they can work remotely. Thus the Human Resource (HR) department plays a very important role in determining the success or failure of an organization.

Srinivas Ladwa, the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) of Reliance Nippon Life Insurance, explained the changing landscape of recruitment in India, various challenges faced by the HR department and ways to deal with them in an email interview with

How has the recruitment landscape changed in India over the last few years, especially after the pandemic?

The war for ‘Top Talent’ is ongoing and the intensity of competition to attract and retain talent is getting increasingly fierce. The pandemic and resulting economic crisis has been a turning point for many companies in their search for talent. Large scale remote working has expanded the job market for candidates and companies making the quest for talent fairly competitive. In an increasingly uncertain world, organizations are adopting hybrid working models and recruiting contractual and gig workers. Telecommuting has opened up internal mobility opportunities for employees who were earlier unwilling to relocate. Organizations are investing time and resources in perfecting the virtual hiring and onboarding processes. “Critical roles” are being redefined with changing business priorities. Agility, adaptability and resilience are considered key behavioural skills to survive the new normal. Technology and digitization are paving the way in improving candidate engagement and driving efficiencies in recruitment and on boarding.

What are the key challenges in hiring and retaining the right talent these days?

An effective employer branding strategy to position the organization well is crucial to attracting the best talent. Also offering an engaging candidate experience in a virtual environment where the candidate no longer has a chance to visit the office can be challenging. One way organizations are solving for this is to share culture videos and testimonials to offer first hand insight into the work experience. Employers are exploring disruptive technological processes that allow employers to manage the recruitment and onboarding workflow without in person meetings. Technology, artificial intelligence and data analytics are being leverage for recruitment processes like sifting through resumes to find candidates who best fit the role, candidate evaluation . At RNLIC our award winning Hire2Join and IPT tools allow real time, mobile based candidate selection and onboarding seamless and less subjective. Analytical models allow us to create a quantitive scoring models are a key indicator of success for Branch Managers in this industry.” With remote work and telecommuting becoming the norm, location is no longer a criteria for selecting candidates. Managing the social aspect of onboarding where new employees can build networks and forge friendships is also difficult in a virtual environment. Without a structured cadence for communication, employees can feel disconnected from the organization and their roles. Moreover, another retention challenge is that candidates are gravitating towards jobs that offer the best work life balance.

How do organizations deal with the challenges in the way of upskilling and re-skilling their employees?

The pandemic brought the future of work into the present and necessitated that employees upgrade their technological skills, analytical skills and ability to work in an increasingly uncertain environment. As organizations begin to use disruptive technological innovations to manage routine processes, it has brought with it a need to build new skills as required by changing business models. One way we managed this at RNLIC for example is through structured learning journeys that allow front line sales employees to adapt to the new technologies and skills required for the new normal. Employees in managerial roles were given access to a series of behavioural simulations that allowed them to champion change and adaptability to evolving business models among their teams. Another key focus needs to be providing tools and an ecosystem conducive for developing cognitive skills including innovation, problem solving, redesign of existing processes to adapt to a constantly changing business dynamics.

What are the latest technologies used by the HR department to improve an organization’s performance?

The use of AI and machine learning has expanded beyond recruitment and is being used to allow real time coaching to improve performance. HR managers are using Bots to provide real time cues to field force to help them address objections and close sales. In the new normal chatbots are also being used to resolve concerns expeditiously. Simulations and gamifications are replacing on the job experiences to help candidates understand their roles and business models. Use of technology to trigger candidate engagement tools including videos and key information about the company are imperative to help candidates feel connected. Technology is also being used to develop customized career paths and retain key talent. The use of people analytical tools to provide byte sized data, analysis and trends that provide a base for making effective people decisions that help drive performance and culture is a key differentiator that can help improve an organization’s performance.

How do HR managers influence the culture of a company?

HR plays a predominant role in purposefully building and shaping the culture. Several ways of impacting this include putting in place clearly articulated Performance indicators and then defining enablers to help employees become successful in their roles. Additionally, reward structures go a long way in building in influencing a culture of meritocracy. How performance and disciplinary issues are managed by HR can influence the perception of “fairness” in the organization. Communication platforms and how connected employees feel to the organization, leaders, long term vision and their own can be influenced by strong feedback mechanisms and tools that foster transparency and openness. Policies that help employees manage work life balance and how supported employees feel to manage medical and other personal exigencies has gained increasing relevance in the current context.

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    Nilesh Mathur is online news editor with Hindustan Times. He has worked on the online news desk for the last 21 years. Presently, he covers education and career related news.

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