Probably most of us have heard now that HR industry is having a shift. To find out more about HR industry I have interviewed Yiannis Batsis.

 There has been some conversation around HR management struggling to provide competent and efficient executives from within an organization. How do you think that HR professionals should tackle this?

I think that’s an all-time classic claim! Following strategic goals and a solid plan of Talent Acquisition and Talent Management process is perhaps the key answer here. In this respect, many HR programs fail because their design is not an integral part of the strategy of the organization and this derives from the fact that HR professionals – at least till recently – were not considered as business partners but more as administrative personnel.

However, this is not the whole case; this struggle may also come from the unrealistic goals of the Senior Leadership team, lack of motivation / low engagement, poor communication and non-transparent HR policies just to name a few.

In fact, the challenge of HR professionals to help employees to become competent senior leaders may turn out to be even bigger if customized learning and development programs are missing. In addition, Workforce Planning (WP) is considered to be one of the important strategic aspects of an HR function; however, we need to highlight that so far in any organization, the WP is not strategically developed in order to serve organizational attributes.

Does the above apply to all sectors? What are the differences in the HR mentality between eg: the service sector and a production line (eg: manufactory?)

There is an ongoing debate over the years on the impact of industry on Human resources approaches and practices. In a research, carried out some years ago, the outcome suggested that service organizations tend to have more specific role behavior requirements and these organizations apply HR practices which differ from production line units, such as manufacturing. The main reason for this distinction is the different nature of the industry and subsequently the distinction of services.

The feature that differentiates the service sector from other sectors is the nature of services consumed. In fact, the buyer of a service does not possess a tangible good, hence in the service sector, the production and consumption of the service happen simultaneously, while it takes place in the presence of the service provider. Quality cannot be inspected at the end of the production process in the same say as in a manufacturing process. Instead, service organizations have to control the processes prior to the consumption of the service. The service to the customer has to be delivered right the first time. These different characteristics of service require specific role behaviors which are quite from manufacturing activities.

In addition, a significant difference between these two environments is that service sector is labor-intensive, while manufacturing sector is mostly based on automatization and equipment. This means that HR function in Services has to make sure that they are assisting in actualizing their employees’ potential since human capital plays a key role in the functioning of companies in that sector.

It’s worth mentioning though that HR departments in other sectors were mostly engaged in activities around Compensation & Benefits, Labor issues, and Health & Safety. However, this has started changing dramatically over the years and all sectors are considering Human Capital as their competitive advantage and therefore, Human Resources policies are considered to be a means of enabling and empowering the employees across all different sectors and industries.

What do you consider as “common mistakes” from an organization’s HR when it comes to Talent Acquisition and Training?

HR processes as far as talent acquisition is concerned, face several challenges. The most commonly refer to hiring employees who do not fit the culture of the organization and who are not able to meet the strategic goals of the company. This may have its roots to the unclear, outdated, “cookie-cutter” format of existing Job descriptions and Job profiles. Processes such as internal job postings, referral programs, and an established sourcing, interviewing, assessing and onboarding process have to be clearly defined; a precise and consistent system regarding the selection of candidates has to develop. Otherwise, it’s worthless to talk about the so-called Candidate Experience.

Another point is that we often notice a mismatch between the expectation of the employees and the roles they are assigned to, inside the organization. And here is where recruiter’s experience and matching skills are kick-in: The Talent Acquisition professional should be able to check that the career aspirations of a candidate are well understood. It’s not difficult to avoid a potential mismatch if clear communication during the selection process is used followed by a thorough discussion with the candidate presenting them with all the options.

As far as the training is concerned, I would consider the lack of a concrete learning path and a “one size fits all” developmental plan for the employees as the common pitfalls. In fact, the whole learning process should establish a developmental path that is assured for the employees, with the right activities and the right training, which should be specialized and differ among the individuals according to their traits and their personal aspiration.

Training Professionals can suggest and develop a system of peer partners and mentors who are interested to develop solid relationships focusing in quality rather than quantity and who are committed to guiding employees through their career challenges.

Needless to mention that HR – as well as the entire Senior Leadership team – should market the company and its brand to current employees as intensively as to the outside talent pool.

You mentioned Interviewing. What are the 3-4 top slip-ups that you have seen candidates doing in job interviews and what could you recommend for the job seekers to avoid them? 

Job interviews are an essential part of the recruitment process. Therefore, it is easy to understand the importance of the job interview as far as the right selection of suitable candidates is concerned. Although one might argue with what is right and wrong, I can mention some of what are the “red flags” to me:

  • Candidates attend the interview with very limited idea about the company and its products or services, the values and the latest news about the company/ sector. Arriving at an interview unprepared is interpreted as lack of motivation and interest.

  • Candidates who are being unaware of their skills and knowledge they have or “over-selling’ themselves. Lack of awareness about the competences or personal traits shows that candidate may lack self-concept.

  • Giving the answers which they think the interviewer wants to hear or make up stories that they believe will match the company’s culture. Pretending to be someone else will definitely not work in the long future. After all, why would one work for a company who has different values or culture from the one which suits theirs?

How has HR been changed lately? What are the traits that you have identified?

Change in labor markets, as well as economic uncertainty and new trends that have emerged through globalization of the economy, are main issues that shape workplace and the HR practices today but also in the years to follow. Therefore, Human Resources Industry has to deal with the challenges in the workforce market some of which are:

  • Employer Branding activities have strengthened and companies have been more competitive and creative in the “war” of finding and attracting candidates. This is because the environment that many organizations operate in nowadays is global, dynamic, while organizations face high competition and high volatility when it comes to workforces. To add to this, organizations have to deal with talent flow as well as to manage and balance the diverse expectations of the different generations in their work environment. Improvement of labor market conditions and stepped-up competition make it more demanding for organizations to find and attract competent and qualified employees.

  • HR leaders have started reforming their practices to assure that their company is able to attract the best-qualified candidates possible. In this respect, Talent Acquisition practices, Training content, and delivery, flexible working, as well as Benefits have been reformed to ensure sure that organizations are creating a competitive advantage through their human capital.

  • New technologies, social media as talent networks and platforms (such as LinkedIn and Vimeo), as well as intranets with enhanced collaborative capabilities, give a fresh air to the workforce market, as these new tools are a synonym to increased flexibility and productivity.

  • The impact of the economy: Intense globalization and political unrest in some areas of the globe, will increase instability making economic uncertainty the “new normal.” In this turbulent environment, HR is striving to apply their policies with the lowest possible budget and creates a challenge for companies to hire employees from abroad or facilitate internal mobility.