Rendezvous with Smriti Krishna Singh, CHRO, Flipkart on Employee Value Proposition

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In an exclusive conversation with SightsIn Plus, Smriti Krishna Singh, Chief Human Resource Officer at Flipkart shares her thoughts on Talent Acquisition and Employee Value Proposition.

Smriti is one of the most exceptional HR leaders. As CHRO at Flipkart, she is responsible for overall people and culture charter. Prior to joining Flipkart, she was the Chief Human Resources Officer for Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN). In a global career spanning over two decades, she brings with her a rich and diverse experience in Human Resources.

She started her career at Xerox India, followed by GE in India and then held various leadership roles in Tokyo, New York, and Singapore with GE Healthcare, Genpact and NBC Universal before joining SPN.

Under her dynamic leadership at SPN, she imbibed a values-based culture within the organization, besides winning accolades for SPN’s workplace practices such as being listed in the 2017 Aon Best Employers India, consistent ranking in 100 Best Companies for Women in India & in the Top 10 companies for Health & Wellness, etc. Smriti is an alumnus of IMI, New Delhi where she pursued her MBA and has a B.A in Psychology (Hons) from Lady Sri Ram College, New Delhi.

Q- You are an inspirational HR leader with two decades of rich HR experience in leadership roles with the most influential companies globally. Tell us more about your career journey?

I have been fortunate to get challenging opportunities across the globe with very good mentors and teams. I sought out diverse roles that would put me out of my comfort zone and each job became an opportunity for personal and professional growth. I treated every opportunity as a chance to create a positive impact on the organization & people and focused on the job at hand, not on titles.

Q- The Role of HR has evolved a lot over years, what are the top five changes in HR due to technology?

In my observations 5 significant changes in HR due to technology are-

  1. Productivity – Instead of manual operational work which typically exists in the space of HR operations or HR processes, if a tool does the same work in part or full, it really cuts down HR time to focus on more value-added work.
  2. Transparency And Less Ambiguity – For example when a talent acquisition process is digitized one can see the exact status at any point in time.
  3. Analytics – The power of analytics to help HR arrive at the right diagnosis can really elevate the value HR can provide.
  4.  Greater Employee Touch – The chatbots in use today are a useful addition to improving employee touch.
  5. Disruption – Disruption is good. It forces functions to rewire themselves differently and one of my goals is to leverage technology to create a fully digitized employee experience with just the right amount of HR touch which consults vs. solves for basic operational process issues.

Q- With the rise of automation and skills shifting, many industries are facing talent shortage and finding it difficult to fill job positions, skilled jobs are becoming more difficult to fill on time. How do you mitigate these challenges?

Every era or decade brings some challenges along with rapid developments too. That was the era of Y2K in the late 90s early 20s where we saw a shortage of relevant engineering skills. When e-commerce started in India and till date, there are certain skill sets that are rare.

To mitigate these challenges, we have to invest in unique talent branding and attraction initiatives, internal development programs as well as partner with schools and colleges to develop the talent ecosystem.  Also, we must pay attention to retention of great talent.

Q- What should organizations do to attract talent in the future?

All companies and organizations are looking for the best and ultimately it is the value proposition or EVP that an organization offers which determines talent attraction. As organizations, we need to keep the following points in mind when devising the EVP.

Be cognizant of talent expectations- Talent expectations are increasingly becoming diverse and non-linear. Potential employees look for a lot more than just money and benefits. It is no longer just about the organization’s brand but it is also heavily about culture, employee empowerment, the freedom to create, flexibility to indulge in new ideas, a workplace with flexibility that allows employees to choose the kind of benefits they want, and increasingly the organizations position on sustainability, social impact, etc. have all become important drivers of talent attraction.

Plan how to reach the right talentThe adage of A-players attracting A-players has not changed. Organizations may seek out influencers to market their products & services and they can also, identify key talent and encourage them to be their “hiring influencers”.

If organizations invest in the best people practices, employees will talk about it on social media. Therefore at the core, it is important to focus on culture and people practices that make the organization brag-worthy.

Q- How do you see the future of Talent Acquisitions?

Organizations are being disrupted from every angle – whether that’s from emerging technologies, economic and political uncertainty, or pressure from customers. There are fascinating technological developments taking place with AI, bots, etc. in the field of talent acquisition. While they will aid in improving speed and quality of the process, they can never replace the ‘human touch’, which I predict will continue to be the key driver in converting key talent from candidates to employees.

Q- What is your advice to HR professionals who aspire to be in your shoes one day?

  • There is no substitute for hard work and focus – You will deliver more, learn more.
  • Hold on to your value system come what may – You are the culture ambassador and need to hold yourself to a higher standard of ethics, integrity, enabling others and building trust and collaboration in the organization. Have the courage to push back on what is right for people and organizations and hold managers and employees accountable to a higher standard.
  • Find good managers to work with who will have your back as HR roles are not easy or always popular so build enough support from key stakeholders.
  • Build good teams that can maximize the delivery of the functions and manage them very democratically to get the best ideas from everyone – junior or senior
  • Always be a learner – Arrogance will only hurt your development

Thank you, Smriti!

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