AI and robotics will not entirely take over the workforce, says CEO of Knolskape

In an exclusive interview with BW People, Rajiv Jayaraman talks about how should a CEO and CHRO can bridge skill gap in the digital age. He also underlines the best practices that a CHRO is leveraging today from social media for the right kind of hiring and recruitment. Edited Excerpts from his interview.


Photo Credit : knolskape,

How should a CEO and CHRO bridge the skill gap in digital age?

The Digital Age is not merely another technology trend. It isn’t just about converting something physical and analog into something virtual and digital. The digital age calls for a deeper shift in mindset. 

For the CEO, this means re-imagining the business model and reinventing business processes so that the customer is not merely at the end of the value chain, but front and centre of the value creation and delivery process. As a result, organizations need to invest in developing a new set of skills across the organization, at the intersection of three main areas:

1.Domain –The Digital Age is seeing the lines between organizations and even industries blurring away. This means that your biggest competition and your biggest ally are likely to come from the most unimaginable places. Strong business acumen, and the ability to unlock new business value across a larger ecosystem are, therefore, primary focus areas for organizations.

2.Technology –The Digital Age is data driven, which means that the technology that organizations use to improve customer experiences and build agile processes is constantly spewing out data points. The ability to make sense of these data points, think outside the box, take risks, and unlock new business value is the human response to the advent of technology in the digital age. 

3.Behavioral competencies – Most importantly, the digital age is as much about the people as it is about the technology, if not more. While organizations focus on building domain and technology expertise, the other crucial focus area is on managing the changing workforce and their expectations as well. Developing digital leaders, the ability to redefine the business model, and developing and managing agile teams and processes is the starting point to thriving in the digital age.

What do you think are the expectations from a future-driven CHRO?

A future-driven CHRO is one who fully embraces the digital mindset. He or she is constantly cued into the changing landscape of both business and talent. Businesses are undergoing rapid transformation, with digital disruption driving change across industries, without exception. However, talent within organizations may or may not be ready to face this change given the frantic pace of disruption. 

A future-driven CHRO must:

1.Redefine the internal organizational structure to support customer centricity, agility and continuous innovation 

2.Define the right set of competencies to equip employees across levels to collaborate with all stakeholders

3.Define the culture that would enable this value creation, one that cuts across the traditional boundaries of an organization.

4.Execute change-management processes that enable the shift from centralization and control to decentralization and dismantling of traditional structures 

5.Embrace decision making processes that rely on analyzing and interpreting the right set of data

6.Embrace automation, while alsore-skilling employees across levels in the newly defined techno-functional and behavioral competencies.

7.Empower and train the workforce to become agile

What are the best practices that CHRO’s are leveraging from social media for the right kind of hiring and recruitment?

1.Recruitment Marketing: CHROs are increasingly leveraging automated tools that deliver targeted messages to precise talent segments on social media. For instance,AI-based technology start-ups such as Wonderkind are going beyond job boards and using automation to reach both active and passive job seekers on social media, by way of hyper-targeted algorithms. 

2.Professional networks on social media: According to a recent survey report, organizations are increasingly leveraging social media, specifically LinkedIn to attract and recruit talent. I agree with this research because I see that happening across client organizations, and it is how we at KNOLSKAPE do a significant amount of our hiring as well, be it via job postings or even the professional networks that individuals amass on LinkedIn and Twitter.

3.Social Listening: The internet has given everyone a voice, resulting in complete transparency. Employees, customers, investors, partners, potential hires, and potential clients are all given the freedom of voicing their opinions as well as reading others’ opinions about your brand. It is imperative for a CHRO to listen in on what the world is saying about the organization, because it dictates the kind of talent the organization attracts, as well as effecting the employee engagement, productivity, and attrition rates. A robust social strategy, in general, is a CHRO’s primary imperative in the Digital Age.  

Can we leave an important decision such as hiring on a robot & artificial intelligence?

We think that it is a misconception that AI and robotics are going to entirely take over the workforce. We believe that in the Digital Age, there will be seamless collaboration and interaction of man and machine.AI and robotics will play huge roles in functions such as sourcing candidates, mapping employee capabilities to organizational requirements, and perform preliminary screening of candidate profiles, even assessing cognitive capabilities. AI will accelerate this process, and at scale. 

However, there are still several crucial elements of the hiring process that AI and robots are incapable of fulfilling, at least not yet – culture fitment, gauging attitude and mindset, hiring for diversity and specific behavioral competencies which, at times,is difficult to account for in a traditional hiring setup. 

What are the challenges of working millennials who seek instant gratification?

First off, I think that the problem with the multigenerational workforce we have today is that no generation really understands the other generations very well, nor are we putting enough effort to bridge that gap. The millennial generation is a largely misperceived generation. Where others see them as impulsive, impatient, and in search immediate gratification, millennials like to see themselves as being independent, assertive, idealistic and entrepreneurial. A common complaint across the millennial generation is that they aren’t heard, and that they aren’t spoken to in a language that they understand. Here are where some of the challenge lies:

1.Millennials seek a constant stream of feedback and mentorship, because they are used to working collaboratively. This is often construed as their inability to work independently and need more hand-holding.

2.Hi-potential millennials are disappointed with the kind of mundane work they do. The challenge organizations face is in motivating them to work based on their capabilities when they all want to do earth shattering work

3.Millennials are typically smarter than the seniors from an understanding of technology, hence feel more entitled causing seniors to feel disrespected

4.Millennials are incredibly energetic and want to do their own thing. Hence, organizations struggle with channelizing their energy in the right direction.

Explain the fine line between talent acquisition and hiring?

There is stark difference in these two terminologies, although they are very commonly used interchangeably. Hiring/recruitment is about filling vacancies within the organization. Hiring is usually done at bulk through job fairs and campus hiring drives, bringing in multitudes of people to make out up the numbers that a team or business unit deems necessary to complete a project or support a client. 

Talent Acquisition, however, is a strategy-driven function. The focus here is on finding specialists, leaders and future executives of the organization. Typically, this function caters to finding the right people for crucial roles within the organization.

In the digital age, human-powered roles are all crucial to the organization. Hence, hiring as a function is going to have limited scope, if not become redundant. Talent Acquisition, on the other hand, is going to a driving force in the organization’s success and growth. Finding people with the right skill set coupled with the mindset and potential to grow and take on even more complex and ambiguous roles that the Digital Age invents for the organization is a principle reason and opportunities for HR to become true value partners to business.

What are the ways to keep employees motivated even in a crisis?

At the workplace, a crisis requires that all concerned employees responsible for solving the problem at hand come together and work in complete alignment until the given issues are resolved. If you were to think back to the last time your team was in crisis mode, it is likely that there were a few team members who were better aligned to finish the task at hand than others, did not shirk responsibility, took more ownership, supported others better, and perhaps also took great pride and derived meaning from resolving the issues at hand. 

A manager can instill an enabling culture in their team, so that all team members are well equipped to face any situation, in the following ways:

Transparency – When a crisis takes place, it is important that no one loses sight that the crisis must now be resolved, and not fought about. The best thing for leaders to do is be transparent about the fact that there is a crisis and that it needs to be resolved. Having it out in the open, and everyone involved helps the organization move towards resolving a crisis much faster and in a calmer way than when trying to mitigate the crisis unbeknownst to the larger organization. Many times, the strength to withstand the crisis as well as the solution to it can come from the unlikeliest of places.

Communication - It is important that the manager is continuously reinforcing the larger vision and values of the organization. This helps employees connect back to these aspects when they come across challenging situations

Confidence in the Leadership to steer – In times of crises, teams look towards their leadership to manage the situation, give direction, take ownership, and lead the team or organization through the crisis with a sense of confidence. It is important to avoid a blame game, because it doesn’t help at this stage. When in a crisis, all effort should be on addressing the challenge at hand, and not on pointing fingers. This is true leadership

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