Please talk a little bit about your role in Cerelia North America and your experience in the HR industry?
I have around 20 years of experience in the HR department. And for the majority of this, I have been a generalist. My first two jobs were in Dubai, where I got the opportunity to interact with people from multiple cultures, and now I am working in Canada. I started my career with BMW in the role of Quality officer, but my interest, personality type, and educational background are inclined more toward HR activities. The HR activities involved creating resumes, scheduling interviews, and preparing organizational charts.
After working with BMW for four years, I joined Mercedez Benz as an assistant human resource manager. With four years of experience in that role, I was promoted to recruitment and compensation manager.
Having worked at Mercedes for nine years, I moved to Canada in 2017. But the new country came with new challenges. Their functionality was completely different, and I had to learn it from scratch. I joined a co-op program, and after learning the basics, started working with Give and GO as an HR coordinator. Following that, I got a full-time position as an HR generalist at Telcom, which is an aerospace company. Currently, I am working in the same organization as an HR manager, and I have implemented many significant changes here.
What are some of the challenges prevailing in the contingent workforce?
The first and biggest challenge is the retention of employees. This is due to many reasons. Firstly, the economy over here offers a lot of opportunities, so the employees keep looking for better options elsewhere. Post covid, people also prefer to work remotely or hybrid. And as a food manufacturing company, we cannot practice those options. Employees also feel that commuting is time-consuming and expensive. All these reasons add up to them getting more selective with the organizations.
The second challenge that I have faced is maintaining diversity in the workforce. We don’t want to have a single-dimensional headcount in our company. For that, we need to make conscious efforts to hire individuals with diverse skill sets.
Could you mention some technologies or practices that you find helpful in HR management?
Technology is used in various aspects of our domain. For example, we are using the reporting and dashboard module with HRIS, and we have also launched ADP in our organization. Analyzing data takes the biggest chunk of technology usage in the HR department as we generate reports on the basis of statistics. Engagement surveys are done to find out the root causes behind employees resigning. Then we conduct meetings with the employees to resolve their problems. This has helped us to reduce the resignation rate from six percent to around two percent.
"Analyzing data takes the biggest chunk of technology usage in the HR department as we generate reports on the basis of statistics"
The other area where we use data analytics is over time. It was a huge cost for us because there was no analysis of the overtime that people were working. There were certain departments, such as logistics, which were spending a huge amount of course overtime. But now we have curbed it down significantly by keeping track of the extra hours.
Would you like to highlight any successful projects that you have had in various organizations with regard to the contingent workforce?
One of the biggest successes that we have had is the change that we brought to the finance department. The staff turnover was 60 percent in that department. To identify the cause of this high rate of turnover, we conducted exit interviews for every employee that resigned or was terminated. The conclusion was that most of the employees wanted a change in the leadership.
But it is a complicated procedure as the leaders of finance hold a very important role in an organization. However, the head of HR and I brought the change and set the objectives for the new leadership team. They were required to increase the retention rate and hire individuals who were looking for long-term opportunities. We taught them how to improve the morale of the group. And now finance is the most joyful department in our company.
Is there any advice that you would like to share with your peers or the upcoming HR professionals?
My advice to the younger generation is that you cannot be yourself if you want to be successful in HR. You will have to change your mindset and certain traits in yourself. One can not be short-tempered or very moody as an HR professional. Keeping control of your emotions is the key to prosperity in this department. Sometimes HR professionals are required to deliver bad news to the employees, but they can not afford to dwell on it for too long.
As an HR manager, I have established good relationships with several employees, and I have also been in situations where I had to terminate some of them for various reasons. There is a lot of mental strain involved in that, but you need to get past it as quickly as possible.
The last thing that I want the aspirants to keep in mind is that there will be many moments where it is not advised to be straightforward. A diplomatic choice of words and tone will help the uneasy conversations flow seamlessly. Even if an argument doesn’t make sense, you should handle it with professionalism.