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Leadership / Workforce

How to manage tech recruitment on a massive scale

Hexaware plans to onboard more than 6,000 people this year alone. But how will it retain its valued culture?

Competition for talent in the tech space is fierce, with the rapid pace of digitalisation compounding a pre-existing global skills shortage. Identifying and attracting suitable candidates is often no easy task for individual hires. When the number you’re looking to onboard is counted in the thousands – all in the midst of a global pandemic – the challenge is daunting.

But it is a challenge that leaders at Hexaware appear to be relishing. The global IT consulting and digital solutions provider is set out to add 6,000 technical staff in 2021. To hit these numbers, the company cannot wait for the right people to make an approach; Hexaware must also go out and find them.  

Back view of female employee talk on video call with male colleague or business partner, woman worker communicate online speak on Webcam, have web conference with coworker from home office. (Photo by Fizkes/Shutterstock)

“We help our customers transform their IT landscape and grow their business,” says Senthil Nayagam, global head of revenue assurance and the chief learning officer at Hexaware. “Our teams must be ahead of the curve, leading and showing the way. Specialist skills are always harder to find; our programmes are designed to deliver scale.”   

Standing out

Senthil Nayagam and his colleagues have long been aware of the importance of attracting the right talent, both by positioning themselves as an employer of choice and relentlessly focusing on internal competency building something he says is in the company’s DNA. Its hiring strategy and execution and training are built to attract, develop and build the very best in the industry.   

“Over a year ago we went back to the drawing board to re-examine what we are as an employer and what we want to promise our candidates and employees,” Nayagam explains. “Our Employer Value proposition embodies this in true spirit and succinctly explains our proposition to our employees and candidates.  

At its heart is a commitment to empowering members of staff and fostering an open, inclusive culture. Employees are given autonomy in their daily tasks and encouraged to speak freely and ask questions regardless of their position. Despite its global reach, the company’s ethos remains consistent, whether in London or Mumbai. “One Hexaware” is a message instilled across its diverse workforce.

“We encourage our employees to challenge the status quo and be the disrupter, fearlessly,” says Nayagam. “Just because something has been done in a certain form and fashion for a decade doesn’t mean you have to blindly follow that – if you feel there’s a smarter way to do it, speak up and put your idea on the table.”

Finding and retaining top tech talent

Current travel restrictions limit traditional in-person interviews and onboarding processes – at least temporarily. But, for Hexaware, once logistical wrinkles of virtual recruitment have been ironed out, new hiring strategies offer several benefits when hiring at scale.  

With remote working, the ‘Anywhere Employee’ is the new normal,” the chief learning officer explains.There are no geographical boundaries to find talent – the relevant talent market has expanded and there is a larger pool to go after. It’s actually had a positive impact by increasing the available supply chain.” 

With 42 offices worldwide and a staff of 20,000, Hexaware has long prided itself on creating an inclusive, empowering culture. Several programmes including Rising Women@Hexaware, a mentoring initiative creating a new generation of female tech leaders; and Catapult, an ambitious people development platform are hardwired into the company’s culture. “Corporate university” HexaVarsity formalises a commitment to continual learning. Individual successes and achievements at all levels of the business are broadcast and celebrated across the group

For Nayagam, underpinning these efforts is a culture of transparency, built on trust. “We shun using the word ‘resources,” he says. “It’s not like hardware and software that you can buy; these are people. We emotionally connect with our employees.” 

The question now facing Hexaware is how one retains and consolidates these connections when growing at such speed. Nayagam is confident in the company’s ability to scale up, but is also keen to stress that retaining talent will be an equally significant element of the process. After all, “if you have a leaking bucket where you keep building talent only to lose it, you have a zero-sum game”. This, he continues, is an area that Hexaware traditionally excels – and the company’s attrition rate is among the lowest in the industry.

Taking the next step

Nayagam is a case in point, having been with the company for 17 years. Over that time, he has played a key role in helping define what the business looks for in an idealHexawarian”. In his eyes, it must transcend current skillset and stand for something deeper. “Technologies come and go,” he says.What’s hot today may be legacy a few years down the road. What’s more important is a willingness to adapt and learn.” 

Hexaware employs a ‘pull’ approach to encourage employees to take advantage of the company’s wealth of learning and development opportunities. Employees are given the flexibility and freedom to continuously upgrade their skills and move between different roles. 

“A couple of years ago, we began having discussions about how the world is slowly migrating to a point where everyone will need composite skills,” says Nayagam.You can’t be a one-trick pony, no matter how good you are.” 

It was on this basis that Hexaware developed the Evolve programme. Designed to address skills shortages in the technology sector, the role-based certification framework helps employees build on their existing capabilities. The programme takes a holistic approach, developing the necessary multi-technical, functional and behavioural skills for every role

“The programme helped me change my career towards a data engineer path,” says system analyst at Hexaware, Rajan Babu. “It’s a good opportunity for two specific reasons: it enables you to climb up your career path and it makes you indispensable in the ever-evolving service industry.” 

For Nayagam, developing Evolve has added value to the business long-term. “If you have an employee who knows the customers, is part of their and our culture, brings a multitude of capabilities to the role, and we help take them to the next level, our organisation benefits because we don’t have to go out and look for new talent,” he says.  

Reflecting on the recruitment drive ahead, Nayagam is incredibly upbeat. Why? Because, over the course of almost two decades with Hexaware, he has watched the company grow while retaining its unique culture. 

“The best proof is the positive feedback from employees and re-joiners who have been exposed to other cultures. Even our past employees continue to be ambassadors for us for many years,” he says. “We’ve successfully handled change before, so I’m confident we won’t lose the people touch.”