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Data-driven hiring practices, nearly double-digit pay hikes to mark HR ways in 2024

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New Delhi: Data-driven hiring ways, inclusive and diversity-focused practices and nearly double-digit salary hikes are likely to leave their stamp on the human resource landscape in 2024 as companies continue to scout for the right talent amid economic uncertainties.

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Over the last few years, the expectations of candidates and employers have changed dramatically.

Employees want workplace flexibility, a greater emphasis on diversity, and impartial hiring processes, while companies are eager to provide fair, engaging and streamlined candidate experiences to attract and retain top talent, according to experts.

Designing comprehensive well-being programmes, including flexible work arrangements, inclusive culture and work-life balance policies will be among the priorities for companies.

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Experts said that data-driven hiring will be one of the key trends that will redefine the HR landscape.

AI-powered tools will revolutionise HR practices by automating repetitive tasks and providing personalised employee experiences, they added.

"As we move to 2024, increased focus on managing an inclusive and equitable organisation is likely to take centre stage," said Sudakshina Bhattacharya, President and CHRO of HDFC ERGO General Insurance.

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The year 2023 was challenging in terms of employment outlook across multiple industry sectors. Edtech employees suffered the most, led by Byjus, followed by many other companies in the same vertical.

The IT sector also remained cautious, and many large companies were laying off employees all through the year. Alongside sectoral issues, many employees were also not sure of how AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) technology will impact their employment and careers.

"While the Indian economy is going strong and IT is one of the major levers for this growth, the global outlook seems a bit low currently and might impact overall hiring in the IT sector.

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"However, an interesting trend in terms of IT-related hiring in tier II and III towns is going to pick up in 2024. This will be part of the overall cost optimisation, especially in the wake of global economic outlook and margins pressure," said Achal Khanna, CEO - SHRM India, APAC and MENA.

According to industry players, skill-based hiring continues to gain prominence, focusing on candidates' specific skills and competencies rather than traditional qualifications.

AI and automation-related hiring will increase across industries, especially in IT, auto, financial services and manufacturing in 2024.

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"Going ahead, in 2024, companies must play a role by connecting talent with opportunities, irrespective of college tags, fostering partnerships that transcend boundaries for mutual growth," said Ankit Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Unstop, a community engagement and hiring platform for students and freshers.

Meanwhile, when it comes to appraisals, companies in India are expected to give a salary raise of 9.8 per cent in 2024, slightly lower than the actual salary increase of 10 per cent in 2023, as companies across industries are still closely monitoring their cost structures.

According to Willis Tower Watson's latest 'Salary Budget Planning India Report', the median salary increase in India is forecast to rise by 9.8 per cent in 2024, close to the actual salary increase of 10 per cent in 2023.

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"The careful approach towards hiring and spending is likely to continue for the next few quarters as the companies are focusing on improving employee utilisation due to weakening demand, especially by IT companies in response to sluggish revenue growth across the industry," said Jasvinder Bedi, Managing Partner of Biz Staffing Comrade Pvt Ltd.

Startups have been the worst hit this year since the highs of aggressive hiring in the past. Even well-funded companies have taken a cautious stand on hiring now. Another factor that has been impacting jobs is automation.

According to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, corporate India's hiring sentiment for the next three months is one of the highest across the world, with 37 per cent of employers planning to increase their staff strength amid buoyant domestic demand conditions.

As per the survey, India and the Netherlands reported the strongest net employment outlooks at 37 per cent, followed by Costa Rica and the US at 35 per cent in second place, and Mexico at the third position with 34 per cent of the net employment outlook. The global average stood at 26 per cent.

The factors that support the bullish hiring plans of companies include buoyant domestic demand, private investments, and stability in the political arena, experts said, adding that employee well-being, recruitment for skilled roles and adopting AI and technology seem to be the top three in the chart of priorities of corporate India.

In terms of sectors, industries pivotal to core infrastructure and essential goods and services like power and energy, fast-moving consumer durables, and healthcare and pharmaceuticals, show a pronounced incremental replacement hiring in the October-March 2023-24 time frame.

Also, a combination of fierce competition and potential investments in renewable energy is driving replacement hiring in the power and energy industry.

Additionally, sectors like retail and education services look to get back to normalcy after losing a considerable chunk of their workforce.

The retail industry is set to add 23.25 million square feet in mall space during the 2023-24 financial year. The hiring spans across both permanent and contractual workforce as the sector makes efforts to adjust for the attrition faced by them in recent times.

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