HR planning is one of the key business processes aimed to hire and retain a skilled and talented workforce that would assist them in meeting various strategic goals. HR planning systems include a plethora of activities concerned with the evaluation of organizational workforce needs, development of projections for manpower development, implementation of strategies aimed to increase employee efficiency, and other similar tasks (Armstrong 2017; Objectives of human resource planning n.d.). Considering these HR management objectives of aligning workers’ competencies with companies’ business orientations and aspirations, recruitment and selection processes play a vital role in the whole workforce planning system. Recruitment is defined as “the process of locating potential applicants and encouraging them to apply for existing or anticipated job openings” (Sharma 2011, p. 90). As for the selection procedure, it implies the choice of the most appropriate people from the pool of all candidates who applied for the job (Gatewood, Field & Barrick 2010). Both of these HR planning processes can be carried out by using a wide range of conventional and web-based media, the choice and implementation of which depends on companies’ overall strategic plans.
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Noteworthily, as work in virtual business environments becomes more common these days, the question of adapting HR planning activities to the characteristics and needs of virtual teams is gaining more significance. While a remote way of working provides multiple benefits for employees in terms of flexibility and better work-life balance, recruiting and selection in the online space may be challenging. In order to comprehend how recruitment and selection may be supported through virtual environments, the present paper will analyze HR planning systems in two multinational enterprises, Google and Welocalize. Firstly, recruitment and selection practices that the companies currently use will be identified and evaluated. After that, it will be proposed, based on findings from the literature, how these practices may be adapted to the virtual world.
Google: Company Overview
Google is one of the top-ranked and most successful companies in the information technology industry nowadays. It was launched by Larry Page and Sergey Brin as a small, garage-based firm in 1995, but within just one decade rapidly grew into a large, multinational corporation. The initial mission of Google “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” remained unchanged since the very beginning (Google n.d., para. 2). In order to fulfill this goal, the enterprise largely relies on its talented and highly skilled workforce. Thus, Google approaches the planning of its human resources as one of its key assets very carefully and rigorously.
Recruitment and Selection Processes at Google
As stated by Bogatova (2017), the foundation of every recruitment strategy and process is the determination of clear recruitment objectives. Research evidence shows that Google is aware of the importance of this practice. Before starting the recruitment process, the company seems to always take time to identify all the desired attributes of a perfect candidate for the job. A closer look at Google’s vision of a perfect employee reveals that the level of competence and skillfulness is a priority for Google as the enterprise aspires to attract the best talents in the industry (Kalibrr 2016). Secondly, when recruiting, Google considers an expected new-hire retention rate, which is identified by Breaugh (n.d.) as an essential point in the process of establishing the recruitment objectives. Based on the information provided by Lombardo (2017), Google always aims to establish long-term relationships with its employees. Therefore, not only does the company offer an impressive package of benefits for workers but also pays significant attention to the compatibility of candidates’ characters, interests, and values with the organizational culture and strategic orientations when hiring.
Research of available information about Google’s HR planning also reveals that the company utilizes various recruitment sources strategically. According to Kalibrr (2016), when Google expands internationally and enters unfamiliar markets, it may use the services of third-party recruiting firms. Nevertheless, most of the time, it applies internal recruitment mechanisms, including promotions, transfers, and employment of trainees and interns (Kalibrr 2016; Lombardo 2017). Internal recruitment has multiple advantages, including greater reliability and cost-efficiency compared to external recruitment and more opportunities to promote employee loyalty (Bogatova 2017). However, though external recruitment may be more time-consuming and expensive, and candidates hired by using this source may need more training and orientation, it encourages the flow of new blood into companies and, thus, can foster greater innovation and positive change (Bogatova 2017). Therefore, regardless of the fact that Google always hires the best and the most creative professionals in their fields, the finding of new talents can still significantly benefit the enterprise.
Besides working with third parties during the external recruitment process, the company frequently implements campus recruitment (Lombardo 2017). Even though students usually do not have much work experience and their knowledge and skill level is relatively low, companies hiring interns through academic institutions can always train them in a way that satisfies organizational needs (Bogatova 2017). In addition, Google applies indirect recruitment methods and its own technologies and products to reach potential candidates. They include web-based advertisements and the use of big data analytics (Lombardo 2017; Kalibrr 2016).
For example, the company is known to conduct a programming challenge aimed to locate job candidates by analyzing their use of keywords in the search engine (Kalibrr 2016). Noteworthily, after finding a perfect candidate this way, Google performed the standard selection process steps anyway (Kalibrr 2016). This process comprises nine basic steps: recruiter screen, phone screen, on-site interview, interview feedback, review by a hiring committee, executive review, compensation committee, final executive review, and, lastly, the offer (Kalibrr 2016). It is valid to say that these hiring activities are extremely common and are carried out by many other enterprises. Nevertheless, the abovementioned example of selecting a candidate who won the programming challenge demonstrates that regardless of how unconventional and creative Google’s recruitment methodologies may get, the firm never compromises the quality and rigor of the hiring process.
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Overall, it is clear that Google’s HR planning is well-integrated with its general strategic orientations and serves to attain its goals. Since the company aims to be a leader in the information technology industry, it has an extremely high standard for excellence, which drives its candidate selection process. Besides evaluating potential employees in terms of their compatibility with the corporate culture and alignment of their personal and professional interests with the organizational needs and values, Google may administer on-the-job tests. However, Lombardo (2017) notes that such tests are usually applied when selecting or “absorbing” interns and trainees in lower-level organizational positions. Normally, Google would ask candidates to solve technical and unconventional problems in real-time during on-site interviews (Kalibrr 2016). Again, the interview panel will pay significant attention not only to candidates’ skills but also to their personal traits, desire to learn, creativity, and other qualities that are important for making Google’s culture special and for increasing its competitiveness.
Welocalize: Company Overview
Welocalize is a large multinational enterprise offering localization, translation, and web-content optimization services for businesses across the globe. It was founded in 1997 by Smith and Julia Yewell in the United States and, within the period of just two decades, expanded its presence across many countries in Europe and Asia. Nowadays, Welocalize’s team comprises nearly 1500 employees working from its multiple offices (Welocalize 2019). Moreover, the company relies heavily on a network of over 30,000 international freelancers and language agencies hired online (Welocalize 2019). It means that when recruiting and developing its workforce, Welocalize applies both traditional and digital HR tools.
Recruitment and Selection Processes at Welocalize
Welocalize’s HR planning processes and recruitment, in particular, are similar to the one performed at Google. It matches the steps in a conventional recruitment model developed by Holm (2010) and comprises the following: 1. applicant identification, 2. applicant attraction, 3. incoming applications processing, and 4. applicant communication. The hiring starts with all activities aimed to identify suitable job candidates based on specific requirements provided to Welocalize’s recruiters by the company’s clients (businesses) or its own departments when they place their requests for finding employees for certain projects. According to Holm (2010), this initial phase includes the development of job descriptions and specifications, as well as the identification of an appropriate segment in the labor market to look for the perfect candidates. After that, Welocalize’s HR team proceeds to select optimal recruitment sources, job announcements, and registration of incoming applications.
Considering that the firm values diversity and, thus, frequently hires international personnel (with an option for relocation) and operates digitally at a global scale, the use of electronic and web-based recruitment tools prevails there. When attracting applicants, Welocalize usually places vacancy ads across multiple digital platforms, including its own website, pages on such social media as LinkedIn, job databases for freelancers, and so forth. These indirect recruitment methods normally result in a large number of applications, especially when searching for temporary, freelance workers. However, the firm’s recruiters do not just wait passively for incoming applications. They actively monitor various job portals, including LinkedIn, and contact the most promising candidates directly.
Recruitment through the Internet is becoming increasingly common in the Information Age and has almost entirely replaced recruitment through paper-based media, such as newspapers. According to Bogatova (2017), it has multiple advantages, and cost-effectiveness is the major one among them. Moreover, web-based job ads are characterized by a high level of accessibility and allow reaching a large number of potential employees across the globe simultaneously (Bogatova 2017). Considering that Welocalize is not bound to a certain location and, due to the very nature of its services, prefers to work with native speakers from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, these properties of Internet-based recruitment definitely work to its advantage.
When speaking of the interview process itself, Welocalize utilizes a plethora of telecommunications instruments to contact international job candidates. According to an overview of the firm’s interview process posted by one of the company’s employee’s on Glass Door, during the interview stage, candidates normally receive a video call and a phone call (Contractor interview 2019). To talk to interviewees live, Welocalize recruiters normally use Skype or other similar tools, for example, Google Hangouts. They share necessary documents, including test materials and instructions, and feedback via e-mails. Overall, during the hiring process, the company applies all those information technologies that a wide majority of contemporary enterprises use for both internal and external communications.
Prior to selecting the most qualified candidate, Welocalize conducts a test or a series of tests, depending on specific vacancy or project specifications. Employment tests are the preferred method of skill assessment in the firm and are usually prioritized over interviews with inquiries about previous work experiences. Such a choice is understandable since talent assessment via testing allows evaluating candidates’ current skill levels, identify any knowledge deficiencies, and predict whether an individual will be successful at a particular job (Quast 2011; Bogatova 2017). It is worth noting that before allowing a candidate to undergo a test for a high-profile client (for instance, a Fortune-100 enterprise), Welocalize will always ask them to complete a similar pre-test within a set and usually rigid time frame. Normally, the more top-ranked and demanding a client is, the more complex and rigorous the selection process at Welocalize also is. It means that even though the company itself aspires for excellence and impeccable quality of services, the final criteria for employee selection may vary greatly, depending on specific client requirements.
All in all, HR planning processes pertaining to recruitment and selection at Welocalize resemble those carried out by Google. However, while Google evidently aligns its HR planning strategy with the general strategic goals, Welocalize’s workforce planning objectives seem to be more versatile and flexible. This may be explained by the fact that the latter organization is responsible for hiring candidates for a great variety of disparate projects, with different durations and purposes, held by businesses operating in distinct industries. Regardless of this insignificant difference, both of the analyzed enterprises follow clear, multi-step recruitment and selection models. When speaking of Welocalize, a larger part of its HR planning activities is web-based, and, therefore, its current HR management approach is more adapted to online environments as it is now.
HR Planning in Virtual Environments: Overview
A virtual organization can be defined as a technology-enabled entity created primarily for the purpose of business globalization and internationalization. Since virtual businesses are less constrained by physical boundaries compared to brick and mortar enterprises, they usually have greater chances to reach wider international consumer groups and hire personnel from across the globe. It is possible to say that a vast majority of modern firms operate in the digital sphere at least partially. Moreover, organizations’ capacities to adapt to virtual space can significantly define their level of competitiveness and overall success. When speaking of workforce planning and development in digital environments, it is HR management that “strikes a balance between employers’ concern that they won’t be able to control their employees unless they are physically present and they can actually see them, and the need for flexibility as the sine qua non of innovation, creativity, and growing employee productivity” (Boljanović, Dobrijević & Đoković 2016,p. 390). Considering this, it is pivotal to commence the strategic adjustment of organizations to the virtual environment with HR planning adaptation.
International Human Resource Planning through Virtual Environment at Google and Welocalize
As the analysis results revealed, HR planning activities that exist in Welocalize nowadays are already sufficiently adjusted to virtual environments. The company’s HR team regularly works to reach and locate international job candidates and also communicates with them online. At the same time, the reviewed evidence suggests that Google prefers face-to-face, offline interactions with potential candidates since it uses comprehensive on-site interviews with 4-5 member panels (Kalibrr 2016). Nevertheless, the very nature of Google’s business suggests that a large portion of its operations (both internal and external) is adaptable to the online space. In fact, Google has recently started to expand its virtual teams and establish more collaboration between them (Ludema & Johnson 2019). Therefore, as one of the most innovative and technologically savvy enterprises in the world, Google can relatively easily accommodate those HR planning activities to the virtual environment that are still not adapted.
It is valid to presume that the most difficult part of HR planning in the virtual world is the establishment of genuine, meaningful, and trustful relationships with future and current employees. Google’s HR planning strategy and the overall culture are people-oriented, meaning that human relationships are as important for the enterprise as the professional competence of workers since they contribute to better team innovativeness and help it realize its full potential (Reader 2019). In addition, good connections among team members seem to define the level of employee engagement, motivation, and commitment (Ludema & Johnson 2019). Clearly, it is a real challenge to develop trustful relationships with employees and job candidates remotely, yet modern virtual HR management tools allow solving even this problem.
The virtual world, accessible through web-based interfaces, offers a plethora of opportunities to engage people in simulated environments. To translate all their HR planning into the virtual space, organizations may now develop specialized virtual networks. Simulated environments provide more opportunities for high-quality, live communication than regular information technologies, including online communication tools and social media. They accommodate “detailed 3D graphics and animations; various communication methods, including voice communication; features for personalization and for building new objects; and an enormous number of available places and objects that are created by others” (Suen & Chang 2017, p. 4). Overall, within such a virtual network, each person has an opportunity to create a 3D avatar and navigate a specifically designed 3D environment where it is possible to either explore the company or meet with other individuals and collaborate with them. It means that consultations, interviews, meetings, workforce development workshops, and all other HR planning activities held in a virtual network can be closer to real-world experiences than remote communication through two-dimensional networks such as Facebook or Skype. Therefore, when interviewing and evaluating a job candidate in the virtual environment, Google may form a better picture of their way of interaction with others and consequently make a more valid conclusion regarding their compatibility with the organization and its staff.
By supporting real-life recruiting, employee orientation, and staff training, HR planning in virtual networks have an undeniable positive effect on team development. According to Suen and Chang (2017), a virtual HR network “facilitates trust and enhances communication through a sense of presence and the sharing of a space with others” (p. 4). Besides that, compared to regular electronic HR management systems that focus primarily on internal stakeholders, virtual HR management systems help to involve external stakeholders in HR planning as well (Suen & Chang 2017). For example, a virtual HR network may be used to accommodate job fairs and many other HR events. It may also become a place for the development of partnerships with universities and colleges, resulting in a more systematic approach to campus recruitment. In this way, virtual environments seem to facilitate the hiring process and foster better integration of internal and external recruitment sources.
The conducted company analysis and literature review reveal that HR planning is crucial for the management of human capital, which, in its turn, is a highly important asset in terms of strategic fulfillment. Both of the evaluated enterprises seem to align their recruitment and selection processes to specific organizational needs and interests and utilize a great variety of hiring methods and sources that allow them to find talents. It was also revealed that, like many other enterprises operating in the modern information-based world, both Google and Welocalize could significantly benefit by adapting their HR planning to the virtual environments. As such, these firms already use many digital and electronic means of communication to manage their international teams. However, the establishment and use of specialized, virtual HR management networks can foster more efficient workforce development. Interactions in simulated virtual environments are similar to real-life communication experiences. Moreover, virtual HR networks may be used to integrate internal and external recruitment sources and, thus, allow a more systematized approach to HR planning.
Armstrong, M 2017, A handbook of human resource management. 14th edn, Kogan Page, London, UK.
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