When a top-rung consumer electronics manufacturer need to staff its largest global store, it turned to Quess Corp for assistance. The business services and staffing company’s mandate was to find sales personnel for the Bengaluru outlet who could speak well, sell with confidence, be punctual and stay in the job for a reasonable period of time. Quess, which has more than 2.85 lakh people on its rolls, was comfortably able to deliver on the mandate by using data analytics.
"We now have data for every sales person on our rolls and how much they have sold at the counter," Guruprasad Srinivasan, president of global business services at Quess, told TechCircle in a conversation over the telephone about the staffing project it manages for the consumer electronics manufacturer cited above. “There is a scorecard on their punctuality or absenteeism.”
To address some of the subjective parameters, Quess representatives also sat in during the recruitment interviews with the manufacturer. "Today, every single employee at the outlet is managed and paid by us," Srinivasan added.
Not surprisingly, the Bengaluru-based company charges clients a premium for such specialised services that are driven by its data analytics capabilities. Like the consumer electronics manufacturer, which Srinivasan declined to name citing client confidentiality, it has used data analytics-based services for several other clients across various sectors.
Staffing companies such as Quess, Teamlease and Adecco — the three largest players in India — form the backbone of people-intensive sectors such as delivery and logistics, sales, security and facilities management.
Annual attrition rates in these sectors can be as high as 25% apart from recurring problems such as absenteeism and deserters. While entry-level salaries aren’t as as high as some other segments, employers have to incur additional costs to train such recruits on soft skills and basic technology such as navigating digital maps.
Quess, which is more than a decade old, offers staffing solutions across five verticals — information technology, facilities management, internet services, industry, and people services. The company runs more than 35 hiring centres across the country and on an average, 3,500 people walk into these centres every day.
That number went up four-fold during this year's festive sales period for e-commerce companies. "We had to rent marriage halls and indoor stadiums in some cities where 1,200 people walked into these centres," said Srinivasan.
With such volumes, integrating technology into its staffing operations is becoming increasingly important for the company, which is controlled by Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings.
“Reducing the cost of hiring and onboarding is crucial for us,” said Manoj Kulgod, the company's chief digital officer. Each division, he added, has been given a mandate to budget and initiate one big digital programme every year towards that end.
Last February, it introduced paperless on-boarding of recruits and that has enabled the firm to reduce the recruitment period to just 14 minutes from 8-10 days earlier. Quess, led by serial entrepreneur Ajit Isaac, has been able to on-board 3.2 lakh people since it went paperless.
The company also has solutions to monitor the work hours of its nearly 3 lakh-strong workforce in order to generate timesheets for salary payments. It has a proprietary employee app called In-Edge that employees can use to record concerns or quit the third-party company they are working for. The app even tracks how far an employee is travelling to work every day.
"While such data collection will seem redundant, these metrics help us in identifying the reasons why an employee is quitting. How long someone will stay in a job is a very important metric that our customers would want when they are hiring in hundreds," Srinivasan said.
For instance, a typical job requirement given to Quess could be as simple as someone with a commercial driving licence or someone who will stay on the job for more than a year.
To support the search, Quess is fully deployed on cloud services provider Amazon Web Services and also uses Dell EMC's Kafka for data analytics tools.
Encouraged by the early dividends from the digital initiatives, the company is now investing in blockchain to secure and encrypt employee-related data. Kulgod said that with a data privacy law imminent, this will help the company keep personal data safe.
He also said that the digital initiatives have helped the company to sustain margins and even earn more money.
"We recently introduced face recognition for attendance. So when our customers negotiate for a lower rate, we provide these services as free add-ons or sometimes these digital innovations help us in revenue generation," Kulgod said.
Quess, which is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, reported a standalone annual revenue of Rs 4,400 crore for the financial year ended March 2018, compared to Rs 3,361 crore in the previous fiscal. Its net profit grew 2.5 times to Rs 259 crore from Rs 90 crore during the same period.
Apart from India, the company has operations in nine other countries and has a customer base of around 2,000 companies.
Quess, which has an active acquisition strategy, has picked up stakes in close to two dozen companies since 2008.
This year, it agreed to acquire jobs portal Monster.com’s India, South East and West Asia units, HCL Infosystems Ltd’s after-sales services for consumer electronics and mobile phones, and landscaping firm Greenpiece Landscapes.