Ooredoo Maldives’ CEO Najib Khan tells us about recruitment, bringing generations together, the role of HR tools and more in this instalment of Spotlight.

Hotel Insider: I’d like to start off the interview with a question on recruitment. We’ve been hearing talk of how recruiters are increasingly using social media to attract potential candidates. What are your thoughts on this? Is social media really an effective recruitment medium compared to the more traditional channels?

Najib Khan: Traditionally, HR would source resumes, but that’s very old fashioned and time consuming. So, let me give you an example of what we do within Ooredoo. The recruitment of a particular skill or talent is no more an HR function. In Maldives itself, seventy-five per cent of people are on Facebook, Viber, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Similar to our marketing approach, which is to go where our customers go, we do that in recruitment as well. We go where the talent is and source them from there. And after the sourcing, of course HR steps in to handle the process of interviewing and so on. Screen time is increasing rapidly and that means people spend a lot of time on social media. That is what makes social media a very effective recruitment tool; there’s actually no way we can remain aloof from it.

Hotel Insider: My next question is about HR management software and apps. While I assume these contribute to streamlining HR processes, what sort of a role can these play in employee engagement? Can such software and apps help HR departments to assess how employees are actually experiencing their jobs within the company?

Najib Khan: When it comes to HR and especially when it comes to people, I believe in the whole fabric of one-on-one connection. I believe that’s irreplaceable. Tools can get you information and analytics. Here in Ooredoo we have a HR app. It tells you about leaves, performance history and appraisals. It helps us provide feedback and mentor our staff. It also helps us advertise internal job postings, as there’s a lot of lateral movement within the company. So the tool is important because it helps us to bring everything together in one single place. But that does not replace direct contact, and here we spend a lot of time on engaging and interacting face-to-face. At Ooredoo, everyone’s very active on the HR app, but they also love to participate in the CEO Futsal Cup, be part of the Monument challenge where they create something new and participate in the ‘Mas’ race; they want to be engaged. We have grouped the entire organisation into 4 brigades or teams which compete in different events throughout the year for the annual cup. The engagement level needs to be high, no app can replace this spirit.

Hotel Insider: The potential use of VR is something we keep hearing about a lot. In the context of human resource management, one obvious use could be training. What are your thoughts on this?

Najib Khan: I haven’t seen VR being used much, at least not in my company. Virtual Reality is very immersive so it can be helpful in training people, for example creating a product or installing particular equipment. But we believe in on the job training. Getting a person to experience the tasks in real time.

Hotel Insider: Work forces in most companies span generations, and with that come different work attitudes and practices. Can HR departments help in bridging that gap?

Najib Khan: Our company itself, has an average age between 27 and 29. And this means we have to blend the old with the new. The young come with new ways of doing things, they challenge the status quo and they are practical and to the point. So the older generation has to adapt to the new way of working, and at the same time, the younger generation has to pick up the older generation’s experiences and apply them in the new world in a fruitful manner. The values of the older generation, they are important. For example, being punctual is important and so is keeping commitments and following company policies. Maybe there are differences on how we uphold these values in the past and now, but the core principles are still the same. Rather than relying on just HR, the leadership in the company gives the required direction and an open environment for new ways of doing things. We should be ready to adapt as times change.

Hotel Insider: Since Ooredoo is one of the largest tech companies in the country, and since our readers are mostly executives working in the Maldivian tourism sector, are there any HR related products from Ooredoo that can be particularly useful for the resorts in the Maldives?

Najib Khan: I think one of the most important elements of the tourism industry is manpower. It’s like a factory at the backend, there is so much activity going on simultaneously. Imagine the number of people who need to be trained, engaged and cared for, that’s a huge challenge for the HR function. This is where the HR tool comes in, making things simpler, easier, quicker, more visible, transparent, and adaptable. Our HR app for resorts performs a variety of functions and provides all these conveniences. It’s a mobile phone app that allows the management of large workforces. The app keeps record of attendance and leaves. Employees can also use it to apply for leaves, salary advances and such. It facilitates collaboration as well as on the spot appraisals. Due to the mobility, employees are always connected to the office irrespective of the location. The app is hosted on the cloud, and no physical infrastructure is required at the resort. Moreover, it is also pay per use. If you have additional employees, you can increase your licenses. If you reduce the number of people, you can reduce the licenses and cut down on cost, it’s highly adaptable.

Hotel Insider: As we’ve reached the end of our interview I’d like to conclude it by asking you about how technology is expected to shape HR management in the near future. What would you say are the major HR trends we should be anticipating?

Najib Khan: In terms of technology for HR, there is a lot that is happening and in the future there are technologies which will transform HR. The more repeatable parts of our businesses will get automated. Robotics will be deployed in many areas especially in manufacturing and back office. As we’ve talked about before, Artificial Intelligence can enhance customer and employee experience, VR would allow immersive remote training. The manpower will need to be re-purposed in the Digital era. So, the changes that are set to take place are largely connected to digitalisation of the industry, this will in turn have a huge impact on HR practices.