Collaborate, not compete!


Collaborate, not compete!

As businesses, we have always competed for resources from time immemorial – it is but natural for us to do so in an environment which dictates survival of the fittest. Lately though, there is a wave of change. In many industries competitors are collaborating, albeit without breaking the anti-trust laws.

In the marketplace there is a no holds barred fight but at the back end, there are areas where there is information sharing, sometimes buying from each other, an unwritten understanding on channel management etc.

The trend is not new. It started decades ago with airlines offering code share flights.


Now, many companies look at how to make the best of wafer-thin margins and whether it makes better sense to collaborate rather than compete in certain areas.

For all companies, whether product or services driven, optimization of resources is now key. At the end of the day, it is the efficiency with which we use the resources that will determine our success as a business in an environment that is cut-throat competitive.

And clearly, amongst all resources needed by a business, it is its human resource that is the most valuable one – Richard Branson rightly said, “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.”

But, really, is it as simple?

No company can claim to have a perfect match between available employee skills and business need. Oftentimes the employee’s career goals and the business objectives aren’t aligned with each other. The result is lower productivity, churn and attrition.

Unutilized resources (Bench), under-utilized and mis-utilized human resources leads to inefficiencies and costs – both tangible and intangible. Apart from a dissatisfied employee, for the company it can mean extra training, costs of carrying an employee while waiting for the right project, restructuring and sometimes firing which has it’s own consequences. A lot then depends on the HR Managers and their assessment of the situation which then leads to learning & development calendars, career pathing et al.

But even with all this, are we able to achieve alignment of goals of both employee and the business? We know the answer. Not everyone can be an ideal employee for the company so how do we optimize the numbers, the skills and the cost ?
A real catch 22. On one hand , optimizing to a T is critical and on the other hand, letting go of all those who are not ideal fits is not a solution either.

Over time, we as businesses, have learnt to accept this as an unresolvable challenge and an extra cost in terms of time, energy and money and most organizations have learnt to ‘live with it’

For handling these challenges and to address attrition pains, companies do the following:

1. Engage intermediaries/ third parties who help with recruiting and onboarding new employees

2. Continuously administer ever-evolving-and-coping learning and development programs for the fluid workforce.

And, it is these third parties who earn from our businesses because we are not able to fully align the goals of our employee and that of our business. Did you know that Indian businesses as a whole end up paying year-on-year a whopping INR 90+ billion just for new recruitments alone?! Globally, these figures run in to billions of dollars! If we add other HR consulting services including learning & development into the equation, the figure bloats to a mind numbing INR 140 billion!

So how does all this link back to what we started off with? Where does Collaboration fit it ?

The idea is simple.

Currently, our employees who feel unaligned with our business jump ship and go to other companies because of lack of job satisfaction and/ or compensation issues. Some stay on the bench costing us money.

What if we have a way of collaborating with our peers i.e. other companies via which we share with each other our unutilized, under-utilized and mis-utilized human resources ?

Leaving aside mission critical IP centered skills, most human resources that are currently underutilized are shareable on a short, mid or long-term basis.
Think of it as a wider and richer avenue of improving their job satisfaction along with earning compensation for the organization (from additional earnings emanating from such a peer-to-peer-collaboration)?

But is such a peer-to-peer collaboration even possible? How would we address the obvious issues of confidentiality, discreetness, and data security? How would be keep ourselves protected from losing our key human resources to such collaborations?

Valid questions but there are answers if we are willing to open up to new way of thinking. If we source all the key raw materials needed for our business from the source that produces that raw material, then, why can’t we do so for human resources too?

Imagine a platform that would enable discreet and confidential peer-to-peer collaboration for underutilized skills, now that would be a huge positive change in the way we currently handle recruiting, training and our bench strength.

You have questions, we have answers. It is time for us to collaborate, not compete. It’s time for!