It is people who make all the difference in an economy. Now that the culture has changed in the Indian workplace, talent acquisition, and keeping the employees happy becomes extremely important to an organization’s success graph.
In a candid chat with Rajnish Sinha, Senior VP, HR, Genpact, we get a clear idea about the HR practices that the organization has been following to continue its success as the company it is today.
Could you take us through some of the trends or changes that are taking place in the industry today from an HR perspective?
Genpact has been in existence for about fourteen years now. The need for domain is increasingly felt now and increasingly we ask for people who can talk our language. For example, if we are working with an investment bank, we would need enough number of people who have got reasonable experience of that. This is the trend that is being happening over the last couple of years and we picked it up three or four years ago. Also, it has changed the way we look at things. A lot of investments in talent, a lot of investments in Domain and also a lot more experienced talents are coming in.
We do not call ourselves a BPO but we call it a Business Process management and Technology Company. One third of our revenue comes from technology and a large part of it comes from analytics. Also, the work that we do in finance and accounting is very important. We have highly skilled people for all these processes.
We are a very global workforce where we have presence in 50 different cities and centers across 18 countries. In all these places, people are generally the same. They often want to grow their career graph where they want to come in and work hard. The view here perhaps is how we can provide them with opportunities to grow their career scale. There is a huge focus given to our employees internally. Hence, we try and keep giving our employees opportunities to enrich their careers by giving them training. We have a programme called Education at Work which is all about us subsidizing education costs while the employees are with us. We have about eight thousand people in this programme which has extensive value not just internally but also externally. This most often improves our employees’ marketability.
Education at Work is a sponsored programme where employees can get their MBAs, certification program for project management, finance related courses, languages are taught where it is required, insurance subjects and so on. These are very domain specific programs which people enroll in and by successful completion we thereby subsidize the cost of the enrolment. We help them with accessibility while they are doing this program and add more value to their employability perspective. This program has been on for a while now where we keep revitalizing by bringing in new programs. The share of domain programs is increasing because the employees are seeing a lot of opportunities for people who have got domain certification. Hence, the numbers of people getting on to these programs are increasing every year.
Are there changes in people practices?
The practices have not changed at all. We have a very strong people culture, thanks to GE (Genpact was earlier a part of GE) because it is very important for our front line managers and the leaders above them to be focused on our employees. We at Genpact preach the fact that "career cannot be built by switching jobs". An employee needs to stay with the company witnessing ups and downs to really build a career. Being loyal to the company, going through different rotations over a 10 year career will obviously help them in the long run. That is what is reinforced here when people here have seen a lot of people externally getting laid off from other companies. They have seen the benefit of staying here for a long duration. People practice has not changed but the rigor has increased by improving the communication. We have always been a pioneer when people practices are concerned. We use six sigma not only in our business but also in our employees and their growth and welfare.
When it comes to hiring, what are some of the challenges considering the diminishing talent pool in India?
I do not think the talent pool is diminishing. If we are talking about certain skills it holds good. For example, if there is an industry that is fairly new to India there is an obvious chance of struggle for the necessary talent. What we did was, we went to smaller towns and cities like Jaipur which is mainly a tourist city. People thought we were foolish to make that move, but we have 6,000 people working from Jaipur now. Similarly, we have been going to tier 2 and tier 3 cities across the globe to acquire talent. Keeping offices in cities like these help us in being close to the captive market and help attract talent.
The other aspect being our referral programs which is a big supplier of our talent. One third of our employees get hired through the referral programs. This is a win-win situation for the employees and the companies. This is something inelastic and seems like a continuous program.
What is the best human capital initiative you have seen evolving?
I started my career 16 years ago. The big change I have seen is to see how we can manage people’s aspirations to grow with their careers. Earlier people used to spend their entire life in one company, it was considered good. It is different now where people spend 7 - 8 years and think it is time they moved on. Genpact is basically a growth environment. We have typically grown 20 - 25 percent every year. Many of our managers who are managing for the first time were given a set of standards of people practices that every one of them had to follow in order to make it easy for them.
Irrespective of the work they do, we set ten basic HR practices that every frontline manager has to follow. The reason we did this is because the frontline managers are the people who have the most influence on employees’ tenure in the company. Hence, creating of these practices and making it absolutely mandatory has helped the managers equip with the tools to manage people. A manager would meet his subordinate just once in 10 days earlier, but now people expect more value and intervention from their managers. Hence, considering our industry is got to do a lot with people, it is all the more needed.
Could you pick out 3 of the best practices that have had a profound impact on Genpact?
The beauty of attrition is that the best practice does not stay best for long. One is called "pre-hire orientation" where people when offered the job, we ask them to come back a week later and spend a day at work. They come in at the shift they are informed. Here, they are briefed about their role, their job, how much time they can spend on the phone, breaks and so on. The whole idea is to reset their expectations. People will have expectations when they join and we recalibrate it by showing them the reality. This makes it clear as to what they can expect when they join our company.
The next one is called the "early warning signal" where it works like a financial services company in which the company will remind you in advance if you have any dues to pay. This is a preventive attrition tool where the manager/supervisor will categorize into red, green or yellow depending on their propensity to quit. The colours represent how soon an employee might quit the organization, red being the extreme one. Then, the managers and the HR representative will discuss the matter together on how well they can help solve the problem and put the person back on green.
The third one which worked well for us is the web chats. It is not a unique practice but has worked very well to us. It gives a great theme of issue if 10 people are talking about it. I do chat with people where I talk to them about promotion policies, growth or could be anything. Similarly, lots of interesting topics come up for discussion. It is great to know we can reach a large number of people at the same time. This is so much better than an Email interaction because half the time people do not read it. The web chat is fairly interactive and this is one of them I have seen work well for us for the last 8 - 10 years.
You need structured programs, regular interventions and mentoring. We have a global leadership program where we take about 50 - 60 high potential managers, senior managers and put them through a global leadership program which would have participants from all over the world. They will go through intense learning because this is really the future of the company. Hence, we work hard on their investments. The key process here is that we have a bi-annual talent review process which is something we do with the CEO where in we review the organizations’ challenges, opportunities, development perspectives and so on. Therefore, getting very granular about talent is really important for us because this is our business. End of the day, for a services company, the key is to manage the talent in the best way by giving them more opportunities. We provide them with opportunities across the globe. Growth for us is not just a promotion but also seen is the growth in parallel which is a great way to boost the career by giving them a certification thereby accelerating their growth.
(As told to Vishwas Nair)