HR Director UK&I, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
Top Employers are those who listen to their employees, stay relevant to them in terms of career growth, learning opportunities and aspirations. They provide purpose and meaning for work in this complex and fast paced world.
Introduce yourself and tell us about your organisation
I joined TCS, an IT services and consulting organization, in the year 2000, in Chennai, India. TCS is a part of the TATA Group. Tata had always been a huge brand in India – synonymous with trust. When I got an offer in TCS, my family was very thrilled. I have since spent my last 20 years handling different roles in TCS.
When I joined TCS, it was already the largest IT services company in India. It was known as the company that founded the IT outsourcing In India. I still remember an event that I would attend later in the Silicon Valley where Mr F.C Kohli, the first CEO of TCS was felicitated as the “father of the Indian IT Industry”.
Over a period of time, I have been fortunate to be a part of the phenomenal growth journey of TCS. In the year 2000, there were celebrations of having grown into 15,000 employees . Within 5 years, TCS had 100,000 employees. We became the first Indian company to achieve $1Billion revenue. Now, we are more than 440,000 employees, a revenue of over $20 billion and a global footprint, this has been a frenetic but exciting ride. TCS is still one of the fastest growing companies in the IT services industry.
In the U.K, TCS started operations in 1973. Currently, along with our 100% subsidiary Diligenta, we have over 19,000 employees with $2billion in revenue.
My current role is the HR Director for TCS UK & Ireland handling end to end HR functions for our UK operations.
What do you think defines an organisation as a top employer today?
Top Employers are those who listen to their employees, stay relevant to them in terms of career growth, learning opportunities and aspirations. They provide purpose and meaning for work in this complex and fast paced world. One of the common characteristics of all top employers is that the leadership cares about their employees, and there is a huge amount of trust that they have built with their employees.
TCS, as a part of the TATA group has focused very strongly on values. Our focus on values has helped us stay rooted, always listen to our employees and provide a lot of meaning to their careers. We have focussed a lot on learning. We hire a large number of employees as Graduate trainees and they grow and develop their careers within TCS. We have a strong culture of promoting leadership from within (almost 100% of our top management roles are promoted from within). Our focus on learning opportunities and our employees have helped us manage this huge growth while still having the lowest attrition rates in the industry for the last 20 years.
Tell us about a recent initiative that you have instigated within your organisation that you are most proud of?
In a large organisation like TCS, there is no one person who initiates anything. It is the ability to manage the ideation and execution of initiatives by multiple teams that differentiates successful organisations from others.
I have been lucky to have been part of an organisation wide transformation of employees’ skills and help them acquire digital skills – on Cloud computing, Mobile technologies, Artificial intelligence etc. We are also helping our employees to build the skills to move to the fast paced, outcome focussed, and iterative Agile methodology. We wanted to help our employees acquire a new mind set, new skills and new ways of working.
In the U.K, we have a very diverse group of employees – from different nationalities, with different aspirations and talents. Our role was to create a common narrative and help them embrace this change.
We created a narrative for change which was one of excitement – that we can change the world for the better and there are tremendous opportunities out there.
We created a lot of user-friendly systems that will help them learn with fun –in other words, help them “play-code- and repeat”. Our employees are glued to their mobile phones with Fresco Play, a gamified learning platform. They participate in one of the many hackathons where they get an opportunity to build ideas, prototypes and solutions. They get to flaunt their learning scores (the T factor – which displays their digital learning across breadth and depth) and secure roles based on their T factor. Our leaders set an example in learning, with their own T factor scores. In fact, if you analyse our CEOs communication in the last 2 years, he would have mentioned as much about learning as about strategy
Together, we have been able to create this transformation – TCS now has one of the largest pools of digitally trained associates in the world with more than 85% of our employees having some digital skills or the other. Our employees have acquired about 600000 digital certifications in the last couple of years. This has been fundamental to TCSs success in recent years.
What is the next objective in your organisation's journey to keep improving the employee experience?
Our HR systems and processes have undergone a complete transformation in the last few years. We introduced an internal social media-based communication before many organisations were thinking about it. Our appraisal systems empower our employees to set their goals, change them according to business needs and have a continuous feedback with their appraiser, reviewer and HR. Our mentoring assistant, MILO helps connect our employees to mentors across the world. Our policy bot Cara is available to our employees to solve policy queries on the go. Fresco play has gamified and transformed the learning experience. Codevita, is currently the largest coding contest in the world and helps us spot talent across the world and hire them. Codevita, along with Campus commune (an engagement platform for technology grads) have transformed hiring. We have also focussed a lot of face to face interaction with our employees with initiatives like Maitree (which encourages employees to come together for interests outside work), Fit4Life (a fitness initiative), Purpose 4 Life (Community Volunteering), Leadership townhalls and much more.
Our objective is to constantly listen to our employees and continuously evolve our processes so that they help our employees embrace change. For eg, all our important systems like Fresco Play, Knome and Codevita envoys undergone a radical change this year.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation today and how are you planning to overcome it?
In a digital first future, the pace of change is unrelenting. The technology shelf life is short – most of the skills that our employees have acquired did not even exist 5 years back, and most of these skills today may be irrelevant 5 years hence. One of the big challenges is to equip our employees to constantly adapt and learn. TCS employees also have a unique contextual knowledge working with our clients over a period of time. This combination of the ability to bring latest skills and the contextual knowledge put us in a great position to help our customers in their digital transformation.
We can do this only by constantly evolving our systems, processes and thinking so that we can help employees learn and leverage their contextual knowledge. We need to create people management practices and helps explore our diverse talent to the fullest potential, get innovative ideas and help them earn and have exciting career options.
We are cognisant of this and are using technology to help us listen to our employees, change rapidly and also help us connect with them better.
How will your organisation have to adapt to meet the changing future workplace?
With rapid technology advancements our focus will continue to be on Accelerated Retraining to keep on top of emerging technologies and staying relevant through nurturing agility, adaptability and re-skilling.
We are also constantly reshaping roles and career choices. This would mean diversity in roles and skills and ensuring we are inclusive in every way.
Health and wellbeing: The pace of technological change and adoption means we are moving to an “always on” work pattern, resulting in increased levels of stress. This will push us to simplifying work practices and systems to enable their workers to be most effective and focus only on the more important aspects of their lives.
Collaboration will continue to be key to be a porous organisation within the business and externally. We are embarking on a Machine first delivery model, which means that we will have learn to co-work with bots and machines.
This interviewee was kindly introduced to us by ‘Top Employers Institute – the global authority on certifying excellence in employee conditions.’ Their organisation is certified as a Top Employer.