Disruptive Mindset Ep 10 Blog – Creating a Holistic People Function 

On Episode 10 of The Disruptive Mindset Podcast we spoke to Harshvendra Soin about his work in the ED&I field. As the Global Chief People Officer and Head of Marketing at Tech Mahindra, Harshvendra is responsible for the wellbeing of a large number of people within the company. His initiatives have resulted in an excellent attrition rate thanks to the inclusive culture that Tech Mahindra has. Read on to find out what his secret is!

What’s the secret behind your 14% attrition rate?

I would say it’s the belief in our culture. The way we define culture in our company is that we’re driving positive change, celebrating each moment, and empowering everybody to rise. We’re driving positive change in the lives of our customers, and their customers in turn. We have fun, because you can’t celebrate without enjoyment. And finally, we’re empowering youngsters and creating great human experiences for everyone in the company. It’s not employee engagement or employee experience – we believe in the power of human experience which extend beyond office hours and into your wider personal life. We believe that employees need a user experience in the same way that a customer does. 

When we look at the complete employee lifecycle, from hiring and work environment to their family and hobbies, we try to create moments of truth. It could be personal, professional, or for whole communities. We really believe in being authentic with our employees. I see a lot of companies making noise around these things. I always quote Maya Angelou, who said, ‘people forget what you did, people forget what you say, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ We’re trying to make people feel special. Even the way we write policies and address issues is hyper personalised because we believe that everybody deserves that level of investment from us as an employer. 

We are the number one employer for women in India, and the number one employer for careers. We are huge on diversity and inclusivity, which creates an environment where people thrive. Our internal fulfilment rates have gone from about 40% to 70%, which is the best in the industry, because we give people avenues to build their career. We are trying to address a holistic experience of an employee by using HR tech to enhance the experience. We don’t have any ID cards, we have facial recognition instead, but facial recognition with a twist. It’s also a ‘mood-ometer’ because it recognises moods on people’s faces. It’s completely GDPR compliant because it doesn’t store anything. It can’t tell you the mood of Harsh, but it can tell you the mood of Delhi. We use that to engage with out people and improve their experience. 

Are people enjoying the experience? 

Because we focus on the power of experience, our people are thriving. Tech is a great tool for enhancing the immersive employee experience. Because of the tech we’re using, people don’t have an advantage or disadvantage based on their location. We came out with the world’s first marketplace of talent, because internal job postings are a mess, so nobody applies, people get frustrated and they never get jobs. Our marketplace matches eligible talent with opportunities to upskill themselves, and it allows people to bid on jobs they want.  That gives our employees a chance to get any job that they want within the company. That’s just an example of how we’re creating those immersive human experiences that make a tangible difference to people’s lives. 

What have you done differently that’s made you so successful?

It is an ecosystem. The question of why it was very important. You can’t become a ED&I sensitive company overnight. When we looked at diversity, we asked what kind of diversity we should work on. We went out and said to the world, ‘We are an intentionally diverse and a globally inclusive company.’ Now, when you make a statement like that, people hold you responsible for it. When we look at gender, we recognise three genders. This is in India where people hardly recognise this. We started by putting that statement in our policy, and now we have got 12 active LGBT communities that are advocating for the rights we have on gender. We have 36% women leaders, but we said we will go beyond this. We were the first ones to bring in some groundbreaking policies on LGBTQ+ inclusion too. Publicly declaring our goals keeps us progressive.

You live and breathe this human-centric ethos. How do you keep it going? 

You can’t have these initiatives in isolation, they have to be strung together as the employee value proposition. And our employee value proposition was very clear, we will unleash the potential of people. It says, freedom to explore what you dream and freedom to dream what you want. Our entire ecosystem helps you achieve that. That doesn’t happen overnight. There was a humongous amount of support from leadership and employees to make that happen. We have to justify every decision we make because when we say we’re the best employer for women, people will challenge that. 

An example of how we put that into practice is that we have no reserved parking, except for expectant mothers. We have spaces in every office which are painted pink. When we did that, people asked why. We were very clear that if we want to be a great employer, we have to understand the tribulations of somebody who’s expecting a baby and coming to work. It’s not just needing a crutch, it’s finding the right chair, table, support and ecosystem that they can thrive in. We are not paying lip service to the fact that we want women to come back to work, we are one of the companies that hire a lot of women back into the workforce after maternity leave. We invest in the economic empowerment of women, which supports our holistic view of our people. 

When COVID struck, we believed that we had to go and save lives, not only of our employees or their families, but the communities we work in. We converted our offices into intensive care units. We got medicine, oxygen plants and treatment and we helped save lives. We lost many people, so we said we would employ the next of kin or family member in our workforce to continue to support the families we were involved in. Sometimes you have to look beyond who you are to really sort of create this impact. 

To hear more about the work that Harshvendra is doing, tune into the Disruptive Mindset Podcast here. 

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