Unlocking the secrets of employee engagement

Unlocking the secrets of employee engagement

nupur mallick

In this article by Nupur Singh Mallick, HR Director (UK & Ireland), Tata Consultancy Services you can find out more about what they are doing internally to engage their employees.

For any organisation, finding people with the right skills is never easy – and finding people with the right attitude is even harder. With competition for talent becoming ever more intense, it is vital that once you have found the right people that you are able to keep your people engaged and motivated. This is particularly true in the IT industry, where there is often a shortage of technical skills, especially here in the UK.

At Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), we have over 350,000 of the world’s best trained IT consultants in 46 countries worldwide. Like many organisations, the long-term success of our business depends on our ability to not only attract but also to retain the best talent across all age groups. To do this we invest significant resources in employee engagement activities, helping us to foster meaningful career paths for employees and create an environment where workers feel that all aspects of their work and personal lives are being supported.
With the highest retention rate in the industry, we are proud of our track record in employee engagement. This successful approach is rooted in an employee value proposition that is the same for all employees across the globe. This value proposition has three core pillars:

  1.  Global exposure
    A key part of the TCS offering to all of our employees is that they will get the opportunity to work in multiple sectors, with different technologies and across diverse teams in order to gain exposure to all aspects of our company and industry. This means our employees are always learning and experiencing something new and it gives us the opportunity to discover and develop new talents and skills that employees may not have known they had initially. By allowing our employees to explore these paths, we increase engagement with the company and job satisfaction.
  2. “Attitude is more important than skill”
    At TCS, we believe developing the skills of an employee is the (relatively) easy bit. The real challenge lies in finding someone with the right attitude in the first place. We are looking for individuals that are naturally inquisitive, who want to learn new things and who will flourish in a company as large as TCS. With more than 350,000 TCSers worldwide, the opportunities are practically endless but individuals have to want to network and make personal connections across the business.
  3. Maitree or camaraderie
    Our third value proposition is taken from a traditional Hindi word; maitree, which translates as camaraderie. A fundamental part of employee engagement is making the workplace a positive and enjoyable place to be so we work hard to encourage a fun, vibrant culture.

Taking a Whole Person approach to engagement

At TCS, we’re firm believers that people are more than just professionals. Business leaders expect employees to bring their whole selves to work, but in order for them to do that employers have to engage more than just their work personas and make employees at every level feel engaged and valued. When you have hundreds of thousands of employees from diverse backgrounds, nationalities and age groups, there can never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach so our Whole Person philosophy focuses on enabling individuals to follow the path that is right for them across four critical areas: Work, Family, Leisure and Community engagement.

Empowering employees

Understanding what makes your workforce tick is essential to keeping your employees engaged and giving employees ownership of their training and development is vital. Our training programmes are designed to be taken anywhere, anytime, making it easy for employees to do in their own time, without feeling pressure to complete within a timeframe. We’re advocates of life-long learning and recommend to our employees that they regular learning development courses to keep motivated and gain skills that can be used on a day-to-day basis.
Another challenge in such a large, global company is making it easy for employees to create meaningful relationships within geographically dispersed teams. We’ve addressed this in two ways, firstly through leadership training. Global managers need to understand the challenges of managing teams across borders, and be capable of instilling trust, encouraging honesty and handling the delicate issues that can occasionally arise.

We have also created our own social network, Knome, which is available to all TCS employees for collaboration on work or personal projects. Knome (pronounced ‘know me’) draws on elements of social networking and gamification to encourage users to connect with their colleagues from other countries, to share ideas, socialise and learn – turning each group into a real team.

Family comes first

We’ve worked hard to establish a culture where employees are encouraged to include their spouses, partners and families in TCS social activities, whether it is bringing their families to community picnics or joining us for festive celebrations. This not only brings people together, but shows the family that the business understands their importance.

Whether its kids’ contests, family days or a cultural event such as Diwali, ensuring a business is providing more opportunities for employees to spend quality time with their families is important. It goes a long way to also help employees understand their peers and managers more as they are able to get a glimpse into their lives outside of work.

Work hard, play hard

Again, as an organisation we focus on enabling employees to pursue the leisure activities that they enjoy; whether it’s forming a photography society or taking part in an inter-office sports league. Whether you are playing or watching, sport has an inherent ability to bring people together. Most TCS offices have sports teams or leisure activities to encourage people to engage with co-workers outside of the office and initiate a little healthy competition.

At TCS, we have also launched an app called Fit4Life to help encourage health and wellness through technology. The app tracks employees’ physical activity and allows them to compete in challenges for charity or compare themselves against their colleagues. The response from employees has been very positive, with ‘virtual teams’ entering competitions or raising money together for various causes.

Playing an active role in the community

The founder of the Tata Group, Jamshedji Tata, put it best: “The community is not just another stakeholder in our business. It is in fact the very purpose for its existence.” That is the very essence of our community approach.

Whether it’s going into local schools, partnering with institutions or teaching tech classes to help with the STEM initiative, we have community champions across the UK which is a testament to how engaged our employees – and TCS – are in the local community.

Combining technology with a positive culture

As a technology company, it is natural that digital innovation plays a major role in the training we are able to offer, the way we communicate as a global team and the overall engagement of our employees. Our iEvolve learning platform allows employees to take part in training courses anytime, anywhere. In the past year, we have trained 120,000 employees across 400 different technologies.

The ‘virtual teams’ that deliver client projects from multiple locations across the world are also only possible because of digital technology.

However, it is essential for technology to be combined with a positive culture, or employee engagement will suffer. After all, the same level of control and visibility is not possible in a virtual team, which presents a management challenge. The answer to this however is not to try to implement additional ways of monitoring employees. This will simply make employees feel restricted and it can quickly become incredibly demotivating. Instead, we advocate a ‘trust on credit’ approach, whereby team leaders trust in their colleagues to get their work done, showing faith and giving them the flexibility to work how they want.

From Knome to the Fit4Life app, TCS has placed technology at the heart of our company and we have seen the benefits. In fact, the company won an HR Distinction award for Innovative Use of Technology in 2015.

Engagement delivers real business benefits

TCS has been recognised as #1 for customer satisfaction in the Whitelane survey and the #1 Most Powerful Brand by Brand Finance. These awards and recognitions are a reflection of a strong employee culture.
Crucially, our employee engagement efforts deliver real benefits for the business. The majority of our business is repeat business, which is testament to the great customer experience delivered. This, in turn, is only possible if our employees are happy and motivated to deliver for clients.

Ultimately, it’s about human relationships, not human resources. Whether it’s a team of ten, a hundred of a thousand, nurturing those relationships and treating employees like people rather than just workers is the key to success.

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