August 2016

'TCS is helping to skill the workforce of the future'

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was recently recognized as one of the ‘Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces in North America’ for the fourth consecutive year. Narasimhan Srinivasan, vice president, head, human resources, North America, speaks to about the employee engagement initiatives, value propositions and best practices that help TCS stay ahead of the curve as an employer of choice.

Could you name the three most important factors that led to TCS being honored with this award?
The three most important factors that enabled TCS to garner the award are: employee opportunities for professional growth, performance management and the TCS culture.

TCS makes substantial investments to ensure that our people possess the skills, knowledge and resources they need to grow in their careers and deliver excellent client service. A robust learning management system called iEvolve was launched last year featuring more than 9,000 courses, 24/7 access to books, job rotations and competency certifications to enable our people to remain on a high learning curve throughout their time with us. Additionally, our campus-to-corporate Initial Learning Program facilitates a smooth transition from a student to an IT professional.

A robust, digitized performance management system, Global SPEED, created by the company addresses all aspects of performance management, including structured career planning, development and movement of employees throughout the organization.

The TCS culture influences individual and group norms, leadership style, work environment, and ultimately customer centricity. The company recognizes that engaging with new hires is crucial to promoting and continuing the organizational culture. Hence, it has expanded employee connect programs, business leadership connects and employee development initiatives to strengthen the TCS culture.

The citation for the award states that TCS received it for benchmarked ‘employee engagement practices’ and the ‘employee value proposition’ it has engendered. What exactly do these two terms translate into for TCS in the United States and Canada?
At TCS, we strive to make the communities where we live and work stronger and healthier through purpose, people, technology and philanthropy. Through our corporate social responsibility mantra ‘Impact Through Empowerment,’ we use thought leadership, technology, programs and partnerships to address the most pressing societal issues.

Since 2015, TCS’s CSR programs soared to new levels of employee engagement and measureable community impact. More than 17,136 employees — comprising over 58 percent of our North American workforce — participated in 621 volunteering events, contributing over 56,642 hours to support projects in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, health and the environment. Among them were 2,918 skill-based volunteers focused on STEM education and career awareness.

Our vision and values are founded on our longstanding commitment to delivering excellent service, treating our employees and all other stakeholders with respect and providing a safe and healthy work environment. We have a code of conduct expressing these principles through five core values that underpin the way we do business: integrity, understanding, excellence, unity and responsibility. We explain our values and distribute the code of conduct to each employee the day they join the organization. The code provides established standards, policies and procedures that are easy to understand and follow for maintaining ethical behavior.

Also cited is TCS’s social networking tool, Knome. How has this tool benefitted TCS in creating a more productive and committed workforce?
Knome, TCS’s social networking tool, encourages employees to communicate across levels, geographies and work roles. Knome hosts more than 12,000 communities, features more than 80 live leadership webchats, 18,000 blogposts, 57,000 micro blogs, and 4,600 opinion polls. Through this effective communication tool, each employee experiences enhanced, real-time connectivity with leadership and peers.

The time that TCS North America’s people have dedicated to community development initiatives in education, health and the environment has come in for special mention. What’s the connection between such voluntary effort and workplace efficiency?
Our people understand that serving as volunteers and tech ambassadors to the public is not only personally fulfilling, but provides access to other kinds of career development opportunities at TCS. Through TCS’s volunteer program, employees share a strengthened sense of commitment to TCS.
TCS has built a network of over 275 CSR champions who play the role of civic leaders, driving social change to make a difference in local communities. Over 6,016 skill-based employee volunteers have inspired young people in America, having undergone custom-developed in-house training to be effective mentors, in the process transforming their outlook about life.

Through our employee volunteering and STEM education initiatives, our business is benefiting on several fronts: from a growing talent pipeline and competitive recruitment to professional development of employees and brand enhancement.

TCS is helping grow and ‘skill up’ the future US workforce needed to remain competitive in the 21st century. One example is Tom Jemison, a Cincinnati public school student who planned to work in construction until he participated in TCS’s signature community engagement program goIT. The program introduced him to careers in computer science (CS) and inspired him to pursue a degree in CS. Tom interned at TCS, and upon completing his degree in 2015, joined us as a software developer.

Our volunteer programs have ensured us competitive advantage while recruiting, particularly among members of the younger generation, who tend to prefer employers with a social purpose.

Skill-based volunteerism also helps our employees hone their professional skills. This was the case for KP Praphul, an account manager in our Minneapolis office. As a CSR champion for his account team, KP leads many community activities that have increased his visibility among key TCS leaders and strengthened his leadership and interpersonal skills. He says this experience helped him get promoted to a client partner position, where he heads an account today.

Our CSR initiatives garner press coverage, generate speaking opportunities at world-class conferences and connect us with top influencers. In 2016, TCS was rated as the world’s most powerful brand in IT services by Brand Finance, the world’s leading brand valuation firm. This index recognizes organizations that score high on familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation.

How difficult is it to stay ahead of the curve in employee relations? What sort of challenges does the organization have to deal with, especially in North America, to keep its people contented?
Balancing employee aspirations and organizational requirements, especially in large organizations, in any part of the globe is always a challenge. North America is no different. We do our best to deal with this by providing an environment in which the employees can enhance their competencies and get an opportunity to work in the areas they aspire to.