At TATA Communications we don’t believe in hiring readymade talent says CHRO

Leading the team of TATA Communications’ employees as a CHRO, Aadesh Goyal has his own take on attrition, hiring talent and employee engagement. Goyal feels the term ‘employee engagement’ is a little misunderstood by corporates in today’s time. He has been associated with the company for more than eight years and believes the best way to engage an employee is to respect their decisions, understand the need and make sure they are comfortable at their work place. In an exclusive interview with BW People, he sheds lights on the best employee policies at TATA Communications, his idea of employee engagement and his contribution to the workplace.


Q. Are Indian graduates job ready?
 Ans. No one is job ready. If you’re doing the job which you’ve already done, then maybe you are job ready. These days I keep reading about a lot of MBAs and engineers talking about how they are not ready for the job, and that is true because what you study in school and college is all established and conceptual knowledge. So, it will never reflect the needs of today because the change today is so phenomenal. So, institutes must develop their curriculum but companies need to keep developing talent and groom fresh minds and polish the talent. At TATA communications we do don’t believe in hiring readymade talent. About 75% of hiring are college graduates and MBAs with 1 year or less experience, these are the people we grow at our organization.

Q: What are your thoughts on attrition?
 Ans. There are two things that we want to work on- first, to keep the employees inspired and engaged for as long as they are in the organization and second is to accept their decisions if they want to leave. But make sure they have the best time when they were a part of it. The first two years of your career are tough, and that’s when people change their jobs frequently, so the best thing you can do is to engage them well. They have certain desires and needs and they are like your customers, but you cannot meet every need of every customer. So, you need to create a standard product which is flexible for employees to get what they want to a great extent. Since the time I joined the organization there has been a lot of change- be it technologically, strategically or economically, because companies are trying new things. So, whenever new stuff happens, people question its working. But, we have to continually create an environment where people can adapt to the changes and learn these things quickly.

 Q. What are the changes that you’ve brought in TATA Communications ever since you joined the organization? What is your take on the wellness of workforce? 
Ans. Wellness is really a big topic today and it depends of the amount of time people spend at work and commuting. So, TATA Communications, we have included a lot of measures in our health and safety programmes – ergonomic office furniture, breakout rooms for teamwork, standing tables and more. Sitting continuously for 8-10 hours every day is unhealthy, we have now attached cycles to employees’ desks.

Q. Are there any measures that you’ve taken for women, who are new mothers but also a diehard professional at heart?
 Ans. Few years ago, we launched a global flexible work hour policy – employees can chose to work from home, come to office or be a flexible worker. However, they need to reach an agreement with their managers. By this policy, women were benefited more because whether we like it or not, women take more responsibility and care for their families than men do. So, it gives them a chance to do both. We have also launched a 6 month global leave for child care for the primary care taker of the child; it could be a man or a woman, with these policies everyone can be a professional and also manage their personal lives.

. Q. What type of employee engagement activities is TATA Communications engaging to and how important is it? 
Ans. At TATA communications we have a tradition of sports carnival. So, every year employees from different regions come together, make teams and about 3000-4000 employees take part in this tournament. The concept of employee engagement is a little misunderstood topic, it is not about having fun and going to picnics, it means what meets the needs of the employee is. The recognition you get from the work place is an engagement driver. I am having fun doing my work is engagement driver, does my manager care about me is also an engagement driver. So, we work on about 20 drivers, and one of this was in last year august which we called the “Drive week” where drive means, Daring, Responsive, Inclusive, Venturing and Ethical. And in our idea of employee engagement, we said that one of the things of being ethical is being humane and about venturing is something you’ve never done before. So, one day we asked our employees to leave work on a paid basis and to go and work for an NGO. About 72% of people participated and it came out to be a huge success. It is now going to become our annual ritual. For this year, our focus is on certification, so we’re motivating people to become certified in different fields like become a certified data scientist or anything else that they like, so they can learn whatever they want to learn. 

Q. How important is technology in TATA communications for hiring? Do you think a decision as important as hiring should be left on a Robot?

Ans. It can’t be left on a robot, we are using AI and machine learning for about a year for hiring and here’s how we use it. If you want to hire a thousand college freshers, it is very easy. If you want to hire for something skilful and responsible like a Vice President of Marketing, it is relatively easy to hire because you put a sustained search to find that talent. But it’s in the middle of these two where the difficulty is, you’re looking for the right match, so we are using a technology- which understands the skill like a human, it understands the CV like a human does and it crawls the internet. So, we are able to go where the recruiter is not able to reach, and get the most qualified and appropriate person in front of the recruitment manager. This technology looks for a match and skill which is required so we’re not using it for selection; we are using it as a search engine to get the lot of quality talent.

 Q. How are you using the leverage of social media to hire the right kind of talent in your organization except linked in? 
Ans. We do not look at social profiles of people to make a hiring decision. If I’m going to interview somebody, I will always go and look at the candidates LinkedIn profile before interviewing. Because there are several things that I’m looking for. Despite of the CV that has been put together I’m able to go and see a slightly different variety because everything that is documented and said is embellished in a particular way, and its human nature. I’m not bothered about the candidates’ personal choices or political choices. On LinkedIn you see their professional interests and peoples recommendation for them for a particular talent. So, you get more out of their LinkedIn. I have never gone and looked for somebody on Facebook.

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