Employee engagement at Pearson India

In an exclusive interview with BW People, Ritu Agast, Director – Human Resources, Pearson India, talks about the best employee engagement policies at Person. She also talks about re-skilling the employees and its importance.


1. How is Pearson training the workforce of the future?

With Digitisation and Automation discussed across various sectors, it becomes essential for all companies today to equip their workforce with digital capabilities and future technologies. Globally and in India, Pearson is moving towards becoming a digital learning company and people are at the centre of what we do. Training, therefore, is critical and covers four key elements – Process, Tool & Systems, Culture and Knowledge skills & Behaviour.
Today, when education is embracing technology, the need of the hour is that our workforce has skills and capabilities in acknowledging the digital needs of our customers. We are looking at building capabilities across functions such as sales and leadership with focus on digital first approach and customer centricity.
In addition, we also have a robust training program in Leadership which is conducted across all levels to assist our people in delivering results, imbibing values and beliefs of the organisation and helping people get the right roles basis their skills and talent.

2. What is the real definition of Employee Engagement?

At Pearson, we believe in building a healthy organization, by expanding our diversity and inclusion efforts, improving Organizational Health and enabling more employees to contribute to innovation and growth initiatives. Our efforts in engaging our people is to align their goals and interests with the vision and goals of Pearson India.

3. What kind of employee engagement activities does Pearson engage into?

We engage with our employees on the following:

· Health & Wellness – Pearson is committed to promoting the Health and Wellness of all our employees. Protecting the well-being of our colleagues and learners reflects our core values and helps make our company and its culture what we need them to be and helps us preserve our reputation as a trusted organization.

· EAP (Employee Assistance Program) – Pearson has introduced a 24/7 service providing support to employees and family members whether this is practical information support or emotional support in the form of telephone guidance or face to face counselling support.

· Communications – We always look at creating an open culture where ideas float and our people are aligned to company’s beliefs, values and business goals. We create various platforms to drive the common vision of the company through town halls, Coffee Connection initiatives, etc.

· Workshops and R&R – Pearson regularly conducts workshops with the employees and R&R programs to have positive impact on the business through increasing workplace productivity and revenue growth.

4. Explain a few ways in which companies can go about reskilling their employees?

In an era when our country is growing digital, technical processes are more dynamic than ever. This makes it extremely essential for organisations to assist employees in learning new skill sets and continuously upgrade themselves. Learning & Development (L&D) is the key focus for most of the companies to increase workforce capability and aid them to perform in an evolving business landscape.
Hence, learning and upgradation become a continuous process in evolving organizations. In line with our vision - to become a digital learning company, we are planning training roadmap for our employees at all levels that will help them to be future ready for a digital learning landscape. In order to develop our people to match the dynamism of the sector, our L&D curricula focus on context with effective, fast and efficient support for learning. At Pearson, the learning interventions offered this year primarily focus on:
• People Management and Leadership Development

• Product Innovation and Digital Transformation

• Sales & Service Delivery

5. What does Diversity inclusion mean for Pearson India?

Unlike most of the organizations, we look at diversity beyond the gender challenges. At Pearson, the most important component is cognitive diversity. We welcome people from different educational backgrounds and the varied experience they bring to the table. Being an education center, we also consider diversity from an age perspective.
We stress on the need to have a gender diverse workforce through our chapter called “WILL - Women in Learning & Leadership”. We make sure that we hire enough women in the workforce in the leadership team and project teams and communicate our vision with all employees.
We have an open office culture globally to ensure cultural acceptance and integration of a diverse workforce. Rooms are only used for specific external or internal meetings only.

6. How does it affect the Employee Lifecycle?

It is important to design a strategic workforce plan to deliver the corporate strategy. Better integration of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) with talent management makes each component more effective. At Pearson, when talent acquisition team gets a request for any position, the team studies the department that has placed the request. For instance, when we are hiring for the sales team, we study the team’s gender ratio. Interestingly, at Pearson, a lot of our sales personnel are women because we deal with schools where there are a lot of teachers who are women. So, in such a situation we tend to hire men to balance the ratio.

Considering the team composition while hiring is the starting point. We also look at the educational diversity in the team. For instance, if we have some Mathematics graduates in the team but need more people from social sciences background for diversity, then we look at it from that lens. Once the person enters the organization, we appoint buddies by pairing two diverse individuals.

We run a strong diversity program, where we talk about all the diversity-related issues. During the induction, we bring in people from different generations and backgrounds to tell their story so that others can understand them better. At Pearson, we have perceived that stories work as a likeable form of learning among adults. Hence, we place the program on "story-telling" in the managerial cadre, so that they can share their experience via storytelling.

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