Business Today

How we found 'The best employers'

This year, we fine-tuned the Survey to better capture nuances.

     Print Edition: January 25, 2009

The approach… This is the fifth year that the BT-Mercer-TNS team has conducted the survey to identify the Best Companies to Work For in India. The response was overwhelming with strong participation from a cross-section of industries. The core of how the study was done remains the same: we invited companies to participate, gathered data, contacted various stakeholders for feedback, and finally, analysed and ranked the Top 10 companies to work for in the country. The unique tripartite approach to the survey continues to work successfully. Mercer defines the selection criteria, provides knowledge management support and result analysis, and proposes the ranking order. TNS coordinates all front-end interfaces with the participants through the study web site as well as through regular interaction. All the company-specific information is communicated to Mercer in coded formats. This arrangement ensures that Mercer, at no point and time, gets to know the company names till the final rankings are proposed, thereby avoiding any possibility of conflict of interest and bias. There are four stages to the study:

The Mercer team: Prakrite Agarwal Chaturvedi (L), Gyan Anjan Kaur and Madhumitha Venkataraman
The Mercer team
Study launch and registration: Business Today announced the study for 2008 through an article in its May 2008 issue. Interested companies were asked to register through the survey site, keeping in mind the eligibility criteria of four years of operations in the country and 200 white-collar employees. The eligibility criteria ensured a threshold level of complexity in people management based on headcount, as well as a degree of stabilisation of the processes based on the age of the organisation.

Data collection: The methodology was the same as the previous year. The initial contact with registered companies was established through a company overview questionnaire, through which the participants provided financial information, manpower statistics, demographic data, and the contact details for its employees, alumni, campuses etc. In the next step, the HR representative of the company was contacted and a comprehensive HR process and policy review questionnaire was handed to them so as to gain an insight into their human resource management policies and practices. Additionally, this year, senior management views were incorporated in terms of the relative value placed by them on various HR policies and processes. This informed the company's business strategy and objectives through the HR value indicator. An employee diagnostic tool-internal employee perception questionnaire- was sent simultaneously to a random sample of employees based on the contact details provided by the company. The performance on this tool was also used as a filter to determine the shortlisted companies. The last phase of the data collection involved seeking feedback from the external stakeholders of the company through three dip-stick stakeholder perception questionnaires, which were sent to alumni, campuses and search firms.

Data analysis: The company information on each of the above was collected by TNS in predefined formats and given unique company codes. This coded information was then given to Mercer for analysis. The Mercer team carried out the analysis of the responses across the four quadrants based on the company data. This analysis was conducted only for the top quartile of companies which received the highest scores on the internal employee perception questionnaire. This was based on the belief that the voice of the employee is the strongest ratification of a good workplace. The numeric information obtained through the company overview was analysed to evaluate companies on their performance against pre-defined HR metrics. As in the previous years, the HR metrics was primarily defined around training, HR investments, career velocity and attrition, gender diversity and dilution, especially factoring in promotions and increments given to employees. This year, certain new measures were added such as offers accepted from the total offers made and the HR strength as compared to the overall employee strength.

The TNS Team: Koshy (L), Neha Ahluwalia and Sanish
The TNS Team
The response to the HR processes and policies review questionnaire was used to assess the robustness and state of maturity of the HR processes of the shortlisted participants.

The internal employee perception survey quadrant, like last year, was designed on Mercer's global engagement model, which is based on several years of worldwide research on employee perceptions and the drivers of employee engagement. Responses were analysed on dimensions such as people, rewards, work processes, information flows, decision-making and management structure, which were broken down further into sub-categories as well as an engagement index.

Stakeholder perception questionnaires were analysed to determine the external labour market's views on the image of the company as a good place to work in.

Scores and proposed rankings:
The analysis of the company information resulted in scores on a 100-point rating scale for the four quadrants of the study. HR metrics were evaluated based on the complexity of the people management agenda, nature of industry, investments in people processes, including training and development, attrition, robustness of the budgeting processes and career velocity. The HR processes of the company were assessed in terms of robustness, integration, evolution and administrative ease. Quantitative scores were assigned on the basis of the weightages assigned by the senior management of the company in the HR processes and policies value indicator. Employee and stakeholder perception evaluation was a direct output of the employee responses.

Weights were assigned to each quadrant, and as per the methodology, were based on the need for companies to demonstrate balanced and comprehensive performance across dimensions: the performance of a company on one quadrant was sought to be corroborated by evidence of performance on the other quadrants. The index scores based on quadrant performance and weights were used to propose the ranking order of the companies.

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