Business Today

People before PLF

You can't go wrong with a motto like that: after all, the efficiency of a power plant depends on its people.

twitter-logoManu Kaushik | Print Edition: February 7, 2010

If you want to know why people love to work with NTPC, ask Sangeeta Kaushik. Deputy General Manager (Corporate Planning), NTPC, Kaushik joined NTPC in 1986 as a fresh engineering graduate. It was then National Thermal Power Corp Ltd, 11 years old, and had an installed capacity of around 4,000 MW. Today, it is India's largest power company with an installed capacity of 30,644 MW, and aims to enter other energy sectors (hence its decision to become simply NTPC Ltd).

As it grew, so did Kaushik, now 44. In 2004, NTPC gave her the option to upgrade her skills. "Moving up the ranks, I started handling bigger projects in which I had to look into the financial aspects also. So, I did an executive management programme from MDI Gurgaon," she says. NTPC paid for the course— around Rs 5 lakh.

There are many Kaushiks in NTPC's workforce of around 24,000. "Our guiding principle has always been ‘people before PLF (Plant Load Factor)'," says R.C. Shrivastav, HR Director. New talent is attracted by a combination of factors. "Not only are the payscales at the freshers' level higher than comparable private and public sector companies, NTPC's brand reputation and word of mouth works like a real magnet," he says.

In addition to low attrition rates (0.27 per cent), NTPC boasts one of the highest average career tenures—23.5 years. "The maximum attrition rate is at the fresher's level. A person who stays for one year stays forever," says Ashok Swarup, DGM (HR). A nearly-zero attrition rate can lead to stagnation at any organisation, but not at NTPC, though it hires around 1,000 executives as freshers each year.

NTPC employees also get unlimited healthcare at its empanelled hospitals and education facilities such as loans of up to Rs 15 lakh for studies abroad and Rs 10 lakh within India for a child's higher education.

Over 75 per cent of NTPC's employees stay in its townships that are equipped with schools, hospitals, clubs and recreation facilities. The company follows differential compensation system where people working in hilly or other hostile areas are paid 80-90 per cent more than other employees.

The HR team's main challenge is to bring down the average employee age (now 47 years) and the male to female ratio (18:1). The latter, especially, is a big challenge. "Traditionally, women are reluctant to work in the far-flung areas where our plants are located," says Shrivastav.

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