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Adobe India’s Bet on Digital-first Employee Initiatives

Adobe India’s Bet on Digital-first Employee Initiatives

The innovation-led company is betting on digital-first employee initiatives, while not discounting the power of physical interactions

CHARTING THE WAY FORWARD: Abdul Jaleel, Vice President, Employee Experience, Adobe India CHARTING THE WAY FORWARD: Abdul Jaleel, Vice President, Employee Experience, Adobe India

In September 2021, Adobe India appointed IBM veteran Prativa Mohapatra as its new Vice President and Managing Director. The global tech giant’s first woman leader in the country, its employees say, will inspire other female employees to take up leadership positions. “Gender in India happens to be one of the biggest markers of inclusion but for us it’s a business initiative and not so much of an HR initiative. We have a global goal of increasing women in leadership positions to 30 per cent by 2025 and India is well on track towards it,” says Abdul Jaleel, Vice President, Employee Experience, Adobe India.

Diversity and inclusion are not the only company philosophies that Jaleel—who has been with Adobe India for over 13 years—swears by. He believes that physical collaboration leads to better problem solving; but when the pandemic made that next to impossible, the company’s biggest challenge was ‘change’. “There’s value in coming together because we believe innovation is a social process. It was more of a mindset shift and like growing a new skin and adapting to newer behaviours without affecting work,” he explains.

During the pandemic, Adobe India doubled down on its HR initiatives and best practices to help its employees cope with it better. It has introduced a time-off benefit for employees directly impacted by Covid-19, either because they are ill, caring for a family member who is ill or have to take care of a child or elder. In addition, Adobe offers two paid week-long company holidays each year, one in summer and one in winter. Jaleel explains that along with physical well-being, emotional and mental well-being is also a prime focus for the organisation. Adobe’s employee assistance programme offers all employees 24x7 access to confidential counselling in addition to meditation and well-being applications like Headspace and LifeDojo being made available for free. The company also has an annual wellness reimbursement programme, which was increased to $600 and expanded the scope of items covered to include online learning tools, extra-curricular activities, books, activity kits and art supplies to help parents with childcare and remote learning.

“The only asset we have is our employees. We invested disproportionately with regard to ensuring that they are safe, healthy and making sure we had a mechanism to be in touch with them. We ensured that the employees are aware that the leadership team is there to help them in seeing through this challenging period. I would probably rate our employee communication as 10/10,” Jaleel says.

Adobe’s India offices house around 7,000 employees and have the largest employee concentration after the US, which is why India is a big focus for the company globally. “We invest in learning and development of our employees and that will continue to be a focus. We have a dedicated budget for our employees which they can use to add to their skills repertoire,” he says.

Another thing that makes Adobe India a wonderful place to work is the leadership team’s attitude towards the future of work. Jaleel says that in the last two years, while the connection has been virtual, the quality of connect has been real. He’s working on enhancing just that. “We are exploring new digital workflows by combining our own products along with partners like Workday, a company which is into the HR technology space. But our interactions shouldn’t just be based on robotics and artificial intelligence, even though that’s important to achieve scale,” he says. “But we also want to make sure that human-to-human contact remains intact.”

The company, on the one hand, is exploring digital-first initiatives like touch-less on-boarding, technology enablement and employee engagement through Adobe Campaign, a cross-channel platform created to connect employees to well-being content, podcasts, career section, and other tools. On the other hand, Adobe India doesn’t completely want to discredit the power of physical meetings. “Right now we’re continuing to work from home but once we get back, we’ll make flexible work the default. Employees will have the option to combine work from home and going to office,” he says.

He adds that the way forward is a mix of physical and virtual meetings. “Physical meetings are designed for collaboration and given we’re an innovation-based company, we understand that it holds value. We have disproportionate investments for enabling managers to be able to operate in this hybrid world, something which we’re still exploring,” Jaleel says.

In Adobe India’s internal reviews, it has found that work from home doesn’t hamper productivity. “Hybrid is going to be even more beneficial. We will be able to leverage the best of both. That’s going to be the new reality. We need to learn and work on the rules of engagement in a hybrid world,” he adds.

Jaleel says that the future of the company will be defined by Adobe’s core values—genuine, innovative, involved and exceptional. “People are at the heart of our organisation. These values are core to our work culture. We are committed to creating an exceptional experience for our employees which helps them grow professionally as well as personally,” he says.