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TCS' Global HR Head on its policies

Seetharaman G     February 14, 2012
Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest IT exporter with 2,26,000 employees, has topped the BT-Indicus survey of 'India's Best Companies to Work for' for the first time ever. The company's Vice President and Head of Global HR, Ajoyendra Mukherjee, talks to BT about what helped TCS reach the top of the list. Excerpts:

What are the initiatives that make TCS a great place to work at?
We have a lot of initiatives from an employee engagement point of view: how to get irritants out of the way and what are the career options they have. We have created 'Maitree', an organisation within HR. It's employees plus their spouses.

There are clubs for trekking, music, dance, photography, quiz, etc. We continuously have to work on our strategy, we look at our compensation benefits and conduct an annual survey called 'Pulse', which goes across the globe and supports 4-5 languages and these inputs are collected.

Then, there is promotion, which is considered as recognition in India. These are various things we look at. Your designation is significant, it's a recognition of your performance. During the crisis of 2008-2009, we learnt that while pay hikes are nice, what mattered to employees more were promotions because that gave them a sense that their careers were on track. I quickly adjusted our strategy to ensure promotions came through even though there were no across the board hikes that year. But there are different employment recognition programmes we run. Within each project you can nominate a star of the project. What we use is GEMS points. We have tied up with vendors. So you trade your points for whatever products you want. We also provide the best healthcare benefits in the industry.

How has hiring been this year?
We made 43,600 offers starting August to end of December. This is the largest ever. They will start joining by end of June. So far we have honoured our commitments. Even during recession, we did not defer offers. Last year, we made 38,000 offers. The joining ratio is 70 per cent. We hire from about 500 institutes we have accredited.

Majority of these places give us the Day 1 slot. When we go to colleges and we talk to students, we find that they have relatives working in TCS and they do get attracted by various factors and our job is to put TCS in the right perspective. At TCS you don't do just Java Application Development because of our rotation policy and we send people abroad.

In 2012-13 will you hire as many?
The only thing I can say for certain is the offers we have given so far and the joining ratio will be similar to what it is now unless the economic scenario turns vicious, in which case the ratio will be higher. Last year our gross hiring was 69,000. This year we plan to do 66,000. Our attrition rate is now 12.8 per cent and last year it was 13 per cent.

How many nationalities do you have among your employees?
We have 103 nationalities and about 6.7 per cent of our employees are non-Indians.

With such a huge mix of cultures, what are the nuances you have come across in dealing with your employees across the world?
Culturally, in India if you give an overview of what needs to be done, we deal with fuzzy logic very well, we take help, we collaborate and we get there. In other cultures like Japan the path has to be well defined and instructions have to be clear, step-by-step. Anything beyond that they start asking questions. Also, for instance, in the US, it may be cool to say things upfront while it's not so in India because of the way we have been brought up.

Is there any instance that has made you a better HR head?
There is no magic bullet or one single incident that has made me a better HR head. I would say that every interaction I have with employees or every crisis I have tackled helps me become a better HR manager because I learn from each encounter. Some of the more prominent one that I can recall is understanding cultural nuances in different countries helps shape our HR strategies. In China, for example lack of mobility means that we have had to bring the jobs closer to where people live by setting up smaller centers in multiple locations.

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