Great Place to Work India CEO Yeshasvini Ramaswamy conversates with All Things Talent about the company’s innovative approach to formulating a forward-looking HR policy framework, the importance of combining high-tech and high-touch, and some predictions for 2023.
As Great Place to Work is a global company, we would first like to know about the duration of the presence in India, the number of employees, and the global contribution of the company.
Great Place to Work as an organization is over 30 years old globally. Currently, we cater to the employee voices of more than 150 countries globally. We are the global gold standard regarding workplace culture, certification, recognition, and access to global benchmarks, insights, and recommendations.
In terms of India, our journey was about 16 years, and last year we worked with more than 1200 organisations. We cater to about six verticals as of now, and our recognition and certification prompt organisations to become a part of our community.
When the organisations are certified, they are eligible for various types of recognition. For example, the most coveted one is India’s Top 100, which is highly competitive. Plus, we have other recognitions like Nation Builders and various categories. For example, we just released India’s Best Workplaces for IT as an industry. It can be IT, BFSI, retail, and horizontal recognitions like Best Workplaces for Women, which cut across all industries.
Also, our work broadly includes research, analytics, and consulting. We are known as India’s largest market share holder globally and in India for workplace certification and recognition.
Also read: Quiet Hiring, Gen-Z Skill Gaps – 9 Trends That Will Alter Future-of-Work in 2023
How many employees do you have in India? How was your growth over the years?
We operate like an affiliate structure, like the Big Four. For example, PwC and EY are one brand, but each country has a different legal entity and a different P&L account. Likewise, we are all independent individual affiliates but have a common brand.
As far as India is concerned, our growth has been good. Our intention has always been to create stories out of this certification. So, I don’t see this as a corporate transaction. I see this as a movement. Because if every employer becomes responsible, the employee, in addition to being an employee, is also a citizen of the country.
Our vision here at Great Place to Work is to make India a great place to work for all. India is a big chunk, and we’re a complicated country, and for all is the second bit where there are a lot of conversations around equity that we do.
We’re seeing trends which are creating FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Biases deepen if an employee constantly works from home and a part of his team goes to the office. Obviously, there will be a sense of “Am I missing out on something?” Therefore, we are seeing a lot of conversations around this whole issue of fairness.
What is the impact of COVID? Has hybrid work improved any metrics over the last two to three years? How has it impacted different sectors?
So there are two reports. One is for India’s top workplaces overall, and the other is for the mid-size segment. The overall report is for large employers. This is to make sure they are easily accessible.
We have something called the best versus the rest. That is, who are the best employees that have been certified and recognised, and how do they stand out versus the rest of the industry.
One key area we focus on is consistency. We look at it in terms of hierarchy, experience, and experience across genders. The second aspect is fairness, which is walking the talk. So many of the workplaces that get recognised, for example, Cisco, came first, and their efforts to walk the talk are brilliant.
Fairness is tricky, and that’s why many companies don’t make it. But overall, you will be inundated with many reports from an Indian level, so be prepared to read them.
From your perspective as a practitioner, what do you think has actually improved?
Fairness is one of the five dimensions we measure in our metrics. At least at the Indian level, we have seen a lot of gratitude from employees.
During the first wave of the pandemic, there was a lot of cynicism among employees because they thought they would lose their jobs. Management reassured them they would be looked after, but employees were sceptical.
However, in the second wave, when it became clear that job losses were not as bad as feared, companies went above and beyond to provide vaccines for their employees and their families. We’ve noticed that the sense of communication has been at its highest, and globally, Indians have a natural sense of community and social fabric. Companies don’t need to hold a board meeting to make a resolution to look at communities.
In a hybrid setting, biases and stereotypes are likely to become deeper. Companies are telling us that they see variances in performance between employees who continue to work virtually versus those who come back to the office. Managing people has become more complex in this hybrid setting, and it’s here to stay.
Therefore, the most critical metric is whether employees feel they belong in the company. This is a game-changer because everything fluctuates, even with compensation and benefits. Just like in the stock market, the markets can crash suddenly. The same happens with compensation and benefits. Even if you try to average it out, the markets are unpredictable.
Also read: Salary Superseding Inflation, Hybrid Workforce: 5 Trends Changing Tech-Talent Landscape
Several companies struggled with digital transformation in the past three years. In tough times, how do you scale and continue surveys digitally?
Our strategy is to raise awareness and educate Indian entrepreneurs and leaders about the importance of investing in workplace culture. So, our research and insights will constantly be published in different forums.
Also, we conduct a lot of CEO-level roundtables and have the largest club in India today called the “Best Employers Club”. We also do a lot of community work for a group called the Great Certified Club, which is made up of all organisations that get certified. We aim to create a strong sense of community and share best practices among members through such approaches.
On the other hand, publishing research and insights is critical because the company may be experiencing the same issues as many others. The solution undoubtedly lies in creating and nurturing a healthy workplace culture.
The third angle that we’re actively pursuing is tie-ups with industry associations. For example, we have a fantastic relationship with SoJam, and a couple of others, like NASSCOM, with which we’re still in talks. We want this to be a knowledge partnership, not just a general one.
So, we are approaching it to create awareness through a three-pronged approach: building a strong sense of community, knowledge sharing, and tie-ups with industry associations rather than following a corporate sales strategy.
What are the top HR policies of Great Place to Work Institute?
We’re incredibly transparent. The Institute’s wellness practices are excellent; wellness leaves can be taken without question and earned.
The salaries of all employees are known to all employees and are talked about when quarterly bonuses are given out. We bring out an Excel sheet that marks everybody’s compensation.
Also, our organisation is committed to hiring people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and women make up over 60% of our workforce. Thus, we believe in doing the right thing and setting the industry’s standard.
Are any interesting or notable insights emerging from this ongoing survey? Are you adding anything special to the next survey for some clients?
This entire subject of fairness, which I spoke to you about yesterday, is emerging as a trend.
While some companies have mandated that all employees report back to work, others are fine with working from home. In fact, some certified organisations have made a public announcement about permanently working from home. Additionally, then some are adopting a hybrid.
So, we’re seeing trends which are creating FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Biases deepen if an employee constantly works from home and a part of his team goes to the office. Obviously, there will be a sense of “Am I missing out on something?” Therefore, we are seeing a lot of conversations around this whole issue of fairness.
What would it be if you had to summarise 2022 across the industry from a bird’s-eye view?
2022, in my opinion, was a year of resiliency. With the sheer amount of effort, integration between technology, facilities, leadership, and working in multinational environments across multiple time zones– India Inc. has clearly emerged as a leader who values compassion.
There is evident data to prove that we’ve done the right thing in terms of Compassionate Leadership. A huge shoutout should go to the HR leaders whose unwavering integration, resiliency, and ability to keep everything together helped us get through challenging times.
I also believe 2022 has been an era where we have seen an emergence of a lot of innovation and creativity. There are so many things that I’ve never done before that I’m doing today. As a result, it has produced a wealth of new and improved best practices.
Also read: Rebuild, Realign, Revamp: Organisations Recouped After the Pandemic To Reshape 2023
What would you crystal ball for 2023 from an HR perspective?
From an HR perspective, I think it will be what I call intentional collaboration. Whether insisting employees come together, creating that sense of belongingness, looking at unconscious and conscious biases, or stepping in, it will be about that intentional collaboration.
The second thing is that digitisation is here to stay. So we will see huge investments in automation, automation anywhere, automation everywhere.
Also, a lot of the HR practices, as we speak, are getting automated. The HR fraternity itself, from a trend standpoint, may experience a split into high-tech and high-touch. So the absolute need for HR fraternity generalists is rapidly dwindling because of hybridization and digitization. There’s a massive amount of AI bots, for example.
So the HR high-tech is increasing, but high touch is also rising because of mental health issues. So HR itself as a function will evolve into high-tech and high-touch.
The most critical metric is whether employees feel they belong in the company. This is a game-changer because everything fluctuates, even with compensation and benefits. Just like in the stock market, the markets can crash suddenly.
What could India Inc. be doing in 2023 that could be transformational?
One thing to consider is to look at technology and automation in a way that is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We can learn from emerging global best practices, such as equity in technology. We should aim to ensure individual customisation within our HR people policies, even though we may have a broad, organization-wide HR policy.
This translates into having equitable, inclusive, and equitable HR policies, with the C-suite driving it. However, we still have a long way to go in this area.
Second, from a mental health and well-being standpoint, while we have seen a lot of measures taken by organisations, there is still a need for commitment from the C-suite. Vulnerability is still acceptable at entry-level positions but not yet tolerated at the C-suite level.
To address this, genuine commitment and acceptance of emotional and mental well-being issues must be addressed, as our environments have become more stressful and complex. Western economies approach this differently, and we can learn from their practices.
Finally, we should look at the evolution of the so-called gig economy. Our recruitment and human resources models are mainly traditional, and we primarily hire full-time employees. However, as more companies emerge, hiring for full-time roles drastically reduces.
This is because we are becoming a gig economy, and people want to pursue what they are passionate about without committing to a full-time role. Global best practices on this topic already exist, and we can learn from them and create something unique for ourselves.
Also read: Multiple Job offers to Wane, Cash Conservation: Simplilearn’s Archana Krishna Predicts 2023 Trends
Year of Incorporation: 02-06-2021
Number of Employees: 94
Founder: Prasenjit Bhattacharya
– Balbir Singh
– Yeshasvini Ramaswamy
Business Line: Great Place To Work® is the global authority on building, sustaining and recognizing High-Trust, High-Performance Culture at workplaces.
Hiring: The hiring stages are as follows:
1. Screening Interview
2. Aptitude Assessment
3. Interview round with the Manager
4. Final Leadership Interview
5. Reference Checks
Workforce Pie (in %): Assessment Delivery (13.83%), Brand & Marketing (8.51%), Client Acquisition (5.32%), Consulting (15.96%), Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (4.26%), Events (4.26%), Finance & Accounts (4.26%), Lissen.io (8.51%), Operations (7.45%), OneGPTW (1.06%), People & Culture (4.26%), Research & Publication (3.19%), Sales & BD (9.57%), Workplace Wellness (3.19%) and Central (6.38%).
Key HR Factor: Focus on employee well-being, Flexible Performance Review Cycle, Focus on Employee development (Personal Development Budget)
Key Investor: Prasenjit Bhattacharya