Its lunch hour… a senior executive walks down to the basement to check
whether his two-year-old has had his food and taken a nap. The toddler is busy
playing with a set of building blocks under the keen eye of a nanny. As the
executive returns to his seat, he has a smile on his face. And why bother that
many of his colleagues have seen him go and watch over his son… after all, he’s
just a concerned father. He’s merely helping his harried wife out by bringing
the kid to work.
That’s Xansa India for outsiders. An organization with a working
environment conducive for mothers and fathers who like to bring their kids along
to work… With a company provided crÃ¨che, most employees are free to
concentrate on their work, with lesser cares in the world, knowing their child
is just a walk away.
If this sounds like a survey on workplace crÃ¨ches, it isn’t. Instead, this
chronicles the personality that makes such facilities possible in the first
place. And for that, we meet Binoo Wadhwa, country HR head, Xansa (India), the
woman who has reached out and made life simpler for many young working mothers.
And lest some doting dads feel this is all about concerned mothers and doesn’t
address their concerns, well, they can count themselves in.
Xansa, which won the prestigious ‘Excellence in e-HR Award’ recently,
prides itself on being a “people-focussed” company. Wadhwa believes in
treating company staffers as “internal customers”, whom she has to
sell the company to everyday in order to maintain a happy ship. She explains,
“We are not talking machines here, we are talking human beings. And every
human being likes to be taken care of, pampered actually. If someone feels that
their working environment doesn’t offer them life outside its glass cubicles,
they will simply refuse to come back and take it.”
Wadhwa adds that handling HR at an employee-heavy software company is not an
easy task. “This is not a Scott Adams’ comic strip, where Dilbert invents
his notorious pastimes to make the workplace more entertaining at the expense of
his co-workers. This is a real life situation–here, we need external
intervention because too much creativity could actually kill amusement in its
The roadmap to success
Tech-savvy as Xansa may be now, but its been a long walk getting to this
point. The turnaround happened when the parent company in the UK decided to
introduce Peoplesoft in the Indian market. But the Indian team wanted to be more
confident about the product and decided to internalize it first before making
Then there was another reason–Wadhwa realized that there was a chance to
make her customers comfortable and curb the already minimal attrition rate.
Today, she prides herself on the fact that Xansa employees “are so happy
that hardly anybody wants to leave”. In fact, she cites some instances of
“strayed sheep returning to the fold cribbing about how bad their stint
outside the company has been”.
The HR team implemented Peoplesoft in Xansa because they believed that HR and
IT work hand in hand. Peoplesoft is completely focussed on the Internet. It uses
next-generation architecture, which leverages a number of Internet technologies
and concepts to deliver simple, ubiquitous Peoplesoft access to collaborate with
customers, employees, and suppliers.
Says Wadhwa, “The marriage between HR and IT is happy and mutually
complementary.” She also believes that the synergy between HR and IT
actually acts as a facilitator in keeping employees motivated, charged up and
happy. “At Xansa, we stray from theoretical HR to actually understanding
business and making it a key player in strategy forming and decision
making,” she adds.
Taking up the mother concern–the challenge to integrate Peoplesoft in this
branch–the Indian team reworked its processes and procedures and ultimately
came up with a new online HR policy. “Everything HR is now online,”
says Wadhwa. The entire file cabinet has been uploaded with free access
available to all workers on a 24X7 basis, irrespective of job roles.
And here’s the coup de grace–Xansa has implemented Peoplesoft in India in
such an efficient manner that the parent company has been forced to take a
relook at its own implementation and start all over again, taking pointers from
the job done here.
Every employee is important in his own right… In Wadhwa’s words:
“Anything that happens in the company does not happen alone.”
Everybody, from the line manager to the CEO, has a say in most matters, courtesy
postings on the intranet.
From recruitment to leave applications to mobile phone reimbursement forms,
everything is there on the Xansa People Page. This allows employees to confirm
their status and post requirements online. Wadhwa has also helped create a
“convenience tool” so that there’s no pending paperwork–outstandings–on
Wadhwa has helped change the traditional role of an HR manager, “from
that of a specialist to one of a generalist”. The team has made it possible
for even lower-rung employees to avail of learning facilities that can help them
grow in the organization. From holding seminars on interesting theories or
findings by employees to actually organizing weekly meetings with the Provident
Fund (PF) and Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) personnel, employees are given
full leeway to air their opinions and come up with suggestions to create a
Further, the HR team maintains that it provides critical support to employees
whenever required. “This free-for-all appraoch that we follow, wherein
anyone can walk into my office and demand an answer, is the best form of
assessing the pulse of our Xansa family here,” says Wadhwa. She admits that
one of her KRAs is that she should be “open to criticism”.
And the people pages on the intranet have ensured that employees post queries
online, making the management accountable and responsible, but most important,
Discipline is essential
Despite all these employee-friendly schemes–from in-house crÃ¨ches to an
indoor ATM facility–Xansa has strict guidelines on discipline. “And
having followed all the feedback from our employees and then ensuring that all
their requirements have been taken care of, it is only natural that the
management too accept a certain code of conduct,” says Wadhwa. And that
code of conduct includes many ‘don’ts’, among which are unofficial or
unauthorised use of the office e-mail facility for personal gain. “Sure, we
monitor the Net and its usage constantly. There haven’t been any specific
instances that come to mind, but if the situation calls for it, we are prepared
to take stern action in case of breach of conduct,” she adds.
Cearly, Xansa–like so many other companies in the software business today–has
been focussing heavily on HR, for the results of years or work are rather
visible. And thanks to Wadhwa and her team, Xansa has learnt e-HR. And the
future seems brighter, given that the open policy has protected them from the
worst of the slowdown. The company proudly claims 0% layoffs and cost-cuts (of
course, having the parent company based in the United Kingdom has helped).
And with some clear signs of a turnaround on the horizon, the going could get
better for the company. “We have a few more initiatives planned shortly,
and they should prop up sentiment some more,” says Wadhwa. Sure enough, for
HR is no one-off instant karma, but an ongoing process…
Dhanya Krishnakumar in New Delhi