‘The younger workforce is willing to experiment’

Over the last decade, the role of HR has shifted from being an isolated back office and bureaucratic function to one that can bring significant competitive advantage and help organizations achieve strategic business objectives. Rosita Rabindra, Chief People Officer, NIIT Technologies, has led many HR innovations for her organization over the last several years. In an interaction with Dataquest, Rabindra reflects on how the HR function has evolved and what it means for IT organizations.

How has the people-orientation of IT companies evolved over the years? Can you identify some of the major changes that you have seen?

People being the largest asset in IT companies, there is a lot of focus on dealing with the changing demographics. Companies are trying to align their practices with the expectations of the young generation workforce. Emphasis on constant skill upgradation, additional incentives for specific skills and competencies is another trend that we are witnessing in the industry. Also we are seeing an increased focus on mobilizing talent in shorter time intervals and cross border recruitments becoming more common and acceptable.

As the industry grapples with a sluggish economic situation, what are the HR best practices that can be adopted?

I believe compensation is only a part of what keeps employees glued to an organization, with the major thrust being on addressing respective career aspirations of employees and showing them the growth track. Some of the HR practices that can be adopted in today’s times include rewards and recognition, extensive skilling and leadership development. Also companies need to focus on meeting career growth plan of individual staff members which are most affected by slow growth and fewer business opportunities.

Do you see a major shift in attitude of the younger workforce today? Could you highlight some of these changes?

I find the young workforce willing to experiment, wanting to add value, and make a difference to the business. Social Media is a staple for them and the need to collaborate and share is an intrinsic part of their work and personal lives. A large majority of our employee base comprises of young executives less than 30 years of age. This group is characteristically more restless, high on ambition and has a basic need for frequent change in their lives. We at NIIT Technologies have a dedicated Career Mobility Centre that focuses on addressing the career aspirations of the employees and our constant endeavor is to align our policies & HR practices for this Gen Y.

What are the main challenges that IT companies face today with respect to people?

The biggest challenge or I would call it adapting to the changing dynamics is what IT companies should word towards with respect to people. The requirements from our customers are changing and this would mean a change in the way IT professionals work and grow. The breed of so called “coders” are not what will drive our future business but there is a need for people to be able to think, innovate and add value in the everyday work. Customers expect this from people across the company and not just specialized architects and domain consultants. People management skills are very critical for even junior managers and working as a team to collaborate across countries/ technologies is the answer to increasing productivity & enhancing customer value. All this requires big shift in the mindset and culture within the organizations.

How do you at NIIT Tech help your people keep up with the changing requirements & skill sets?

We at NIIT Technologies keep our people up with the changing requirements & skill sets through constant training both on the job and formal learning modules. Our employees are constantly assessed through 360 Degree feedback process, Performance Appraisal, and Competency Scores. Based on the identified gaps we work on bridging them through an in-house training facility, which addresses training needs of NIITians. It imparts different types of trainings like Technical, Functional, Behavioral and also runs “Boot Camps”. Boot camps are rigorous residential learning programs organized to induct our campus hires in the organization. The camps also inculcate team building, leadership, motivation, self-improvement, commitment to organization and personal growth.

Is multi-skilling becoming a norm? What is your approach to this?

Yes multi skilling is becoming very important in today’s challenging scenario. We have a Career Mobility Portal on our intranet that hosts tools like mobility maps and skill progression guides that help the employees drive their learning initiatives on their own. Additional credits are awarded for cross platform training & undertaking certification. We also have an e-learning program, eSEED which offers over 10,000 programs to help NIITians keep pace with the latest technologies, and enhance their technical and non technical skills at any time, any place.

As a workplace we focus on both ends of the spectrum – learning and fun. We believe in helping people meet their career aspirations and also creating a fun environment.

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