Aashish Singh (Director- India HR, Convergys India Services Pvt. Ltd.) affirms the importance of people engagement initiatives in an organisation where the average employee’s age is below 30, in conversation with Sushmita Yadav.
He is a man of discipline, a must-have trait for every HR professional. Mr. Aashish Singh imbibed this characteristic during his stint with the Indian Army as a short service officer in the Technical wing. Initially a student of Engineering, he went on to study Management from IMT and IIM-Calcutta, as his heart was always in people management.
After his stint with the Indian Army, Mr. Singh in the year 2000 got his first opportunity to work as an HR manager. This became his learning ground and he got the exposure he was looking for. “I was actively involved with various forums and HR activities,” he says. After an association of five years, he moved to DATA Inc. as Country Head-HR. In 2007, he joined Convergys as the HR head of Shared Services.
Initially, Mr. Singh’s role only involved looking after the Northern region for Convergys’ Shared Services. He explains, “The concept of Shared Services is a relatively new phenomena which has taken the HR industry by storm. It is a process of streamlining HR plans and benefits rolled out by an organisation pan-India.” The vertical, he adds, ensures that all employees at the same level across the country receive similar benefits; thus it works towards giving equality to all. In his opinion, the concept is fast becoming an essential tool for HR.
Within a matter of time, he came to be the Director-HR (India) at Convergys, as he shares, “Convergys is an organisation that gives its employees ample scope for growth. Employees are valued and every individual is treated like an asset.” He says that this approach helps the company stand out amongst the competition. Having experienced the fruits of growth himself, he too makes sure to share the same kind of opportunities with this team.
The average age at Convergys is below 30 and most employees are freshers, straight out of the college. Owing to this, it is vital for HR to emphasise on training, to manage the culture shock these employees get upon entering the corporate world. A specialised on-boarding team helps the new entrants to adjust and adapt to the new environment. The company does not believe in only going by-the-book when it comes to training programmes; they also try to cater to the immediate industry needs. “Initial training is for three to four months. We encourage them to ask as many questions as they can, since there are no wrong questions; at the same time it is crucial to put your query across to the correct person. We consider communication to be an integral part in making employees a part of the organisation’s growth,” he clarifies.
Also, a good deal of time is invested in counselling sessions to guide the youngsters. Mr. Singh points out, “We look at the aspirations of employees and map their careers accordingly.” An employee can reach out to an HR specialist and discuss his/her trajectory of career growth and how to achieve the desired goal. “We recently had a career fair, where around 200 participants got the opportunity to find out where their career is heading and the best job profile for them,” adds he.
After spending more than two decades in the HR industry, Mr. Singh feels that the most challenging job for an HR professional is to provide growth opportunities to employees. He elaborates, “Only if an organisation is doing well does it become relatively easy to fulfill empoyees’ career aspirations. But in 2008-2009, the industry did not experience that kind of growth, so it became difficult to meet aspirations. We, in HR, took that time off to train the employees.” Now that the industry is back on the growth path, the employees at Convergys are raring to get to the next level because of the training and counselling sessions that they attended during those two years.
“My aim is to have Convergys becoming the employer of choice,” remarks Mr. Singh. The mission is to ensure that every employee should feel like coming to work the next day, and feel passionate about his/her job. Since most jobs at the company involve teamwork, it becomes all the more critical to provide the appropriate environment and benefits to keep the momentum going.
The company rolls out employee engagement initiatives on a continuous basis and is also active on the CSR front. One of the most recent was the Second Medical Opinion plan, a first in the country. “Since a majority of employees are from satellite cities, they are staying away from their families. In case there is a family medical emergency in their native town, employees can submit the concerned family member’s medical documents on the web portal specially-designed for this purpose. A panel of renowned doctors study the reports and give their opinion,” he tells us. He adds that the portal has been a success and they have received positive feedback from the employees on it. Convergys also gives its employees a chance to pursue higher studies, to continuously raise the bar of its workforce. With tie-ups initiated with various universities, employees are authorised to utilise those after serving for a specific period in the organisation. The programme is such that the expenses are borne by the company; only a minimum amount needs to be paid by the employee.
Besides these interventions, Convergys recognises that since employees spend almost nine hours in the office everyday, at times the families may get sidelined. To manage that, Convergys celebrates Annual Family Day where families and relatives of employees visit the workplace and mingle with co-workers and other families. This helps people to understand each other better and connect beyond the professional context. In the process, family members get to know about the organisation and work culture, important since Convergys operates 24/7 due to the nature of its work.
This expert professes that a successful HR professional must be a good listener; it is critical to listen to employees’ grievances with a patient ear, since many a times the solution lies within the problem. The abilities to take controlled decisions and remain well-versed with government policies and mandates are essentials. As a parting note, he advises budding professionals against taking irrational decisions, in order to safeguard their careers.
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