Rajiv Naithani, Chief People Officer, Infogain, in an exclusive interaction with ETHRWorld

Infogain onboards over 1,100 employees, to hire more than 1,500 people

The following interview with our Chief People Officer, Rajiv Naithani, published in ETHRWorld on March 20th, 2021. Follow this link to view the original article.

With the increased adoption of technology in people practices and processes, Rajiv Naithani, Chief People Officer, Infogain, believes HR has been able to focus its energy on people engagement, retention, strengthening culture, learning interventions and overall employee experience.

Speaking of talent management in times of pandemic, he said to deal with the talent supply issue, the IT major has critically looked at the overall hiring process to ensure it has candidate experience at its centre.

In an exclusive interaction with ETHRWorld, Naithani reveals Infogain is looking for professionals who are passionate about learning modern technologies and are skilled in technologies like Azure, Cloud technologies, Microservices, React JS, among others. Edited excerpts:

Please share your experience in managing the HR functions and their various aspects for almost 20 years? How has the role of HR leaders evolved in the last two decades? What role the pandemic has played in this?

A lot has changed in the last two decades for the HR functions. When I started my career, HR was subject to provide hiring, training, policies, and payroll specific services. However, soon I saw the evolution of HR as HR Business Partner and Experience driven services to employees. Since then, HR has evolved to be a right partner in bringing balance between business imperatives and employee advocacy.

In my personal view, the HR function has gone through drastic changes in the last 10 years alone. Some of the changes I have witnessed in the last 10 years include human touch coupled with technology advancement has transformed the overall employee experience paradigm, including higher productivity and efficiency.

Talent being the key driver for the success of organisations, Organisation Behaviour has become a focussed priority for the HR function.

We have seen rapid changes in the industry in the last decade, that has also pushed organisations to keep evolving their people practices and business priorities to remain relevant. In view of this, Organisation Development has evolved to be the key strategic HR priorities for organisations. Mostly, HR is driving strategic change management for companies, particularly in the areas of culture, M&A integrations, employee experience and retention, leadership assessment and development, and overall organisation and people competence and capabilities etc.

With the increased adoption of technology in people practices and processes, HR has been able to focus its energy on people engagement, retention, strengthening culture, learning interventions and overall employee experience.

One major shift I have witnessed and experienced is in the space of Social Media and Talent Branding. In the earlier context, it used to be Employer Branding but with the advent of Social Media, it shifted to Talent & Social Branding.

Due to this shift, HR had to make this as one of its key strategic priorities to drive better talent and social branding. Showcasing the company’s culture and values, including workplace environment, in social media has become a part of the HR priorities. Today external social media perception is one of the key KPI being looked at for HR with respect to Talent Branding.

As an HR leader, I look at my accountability under three contexts:

Firstly, a role as custodian - play a role of conscious keeper and torch bearer for the company's values and culture.

Secondly, as enabler - to play a key enabler role in organisational transformation, including enabling day-to-day support to leaders, managers and employees in the overall growth journey of the organisation.

Thirdly, as a service provider - to provide accountable and experience driven services to our employees which are measurable and linked to defined SLAs.

Overall, HR has surely earned the seat at the leadership table in this evolution journey. The Covid-19 pandemic has further elevated the importance of HR professionals within organisations as never before. Today, business leaders are consulting HR leadership on important decisions related to business and people. HR function’s agility and adaptability to change have been well received by organisations and employees.

While some IT companies plan to opt for remote working for a longer period of time, what is Infogain’s strategy in this regard? What innovative programmes or initiatives are in place to keep up the employee engagement level?

The employees’ health, safety and wellbeing remain our priority. We were among the few companies which had declared work from home much before the government had announced the lockdown. It's been almost a year for us being in a remote working environment. I am thankful to our employees who adapted to this change seamlessly and caused no disruption to business continuity and client satisfaction. We rather observed increased productivity under this model. We continue to remain at work from home and will be carefully monitoring the situation in the near future before we make any change to our working model.

To be able to support remote working, we have been running various different programmes and initiatives enabling this virtual working model including ensuring employee engagement remains to be high and a sense of belongingness is not lost.

We redefined the employee life cycle to adapt to virtual processes starting from hiring to retiring. Employee connects approach changed and redefined in line with the reality of virtual connect.

We also leveraged internal social collaboration platforms (Workplace) for regular communication, connect, collaboration and celebration (4C’s of Infogain).

We rolled out various focussed learning and engagement interventions for the employees and their family members through the virtual connect platforms.

Employee wellbeing remained to be the top priority and on a regular interval, sessions on emotional, physical and mental wellbeing have been organised. There was a dedicated microsite on Covid-19 launched to help manage the transition. Practically, the location boundaries blurred in providing careers to the employees.

Information Technology was one of the sectors that saw a sharp uptick in business during the lockdown. How did the company deal with this from a talent standpoint?

The IT industry saw a sharp recovery from the slowdown caused due to the pandemic. This created talent retention and hiring issues for the companies. The market continues to be challenging with respect to hiring and retention. Offer-to-hiring rates have been concerning for companies in the IT Industry. Almost every single candidate has multiple options and most of them hold multiple offers making it difficult for companies to hire. Attrition rate has also started picking up due to the same.

With respect to Infogain, employees continue to remain at the epicentre of our business. Even during the lockdown, we demonstrated a high amount of empathy and humane approach to support our employees during the pandemic. Our strategy has been to continue to keep our employees engaged and listen to their tasks.

We advanced our annual compensation review cycle by three months. To deal with the talent supply issue, we have critically looked at our overall hiring process to ensure it has candidate experience at its centre. Our objective is to provide a differentiator experience to the candidates in the entire hiring life cycle.

What is the current attrition rate at the company? And what’s the average attrition rate for your sector?

Our YTD annualised attrition rate has been under 13 per cent. The average annualised attrition rate in our industry is ranging between 14 per cent to 16 per cent.

What is the hiring strategy at the organisation for this year? What profiles will you be recruiting for? How many people were recruited in 2020?

Our hiring strategy has been evolving keeping in view the market being dynamic and we are still operating remotely. As a human-centred digital platform and software engineering company, we provide a new edge technology work to our employees. Cutting edge technology work coupled with differentiated employee experience are key to our hiring strategy.

We are looking for professionals who are passionate about learning modern technologies and are skilled in technologies like Azure, Cloud technologies, Microservices, React JS, Angular, SDET, DevOps, in addition to Java & .Net skills to name a few. We will also be onboarding a good number of Architects, like Data Architects, Cloud Solutions Architects, DevOps Architects, Java Architects, IoT Architects, Kubernetes Architects, .NET Microservices Architects etc.

During the calendar year 2020, we hired over 1,100 employees. Our hiring requirements have gone up significantly in the last few months. We plan to hire over 1,500 employees during FY 2022.

What are the employee recognition and appraisal policies at the organisation? Was there any roll out of promotions and bonuses during the lockdown?

We have a formal rewards and recognition framework in place, which has provisions to recognise and reward employees who go above and beyond at work. These are monthly and quarterly recognitions. Our appraisal policy is annual and follows the fiscal cycle of April to March in India. During the lockdown, we did release the variable compensation to all the eligible employees and also announced promotions.

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