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Redesigned people practices of Indian IT Industry 4.0: Nurturing Organizational Culture & Employee Engagement

In the first post of the series: The way to Indian IT Industry 4.0 passes through redesigned genomes of people practices, key thoughts on re-calibration of structural hierarchy, people practices and communication membrane for a future ready organizational structure have been outlined. Strongly driven by unflinching leadership resolve for open and equitable practices, it emphasized on a 3-pronged people-centric approach to augment much desired resilience, agility and employee experience quotients of the future organizations.

In the present post, we outline key opportunity areas to address languid organizational culture and trust deficit in leadership practices, which significantly affect team morale and work environment. In emerging realm of alternative working models, organizational thrust should nurture individual drive towards experimentation and innovation, by breaking labyrinthine departmental silos and imposed boundaries. Entrusting engagements and enabling space for legitimate voices of employees in redesigned organizational practices will significantly improve workplace culture, transparency and employee engagement.

Future workplace with sensitive, dignified and responsive people practices

Employees are under immense emotional strain feeling lonely with burnout and sapping morale under prolonged lock-down. It requires more responsive measures towards employee wellbeing and engagement, particularly in multi-time zone set-up. Lacking conscientious sensitivity for individual situations, pompous policies and regimented procedures for ‘future workplace’ would fail to evoke genuine trust and empowerment, necessary to foster engagement. Frequently engaging with employees and handling concerns with empathy is no longer an optionality for a leader to be deferred indefinitely.

Remote working or otherwise, leaders are expected to know individual situations better for actively guiding on outcome and genuinely supporting individual aspirations without bias. It is in this context, it becomes hard to comprehend wooly workplace policies on location tagging apps, screen / keystroke tracking, eccentric timesheet compliance and forced leaves for any default – all in guise of employee wellbeing (How caring we are!) needs rethinking. Companies need to evaluate their expectations from ‘future workplace’ – hours spent pretending to be part of the work or the outcome. Importantly, how is the existence of leader restored under maze of apps, virtual webinar & ritualistic townhalls.

Nurturing individual drive towards experimentation and innovation

Conventional organizational culture and leadership practices put premium on ‘Fail-safe’ philosophy – with emphasis on ‘continue doing more of the same’. It is the time to challenge this constricted paradigm, which consciously keep employees tightly aligned with the ‘organizational goals’ without providing space for individual drive for new learning and innovation. Shifting away from the ‘Fail-safe’ fixation, organizational thrust should nurture individual drive towards experimentation and innovation and effectively tap entrepreneurial energy present within organization.

For promoting an entrepreneurial mindset, it also requires holistic reevaluation of performance evaluation and leadership practices to coherently deal with motivation issues. Common set of template-based goals and performance evaluation become an irrelevant idea in contemporary sense and requires a distinctive approach for extraordinary and inventive performers. With requisite recognition and career growth path to self-directed entrepreneurial employees, it would provide an enabling space to explore and experiment untested paths to harness innovation opportunities, towards larger organizational benefits.

Breaking the silos and controlled boundaries

To transcend over the strains of entrenched group rivalries and territorial tussles and realize the maxim of whole is greater than the sum of parts, it becomes a vital necessity to break the boundaries set along with units/service lines/ industry verticals/ specialized practices and other conventional mold. In an uncertain business environment, creating enhanced awareness of organizational capabilities, offerings, success stories, though leadership perspectives, complimentary capabilities and shared resources amongst groups becomes critical survival mantra.

With cross-team integration, consolidation of siloed competencies in a synergistic frame and evolving new ways of collaborative thinking become essential towards responsive and forward looking business solutions. Shifting the enterprise horizon for employees to look beyond typical flint-view and strengthening the enterprise connectedness fibers, it significantly enhances team culture and camaraderie to walk out of silo boundaries and contribute with significantly impassioned collaborative responses. Focused steps to set-up of institutionalized practices for development of shared repositories, collaborative framework and tools as well as forward looking offering ideas would go a long way.

Sincere and steadfast employee engagement

Traditional models of employee engagement with a stiffened leadership posture, patronizing communication tone, self-patting satisfaction surveys and sponsored HR awards– all of sudden appear primitive to connect with employees. An abrupt recast of organizational values map (profound amplified assertions about enhanced Value, Purpose and employee / social sensitivities) and consequent employee engagement drives in pandemic period are pleasantly surprising development on part of the companies. Yet, it remains a harsh reality that investment of leadership attention, time and resources in employee engagement have been least prioritized and vitally missing from people practices all these years.

Some of recent course correction measures – flooding calls for employee wellbeing, ‘we care for you’ themed webinars and perfunctory town-halls with stiffened and pompous leadership gesture help little to improve sense of belonging for employees. Without scrutinizing the sincerity of such drives and its ground effect, it requires significantly intensified outreach efforts to purge out accumulated engagement lags. Plugging of prevailing trust deficit with serious and determined leadership efforts can immensely help to nurture balanced organizational dynamics.

Enabling space for employees’ voice in organizational affairs

Union or no union, the question has always been debatable for the Indian IT industry. It could be of lesser relevance even now, considering overall business interests of individual organizations and industry as a whole in volatile ecosystem. At the same time, a transparent and empowered mechanism enabling space for employees’ say in organizational affairs, will help with an improved sense of employees’ participation and ownership. Employees being a key stakeholder in organization’s well-being – having disproportionately larger emotional and economic interest for its survival and growth, a democratic representation for legitimate voices in redesigned organizational practices.

Disclaimer: The author is an employee of Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS). The opinions expressed herein are of author’s own and do not reflect those of the company.

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