Rendezvous with Saurabh Govil, President & CHRO, Wipro Limited on Voluntary Attrition
Saurabh Govil is the President & Chief Human Resources Officer at Wipro Ltd and is also a member of the Management Team. In this role, he leads all Human Resources functions for Wipro.
Despite having over 3 decades of experience Saurabh still considers himself as a newbie who constantly maintains a child-like curiosity to learns new things. Before joining Wipro he worked in organizations such as ITC and GE.
An alumnus of XLRI, Jamshedpur he completed his Masters in Human Resources. He is on the advisory board of SHRM India and also a regular speaker at NASSCOM’s HR summit. He also contributes to NHRDN’s journal as an author.
Q. Is Wipro prepared for the Return to Workplace? What is your blueprint to bring employees back to office?
The majority of our workforce (over 98%) continues to operate from home as of now. We do see merit in people coming to office to experience the culture and build social capital via informal interactions. Our first priority is employee safety. Post the initial lockdowns as the Indian economy opened we tried different options in getting people to office, where required, such as zoning protocols, distant seating, isolation rooms, sanitization, etc but we implemented them only when required. As much as possible we were enabling employees to WFH.
However now with vaccination picking up pace, we are ready to get employees back to the workplace. Our actions are guided by employee safety as well as culture building as mentioned above. While I cannot share details at this juncture we do have some guiding principles for return to work. Firstly, we will follow a country-specific approach. We are requesting employees to declare their vaccination status, in geographies where it is permissible by law, so that return to work can be better planned and we can minimize risks to employees.
We do not see employees coming to office for more than 2 days a week at this juncture. Our offices are unlikely to be open all days of a week. At the same time, we will not operate at full capacity on any day to ensure adherence to COVID protocols. It is within these contours that we are exploring Return to work. We will also ensure adherence to any country-specific requirements as mandated by that country’s regulatory framework.
Q. Employee attrition has emerged as the biggest concern for IT Industry, what’s your plan to deal with it?
Attrition has always been a concern for the industry however now we are witnessing an unprecedented war for talent. We look at attrition at different levels. One level is the point at which attrition is happening and doing an intervention at that point. That is a reactive approach that has its own merits and is required.
This includes doing an out-of-turn retention bonus, project change, etc. However, our main focus is to boost retention of talented employees through multiple levers such as competitive compensation, contemporary benefits, career growth, and superior talent management methodologies.
We are constantly reviewing and adapting our talent management processes in line with our strategic direction. We have made significant changes to our people processes this year to align with a performance-driven culture. In terms of reward processes in the past 6 months, we ran a bonus cycle, MSI cycle for all our employees as well as a promotion cycle across all bands.
We have revamped our recognition portal and also introduced a digital learning portal. Our enterprise-wide change initiative through IT system enhancements is also aimed to enhance employee experience. Our firm belief is that we need to make fundamental shifts according to emerging realities balancing organizational and employee considerations. These will yield long-term results and enable retention.
At the same time, we are also undertaking specific geo-wise, practice wise and skill-based initiatives to address issues before they arise. Finally, last but not least is sustained employee engagement via managers and HR partners. Our philosophy is to make the right decisions in the interest of employees and ensure that our employees are equitably and competitively rewarded with good quality work and competitive rewards.
Q. What are the new rewards and employees benefits you have started to boost employee retention?
We recognized early during the pandemic that employee benefits centered around employee care, mental health, and having a more enhanced R&R will be key to meeting employee needs. Along with our primary focus in extending consistent support to employees and their families to get through the challenging times of COVID, we launched many initiatives to boost recognition.
We recently launched a reimagined R&R program with an intuitive user-friendly app. This new program looks at improved peer-to-peer recognition, rewarding champions who demonstrate Wipro values, more options for employees to encash rewards, increased reward value for long service awardees, enhanced user experience for all, and much more.
We introduced a best-in-class employee assistance program with a mobile-friendly app to ensure the emotional and mental well-being of employees & their family members through access to theme-based webinars, articles, expert coaches, clinical counselling, and much more.
In addition to the above, leaves under COVID Leave policy, Bereavement Leave for employees, Extended paternity leave, Break-from-work policy have been introduced to provide employees with necessary breaks.
Medical & financial assistance has been ensured through reimbursement against vaccination, COVID coverage under insurance scheme, interest-free contingency loan as well as COVID financial assistance, adoption assistance policy that provides financial assistance to families adopting a child, reimbursement of Medi-claims for same-sex partners, disability aids and much more.
From introducing new benefit policies, R&R programs, Employee assistance, incentives, to responding to COVID effectively through on-the-ground activities, we are consistently doing all we can to ensure our employees remain satisfied, productive, and positive.
Q. How do you see the compensation trends in the Hybrid work model?
Compensation trends will vary across geographies and depend on demand/supply of talent across critical roles. With the push to digitization, there is high demand for critical tech talent and competitive compensation is definitely critical to acquire top tech talent. However, firms will need to consider a holistic approach to attracting talent in a hybrid work model.
Apart from pay, other aspects of a strong employee value proposition – including lifestyle and voluntary benefits, a focus on work-life balance, and wellness – will also resonate strongly.
At Wipro, we are constantly looking at ways to improve our health and wellbeing programs to provide security necessary to support employees in an agile and flexible workplace. Some of the benefits I have outlined earlier.
Essentially, a hybrid work model will demand a hybrid model for rewards and pay. These will offer better opportunities for differentiation.
Q. What are your hiring plans for 2021-22?
Wipro underwent an organization transformation in 2021. Our CEO ushered in a new organization design in line with our strategy. We have ambitious growth plans and our hiring plans are in line with these. There is a distinct focus on building diversity at the highest levels.
Our focus remains on hiring optimal leadership talent required for sustaining and growing the business. We will see a marked move on hiring tall leaders across the globe in line with our commitment towards localization and servicing the customer in the best possible manner. Diversity in hiring especially at senior levels is being practiced. We are proud to say that today 100% of our job listings are gender-neutralized in line with our strong philosophy of equality & inclusivity.
In addition, we will also be working on creating a strong fresher talent pipeline to service business requirements. Our fresher intake is likely to increase significantly in line with our growth aspirations and this includes both technical and non-technical campus.
Q. Any concluding comments?
Wipro is undergoing an amazing transformation journey and it is evident in our last three-quarter results. Talent is the most important pillar of this transformation and we will continue to invest in hiring, building, and retaining it.
We also recognise that the way we work has fundamentally changed due to the pandemic and we are committed to take the most optimal decisions on all talent aspects to ensure that our employees can work in the best possible manner in this new hybrid work arrangement.
Thank You, Saurabh!