Are you interested in people management? Do you aspire to encourage employees to perform better? Are you always looking at motivation, training, etc as solutions to organisational problems? In that case, an HR career is probably your cup of tea. But how well do you know your HR concepts? Solve this case study, brought to you by InsideIIM in association with ABGLP and show off how well you know your HR management curriculum!
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And now, On To The Case Study
Introduction- The Protagonist
After a decade of fast growth, going from 250 employees to 15,000 employees and from $5 million in revenue to $754 million as well as being ranked No. 1 in the Business Today Best Employer survey, this IT systems ginat felt a rude shock in 2003 when it fell off of the Best Employer List completely. Because of this disaster, the leadership of the company held a meeting in November of 2003 to set a new and aggressive milestone for the company: to ensure that this IT Services company Group was on the Top Ten lists of both Best Performing Companies as well as Best Employers by 2007. While leadership set this seemingly attainable goal, the HR team knew it would be no easy task as no large organization had ever been able to achieve this distinction because of the need to control costs for financial performance and the spending required for employee satisfaction. The fact that this IT Services company fell completely from the Best Employers list caused a huge media uproar and commotion in the industry, and the situation was referred to as the “downfall” of the poster child of the Indian software industry. As this IT Services company continued its growth, the HR team knew it needed to prevent crises like this from happening in the future, but they did not have a model or path to follow.
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In 1981, after working in the public sector and at a start-up software firm in India, Narayana Murthy, along with six others, left their jobs at the software firm and founded this IT Services company with only $250 borrowed from their spouses. From the start, Murthy and his six colleagues shared a vision of creating wealth in a legal and ethical manner. Youngest co founder and current CEO Nandan Nilekani stated that they wanted to build a company that “was professionally owned and professionally managed, with good corporate governance, good employee management, and good ethics.”
The bureaucratic and heavily regulated governmental environment in India in the 1980s made it very difficult for this IT Services company to get off the ground; taking 12 months and 15 visits to Delhi to get permission from the government to import a computer and one year to get a phone line. The issue of foreign exchange for travel abroad was controlled through the Reserve Bank of India, and all of these constraints meant longer lead times in executing business. By 1986 this IT Services company still only had one client and by 1989 when the U.S. government put a restriction on the number of B1 visas it issued each year, this IT Services company was no longer able to visit its customer locations in the U.S. and the company was at a point where it was almost completely dissolved. After one of the cofounders left the company to pursue other opportunities in the U.S., the remaining cofounders discussed dissolving or selling the company, but when Murthy offered to buy out their shares to continue the company, the rest of the co founders decided to stay in it with him.
The HR team at this IT Services company continued to make attempts to make the workplace more fun and meaningful, however even though they instituted a number of programs and events to do so, employee discontent continued to rise. As it continued to grow with each passing year, the diversity and disparity of the employee hierarchy was becoming more apparent and middle and senior managers were not in touch with the rapidly changing realities of the employees at lower-levels. Managers were unable to understand the frustrations of the lower-level employees who were doing less interesting work and found it challenging to take a hands-on approach to management and also struggled with effective delegation as their responsibilities expanded. This ultimately led to a high turnover rate, even though the company was expanding and growing, which meant high employee costs because of the need to build up recruiting efforts.
In 1999 this IT Services company decided to implement a series of changes including building a portfolio of core companies and services and reorienting the way people were measured, compensated, promoted, and rewarded in an effort to improve productivity, cost-competitiveness, and efficiency. After changes were made, including the introduction of a variable pay structure across the entire organization, flattening the organization by removing eight of its fifteen layers, and a promotion policy that depended on the needs of the organization rather than solely on the individual’s performance and seniority, this IT Services company remained high on the Best Employer lists in 2001 and 2002. In 2003, however, this IT Services company fell off of the lists completely, shocking everyone else in the industry as this IT Services company had always been recognized for its path-breaking HR practice.
Upon analysis of the situation, the this IT Services company management realized that the changes that had been initiated since 2001 had an unintended impact in de-emphasizing the traditional culture of this IT Services company, which was a small company and collegial environment where processes and policies were flexible and customized to individual needs. Challenges in managing expectations and communication within the large organization led to employees being doubtful about the impact of the changes as well as being unclear about the rationale behind the changes, which appeared to be benefiting the company at the expense of the employees.
If you were in charge of the this IT Services company HR team when this crisis happened, how would you manage it. If you're up for the challenge, answer the questions below (based on the case study and your conceptual clarity of course!):
- How would you tackle the disparity between the mid and senior management?
- What techniques would you use to develop employee growth at this IT Services company?
- How would you ensure high retention and low attrition?
- How would you utilise Herzberg’s 2 factor theory in your day to day life as a HRM?
- What motivational theories would you push at different levels to strategically manage HR functions at this IT Services company?
- How would you carry out a training needs analysis at different levels of the organisation?
- What techniques would you use to boost employee engagement?
- How would you improve communication at this IT Services company?
- How would you go about rectifying the ratings so that this IT Services company regained it’s one of the top 10 best employer positions?
Share your responses to this case study on this thread.
This is a part of a series called Learning #IRL, brought to you by InsideIIM in association with ABGLP. Read on to find out more…
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- Case Study: Solve a sector-wise case study every month! Don’t all interview prep experts tell you to sharpen your logical thinking and practise cases?! Well now, you can practise a case every month and find out how well you know various concepts! Check out the July Case Study On Operations Management for an OTT platform like Disney here. Check out the August Case Study On IKEA India here.
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