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PEOPLE AND PURPOSE: HOW TCS KEEPS ITS WORKFORCE OF OVER 500,000 DRIVEN

TCS has a workforce of over 500,000. That’s roughly ten times the capacity of New York’s Yankee stadium, or a little under the total population of the Swiss city of Basel.

CEO Rajesh Gopinathan recently commented that in terms of human capital, with every quarter, the company has been mobilizing and matching employee skills to requirements equivalent to the workforce numbers of a medium-sized company.

So, what does it take for 500,000 people to align with a single purpose to create a living, breathing entity that functions as deep as it does wide with over a hundred locations the world over? What sort of plan does one need to put in place to ensure that not only is talent being used correctly but also that it gives 500,000 minds a growing sense of value?

What does it actually take to actualize human potential? 

TCS is among the top three IT consultancies in the world with a market capitalization of USD 167 billion as of June 2021. Its service portfolio includes over 30 offerings in terms of products and platforms. The company operates in 149 locations across 46 countries and 11 business verticals with a talent base of over half a million people, representing 155 nationalities and spanning an exhaustive 1,600 competency categories.

A human resource phenomenon that is peculiar to the information technology industry is the perennial lateral movement of people across projects. And people come with feelings, aspirations, expectations, differing abilities, personal constraints, and last but not least, potential. If Project A is releasing one resource, then Project B is adding two more concurrently, while Project C is making plans for the 20 additional team players it would need to accommodate it’s widened scope of work for the rest of the year. The movement is never straightforward. At TCS, this happens at a scale of close to 1,200 people every day. 

TCS’ Resource Management Group (RMG) has, over the years, put together an intricate blueprint to ensure that the enterprise makes the most of its human capital by analyzing, and then upskilling and reskilling the workforce. RMG was awarded three coveted industry prizes in 2021 for human resource optimization and management. One among these is Brandon Hall Group’s 2021 Excellence Awards for Best Advance in Workforce Planning and Management. 

 

Understanding human resources

A non-nuanced notion of RMG is that it fulfills talent or staffing requirements. This at best is a diluted understanding because allocating people resources is not just about having an accurate understanding of people but also the business, its strategic purpose, and its goals. Identifying the correct person for the current job is one thing. Evaluating what that person brings to the table based on the trajectory of business growth and outlined business objectives is quite another. 

At its highest purpose, RMG brings into the organization best-in-class practices and sets benchmarks for the talent management ecosystem. This means understanding how much the business is expected to grow, knowing what projects are driving the business, and presenting the correct human resource mix to meet all of these. It means having strong talent management analytics. 

What if one person evolved their core competency to be able to do the job of two – should the organization not assess additional individual talent? But what if the scope of the project widened while that person was improving their core competency? Should the organization now reallocate two more people? Imagine scaling this decision up to 50,000 people. Then scaling it up to 500,000? How early enough should one make human resource allocation decisions? How late is too late? Most importantly, what happens if the wrong number or kind of people are hired or reallocated?

Forecasting is never an easy task because it comes with a series of calculated risks. Forecasting people needs is possibly the most challenging because humans are dynamic, evolving creatures. 

 

“WE BELIEVE OUR PEOPLE SHOULD GET THE FIRST RIGHT OF REFUSAL FOR EVERY NEW THING THAT HAPPENS IN THE COMPANY, WHETHER AT THE LEADERSHIP LEVEL OR AT THE JUNIOR (LEVEL). THEY NEED TO BE ABLE TO TRUST THAT THE COMPANY WILL MAKE SURE THEY ARE GOING TO BE INVESTED IN,"  SAYS RAJESH GOPINATHAN, CEO AND MD, TCS

 

Using analytics intelligently

RMG performs a three-way balancing act of aligning talent needs of business units with employee aspirations and business objectives. Talent management analytics is essential in this, and TCS has proved it is doing things right, winning a Stevie 2021 Gold for Best Use of People Analytics.

At the enterprise level, prescriptive analytics help in carving out a workforce management strategy based on talent demand and supply. RMG uses an algorithmic module that delivers real-time analytics on the current workforce demand and recommends fulfilment.  For this, TCS won its third industry award in 2021, a Stevie silver for Achievement in Talent Management Technology Implementation. 

At the associate level, a range of listening posts in the talent management cycle helps RMG design engagement programs. Elements from behavioral science and data-driven insights are combined in the form of digital nudges to promote positive behavior such as updating one’s skill profile, seeking out a mentor, and sharing role aspirations. An accurate talent ageing analysis helps the Group craft talent intervention strategies to ensure an individual is reskilled and upskilled. Most importantly, people are motivated to seek this out organically. (Here’s a little behavioral insight: humans don’t respond well to coercion.) 

CEO Rajesh Gopinathan sums up the organization’s talent management credo. “We believe our people should get the first right of refusal for every new thing that happens in the company, whether at the leadership level or at the junior (level). They need to be able to trust that the company will make sure they are going to be invested in.”

And there is trust. At 8.6% as of June 2021, TCS has one of the lowest attrition rates in the industry and the organization has consistently maintained this metric. Which means individuals are being matched skill-to-challenge and skill-to-reward such that they feel driven and fulfilled enough to not want to leave. For the industry, it means honoring TCS with high-value awards.  For RMG, it means a job well done.

 

HOW EARLY ENOUGH SHOULD ONE MAKE HUMAN RESOURCE ALLOCATION DECISIONS? HOW LATE IS TOO LATE? MOST IMPORTANTLY, WHAT HAPPENS IF THE WRONG NUMBER OR KIND OF PEOPLE ARE HIRED OR REALLOCATED? IMAGINE SCALING UP SUCH DECISIONS TO 500,000 PEOPLE SPREAD WORLDWIDE.