The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we think about work, probably forever. In light of these changes, we spoke to Sanjay Dutt, EXL Service’s Senior VP & Global Head of Capability Development, Digital HR Operations, Human Resources, about their onboarding objectives and how the pandemic didn't faze EXL's HR team.
Q: How important is the onboarding phase in an employee’s entire lifecycle at EXL? And what role does Tydy play during this time?
We decided at an early stage of our digital transformation plan that the onboarding experience is going to be a primary driver of employee experience.
I firmly believe that the first day to the first year, pretty much, decides, or at least, is a very big factor in determining how you are going to perform - whether you're going to succeed and grow in that organization for years to come. It creates a bond that cements the relationship between the individual and the larger ecosystem in many ways.
We've actually gained significantly, thanks to the digital onboarding platform that we have with Tydy. We have gained in terms ofthe way our employees get to know EXL, the bond they develop with it, the culture they experience, and the ‘connect’ they feel with the company. While it may be a little contrary to popular belief that when you say technology or digital, people think that's impersonal, Tydy’s digital onboarding platform has actually personalized the whole employee experience.
Through technology we've been able to reach our new joiners much more effectively, impactfully as well as in a more timely fashion.
It has significantly enhanced that timely ‘connect’ and timely fulfilment by proactively addressing what employees needs from the organization, both emotionally as well as physically, such as a workstation, desks, documents, etc. We manage everything through the Tydy platform where we’ve created an integrated ecosystem that connects IT, Facilities, HR, business owners, the manager, the buddy. Everybody gets connected and everybody knows each other. So, on joining day, you are fully geared up for work - laptops ready, passwords set up, employee IDs created, workstations and even your parking slots allocated.
The impact it has had is a better understanding of the organization, as well as the strong connection it establishes between people.
We’ve got offices across the globe. If you look at the US alone, we have more than 30-40 different offices. In traditional onboarding, if we were to have a client manager join our office in Dallas, the onboarding phase would require a lot of manual coordination and setting up of phone calls and virtual meetings. But because of Tydy, everything is hard-coded. For instance, if someone joins EXL as a client manager in Hartford, US, the forty-odd meetings that she needs to do within the first 30 days of joining, happen automatically. The scale at which connections are enabled, the effectiveness of the process and the timely fashion in which these happen are some of the main outcomes that help us set people up for success in a far better way.
Q: Would you say that fitting in and understanding company culture is a key ingredient for someone to be able to achieve greater productivity?
The collaboration component at EXL has gone up significantly. You may be sitting anywhere in the world, but you're connected through the digital platform. You can get to know who’s who and you know exactly who to reach out to - whether it’s about products, assets, etc. In addition, because of the gamified experience, people have started identifying who their batch mates are. For example, people who've joined in Q1 2021 can easily reach out and connect with each other. This leads to building stronger bonds and increased collaboration.
Another important aspect is that of emotional connection. This is, in my honest opinion, the biggest benefit. We've not just provided automation or a digital platform. We've actually reimagined the whole thought process for every stakeholder and also tried to address their emotional needs. This goes towards not just employees experiencing the company culture as it is, but also in building the organization. Over a period of one year, we typically have about 8,000-9,000 employees joining our company, depending on what the growth is for that year. The industry in which EXL operates sees quite a bit of turnover, so if you take that into account, almost 25% of the organization is probably joining every year. If you multiply that by two or three years, that's practically the entire organization. As our new hires experience the organization in a certain shape and fashion, they start behaving in a particular way.
For example, someone who previously worked with one of the tech giants of the world, was going to be joining our team. He called me before he had even joined and said,
“I'm absolutely floored by the way you are connecting with me. And thank you so much for the flowers you sent me. My meetings have all been set up. I didn’t have to send in any hard copies, I just uploaded everything digitally from my home. It’s been a brilliant experience and I think that EXL is really one of the top digital employers in the world.”
At EXL, we have an automated system which gets triggered when someone joins us and they are sent welcome cards or flowers. These experiences make them realize that EXL is a world-class employer brand, and they automatically behave, operate and perform at a different level.
While Tydy provides a significant enhancement to employee experience, it also transforms the overall organizational culture, by accentuating focus on collaboration, inclusion, knowledge sharing and employee engagement - all of which are important pillars of an organization’s culture. The company, values, systems, people, leadership; in short everything an employee needs, gets manifested and embedded, at the click of a button, even while being at home.
Q: A lot of organizations were unprepared for what happened in 2020. But EXL had already gone through its digital transformation journey and had already put a lot of processes in place. Were there any new challenges that you had to tackle during the pandemic?
I can't imagine what we would have done if we hadn’t gone through our digital transformation beforehand. We were already onboarding people digitally for one and a half years. So, by the time March-April 2020 happened, when we had to do everything digitally, there was no ripple at all. We were able to manage the whole scenario quite well and were confident of coming out of this quickly. We rebounded within a matter of two-three weeks because we had such a robust digital infrastructure to manage our people, including our new hires.
Before the pandemic, we had a 95% adoption rate on our digital onboarding platform. But even that became 100% over the last year because there was no other way we could onboard people.
Tydy has been a huge asset during this time. It has helped us onboard people in a very effective and efficient manner, but also very importantly, in a very safe way.
Q: What are the up and coming new initiatives EXL is planning in order to improve the employee experience?
We want to get more and more into leveraging data. Earlier when we would onboard people, most of the data we got was physical and stored in files, so any analysis was practically impossible. Now with a click of a button, you can figure out, for instance, how many healthcare professionals with specific certifications or capabilities have joined us in the Philippines. Or how many women employees have joined us with a certain kind of work experience. This makes employee profiling and analytics, getting any information or insights we want, and identifying any skill pool we want to tap – everything is possible and available at the click of a button. Our focus now is on how we can make the best use of this data to build further business intelligence and insights.