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A Re-energized Vision
With an ambitious target for the next 50 years, IndianOil, with business interests straddling the entire hydrocarbon value chain, has a new vision based on core values. Sudhir Bhalla, Director-HR, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., speaks to People Matters on the company’s HR practices that have kept it ahead
What are the challenges you see while managing the human capital of your organization?
IndianOil, over the years, has evolved from being a primarily downstream company to being an energy company with interests across the full spectrum of the hydrocarbon chain and alternative fuels. With a metamorphosis in our dreams and ambitions, there has also been an evolution in our need for the kind of talent we want to attract. We need to build a strong and cohesive team with multi-domain expertise and matchless collective talent in line with our corporate values of care, innovation, passion and trust.
Not only attracting talent, but retaining it is a big challenge too. Historically, IndianOil has enjoyed low levels of attrition, the figures never having crossed the 2% mark among executives. Over the last several years, the competition to spot and draw the best talent has intensified in the corporate world. To minimize the impact of attrition, a lot more emphasis is required to be given to succession planning, creating bench-strength and training the workforce to be multi-skilled. The exit interviews of the officers are seriously analyzed so that we can take appropriate corrective actions.
IndianOil has a heterogeneous employee composition. How do you ensure effective execution of HR practices across your organization?
As far as catering to a heterogeneous group of employees is concerned, though the basic compensation and structure of HR practices remains the same across the country, demography-specific practices are accommodated in the wider realm of HR policies to ensure that the local needs are taken care of. For example, considering the difficult terrain and hardship that employees posted in the north-east face, they are provided with better incentives and allowances as compared to say someone who is posted in a metropolis. Similarly, the local culture is adopted at locations so that the local needs can be addressed.
In addition, IndianOil lays strong emphasis on training and motivating to keep its workforce constantly engaged. We induct officers at the junior-most level of the management hierarchy. Though we focus on hiring the best for the company, the learning process does not stop there. IndianOil is an academy company with 21 training centers for mid-career skill-sets upgradation. The learning services we offer are on a select basis to managers from the industry on national and international basis. Other than that, we conduct discipline-specific training workshops from time-to-time so that employees can constantly upgrade competencies and strengthen individual capacities for organizational effectiveness. IndianOil offers unique learning opportunities through a wide range of learning strategies in all major areas.
Job rotation and inter-location transfers throughout the country facilitate planned development of careers and broaden outlook. Career growth opportunities are based on the individual’s performance and contribution to the common goal of sustained growth. Most of IndianOil’s top executives have grown from within, which testifies the unlimited opportunities for growth available to the meritorious.
IndianOil operates within transparent HR policies and procedures with a well-defined online performance measurement system in place. Potential decides promotion and it follows a well-defined career path model for all officers, offering exposure to different functional areas through intra-functional & inter-functional job rotation to improve managerial capability.
What are the top 3 reasons for IndianOil to be a great place to work for?
I believe the biggest plus point of working at IndianOil is that it is a very caring organization. The mutual care and respect that colleagues have, transcends the boundaries of office and IndianOil people are always there to help each other. The sense of bonding among our people is tremendous.
The second reason would of course be the attractive salary and perks that IndianOil employees get. We put in a lot of effort to attract the best talent and are aware of their contribution to the company’s continued successes. Hence, it is our duty to ensure that the incentives we provide are commensurate with the efforts that our colleagues put in.
The third most important reason why IndianOil is one of the great places to work for is the pan-India exposure that the company provides. Being one of the largest public sector enterprises, we have a presence in almost every nook and corner of this country. The cross-country locations ensure that IndianOil people are exposed to various parts of the country, its culture and the environment that it offers, and the challenges that are unique to specific geographical locations. Working at
IndianOil, I believe, helps develop a holistic approach and outlook of an employee.
What are the key challenges in talent acquisition and retention faced by PSUs?
The image of the public sector has evolved over the years. The challenge to prove yourself in a prescribed environment coupled with the job security in a relative sense that the public sector provides, is attracting young and qualified talent. Privately owned enterprises operate under different conditions. Therefore, a direct comparison on manpower numbers, salaries and perks will neither be conclusive nor fair. However, we are quite sure that the compensation in IndianOil at the induction level compares with the best in the industry.
Being part of a skill-driven industry, employee retention and ensuring a motivated workforce are some of our challenges. We are taking the following measures to retain employees:
- Implementation of non-monetary and monetary rewards for enhancing corporate and individual performance
- Exercises in employer branding
- Improved recruitment policy to attract the best talent
- Intra and inter-function job rotation
- Challenging assignments
- Inter-region and inter-division postings for pan-Indian experience
- Implementation of online performance management system since 2005-06
- Programs for mentoring to retain talent
What are the talent-related goals you have that feature on your personal scorecard?
HR can never sleep. Talent spotting and talent management is an ongoing process. Rarely should one intervene on specific issues. By and large our system is designed to be robust on its own, identifying people with key attributes and fitting them into our larger scheme of things. In fact, this needs to be a unique blend of intuition, experience and aptitude. Currently, our bench strength is one of the best in the business. Our target is to take it even further and have a reserve that can be leveraged at the global level.
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