Article: Leaders should listen to their employees and balance them with business priorities: Kyndryl’s Kush Mahajan

Culture

Leaders should listen to their employees and balance them with business priorities: Kyndryl’s Kush Mahajan

In conversation with People Matters, Kush Mahajan of Kyndryl shares her take on building future-ready capabilities to keep pace with accelerated digital transformation and a disruptive business landscape.
Leaders should listen to their employees and balance them with business priorities: Kyndryl’s Kush Mahajan

Kush Mahajan is the HR leader-Domestic Business at Kyndryl India. She is an HR professional with about 18 years of experience in the IT & ITeS industry. She has expertise in several gamuts of HR, from recruitment, compensation and benefits, talent management, employee relations and more. She has excellent management and coordination skills and is driven to achieve company goals by facilitating transitions at all levels and successfully launching and implementing new processes. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, she shares some of the interesting talent strategies at Kyndryl, how they are keeping pace with an evolving skill demand, driving DEI policies and more. 

Being one of the largest and growing global IT startups, what talent strategies were key to unlocking this culture of heightened productivity and innovation?

The cultural foundation of Kyndryl is our commitment to creating shared success and innovation and serving customers with trust and transparency. 

Our culture - the Kyndryl Way - underpins everything we do as a company. It is based on three values - being restless to continuously learn and innovate, being empathetic, and being devoted to shared success. We now organise and act as a flatter, faster, and more focused company. We have significantly reduced layers of management and become faster by reducing process and decision-making time. This focused approach helps our teams to deliver high-standard solutions for our customers and solve their toughest technology challenges. 

Kyndryl is a pioneer in IT services and solutions. What I am keen to understand is what was the role of digital tools and technologies in designing that engaging employee experience? Could you share some of your success stories?

We believe in utilising technology to deliver our customers and employees the best services. Kyndryl’s internal HR portal is a single source for information related to tax statements, payslips and benefits, which also functions as an internal directory of contact information. 

 A highlight is our AskHR chatbot which is available 24/7 to support employees with HR-related topics. It is a one-stop solution that answers questions instantly and can connect seamlessly with the human team via live chat or raise an incident ticket. The chatbot has been able to answer 90% of the questions posed to it to date, which means an employee had to reach out to human support only 10% of the time they needed assistance. 

Automations in the chatbot have now improved the employee experience by allowing employees and managers to apply for time off, generate letters, complete transfers and much more through a simplified process that saves time and adds value. With the bot, an employee transfer can be done within 30 secs on the bot, whereas it takes more time when done in person. 

In a volatile business landscape, the skill demand continues to be evolving. So how are you building future-ready competencies at your organisation? Could you share more about your “powering human progress” project that champions your employees' growth journeys?

Kyndryl powers the vital systems that power human progress across the world, and our employees are at the heart of it. We prioritise their well-being and offer a collaborative workplace that encourages employees to innovate and co-create for partners and customers with a deeper sense of ownership. In line with this focus, reskilling and upskilling of our employee talent are key aspects of our alliances with public cloud partners like Microsoft, Google, and AWS. We also run a Learning Journey @ Scale project to drive and track advisor enrolments and certification completions. 

Given how enterprises are strategising to close the gender and diversity gaps in technology, what are some initiatives at play in Kyndryl to drive DEI? What have been some of the outcomes so far?

Inclusion, Diversity and Equity is an ethos that perceives the worth of diverse voices and considers inclusivity and openness as key success factors. At Kyndryl, we believe it is not just the right thing to do but is also essential for our business growth. As an independent company, we have taken steps in our first operating year to ensure ID&E is at the forefront of our daily operations

To bring those values to life, at Kyndryl, we have implemented initiatives such as Kyndryl Inclusion Networks (KINs), our version of Employee Resource Groups (ERG), which help enhance our ability to recruit, retain, engage and develop diverse talent. In India, we have KIN communities focused on Women, LGBTQ+, People with Disabilities/Neurodiverse and Women in Technology. KIN leaders and members co-create an environment that empowers them to bring their whole selves to work, individually and collectively, and to support the activation of our culture, The Kyndryl Way.

Career advancement of our women professionals is a key business priority that we address through tailored training and mentorship for women. Our medical policy covers same-sex partners as beneficiaries, and our adoption and surrogacy leave policies include same-sex partners and trans individuals. We are working with our life and medical insurance partners to ensure that no loading is applied to the insurance premiums for PwD employees. Our focus on an inclusive mindset and associated training at every level of the organisation is a strong pillar of our culture.

As the future of work becomes a space for heated conversations and debate, what is some final advice you would like to share with our community on navigating this accelerated digital transformation and disruption in the workplace?

In my opinion, leaders should listen to their employees and balance them with business priorities before taking a decision on the future of the workplace. The future is fluid and flexible and will need to change according to the business environment, technological advances, and the workforce’s preferences. 

Kyndryl prides itself on being a flexible workplace for all its employees. Our workplace policy was designed as an outcome of an ongoing employee feedback system in which our employees highlighted a need to return to the office to meet customer expectations. We have launched a Flexible Workplace Policy with a staggered return-to-office plan to enable them to successfully navigate this shift. 

We started with a survey among employees to understand their expectations and requirements regarding the topic. This helped bring out their opinions on what was relevant to them, based on which we successfully tested initial plans in a phased manner with different focus groups. After incorporating the learning and feedback from both activities, we formulated a flexible workplace policy. 

We feel that in-person interactions with colleagues help strengthen team collaboration and boost morale and will continue to listen to our employees as we continue this journey of adapting to the ‘new normal’. 

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Topics: Culture, Diversity, Leadership, #FutureOfWork

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