Vijay Colaco is the HR Director for Intel India and is responsible for driving Intel India’s people strategy with a strong and diverse HR team. In his 17-year career span as a core HR professional, he has delivered excellence in developing strong leadership teams, architecting organisations to deliver optimum results, and attracting and growing talent through robust talent strategies.
His breadth of industry domains ranges from ITES, IT to Semi-Conductor, with organisations such as Infosys and McAfee to name a few, prior to joining Intel. He is a strong leadership ally for diversity, equity & inclusion and truly believes that to move the needle in DEI it is imperative for the ecosystem to come together and leverage technology to build an inclusive world.
In this exclusive interview with People Matters, Vijay Colaco talks about the seismic shift in the job market and the discerning factors that have enabled organisations to attract and retain talent. Here are excerpts from the interview.
What does Employee Value Proposition (EVP) mean for Intel and what drives your organisation’s decision to invest in it?
Of the many changes that the pandemic brought, the increased focus on EVPs is a positive one. EVPs are a blend of benefits, growth opportunities and cultural values that answers a candidate’s question, ‘why should I choose this organisation?’
Today, we are witnessing a seismic shift in the job market and aspects such as work-life balance, continuous learning, culture of empowerment, inclusion and psychological safety, and opportunities to innovate have been the discerning factors that have enabled organisations to attract and retain talent.
At Intel, we understand that while choosing a job, candidates don’t look just at the monetary benefits but at an array of factors that can help add value to their personal & professional lives and guarantee their long term mental well-being while building careers for life. Our goal has always been to create a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with our employees. To achieve this, we convey our EVPs to help our future employees understand Intel’s priorities, visualize their growth with a sense of belonginess which we at Intel pride upon.
Why is “employee experience” (EX) important for HR organisations and business leaders?
Our employees are the foundation of the organisation and are key to delivering the organisation’s vision. Employee experience is one of the key indicators of a company’s well-being and HR leaders are cognizant of the fact the success of the business and the organisation majorly depends on the experience our employees have.
The world, as we know, is at an inflection point and it is well known that the post-pandemic era is shaped majorly by employee experience. The pandemic has taught companies and leaders that employees are not only concerned about the pay or the stature that a job brings to them but more importantly, the experience and opportunities that an organisation offers.
Business leaders understand that the perks of creating an environment that delivers an enhanced employee experience help create a productive and sustainable workforce resulting in overall business efficiency and growth. The post-pandemic world has evolved the needs of the employees drastically and the organisations need to adopt a more sophisticated approach to be able to survive the hybrid work culture.
What is your organisation doing to reshape the employee experience (EX)?
As we enter the hybrid work culture, we will be embracing more flexibility in how we work in an integrated way, with a greater sense of purpose through empowerment and accountability. Our goal is to build a better work environment as our employees balance working from home and in the workplace in the new Hybrid culture to deliver their full potential. Globally, we at Intel provide benefits such as additional wellness days off, flexible work models to help our employees reintegrate gradually while focusing on their wellbeing. Individual departments have also instituted initiatives like Meeting-Free Fridays, Blackout Hours or no meeting hours for personal time set aside for self, friends, and family to just invest in one’s own development.
To promote the well-being of our employees, we have established the Thrive@Intel programme for employees to feel more aware, included, accepted at the workplace, and able to openly seek help without any fear. The programme focuses on open communications to create awareness of Intel’s wellness resources, mental wellness coaches and provides a platform for employees and leaders to share their personal experiences.
We are focused on providing a dynamic, flexible, and inclusive workplace that enables our employees to deliver their best.
Do you think employers should fight for employee satisfaction during the great resignation?
We believe that HR Leaders should aim to synergise employees’ professional growth with the organisation’s overall objectives to build a healthy, nurturing environment for them. Focusing the workforce’s energies on collaborating for purpose-driven work and building a transparent and inclusive environment that grants growth opportunities for employees is pivotal. In the present hybrid workplace scenario, the key to achieving employee satisfaction is to listen to employees carefully to understand what they truly need and expect from their employers. An organisation and workforce aren’t two separate entities, rather the workforce is the identity of an organisation. Our constant endeavour should be to continually create a workplace where our employees can thrive and grow.
How do you use technology in creating and sustaining positive employee experiences? Is it true that without the right technology, companies can’t get insights into employee sentiment, provide personalised and job-relevant experiences and development opportunities, or support employees at scale?
Gaining insights into employee sentiment must be a combination of technology and human intervention, a continuous process of looking at trends through quantitative data coupled with qualitative feedback through observation and listening. For Intel, technology continues to be at the core of the overall culture in the years to come. From multi-cloud-powered hybrid work models to AI-driven analysis and strategies, HR continues to leverage emerging digital technologies to drive seamless employee experiences. With hybrid workspace models being rolled out globally, digital tools and resources are also essential to ensure continuous learning and growth for employees. Continuously evolving HR policies and technologies like AI also play an important role in helping leaders detect the non-verbal mental condition indicators, aiding them to observe behaviour patterns and thus be more responsive and agile in refurbishing their policies.
Having said that, we cannot undermine the power of listening to tap into employee sentiments. While tech and data are important, we strongly believe that sometimes the most honest feedback comes from listening to employees. Hence most forward-looking HR leaders are constantly finding and creating opportunities to “listen” to the employees, rather than only relying on annual employee engagement and exit surveys to gather employee feedback.
While these surveys are crucial for a long-term goal, they also understand these occasional surveys will only provide half the picture. Instead, great HR leaders work towards getting employee feedback frequently and in a number of ways quickly act upon the findings to enable more wholesome and sustainable solutions. We strongly believe in a healthy mix of tech and non-tech-driven policies to define the hybrid nature of employee engagement that helps sustain positive employee experiences at Intel.
Companies often think the employee experience (EX) strategy is a tech strategy. Yes, technology is important, but culture is important too. What is your take on that?
As Maya Angelou said - ‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’. Employee experience is the perception of an employee about their organisation throughout their career journey. This happens over time through an array of factors ranging from a team’s working style to the overall organisational processes. Sure, technology plays a critical role in facilitating that, and in the current professional scenario, the importance of technology cannot be overlooked. However, calling EX strategy a tech strategy is only half the truth.
The foundation of an organisation’s culture is formed by the core values that they believe in. What’s more important is how these cultural values are role modelled across all levels of the organisation, in every opportunity they find to demonstrate, that reaffirms the true spirit of the culture they intend to promote. This plays a pivotal role in coursing the organisation through thick and thin. The recent times have been a testament to the fact that organisations that are flexible enough to adapt to the changing workplace model can withstand almost any unforeseen crisis. This can only happen if employees have utter faith in the deep rooted cultural values and personally identify with each of the values feeling one with the organisation.
Do you think that for better employee experience, important practices include regular and transparent communications from leaders, a well-defined company mission, and a culture that cultivates a sense of belonging and inclusion among all employees?
Identifying with an organisation is beyond merely a badge or the name of the organisation, it is about being a proud member of a family who not only contributes to the growth of the organisation but how connected and valued they feel. There are a multitude of factors that define something as vast as employee experience. While some factors can be considered subjective to employees’ needs, most have to do with the organisational culture and the access to enablers such as a technologically backed HR machinery. Factors ranging from remuneration to the quality of the work all play a pivotal role in strengthening the bond that an employee shares with their organisation and yes, well-defined goals help employees create value for the organisation’s mission and makes them feel more deeply connected to the company values. Other attributing factors such as transparency from the leaders, an active two-way communication channel, and opportunities for growth also help employees feel involved and thereby important. Moreover, healthy cultural practices such as prioritising mental health and consciously adopting inclusive and equal opportunity policies help improve employee experiences, as well.