Article: Employee Happiness - A moving target

Life @ Work

Employee Happiness - A moving target

A bit of a strange title, prodding one to think - how can happiness move?
Employee Happiness - A moving target

We believe that employee retention is not the end goal, but creating an experience that will engage the employees continuously


Rewarding employees holistically by focusing on Total Rewards covering wellness, work-life balance and connecting with employee families


A bit of a strange title, prodding one to think - how can happiness move?

But, I realized that in today’s world when people are constantly mobile, mobility becomes the key and everything else becomes a moving target - more so human happiness. It is little wonder that today’s employers are putting their best effort to aim at employee satisfaction with a quiver full of initiatives. But, are we aiming for the moving legs or the moving minds?

We all ‘blame it on the Rio’ while accepting that it is the culture that plays the trick. I always wonder when every other aspect of business has a chief and a bandwagon of subordinate staff to manage the activities, why is that culture alone is left to manage by itself? It is interesting that, engagement and being a great place to work limits its scope mostly to the employee. Whereas happiness is the only emotion that connects all stakeholders and is more universal and specific than satisfaction and engagement. If so, are all leaders expected to be “Happiness Officers” who will make a difference in creating the right culture? That makes me think that the day is not far off when organizations will look for happiness quotient like intelligence and emotional quotient while recruiting new leaders.
Research says that all corporations are continuously in the game to design a set of habits that will decide the right culture. We at CA Technologies also went through a similar process. It would be better to state that we continue to go through the same, every day. We do not claim to have cracked the code for churning out happy employees, but we are now focused on creating a distinct People Experience Process (PEP) in everything that we do. These, we believe will touch the lives as moments of joy while employees pass through various phases of their work life at CA Technologies. This defines the engagement process that is aimed at continually re-creating a “Happiness Quotient” at CA Technologies.

As a first step towards valuing happiness, we decided to treat “humans” different from other “resources”. We believe that employee retention is not the end goal, but creating an experience that will engage the employees continuously to enable them to find happiness at work. We decided to re-look into all programs with this purpose in mind; right from the interviews to on-boarding; from employee education to total rewards and from performance reviews to exit interviews. We now consider PEP as the way of life at CA Technologies.

Our first step of "Talent Acquisition" is to ensure that the candidate is "culturally fit" through brand interviews conducted by Culture Champions. This has helped us drastically bring down the offer dropouts and early talent loss (talent loss within 90 days of joining). Addressing every candidate offered through a Welcome Letter; introducing CA Technologies through a short video CD (before they join); the “ONE@CA”(orientation program for new employees); the 30-day comprehensive Buddy Program; and meeting with HR Leadership on the 60th day for a High-tea are some of the highlights of the initiatives that we follow to ensure that we listen, connect and create a unique experience. All new managers go through a unique New Manager Assimilation (NMA) program which is conducted within 90–120 days of the new manager taking over the team. This program is based on the Johari Window model.

The best thing that any organization can provide its employees is an opportunity to design their own careers. This is exactly what CA Technologies has done by way of organizing an internal “Career Fair” followed by a career counseling session, which provided them a platform to find opportunities and explore their areas of interest within the company. We built this program on the framework called ECG - Eco system, Competency and Growth.

Learning at CA Technologies is not a break from the daily humdrum, but a continuous journey. This has led us to invest in continuous education such as MS Program and Management and Leadership Academy. Leveraging social platforms, discussion boards, chatter, blogs and focus groups for learning is a way of life at CA Technologies. Apart from these, employees also choose to become part of the various interest groups and learn while they work. A few examples:
• Club Avant-Garde: A club to foster the spirit of innovation.
• Discover@Work: A people share program for anything interesting - cycling, book authoring, horticulture, etc.
• TedX – An event that brings together innovative minds in technology.

We believe that learning need not be measured in man-days but in “Happy Hours”; with an objective of keeping the employees in high spirits.

Grooming top talent for challenging assignments is a continuous process which is achieved by engaging in programs such as Leadership Development Program (LDP) and global mobility. When it comes to developing talent, the Managerial Grand Prix (MGP) continuously enables us to learn and develop leadership competencies. We leverage social learning and create platforms to exchange expertise, leverage best practices, explore own unknown areas and also make connections with different thought processes. In short, leadership is a community in CA and they learn from each other continuously.

When employees put in hard and smart work, “Rewards and Recognition” can never be far behind. It is equally important to acknowledge “Happy Minds” through career service anniversary leaves, gifts, and much more. We believe in rewarding employees holistically by focusing on Total Rewards covering wellness, work-life balance and connecting with employee families. We are proud to say that the best reward we have earned so far is when in an internal survey, employees voted “Quality of Life” as the best at CA Technologies.
All organizations have a set of values that they believe in. We believe that it is the way these values are communicated to the employees that makes all the difference. We have devised fun ways to spread the message of living the core values with exciting activities every Friday termed “Friday Mash-ups”, involving all the employees and two mascots (Mojo and Jojo) that embody the yin and yang spirit. In any organization, the key to effectiveness is a channel for two way communication. We encourage this through our Employee Champion Program that helps CA Technologies move further towards the culture of collaboration, innovation, accountability and trust.
Last but not the least, when it comes to exit interviews, there is absolutely no burning the bridges. Exit interviews are done through a professional organization to capture the less obvious but more relevant reasons about career expectations, preferences, cultural black spots and leadership behaviors. These interviews are better known as “moments of truth” and based on the feedback, programs are initiated to address them.
All in all, it is not just the tangible benefits, but the intangibles that help us make even if small, yet meaningful lasting emotional experiences. We need to listen to, respect employee ideas; and care to make them feel happy. When you truly believe, it becomes a way of life! And this is reflected in the National HRD Network award for Innovation & New Standards in People Practices (INSPIRE) that CA Technologies (Hyderabad office) won in the category “Talent Engagement and Retention” for the IT/ITeS sector in Hyderabad, India.

Leaving a thought for the readers to ponder upon, I wish to quote John Lennon "When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life."

(The author, Sakaar Anand is Vice President - HR at CA Technologies, India)

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Topics: Life @ Work, Employee Engagement, Culture

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