Whether it’s banking, retail or healthcare, the pace of digital technology adoption is disrupting business models across every industry. In this context, the business imperative is to help customers navigate through this disruption and leverage technology to meet the customer’s needs. The mission of Syntel is to “create opportunities for our clients by harnessing our passion, talent, and innovation.” This requires an understanding of new technology skills and a commitment to help customers keep pace with the dynamic digital environment.
Creating a Learning Culture
It was the need to keep pace with the digital revolution that kick-started Syntel’s journey of people and culture transformation, an initiative to build an e-learning framework called Syntel x.0. Syntel X.0 aims at making the company more relevant, agile and competent to constantly evolve and stay ahead of the market. It has been built around four key pillars: Values, Leadership, Competency Building and Potential Management.
Here’s how we created a framework focused on Competency Building:
1) Establish the Baseline: Define the skills and knowledge levels required by all employees
2) Technology Relevance Index: Promote the technologies most relevant to Syntel’s business, categorizing them as invest, core and relearn — enabling all employees to choose both relevant and aspirational skills.
3) Build a Structure for Success: Create a learning culture by tailoring processes and policies to drive:
- - Upskilling, multi-skilling and knowledge acquisition
- - Opportunities for continuous learning
- - Inter-career track movement
- - Career growth
Key Constructs of the Framework
The key need for the initiative was to create on-demand, online learning platform that enables a learning culture. Syntel partnered with Skillsoft and leveraged learning libraries to provide bite-sized videos that simplify the process. In this new paradigm, performance is a qualifier, and potential determines the growth to the next level. Potential is assessed on skills, knowledge, and values.
Because of the transparent nature of the framework, it allows employees to choose from various technologies, both current and emerging, that are relevant and aligned to Syntel’s business needs and goals. It’s a win-win situation since employees acquire new technology skills and the organization can provide better customer service.“Freedom to Learn” Initiative
In order to get employees excited about learning and to enable them to discover the learning platform, the “Freedom to learn” initiative was launched. One of the key messages is to “learn at your place and learn at your pace.” Through the initiative, colleagues encourage each other to learn new topics by tagging one another on the online portal SkillPort. The initiative saw a tremendous response due to active leadership support, in addition to engagement activities like location-wise drawings and gamified features. The drive lasted for 15 days with 2,500 unique participants and 3,700+ Skillport learning modules accessed. This portal was successful because it is available on demand and employees can access these anytime and anywhere at their convenience. It offers a variety of learning opportunities, ranging from very brief course capsules to medium and long-term courses.
Overcoming Learning Roadblocks
The biggest roadblock to e-learning is adoption. One might have a top-notch Learning Management System (LMS), a great partner and up-to-date content, but getting people to participate is a big challenge. On the surface, while everyone seems excited, the actual involvement of people might be low, especially when a new platform is introduced. This is where leadership buy-in and support plays a critical role in driving adoption. To ensure that leaders are able to clearly see the value, it is important to make sure that learning is aligned with the business goals and imperatives. For example, Syntel x.0 was aligned to our goal of evolution and growing our employees’ technical skills and knowledge. It automatically creates a compelling benefit to employees — to learn and grow — thus making it easier to implement.
Impact and Success Measures
We had over 35% of our employees choose futuristic skills and work on building their skills. After Skillsoft launched, we saw a maximum adoption of 85% across the organization, and 77% coverage in terms of repeated logins. The success metrics can be divided into various levels.
At the top level, how well can we translate this impact to the company’s growth and profitability? At the employee level, how many will achieve a new proficiency level or get their certification within a year’s time? In terms of market, we can measure our billability, utilization of resources and productivity.
All this feedback helps us understand and adapt our learning culture to ensure that our teams have the right skills and motivation to achieve our goal of creating new opportunities for our clients.
As told to J. Jerry Moses and Nupur Mehra