|Oodles of fun: Covansians dressed up
to the spirit of Indian states for the Ethnic Day celebrations
Friday, October 6, the Covansys campus was transformed overnight.
It was Ethnic Day and at 10 pm the previous night, Covansians
had started working on transforming their respective departments
to the theme of an Indian state or a client country. The best
department had a prize waiting. But choosing to get into the "spirit
of the thing" was purely optional.
"We decided to take part in the contest
only at 5 pm yesterday," says Vijay Devarajan, a team leader
at the company. Team members worked late to convert their unit
into "Kerala"; a beautiful Kathakali figurehead in rangoli
welcomed visitors in the HR department. There was also a big handcrafted
boat, a toddy stall (there was no toddy, though) and a tea stall
mimicking the original ones. Other departments had "created"
Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and even Japan. And surprise-every
Covansian across the campus participated. People even took turns
to finish work for colleagues tied up with the event. Result:
work did not suffer; deadlines were met; yet, everyone had loads
Says Rahul Shah, Head of Financial Planning,
who joined Covansys from a top-tier it company: "We had our
own fashion shows and other functions at my earlier workplace
on a much grander scale, but the personal touch was missing."
Covansys India President and CEO K. Subrahmaniam says: "We
believe in taking a holistic approach to developing the personalities
million or Rs 2,001 crore (2005-06)
PROFITS: $37.5 million or Rs 172.5
| Total employees: 5,713
Attrition (per cent): 18.81
Average career tenure: 4.9 years
Training budget (budgeted/actual): Rs
4.2 crore/Rs 4.6 crore
Training man-hours (actual): 187,616
The emphasis on having fun at work, which
Business Today wrote about last year, has now become more encompassing.
This year, Founder Chairman Raj Vattikutti has articulated a "Culture
for Growth" theme, where every employee is free to involve
himself in every aspect of the company for his own and the company's
benefit. So, while fun and games provide a nice balance to work,
employees are now empowered to do many more things than in the
past. "They are free to take decisions that benefit customers
and, therefore, the company; they are free to suggest best practices
to be followed; and they are also free to decide their own personal
performance contract according to their competencies and work
content," explains B. Subramaniam, a Project Director at
Shorn of jargon, this means an employee and
his manager define the factors that will be used to judge performance.
This ensures that performance-related data collection is not perceived
as a threat and results in greater acceptance of the process.
Individuals are empowered to set their own goals and managers
are empowered to reward-these range from Rs 1,500-80,000 every
quarter-the best performers in consultation with the respective
Group Heads. This is over and above the regular annual appraisals
and increments. No wonder the general feeling is that Covansys
pays well, often better than the market.
SUBRAHMANIAM/COVANSYS INDIA PRESIDENT AND CEO
"Addressing employees' concerns top our agenda"
Subrahmaniam spoke to BT's on how he keeps colleagues enthused.
How much have you progressed since last year's survey?
We have largely been focussing on consolidating our strengths
and leveraging them for future growth. In order to attract
and retain the right talent, we have introduced complimentary
programmes, technical and non-technical, to ensure a top-notch
resource pool. Besides these, we have a tool called Compass
that helps us understand the real and specific needs of
employees and capture concern areas at the individual level.
Inputs are gathered from various sources (many of them non-intrusive)
and the remedies include suggesting changes in behaviour
patterns of employees.
How about improvements in the workplace environment?
All Covansians can have their say in almost anything involving
the company; this results in creating a conducive work environment
and a motivated workforce. Addressing their concerns and
de-stressing them remains a top item on our agenda. We ensure
that people take a holistic approach to work. In turn, people
have "returned" much more than what we thought
possible by way of performance.
Are you not overplaying the "Fun at Work"
Not at all! We get a chance to see creativity and activity
in different fronts; this helps us understand the innate
abilities of individuals. Refining the concept further,
we can give appropriate work/projects that they can handle
and excel in. For example: the company is sponsoring the
MBA course for M. Shakthi, an office boy, because it spotted
his innate abilities.
Search firms have given a below-average feedback about
the company. How will you address this?
As part of the "Culture for Growth" theme, Covansys
is revamping its sourcing strategies. Brand building, both
internal and external, is a major initiative and this will
help us attract customers and software professionals alike.
We are discussing with partners ways to strengthen our talent
sourcing programmes. With the growth of the company, all
touch points with employees, partners and prospects are
being strengthened, and, we expect to see a positive impact
In line with the new policy of Culture for
Growth, the company is setting up informal communications groups,
cutting across functions. "We don't want people in various
units to be isolated in their own world," explains Jayanthi
Vaidyanathan, Director, Human Resources at the company. Then,
there is Chatterati, a platform that allows like-minded groups-from
a Shah Rukh Khan fan club to literary discussion groups to techno
clubs-across functional boundaries to keep in touch. "The
family that plays together stays together," points out S.
Muralidharan, Senior Vice President.
|Helping hand: Covansys does its bit
to help out young mothers
|Stairway to heaven: For Covansians,
office doubles up as a de-stress center
Chatterati has achieved great results for
the company. For instance, attendance at Covansys' Best Practices
Meets has increased; so has attendance at career-improvement courses-largely
because of cross-departmental interactions.
In fact, employee initiatives and ideas are
encouraged to such an extent that G. Ravindran, Global Head of
HR, "sometimes worries about what will happen to the processes
for which we are recognised". But, adds Vijay Menon, Senior
Executive, HR, who quit Ford Motor India and joined Covansys 10
months ago: "For the first two months, I did just what I
was assigned and did not go the extra mile. But now, I make suggestions
within and outside my work area and many of them get implemented.
My seniors don't tell me: 'You are too young...'"
The company is also extremely women-friendly
(one out of four employees is a woman)-we had mentioned crèche
and dormitory support last year. Suganya Karthikeyan, a Team Leader,
was pleasantly surprised at the treatment meted out to her in
the UK where she had gone for a site visit. When she complained
about her apartment, it was changed in a jiffy. "Your comfort
is our first priority-so, if you have any complaints, please let
us know," her colleagues there told her. Closer to home,
she is happy about the MCA programme sponsored by the company-she
was just a BSc grad in 2000. But since then, five onsite trips
have given her exposure and she is very satisfied with the work-life
balance that her employer insists upon.
Covansians get to spend 45 minutes a day
on average on other (non-work-related) activities; the crèche
facilities have improved; the pure south Indian menu has given
way to a Food Court; a badminton court has come up on the premises,
but slippers are still not allowed at work-even on Fridays, though
jeans are now allowed (they weren't when we published this list
last year). The company sponsors willing office boys for MBA courses,
and expecting mothers have accommodation arranged for husbands
if they are deputed onsite.
| A DAY
IN THE LIFE OF
JAYAN NARAYANAN, 36 Senior Manager,
Sales and Marketing
|Power-packed Narayanan: Every
day holds a surprise for him
He packs in 12 hours or more
of work every day starting 8.30-8.45 am. His team supports
the sales force globally. "This means that every day
holds a surprise for me," he says. E-mails are checked
in between calls from all over the world. The first one
comes through from Chicago. A symposium is scheduled the
day after and Covansys would like to put up a stall there.
What should be done to ensure crowds? Narayanan quickly
calls his team for a short meeting where the slogans, fliers
and other appropriate materials are designed immediately
and emailed across. A vendor in the US will produce the
actual stuff-and he needs 24 hours of lead time. "Sometimes
we get just two minutes to respond. My colleague in the
US could be talking to a customer and he expects me to provide
the information immediately," he says. Lunch is at
1 pm; he opts for Chinese food, and after a relaxed 45 minutes,
is back at work, which is relatively light till about 3
pm. Calls from the US start pouring in again at 5 pm and
he's back to the grind. This carries on till 9 pm when it's
time to pack up. His wife, who works in Cognizant, returns
home around the same time as he. "We spend time together
on weekends; our son then decides for us which company is
better," he laughs.
If there is one complaint it is that Covansians
lack aggression. Says Sankaran Annaswamy, who worked in Covansys
for five-and-a-half years before moving over to Siemens Infosystems
as head of its PeopleSoft practice: "Though the organisation
is people-friendly, it has lost out to competition since 2000.
It is now slowly coming back on track; if it bags a couple of
large orders, the market perception of the company will change."
Says Subrahmaniam: "We are back on the growth track after
a lull and expect to be a significant player in 2007."
Ravindran says there is more vibrancy in
the organisation and no one is bored. Qualitatively, attrition
has been contained in a scenario where everybody is rapidly expanding
and where the industry average is going up and up. The company's
image seems to have improved since last year; this is evident
in the 50 per cent higher footfalls at the company's stalls at
job fairs and the 100 per cent higher response to job advertisements.
"But we still have a long way to go to achieve the total
employee satisfaction that we are aiming for," he says.