Chennai: Thirty-eight year old K H Venkatachalam, AVP, HR, Birla Sun Life Insurance Company Limited looks forward to returning to work on Mondays. Not because he has the room with the best view - of aircraft landing and taking-off at Mumbai airport and a beautiful hill on the other.
He reasons, "At a time when employee surveys rank multinational companies and well established Indian corporates as the best place to work in, we surprised many by breaking into that premier league. As to the room, it happened to be vacant and I didn't get it just because I am heading the HR division," he laughs.
For two years in succession (2003 and 2004) the company was ranked as one of the top 25 employers in the survey conducted by Grow Talent Company Limited, a human resource consultancy company. In one, the company was even ranked above software giant Infosys Technologies Limited.
According to him the average age of the 1,900 employees (1,350 company staff and 550 outsourced jobs) is less than 30. "Despite the fact that more than 60 per cent of the employees are below 30, the attrition rate is just 7 per cent including in the sales force. If you exclude the sales force, the attrition rate is around 2 per cent."
This is possible as the company consciously invests time and money in its people and also making the work place a fun place. Every month one fun activity is initiated to bring show up the talents of employees.
Apart from incentives and pay hikes, Birla Sun Life has a unique way of recognising, excellence. A special team called `E-brigade' is formed with all employees who scored excellent ratings in their appraisal.
"Every year the CEO address the prestigious E-brigade and irrespective of the cadre, all those who have bagged the 'excellent' rating are present at the meeting. Special attention is paid to these employees to nurture their talents," explains Venkatachalam.
In addition, employees have the freedom to present their views. Every Monday morning CEO Nani B Javeri holds a top management meeting. The executives have full freedom to discuss issues and even fault Javeri! According to one executive, Javeri firmly believes that the top team should have that freedom
In order to provide faster career growth, the company follows an internal recruitment system. According to Venkatachalam, any job at managerial levels or below will be first made from within. The policy allows a person to apply for a post that is two levels above his. Around 30 of the 150 recruitments were from within. He says the number of full time employees is expected to be around 2,100 by the end of this fiscal.
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days ahead for Birla Sun Life.