The art of conversation

How organizational listening and trust-building cut attrition at Infy

infosys_image_1A sock in the jaw for many Indian IT companies was the global 2008 recession. Operating margins dropped. The knowledge sector’s growth sank from 30% to 15%. Many companies downsized. Those who didn’t, pulled back on new hires.

As the wave hit Indian shores in 2009-10, Infosys rolled out a prudent role and career enhancement program called iRACE, hoping employees would tighten their belts. It was what any tough-minded parent would do in hard times – hold the purse close and ask the kids to follow.

A rude shock for the workforce

But what if the kids start whining, like it happened at Infy?
Infoscions found the belt-tightening a pill too bitter to swallow. Infy was, after all, India’s blue-eyed boy. This couldn’t be happening to them!

Hopeful joiners chafed as their joining letters failed to arrive. Disbelief turned to resentment against the management – and peaked.

Those on the rolls rolled their eyes when they were told to work smarter. The Net exploded with Infoscions’ rants. The company’s policies were “restrictive.” “Big Brother is watching you.” Work infrastructure “sucks.” The bosses were “slave-drivers.” Work was “repetitive,” “meaningless,” and kill-joy. “The management believes bulls–t in the company’s values.”

From resentment to attrition

2010-11 attrition shot up to 17%. On six social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Glassdoor, Vault and PayScale, which had a cumulative reader base of 30 million – over 15,000 departing Infoscions pointed fingers at the company as they left.

Infy had to do something decisive – and fast. Its knee-jerk reaction was to post on the company intranet the rationale behind their decisions. What the hell. The managers had their justification, didn’t they?

Open-armed damage control

But when, as a result, people took potshots at the company on a free-for-all, Infy floated an RFP that opened the door for Regalix to propose a different tack. Regalix looked at Infy as a family where everyone – leaders and teams, management and employee – worked more but talked less.

infosys_text2While there were a lot of great things going on in the company, nobody knew about them.

Regalix’ analysis showed that just a few well-chosen steps would make up Infy’s conversation deficiency. So we used these to expand Infy’s social media engagement to cover employees, prospects and other stakeholders far beyond the company intranet.

Conversations across the enterprise

infosys_image_2We helped Infy begin and sustain responsive dialogue across the board. Conversations got going on job content, attrition, salaries, appraisals, and retention. There were how-to discussions around team/manager conflicts.

Infy managers began regularly organizing events around employee awards, recognitions, and fun-at-work. These became popular across delivery centers.

The company’s leadership stopped by to chat about Infy’s (and the competition’s) take on brand image, core values, customer delight, integrity, transparency, fair play, excellence, and people-centric culture, inclusivity, and diversity.

Sharing broader concerns

Other interest groups covered Infy’s measures on health and safety, corporate/environmental sustainability, water and waste management, energy conservation, and ozone replenishment.

Infy engaged with people on nearly 480 social media properties. In three months, active users doubled on its Facebook page, while social media interactions blazed a trail from 10 to 1,500, and membership grew 87%.

To help launch this programme into the future, we also set up Infy’s social media frameworks for monitoring online community engagement, data management, and crisis management.

 

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