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ORGANIZATION, GENERATIONS AND COMMUNICATION – INFOSYS EXPERIENCE

Dr. SANDEEP K KRISHNAN, SHRUTHI BOPAIAH, DIVYA BAJAJ and RUCHI PRASAD
Abstract
This article describes the evolution of employee communication strategy and execution at Infosys. Based on research and feedback from employees, Infosys aligned its internal communication to the need of various segments of the employee base (Traditionalists, Straddlers, Gen X, and Millenials). Basic principles of working with employees of various generations in a large organization were based on acceptance, listening, interaction (feedback), and answering (responding). The communication strategy built on “Work, Play, and Share” involved leadership connect, employee sharing, extensive use of web 2.0 and new multimedia for communication. The outcome of the new strategy for employee communication was increased employee participation, involvement, and better alignment of employees to organization goals. About the Author Dr. Sandeep K. Krishnan is a Practice Lead – Organization Development at Infosys Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and a Mechanical Engineer. He has expertise in the areas of Learning and Development, Talent Management, Compensation, and Bene ts, Recruitment, and OD. He has published in highly regarded professional journals and magazines, and is a visiting faculty at various IIMs. Shruthi Bopaiah is Practice Lead, Internal Communications at Infosys Limited. She has over 8 years of experience across Recruitment, HR Outsourcing, Talent Branding and Internal Communications. She has a post graduate degree in HR from Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, Pune and a Master’s degree in Labour Laws and Labour Welfare from Symbiosis University. Divya Bajaj is a Senior Associate Lead, Internal Communications at Infosys Limited. She has over 6 years of experience specializing in communication spanning Advertising, Social media, Talent Branding and Internal Communications. She has a master’s degree in Marketing and Advertising as well as an Executive MBA from IIM, Calcutta. Ruchi Prasad is an Associate Lead – Internal Communications at Infosys Ltd, and specializes in social media and talent branding. She has a masters degree in advertising and marketing. She volunteers with the NGO - Teach for India, and has worked on research projects with Harvard Business School.
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Introduction: It is known that effective internal communication is essential for the smooth running of any business, both to convey company culture and values and to stay on top of employee concerns. Clear and honest communication is also an important motivational tool. Involving employees in decision-making or at the very least keeping people informed of how the business is doing, will encourage loyalty, as well as mutual trust and respect. Effective communication positively affects staff retention, job satisfaction and customer service levels. In an organization as large as Infosys, it is important that each employee feels informed, trusted, valued and heard. His/her individuality must be given importance in order to maintain a high level of satisfaction and engagement. One of the key aspectscovered in research and practice is the type of communication and preference of communication channels thatvarious generations prefer. This article looks at how Infosys has aligned itself to various generations of the workforce through a coherent communication strategy, and integrated communication channels. At Infosys we looked at different generations and how we can customize our communication medium and style for the audience. If organizations want to reach their full audience, they need to adopt multiple forms of communication. Also, how different generations assimilated information and shared information has changed with technology. While the typical segmentations of generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millenials) based on their birth

period has blurred, studies have shown that they respond differently and have varied preferences (Simon, 2010; Smith 2008; Spargue, 2008; Cekeda 2012) Communication components and how generations perceive them. Communication for different generations: Previous research (eg: Dorsey, 2010; Simon, 2010; Smith 2008; Spargue, 2008; Cekeda 2012; Mahoney 2010; PWC 2012), has shown preferences that are aligned to the generations discussed above. Media Consumption Each generation is comfortable with a technology which is/was prevalent and popular at their time. Traditionalists (comprising approx. 6.5% of a workforce) & Straddlers (comprising approx. 35% of the workforce) favor verbal communication through channels like face-to-face communication, phone calls or e-mails. Gen X (comprising 29.5% of the workforce) prefers instant messaging (IM), which means they like connecting via SMS’s or chats. Communication has to be immediate and available as and when they want. Millenials (comprising approx. 27.5% of the workforce) have been exposed to multiple forms of media like video, audio and they mostly favor mediums that are interactive and social. They prefer their communication to be an experience rather than just a basic message. At Infosys, we ensure that the same communication is available in multiple formats like video, e-mailers, audio or

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interactive networking platforms so that we adequately cater to the needs of every generation group. Tone The tone of communication can either foster acceptance or a sense of hostility from the recipient. Traditionalists prefer communication to be professional and ‘correct’, Straddlers on the other hand prefer communication to be personalized. Generation X prefers communication to be causal and informal. Millenials are accustomed to universal networks and understand that communication is sent out to several people at the same time and accept communication that is not personalized and sent out to the organization as a whole. Feedback The perception of feedback differs across generations. Traditionalists believe that there is a time and place for feedback and will provide feedback only when asked. Straddlers share detailed feedback only when requested. Generation X thinks feedback is necessary and will provide feedback regularly in a clear and coherent manner. Millenials want to provide instant feedback, as and when they receive communication. Some other highlighted Traditionalists Build a legacy The satisfaction of a job well done It’s a stigma No news is good news

behavioral differences are covered in the table below: Infosys conducted an internal research across 9 cities in India with over 2000 employees to understand the communication needs across generations. The objective was to understand employee preferences and correlate them with the larger known preferences (Table 1). The research covered: – Different generations and their characteristics – The value system of each generation and how those values affect motivation and behavior in the workplace – Develop an understanding of how different generations communicate and how it affects relationships in the workplace – Determine how your approach may need to change when coaching, managing and leading employees of different generations Infosys also administers bi-annual communication surveys to understand employee perception and expectation. Apart from that, all communication formats are always accompanied by feedback and tracking mechanisms.

Meaning of Career Goals Meaning of Rewards

Table 1 Straddlers Build a great career Money, Title, Recognition

Millennial Build Parallel Careers Meaningful work

Gen X Build a portable Career Freedom

Meaning of Job Change Meaning of feedback

It puts you behind Once a year, all documented

It’s part of life Whenever I want at the push of a button

It is necessary Sorry to interrupt, but how am I doing

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Some keytakeawaysfrom the survey: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Employees need instant access to communication They would like to connect with each other They would like to hear their leaders speak often and to be heard They want avenues to express themselves The want to have fun with communication at the workplace along with the serious communication.

factors. Even though a larger percentage of Infosys comprises of Millenials, we haveensured that every generation at the workplace has communication which meets their needs and speaks to them in a language they understand and feel comfortable with. Our research and feedback from employees gave us the guiding principles for evolving the communication strategy. What can you do as someone who employs people from multiple generations? Talk to them: Employees need to be recognized as individuals as well as teams. Infoscions can connect with anyone using any one of the various communication platforms; as a result, thelines of communication are always open irrespective of the generation or position of the employee.InfyBubble, Infosys’ own enterprise networking platform is a combination of Facebook and Twitter in an internal setting, thus encouraging employees to connect with anyone they wish to network with. Hear them out and ‘listen’ to them: Social media platforms have features such as ‘like’, ‘dislike’, ‘comment’. Collaboration is the new management paradigm – all voices must be heardAt the workplace this translates to communication always being two-way.Every platform at Infosys is built on the interactive model whenever communication is sent out employees are always welcome to offer their suggestion.A platform known as the Bulletin board houses opinions of employees from all over the globe about topics ranging from cafeteria food to the new business strategy. It is a great forum to gauge the pulse of the organization and prioritize larger employee concerns which need to be addressed. Listening is not the same as hearing.Infosys listens to employees by encouraging them

Ongoing feedback from employees also influences the communication strategy. For example, apart from the bi annual feedback initiative, the HR team has regular focus group discussions with employees across all levels and years of experience, representing all age groups, fields and industries. A typical process is as follows.
Why is it important for organizations to address this challenge? Since most organizations havedifferent generations working together, it is important to acknowledge the differences in opinions and ways of getting the same task done; differences in the way of communicating; differences in ideologies andthought processes. These differencesimpact everything at the workplace from hiring, appraisals and progressions toteam-building, motivating employees and most importantly communication. It is also important for leaders to understand their workforce demographics and preferences to communicate effectively (Sue, 2000) Infosys and the Generations: Like most organizations, our hiring is marked by diversity in geography, skill set, age and gender amongst other
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to provide feedback on upcoming policies on ‘My Voice’. The model cannot be one of ‘command and control’, rather it should be one that asks questions and accepts feedback.Employees write directly to the CEO/HR head/Top leaders with their queries or concerns and receive a personal response from them. This culture of a at organization is one of the factors which keep employees highly motivated and passionate. Understand and answer them: It’s particularly important to understand and address generational differences and tensions. It is important to use metrics and benchmarking to segment your workforce in order to understand what Millenials want and how these desires might be different from the Traditionalists. Infosys is building a culture of addressing every employee’s query, through the newly launched initiative called ‘Closing the loop’. Employees respect their leaders and mentors and it would only be appropriate for the organization and our leaders to reciprocate the gesture! Entertain them: Entertainment is the way to communicate and engage with them. Communication needs to be multimedia, and needs to be interactive as well as innovative; otherwise, you run the risk of boring your audience. InfyRadio is a perfect blend of entertainment, employee engagement as well as Infyrelated updates. Accept them: Every generation is unique, be it their values, goals, aspirations, work style orinterpretations. While communicating with diverse generations we should not look at the task as an impediment, rather, we should look at it as an opportunity to grow, learn and develop further. Every communication channel and platform should appeal to the beliefs of all generations without excluding anyone.

Our Communication strategy! When ideas are shared so is success. In an era where employees thrive on collaboration, being in an environment where they are encouraged to ideate, nourishes them and helps them grow. Infosys believes in this philosophy and therefore, every medium of communication is innovative and interactive because it is essential for the management to be able to gauge the pulse of the organization. Over the last 2 years, we have been focusing on a ‘Pull’ strategy as opposed to a ‘Push’. This means that information is always available to employees in a form they prefer. Web2.0 (extensive use of social networking and user centered design) helps us tailor communication; Employees can choose if they want an e-mail noti cation, or regularly visit the company’s intranet where most of the updates are put up.Every communication platform at Infosys is showcased on the organization’s intranet – Sparsh. This ensures that information is available to everyone in various formats at a single place. This helps us further our communication strategy of ‘work, play, and share’. Apart from the above, the communication strategy aligns itself with our business strategy of “Building Tomorrow’s Enterprise”and we aim to achieve the following:

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Strategic Communication forums: For and by Leaders: Leaders are the most important spokespersons of an organization. Leaders

can inspire, encourage and also disappoint and frustrate employees. Therefore, it is essential for organizations to communicate with leaders effectively and ef ciently and also ensure that the leaders connect with employees.

Forum Leaders Blog

Objective For employees to build a rapport with the leaders and understand their views on a range of subjects. For the leaders it gives them an opportunity to share information or educate employees on the organizations strategy, industry and business. Or sometimes share their personal and professional experiences.

Action Blogs are published 4 times a month and often cover topics such as organizational goals, new market trends, insightful experiences by leaders etc. This is a 2 way forum; employees can comment and share their views or pose questions to the leader and the leaders responds making it almost a conversation.

Outcome Employees across the globe now feel connected to their leaders and see real mentors in them. They feel involved and love the freedom that this instant and real communication gives them. This forum often acts as a platform for Traditionalists and Straddlers to pass on their legacy and wisdom, while helping the Millenials learn from senior leader’s experiences in a format they are comfortable with. Employees are not only updated with leadership thought but also realize that the company values their satisfaction. The video format of this initiative appeals to the Traditionalists and Straddlers, while the interactivity appeals to Generation X and the Millenials.

Ask Shibu (Ask the CEO)

Direct interaction between the CEO and employees. This is an effort to move away from top down communication to 2 way interaction.

Every quarter we receive an average of 300 queries which are voted for by Infoscions. The most popular questions are then responded by Shibulal. The column has seen increased participation since its launch and is the most popular channel among Infoscions.

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Forum Managers Portal

Objective A one stop shop to engage and interact with managers within the organization. The manager community is an important segment of the workforce and they have the onus of managing and motivating their teams.It alsofosters collaboration among peers from the same generation.

Action Updates and news related to Infosys and the industry are shared on a regular basis. A series of online video modules called “Manager in communication” which helps new managers and also the existing ones enhance their skills and abilities, is also available. Exciting news and information related to client wins, awards and other organization related significant achievements are shared in the ‘Smart Talk’ segment for managers to discuss with their teams. ‘Meeting in a box’, a communication kit with the latest internal news and org updates is updated every month and creates a direct channel of communication between the manager and their teams.

Outcome The portal is especially relevant to generations like the Straddlers and Generation Xers, as it fosters networking in an environment which brings together only certain generations. Managers often discuss management styles and challenges which they might be facing as a result of the generation mix.

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Employee Engagement Forum InfyRadio Objective India’s first corporate radio station was launched with great fanfare last year for employee engagement through innovative but non-intrusive communication. Action The radio station plays a mix of music (Hindi/ English/Regional), Infosys related content (campaigns on values and sustainability, events for employees, interactive contests etc.) as well as generic content. We run interviews with leaders at Infosys (Like NRN, Kris) and also musical geniuses (like A R Rahman and KK). We collaborate with various departments like Sustainability and Corporate Planning for campaigns. From aspiring authors to thought leadership - InfyBubble with over 200 online communities is helping like-minded people gather on the cloud to discuss whatever their interests are. The follow feature on InfyBubble allows Infoscions to stay updated with Leadership thought in a casual enterprise networking platform setting Outcome On an average, we receive 8,000 hits a day. As a result, employees are engaged and entertained and also informed of all company activities in a fun and interactive manner. Music is a universal language; it surpasses all barriers of age or background. InfyRadio unites all generations by entertaining Infoscions across generations.

InfyBubble

Putting a face to colleagues we write to everyday, foster collaboration and innovation on the cloud while sharing knowledge.

Currently there are 109,972 employees registered on InfyBubble. Infoscions have established 405,697 connections across the world. As a result, employees feel connected through an internal platform that replicates the social media platforms externally. It fosters an environment of collaboration, generations and ages become irrelevant as the network encourages employees across generations to connect based on interests and knowledge rather than designations and positions.

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Forum InfyTV

Objective This is the era of YouTube and Video where people are using video as a medium of communication. Keeping this in mind; InfyTV, our internal TV station was launched in May 2008 and today it is updated with all the latest Social media features like rate, comment and share.

Action InfyTV has all the social media features like, rate a video, comment on a video, share a video and upload the video to InfyTV portal. Infoscions can view the videos as latest, most viewed, and top rated. Currently every video receives over 7000 views.

Outcome InfyTV combines the needs of multiple generations. The video format appeals to Traditionalists and Straddlers and the interactive (social media) format appeals to Generation X-ers and Millenials.

Conclusion: In order to keep up with changing times and generations, every organization’s success is dependent on its ability to adapt and grow along with its employees.And communication is the key to understanding a generation that shapes the world we live in today. Employee communication that is planned with principles of relevance, need, and

embracing possibilities of technology, can help large organizations reach out to their employees effectively. At Infosys, the communication strategy and its execution has helped usconnect with a large and varied workforce. The carefully planned and executed strategy has helped to create a sense of community, access to information, enabling an employee to express, and all with involvement and scope for fun.

References
Dorsey, R. (2010). Inside the mind of a Gen Y Employee.Strategic Communica on Management, 14 (2), 7-7. Simons, N. (2010). Leveraging generational work styles to meet business objectives. Information Management, 28-33. Smith, K. (2008). Gaining the edge: Connecting with the Millennials.Air Force Journal of Logistics, 33(3/4), 52-59. Sprague, C. (2008). The Silent Generation meets Generation Y: How to manage a four-generation workforce with panache. White River Junction, VT: Human Capital Institute Sue, S. (2000). Foster Workplace Communication. Fort worth Business Press, 13(25), 1-1. Hammil, G (2005). Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees, FDU Magazine online, Accessed Online: http://www.fdu. edu/newspubs/magazine/05ws/generations.htm. PWC (2012). Managing Tomorrow’s People, Accessed Online: http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/managing-tomorrows-people/future-of-work/ key-findings.jhtml. Integer Group (2012). Identifying the Allure of Social Networking: Traits, Behaviors and Motivators, Accessed Online: Accessed Online: http://www.factbrowser.com/facts/4970/. Mahoney, T (2010). How to manage me : Millennials and Communication, Huffington Post, Accessed online: http://www.huffingtonpost. com/tyler-mahoney/how-to-manage-me-millenni_b_698049.html

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