Yesterday, I spoke to a large group of HR managers at Infosys Technologies Ltd.
I must confess that I was amused when I first received the invitation to address the managers. This was followed by an epiphany. The faces of all those people I have fired over the past decade swam before my eyes.
Still, I decided to accept the invitation for two reasons. One, Infosys is a company I have tracked since the early 1990s and I hadn’t been to its campus since 2006. Two, interest in speakers always piques interest in what they do, i.e. more readers for Mint.
It turns out that the invitation came on account of my standing as the person who launched “best employer” surveys in India. I have to plead guilty to this charge.
In the late 1990s, when I used to work for a magazine I convinced a consulting firm to launch in India, in partnership with the magazine, the same “best employer” study it was conducting in other parts of the world. Since the first survey came out, there have been others, conducted by other organizations. I have lost track of such surveys, but am told that there are several competing ones now.
Infosys wanted me to speak about my experience launching and running the survey—guess which company topped the first year’s survey? —and while I agreed to do this, I also decided to speak about how things work at Mint.
The talk went well and I am happy to report that the campus didn’t disappoint. Since my last visit, some new buildings had sprouted on the campus, and while it seemed more crowded, it pleased me no end to see several new canteens—food is important—including one run by a French chef Infosys poached from The Leela, and the ubiquitous umbrellas. (Since Bangalore is given to sudden rain showers, in the late 1990s, when much of what is now on the campus was being built, some enterprising soul thought it would be a good idea to scatter umbrella holders and umbrellas outside all buildings.)
For me, however, the key moment came when a young HR manager said that it was evident that Mint had a lot of smart people and asked how I managed to keep them happy and engaged.
Illustration: Jayachandran / Mint
I have often thought about this and think the answer lies in what we do and how we do?this.
Mint, as some readers are sure to have noticed, is a different sort of paper, one focused on well-written and well-researched stories that are meaningful and relevant. The paper’s work ethic is articulated in a code of conduct that helps ensure factual, hard, and honest reporting. So, despite Mint not being a paper given to crusades, most of its employees (me included) come into work every morning convinced we are fighting the good fight.
That is a great way to keep people happy and engaged. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is something all companies can do.