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How Top Corporates Retain their Employees The likes of Vodafone are also considering letting their employees take a sabbatical to start up

By Sanchita Dash

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


There was a time when working in a top corporate meant the regular 9-5 job and stringent cultural rules, while restricting an employee's creative freedom. This had even led to many corporate employees leaving their cushioned jobs to embrace the entrepreneurial world. But corporates today are waking up to the problem and addressing them by innovating and introducing new cultural changes.

'Break to open your startup? We'll consider that'

Talking about the consumerisation of rewards and how a corporate needs to monetize benefits for their employees, Sanchayan Paul, Head, Rewards and Organisation Effectiveness, Vodafone India said, "We listened to what our employees really wanted. 70 per cent of our new hire are millennials and 25 per cent of our employee base are women. Also, given the widespread of offices, our hiring too comes from Tier II and Tier III cities. We are not selling jobs anymore, we are selling careers."

Understanding that many people leave jobs because of lack of flexible work timings or lack of leave options, Sanchayan said, "We have come up with different structures of working - one is where an employee can take a long break or a sabbatical without pay, another is where they choose flexible days in a week to work (instead of 5 days in a week they work for four days) and are paid accordingly and the third one is where they choose a flexible work timing and are paid according to their work hours."

But the most interesting query is about employees wanting to be entrepreneurs. "We have had employees who want to open their startup but they want to come back if the venture fails. We are considering that option. In fact, we are working towards launching innovation labs and are hoping that these employees can work there," he said.

Transparency at work

Suchitra Rajendra, CHRO and VP, PepsiCo India stressed upon the need to be transparent with your employees to keep them happy. "Keep it consistent and clear. When you are offering them rewards, don't change the reward. Don't change the goalpost once the race has started. You need to keep communicating with your employees so that they know what they are getting. You need to tell them it's not just the amount of money that hits your bank account but also the entire benefits that count. You need to build trust. Even at PepsiCo, we have our CEO sending out mailers every Monday morning, explaining the learnings of the week and where our goals stand."

Cultural change is important

Nowadays, corporates are looking at working with startups or acquiring them. Corporates are driving innovation and have younger age employees driving these teams. Talking about how for different groups, you have different cultures and benefits, Aditya Kohli, Senior VP, HR, Bharti Airtel, said, "While there is a group that consists of the top employees and they have a certain style of working, we also have groups that are driving innovation and are working with new age technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. For this group, it's the skill that masters and it becomes a criteria for their rewards. There's also the need to have a non heirarchial approach."

Talking about cultural change, he said, "We even had a team that worked for long hours in the office and wanted bean bags instead of the regular chairs so they are more comfortable. We went ahead with their demand, if that's what they want to drive excellence. When we acquired a company, we let them function on their own for 6 months instead of forcing them to imbibe our corporate culture."

The representatives of Vodafone India, PepsiCo and Airtel spoke about the rewards and benefits they offer their employees at the FICCI Total Reward Strategy Summit held at New Delhi.

Sanchita Dash

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

In the business of news for 5 years now. Making my way across India thanks to my career. A media graduate from Symbiosis, Pune, I have earlier worked with Deccan Chronicle (South India's leading English daily), T-Hub (India's largest incubator) and Anthill Ventures (a speed-scaling platform). 

Stories, movies and PJs are my thing. 

If you hear 'The Office' opening score randomly, don't worry it's just my phone ringing. 


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