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Ekta Capoor, editor in chief, Amazing workplace’s interview with Unmesh Pawar, Partner and Head, People, Performance and Culture at KPMG in India

KPMG (Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler ) is a multinational professional services network, and one of the Big Four accounting organizations, along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). It has three lines of services: financial audit, tax, and advisory. Its tax and advisory services are further divided into various service groups.

KPMG started operations in India in September 1993, and has rapidly built a significant competitive presence in the country. The firm operates from its offices in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Noida, Pune and Vadodara and offers its clients offers its clients a full range of services, including financial and business advisory, tax and regulatory, and risk advisory services.

In India, KPMG has a client base of over 2700 companies. The firm’s global approach to service delivery helps provide value-added services to clients. The firm serves leading information technology companies and has a strong presence in the financial services sector in India while serving a number of market leaders in other industry segments as well.

KPMG in India’s key differentiator is derived from rapid performance-based, industry-tailored and technology-enabled business advisory services delivered by some of the leading talented professionals in the country. KPMG in India’s  professionals are grouped by industry focus and its clients are able to deal with industry professionals who speak their language. Its s internal information technology and knowledge management systems enable the delivery of informed and timely business advice to clients.

https://home.kpmg/in/en/home/about.html

Having recently been listed in linkedin-top-companies-to-work-for-in-india-2019, Amazing workplace’s editor in chief, Ekta Capoor speaks with Unmesh Pawar, Partner and Head, People, Performance and Culture at KPMG in India to understand what makes KPMG a prospective employer and just how it creates a seamless employee experience to be consistently listed as a LinkedIn favourite on the top 25 list!

1. How does it feel to be on Linkedin’s list of top 25 companies to work for in 2019? How does it impact a prospective employee?

We are honored and enthused to be featured in this trend-setting list, yet again. Year on year, we have created and cultivated an organizational culture and talent pool that is driven by trust, teamwork and transparency. We consistently nurture an environment that supports a collaborative spirit where an individual’s purpose is aligned with the higher purpose of the Firm, bringing together the leadership and all employees towards achieving it. 

Coming to the second part of your question on how it impacts a prospective employee, I believe it does in a big and positive way. Our current employees are consistently given the opportunity and responsibility to provide solutions to the most challenging issues that the industry and the country face. Our prospective employees too will have multiple opportunities when it comes to working on challenging projects.

It is through our values, culture, people agenda, inclusivity, and responsibility to our communities, that we aspire to create an environment which is the pride of our people. The idea is to create a learning organization, that is future ready. Here at KPMG in India there is tremendous focus on the power of purpose, which not only nurtures professional growth, but also ensures the achievement of personal goals and this is what we believe will help us become the Clear Choice for prospective employees as well as clients.

2. What do you feel are the key elements that have brought you this far?  Key Achievements with relevance to bagging this position vis a vis:

Engagement with employees- Today, employee engagement is all about co-relating one’s own individual purpose and passion with the higher purpose of the Firm. At KPMG in India, we recognise this fact and through various people related initiatives for development and engagement, encourage a culture that brings out the best in people. Below are a few achievements, which as a firm have helped us be among LinkedIn’s Top Companies to Work List in 2019. We undertake multiple initiatives to bring out the best in our employees, thereby helping them realize their passion, in alignment with the organizational goal, as well as their purpose.

  • Kommunities-This is one such initiative which gets like-minded colleagues together from a hobby/interest standpoint, so as to help them nurture these interests alongside work and help bonding of colleagues in a particular location.
  • Regular Leader –Employee Connect – With an aim to ensure a consistent and continuous flow of communication and open culture within the firm we have regular sessions with our leaders to ensure a good leader-employee connect, to keep pace with the larger organizational goal. Also our leaders actively take time in grooming our talent, so as to help our employees reach their maximum /optimum potential.
  • Konvergence – This is followed by regular Digital Town halls  known as “Konvergence” which is kind of a confluence of sorts in which the entire firm is brought together to engage, discuss and exchange views and opinions about the organisation. It is the central channel through which the vision and cultural ethos of the firm is shared, followed by extensive discussions on how to meet the targets and thereby the larger organizational goal.
  • ASPIRE- From a CSR perspective, KPMG in India launched the ASPIRE programme in 2014 which has seen our senior women leaders mentor disadvantaged girl students through quality education and providing strategic direction etc.
  • Kontinuum – This is an exclusive a programme that we believe will help returning mothers come back to a second career. The programme has been designed as an enabler for the returning mothers to have a meaningful come-back, thereby providing them the opportunities in line with their skills, keeping in mind the agility factor and also make the workforce an inclusive and balanced one. 
  • L.G.B.T.Q.I.A + inclusion – KPMG across geographies stands together with Pride as we celebrate last year’s decision by the Supreme Court to recognise the rights of the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, intersex, asexual) community, whole heartedly. Continual changes to policies and facilities have since been underway, along with a review of resources available to colleagues to find the necessary support. Some of them include adding domestic partners to insurance policy coverage, gender neutral washrooms, campaigning for L.G.B.T.Q.I.A + [email protected] to create an India L.G.B.T.Q.I.A + inclusion network that will work towards greater inclusion and engagement.
  • Campus engagement – At KPMG in India, we make a constant effort to engage with campuses we associate with regularly, so as to give them an update on the current happenings at the firm. This also enables us as a firm to interact with the student community and leaders of academic institutions regularly to understand their perspectives as well as keep up to date with the latest education and academic pedagogies.

Employee retention- One of the key elements that has helped us retain talent and retain our position in LinkedIn’s Top Companies to Work List 2019 ‘is a sustained and continuous effort to invest in our own people, so they can meet their growth potential. This is why we recently launched OPEN Performance Development – our new global approach to performance development, aimed at developing our employees. This new system has been built on candid feedback from our people and top-of the-class global research. We asked our employees on what they sought from the performance process and the response was to make it future-ready and technologically embedded.  At the heart of Open Performance Development is clarity on what it takes to be extraordinary at KPMG that is to deliver impact, seek growth and inspire trust. We believe that if we embed this in the way we work, the results will follow, thereby driving individual as well as collective performance.

In addition to the above, we give immense importance to ensure relevant trainings are conducted so as to enable our employees to develop and gain new capabilities and thereby fashion career paths that they find attractive.

That said, it is also imperative that we are ready to meet challenges when it comes to the increasing skills gap we are witnessing in the professional services industry spaces currently which more often than not leads to attrition. Therefore we are proactively focusing on the below with a view to retaining employees

  • Acquiring new and fresh talent
  • Identifying friends of our people
  • Leveraging our employees to the best of their strengths and passion so as to be able to retain them, but also ensure they are happy with what they are doing
  • And lastly, having a razor sharp focus on continuous learning to ensure our people have the requisite skills to be future ready.

3. What are your initiatives towards creating a seamless Employee Experience?

Today outside of work employees are often accustomed to seamless experiences as consumers in a digital environment. In their “five-to-nine,” employees are either shopping, watching movies, ordering meals, and hailing rideshares, all with a few taps on their smartphones. This evolution which we are seeing in consumer experience is probably a contrast to the typical experience at work, where employees remain mired in tedious digital processes and often find themselves expending a lot of effort on low-value tasks. From their consumer lives, they know there must be an easier way to schedule shifts, fill out expense reports, or enter data into spreadsheets. To this effect, we are working and striving towards creating and building a workplace where there is an embodiment of both physical and emotional Well-being – i.e a seamless integration of personal and work spaces. The aim is to make an employee get the feeling of – I can be who I want to be

Below are some initiatives that we have undertaken to create a seamless employee experience:

KBOT- At KPMG in India we have now launched a chat based virtual assistant named KBOT which enables our employees to raise, solve and resolve HR Processes and queries, IT issues with laptops, filling timesheets on the go and filling out expense reports and so on.

TRIPIT – Considering we are a professional services firm and our employees and leaders regularly work out of client locations which are sometimes within the country or sometimes abroad, we have come out with a travel organising app, that creates a master itinerary for every business trip so employees and leaders can access travel plans all in one place at one time. This allows on the go access to the itinerary, stores essential travel documents and contacts and more importantly can keep the team informed.

The idea here is to enhance the employee experience as much as possible with the aim at inculcating a digital first culture within the firm.

4. What is that one single differentiator that distinguishes KPMG from its other counterparts in terms of its Employee experience? Why should an employee love to come to work at KPMG every day?

A key differentiator that distinguishes KPMG in India from its counterparts in terms of employee experience are our people, values and culture.

Below are some values that has helped us distinguish ourselves from our counterparts in terms of employee experience.

  • We lead by example

At all levels our employees act in a way that exemplifies what we expect of each other and our member firms’ clients.

  • We work together

We bring out the best in each other and create strong and successful working relationships which is the basis of our culture.

  • We respect the individual

Our culture expects that we respect people for who they are and for their knowledge, skills and experience as individuals and team members.

  • We seek the facts and provide insight

By challenging assumptions and pursuing facts, we strengthen our reputation as trusted and objective business advisers.

  • We are open and honest in our communication

We share information, insight and advice frequently and constructively manage tough situations with courage and candor by being transparent and open in our communication.

  • We are committed to our communities

We act as responsible corporate citizens by broadening our skills, experience and perspectives through work in our communities and protecting the environment.

  • Above all, we act with integrity

We are constantly striving to uphold the highest professional standards, provide sound advice and rigorously maintain our independence.

Lastly our people in combination with these values have helped us create a sense of unique identity, culture amongst our counterparts. They in a way define us and help our employees to work together in the most effective and fulfilling way. They bring us closer as an organization. This is why an employee loves to come to work at KPMG every day.

5. Share a relevant case study on how you enhanced employee experience through making relevant change in your L&D, Diversity, Transparency, Communication, Policies or any other form of Employee Experience enhancement.

KPMGjOSH

#KPMGjOSH is more than just a hashtag. This is an employee engagement and marketing campaign that we are running internally. It declares what we are capable of, being driven by the inner fire to win and what it takes to make a difference here at KPMG.

At KPMG in India, we believe in the power of our culture and being extraordinary. So, we asked ourselves, “What do we represent? What really elevates us above the rest?” and all we could hear and see were stories in action of relentless passion, enthusiasm and energy of our people, in spite of their day-to-day hardships.

Whether it is transformational engagements, excellent client deliveries or bringing happiness to our people, we stand out every day because of #KPMGjOSH and that is what best defines us and our cultural ethos and journey.

#KPMGjOSH is a declaration of what we are capable of, driven by the inner passion to succeed, win and make a difference. It is a statement that establishes the firm as the #ClearChoice for businesses and professionals. It is an affirmation to be allies in growth for our clients, communities and our people by rigorously harnessing our inherent values, culture, energised by trust, teamwork and togetherness

The #KPMGjOSH campaign rose from our tireless belief that Drive trumps Expertise when it comes to distinguishing ourselves from the rest. Our love for challenges not only keeps us brimming with #Josh but also helps us recalibrate, rebuild and grow through perpetual self-awareness and collaboration.

When transformation beckons, we listen

As a firm, we look at the future with great intrigue, excitement and confidence. Here, at KPMG in India, we transform uncertainties into opportunities, and bring the magic of #Josh to life, every day!

To sum it up, as a multinational organization that employs more than 2, 07,050 employees worldwide, we believe that our talent is our greatest asset. It is through our people, that we as an organisation are able to achieve our business objectives and reach and maintain our competitive advantage.

Strategically managing talent involves anticipating the need and type of talent (human capital) required by an organisation, and then setting a plan to meet that need.  We believe, an organisation must always be in a position to successfully attract, recruit, develop, and retain talent. 

Put simply, organisations must bring its people to the fore, provide them with the tools and skills necessary to help them develop themselves, and most importantly keep them happy in order to not only stop them from leaving, but also to perform better.  

Research and practice both show that one of the key factors linked to effectively retaining talent is the emotional bond an employee develops with their employer, i.e. how engaged an employee is with their organisation. 

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