Among the biggest irritants at workplace is the need to attend meetings — sometimes multiple times a day. Often such meetings drag on, resulting in delays in performing the job at hand or even completing projects. It is to bring in a degree of comfort for employees that SAP Labs India started the concept of setting aside a few hours in a week as ‘no meeting’ time, which has now evolved into Focus Fridays or No Meetings Fridays, a dedicated time for employees to go for learning and development.

While this initiative originated at SAP Labs India, it is being gradually adopted across SAP Labs offices around the world. “The idea is that you focus on your development. If there is a training that you want to have, go ahead and do it. Or read something that day when we asked managers not to schedule meetings,” says Shweta Mohanty, head, human resources, SAP Labs India.

The other aspect about which employees are constantly seeking answers is: Where do they fit in the company? It is to keep up with the needs of its young employee base that SAP Labs started a pay transparency mechanism. It allows employees in the organisation to know where they are in terms of compensation received vis-a-vis competitors, and pioneers in the field. Employees are encouraged to have constructive conversations with managers. It also provides them the visibility about where they fit in the job fraternity.

“Every role in the organisation belongs to a job family and compensation ranges are different, because so are the skill sets,” says Mohanty.

With the world going digital, there is a greater need for people to continuously upgrade skills. To keep up with the times, SAP Labs India has joined hands with IIM-Bangalore to upskill managers in artificial intelligence (AI) under the ‘AI for Managers’ programme. The idea is to make the knowledge of AI and its components available to managers who aspire to become competent decision makers.

The company has also decided to continue on a work-from-home (WFH) mode till mid 2022. As part of the ‘Pledge to Flex’ programme, a hybrid mode will come into play from July 1, where employees can decide on working between one to three days in office, depending on when the team is in.

As far as diversity is concerned, women account for 34% of SAP Labs India workforce, and the target is to achieve gender parity — 50% — by mid 2025. The company ensures that while interviewing women candidates there are women in the panel.

“When you see women in leadership positions, it makes a huge difference,” says Mohanty. Incidentally, SAP Labs India is headed by Sindhu Gangadharan, senior vice president and MD, who has been with the group for 22 years.

Diversity is not just restricted to getting women on board. It has a programme—Autism@Work —where candidates go through a proper interview process. The bar is lowered for such candidates, but there are well-defined rules.

To keep the entrepreneurial spirit up, the company has also set up the ‘Invent’ programme to generate ideas from the team. It has a thriving start-up studio within the campus. “It’s an accelerator, so we invite start-ups whom we can help with technology,” says Mohanty. It also has a two-year entrepreneurial sabbatical for employees who want to have their own start-ups but are worried about failure.

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