Sharmila Rao Talpady
Current Organization NSEIT
Designation Head - Human Resource & Admin

Previous Organization(s)

Accenture, Datamatics, Honeywell

Belongs to (place from)

Mangalore, Karnataka

MADS Interest

Music- Singing

Favorite MADS Personalities

MJ, Richa Sharma, Shankar-Ehsan- Loy

Life Mantra

Don’t follow the herd, do what makes you happy

I draw inspirations from

Anybody and everybody around me

Had I not been an HR Professional then

I would have perhaps been a Teacher or a Singer 

At what point in your life did you decide to take up HR as your career? What were the guiding / motivating factors?

During my time, there were not many career choices available. So, most of us who chose to pursue professional degrees either opted to graduate in engineering or medicine. I probably chose the former due to my liking for Maths. I did some software courses after my graduation and aspired to become a software developer like every engineer did. While I realise now that my choices were so stereotypical, I am thankful I didn’t end up becoming a software developer. Life had better plans for me after all.

I began my career as a trainer. I taught software at the training division of a mid-size software services firm. I enjoyed teaching and interacting with people. So, when I was offered a student counsellor’s role in the same organization, I grabbed the opportunity. This role also involved students’ placements and marketing training programs to corporates. It is at this point that I pursued MBA and specialised in Marketing. In the same firm, I got exposure to hiring as well as all other facets of HR.  I started to notice that I had a positive influence on people around me and it gave me a sense of satisfaction to touch people’s lives. Soon I started to realise the value of human resource and knew instantly that it was wiser to bet on people than to bet on strategies.  Slowly, I started to get drawn into the Human Resource function and I went on to do a specialised PG course in Personnel Management. There was no looking back there after.

HR is one practice that touches human lives directly. Do you think employers and especially HR Professional can play role in reducing stress levels of employees through various employee engagement initiatives?

Yes absolutely! Employee engagement activities play a critical role in energizing employees at the workplace. All organizations that I have been associated with so far irrespective of their sizes, laid emphasis on employee engagement initiatives as this provides employees an opportunity to showcase their talent/ pursue interests amidst their busy work schedules. Unwinding at the workplace helps reduce stress levels and strengthens the bond between the employees and the employer, making the workplace more enjoyable. 

Employee engagement defines the relationship between an organization and its employees. I believe that employee engagement goes beyond activities, games, and events. Better employee engagement drives better performance. Engaged employees understand their purpose and how they fit into the organization’s larger scheme of things. An “engaged employee” is one who is enthusiastic about his work and takes positive action to further the organization's reputation and interests. Hence I believe that an organization with an engaged workforce has the potential to outperform it’s competition.

What are some of the most important employee engagement initiatives related to Music, Art, Dance or Sports that you have taken in your career?

Like I mentioned before, employee engagement goes beyond organizing games and events. However, I believe that these activities are basic essentials of employee engagement. In the organizations that I have served so far, some of these activities included Rangoli, kite-making, boat-making and painting contests, online quiz, birthday celebrations and team outings in addition to indoor board games and outdoor tournaments. 

At NSEIT, on our Founder’s day event, ‘Ripples’, we not only recognise our consistent top performers but also provide a platform for our employees to showcase their talent. The participants especially the singers and the dancers leave us amazed every year. We nurture such talent across the organisation and this promotes a sense of belongingness. This event is something that every employee looks forward to, each year. Besides this, we have several contests and competitions through the year to promote/ recognize various forms of art and creativity. Despite being scattered across various client sites, our employees across these locations actively participate in all our events. At NSEIT, we encourage employees to contribute articles on any topic of their interest to the company’s e-magazine, ‘Pulse’’. This is yet another powerful platform to recognise and promote employee talent. Also, it is an overwhelming experience to watch the female employees participate in cricket championships with equal enthusiasm and zeal during NSEIT’s Sports day event. 

As we all know, “the Joy of giving” is a popular world-wide concept which encourages the culture of giving and provides a great opportunity for Corporates to show our social commitment. At NSEIT, we encourage our employees to join us in this journey to experience this joy. In today’s highly competitive and cutting edge environment, this initiative not only helps us build trust and appreciation among our employees but also their commitment to a common cause.

I also believe that proactively supporting the health of our employees can increase their engagement levels and improve productivity. In view of the same, we organise yoga and health awareness camps/ sessions on a regular basis. We also have a workplace gym which not only helps save on gym membership but also creates a sense of motivation for employees to come to work/ focus on fitness.

Do you think time and cost for employee engagements are an investment for the organisation and can help in multi-fold returns?

Yes, investment in employee engagement activates can yield multi-fold returns. Organizations have come to realize that in today’s constantly changing business scenario, the most valuable resource that needs to be leveraged is human resource. This means not just attracting the best talent and retaining them but also keeping them motivated and committed to achieving the organization goals. Since employee engagement initiatives can help achieve these and thereby curb employee attrition as well, I consider this a smarter investment than investing on rehiring and training. 

While we all agree that we need to invest time in employee engagement activities, we must ensure that we maintain healthy and synergetic working relationships to be able to benefit from these initiatives completely.

Do you feel there is a need even to reach out to the family of employees so that they get better connected to the company? Have you undertaken any such initiative in your past or current organization?

Yes I believe there is a need to reach out to the families of employees. Though there are no studies to particularly measure the impact of engaging with the family vis-à-vis other engagement practices, there is no doubt that engaging the family of an employee impacts the commitment, connect  and the discretionary effort  of an employee. Such initiatives improve the confidence & respect for the organization and families are more accommodating to the employee, be it extended workings hours, increased business trips or any other inconveniences. So many companies are trying to involve the families of employees at various stages of the employee life cycle, with excellent results.

Today companies have various initiatives to try and engage the family of the employee. In one of the earlier organizations I served, the family members of employees were invited for the Company’s annual day and they were encouraged to perform and the spouses were persuaded to come along with the employee to the podium to receive the award alongwith the employee. Some organizations send flowers to employees’ homes during special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries while some reward the performing employees with a family trip to a tourist location. A LinkedIn survey reported 60% of their employees considered their parents a huge driving force in their careers, leading to LinkedIn declaring one day every year as “Bring In your Parents” day.

At NSEIT, we have extended the medi-claim benefits to parents/ in-laws of the employee as well and we bear 100% premium for the parents’ coverage as well. During children’s Christmas school vacations, spouses and children of employees are invited to the workplace and all are encouraged to perform/ participate in various activities arranged that day. Once we recruit students from campuses for NSEIT, we invite them along with their parents over to our workplace and let them openly interact with the leadership team and the campus recruits from the earlier batches. This initiative has helped bring our drop-out ratio to almost nil.

What is the one change that you would like to bring in HR practice that has potential to boost employees work-life balance?

Work–life balance is the harmony between work and other life roles. It is the state of equilibrium in which demands of personal life, professional life, and family life are balanced. Work–life balance is about flexible work arrangements that allow employees to carry out other life programs and practices at ease. Areas of life other than work–life can include personal interests, family and social or leisure activities. Technological advances have made it possible for work tasks to be accomplished remotely and infact faster due to the use of smartphones, email, video-chat, and others. These technology advances facilitate individuals to work without having a typical '9 to 5' work day. While I agree that some organizations may have constraints based on the nature of their businesses, it is critical that we start considering this change where ever possible, although this calls for a huge shift in the mind-set.  

Flexible work arrangements not only help boost work-like balance but also help reduce stress levels related to daily commute. This kind of arrangement will be a blessing to women who otherwise may need to sacrifice their careers to meet family commitments. Also, by doing away with daily commute, employers not only save heavily on the operations cost but also will play a responsible role in creating a healthier environment by way of carbon foot-print reduction. 

This is the age of the millennials who do not believe that “work is life”. They do not merely choose their employers based on the job content/ challenges but evaluate their opportunities based on work-life balance. So it is probably time for organizations to start adapting to the new age expectations quickly, where ever possible, to stay in the race.

What are your personal interests in Music, Art, Dance or Sports and how do you continue to pursue it?

I discovered my love for singing just recently when I casually joined a group of singers who put up a show in my housing society. To my surprise, I was appreciated by many and I felt encouraged to pursue formal vocal training. I quickly enrolled myself for Hindustani vocal classes and won the first prize in a solo singing competition within few months of training. This gave me a huge morale boost and I realised that it is never too late to pursue my interest. I realised that we never know our potential until we try. So I try not to miss any opportunity to perform at shows/ events. I manage to make time for my vocal classes during weekends and I believe that we can always find time for things we enjoy doing – we just need to prioritize. Where there is a will, there is always a way. 

Any other thoughts you may want to share.

Materialistic things beyond basic needs can only bring momentary happiness. And our job titles are not a measure of our success/ happiness and cannot define who we are. I believe the definition of happiness cannot be the same for everybody and the ones who have discovered what true happiness means to them, are truly lucky! 

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So we need to keep our lives interesting by acquiring new skills and pursuing our hobbies/ interests. After all, we have just one life! 

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