"An engaged workforce is the difference between delivering well, and delivering really well”

We talk to Yatish Parshotam, the Chief People Officer at Entelect Software, who shares his thoughts and experience on employee engagement.

What does employee engagement mean to you?

“At Entelect employee engagement is characterized by someone who delivers work over and above the expectation we may have for someone in their role or position. They may express this in different ways depending on the individual; some people may bring creative flair to their role and solve a clients business issue even outside of our scope of work or, some even contribute to the company in other ways such as referring friends, ex-colleagues, creating training platforms to assist their peers or even by running social clubs such as climbing or running.”

What importance do you place on having an engaged workforce?

“An engaged workforce is the difference between delivering well, and delivering really well. When an employee is engaged, he or she appreciates the work they are producing and this also drives a sense of purpose. At Entelect, employees who deliver ‘over and above’ on a daily basis, have helped Entelect stand out in the marketplace and this is a key feature of our reputation in the industry.”

Who has been your most influential business leader, and why?

“Organisational Behaviour. Getting a workforce to collaborate and deliver on the strategic intent. This includes leadership, strategic alignment, leveraging diversity, and teamwork. “

Who has been your most inspiring mentor within the HR profession, and why?

“Probably the most influential business leader in my career has been Shashi Hansjee, CEO, Entelect. His approach, foresight, ethics as well as the culture he has built at Entelect has been a great influence on myself and the people who work here.”

You originally qualified as an electrical engineer, how did you end up in the people side of things, and how has your engineering background aided your HRM responsibilities?

“In many ways I consider myself to be still practising engineering. The only difference now is that my focus is on people. A large part of my day is spent understanding what people want in their jobs and how we can best solve any challenges when they occur. The advantage of starting as a software developer is that I have a good idea of what people need in their jobs and that insight is extremely helpful in my role as Chief People Officer when it comes to solving issues. We have always followed a engineering approach to everything we do – even, as an example, in the way we calculate salary increases."

What do you think is the greatest challenge in bringing a company’s workforce together, and how can this be addressed?

“The greatest challenge at Entelect is that we have a fairly fragmented workforce. Our staff work on different projects, in different offices, in different environments and in different teams. However, in many other respects we are fortunate that our staff share many similarities; they are all fairly young and with similar skill sets and share a passion for technology. Some ways we believe can help address this is providing platforms for people to develop their career as well as social networks and clubs. This helps transcend any work-based diversity and bring people together on common interests.“

What do you think makes for a productive and profitable workplace?

“From the perspective of the people who work at Entelect, we believe it is vital to provide organisational structures and direction to support a unified understanding of expectations, as well as provide them with the best tools available to help them do their job to the best of their ability. Over and above this, softer features such as being treated fairly, respect, an ethical environment, are important. Specific to Entelect however, is that we believe in giving our employees autonomy in their day-to-day role to enable them to grow and improve their craft, as well as the opportunity for mastery and recognition help to ensure people can be as productive as possible."

What is your approach to leadership?

“For me, leadership is about the personnel aspect. Which means making decisions for the right reasons and with the greater purpose in mind. Ultimately, Leadership should be something that is unconscious and people oriented.”

Entelect has an impressive track record in managing their team and was awarded the Deloitte ‘Best Company to Work For’ standard of excellence achievement in 2014 and 2015. What do you believe has been integral in achieving this?

“The people at Entelect are the reason for our success at the Deloitte ‘Best Company to Work For’ awards. In large part, the company is built on ideas generated by the staff. As leadership, we believe in hiring people we trust and providing them with a sense of ownership of the company. We’ve done this by establishing an organisational framework where the staff are able to make a difference in how the company is run. Then the rest falls into place, because people naturally build places where they can be happy and thrive."

The past year has seen many incredible changes in the world of work, leadership and economics. Looking forward, what do you believe will be the greatest challenge and opportunity we’ll face over the next year in terms of human capital

"We anticipate the greatest challenge will be an increasingly fragmented workforce. As millennial employees seek more flexibility and opportunities to work closer to home, companies must find ways to adapt to this while maintaining operational excellence, strong cultures and inter-personal relationships, as well as challenging working environments. There is also a shift towards people being more selective about the projects they work on. One of the greatest challenges for South African companies however, is that of emigration. Companies need to find creative ways to maintain their talent when competing with the opportunities being offered overseas."

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