Genius, goes an old saying, is 99 per cent perspiration and 1 per cent inspiration. Taking the analogy forward, one could possibly say the same thing about the potential of a person—work hard to learn new things and grow. Microsoft certainly believes in something similar, and calls it the ‘growth mindset’. The potential of an employee isn’t pre-determined—the person can learn and grow, the company says. “Part of the mindset needed for this is accepting what we don’t know and being willing to learn and take action to drive meaningful change,” says Ira Gupta, Head of Human Resources, Microsoft India.
The firm promotes a culture where employees are free to be curious, to experiment and to share the things they learn. No wonder that ‘Growth and Learning Opportunities’ is one of the top attributes for Microsoft India in the BT-Taggd Best Companies to Work For in India ranking.
This growth mindset, however, requires constant support, guidance, empathy and resilience from leadership and Microsoft—which has some 18,000 employees in India—has a plan in place. Under its Model-Coach-Care framework, the company trains its leaders and managers to lead through empowerment and accountability. Managers proactively coach team members for success across boundaries and help the team respond to the changing environment and be more thoughtful about understanding individual capabilities and unique circumstances to help them navigate opportunities and challenges. For instance, through its Employee Resource Groups, Microsoft builds a diverse and empowered workforce. Led by Microsoft India leaders, each group taps into a workplace subject and comes together as a self-managed team to drive inclusion around that aspect in the company. “When we think about leadership at Microsoft, a few years ago we identified a set of actionable principles personal to Microsoft, aligned with our mission, ambitions and culture. These are our leadership principles of creating clarity, generating energy and delivering success,” explains Gupta.
Growth and learning needn’t be restricted to within office walls. As the pandemic changed the concepts of work, Microsoft acknowledged that hybrid was the way forward. To empower its people for the world of hybrid work and living, last year the company introduced its first employee experience platform built for the digital era. Called Microsoft Viva, it brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources and insights into an integrated experience, which, the company says, enables people and teams to be their best from anywhere. “Our The goal is to ensure every employee has the tools, resources, and solutions to be as productive, creative, and secure as possible, working from any location and on any device. Technology is playing an increasingly important role in enabling a seamless employee experience in a hybrid world,” says Gupta.
Microsoft also recognises that there is no single way of working that applies to everyone. Its approach to hybrid work embraces flexibility as a standard for most roles and provides employees with the opportunity to determine how and where they work best while making sure an individual’s plan aligns to team agreements set with their manager. “Our hybrid workplace is based on a commitment to flexibility that welcomes and enables diverse ways of working, relies on new learning and mindset shifts, considers business and individual needs, and is built on trust and technology, ” says Gupta.
Other than enabling flexibility, well-being and inclusion are the other key priorities at Microsoft. “We’ve been on a journey over the last five years to ensure that our benefits not only focus on physical health but also cover emotional and mental well- being,” Gupta adds. During the pandemic, the company introduced well-being days, which were five days of additional leave for its employees. It renamed sick leave to Sick and Mental Health Leave, enabling employees to take time out for mental well- being as they would for physical well-being. In addition, it also introduced Caregiver leave for employees in a caregiving role at home.
The company is also focussed on increasing inclusion and representation of talent across identities, abilities, and backgrounds. “Our commitment involves a wide-ranging set of initiatives geared to provide skilling, training, mentoring and scholarships to build an equitable workforce for the new world of work,” says Gupta. One such initiative is the 16-week-long Springboard Internship Programme with an aim to fostering a more equal workforce. It provides women with an opportunity to gain on-the-job training, mentoring and re-skilling as they transition back to the workforce. Plus, Microsoft’s Employee Resource Groups also try to elevate the voices of various communities—women, LGBTQI+, persons with disabilities and others—to create a diverse support system and provide meaningful resources.
The company believes that when employees are encouraged to connect personal passions and philosophies to Microsoft’s mission and harness its platforms to pursue them, real and sustainable change happens in the world. Gupta adds that the last two years has made Microsoft more focussed about inclusion.“ We are committed to empowering our employees with the tools, resources, and sense of community that enables them to thrive in the post-pandemic workplace,” she says.