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Mr. AB Agrawal, Executive Director (Human Resources), NHPC

03 May 2016

NHPC’s attrition rate lowest as HR policies benchmarked with best in industry State-owned NHPC is a bellwether of the Indian hydropower sector. However, managing hydropower generation business is not an easy task given that these projects are mostly located in remote and inaccessible areas, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and take their toll on employee motivation. NHPC’s Executive Director (Human Resources), AB Agrawal, tells InfralinePlus about how the company manages to retain talent amid all these challenges.

What kinds of HR Challenges NHPC face in retaining field employees given that most of the company’s projects are located in remote areas?

The key challenges that NHPC faces in retaining field staff are social compatibility, industry compatibility and system compatibility. Social Compatibility: Due to inherent characteristics of hydro power, the locations are inaccessible and very remote and generally lack all modern-day amenities. Therefore, fresh engineers, immediately after joining, find it very difficult to get accustomed to the new situation. They feel lonely and detached from the outer world. As an organisation, NHPC continuously evolved new design to engage the fresh recruits to its maximum. They are handheld during the initial phase to make them feel at home. Industry Compatibility: Being fresh from institutions, most of the engineers and officers are not accustomed to industry. They lack interdisciplinary knowledge and do not know working of systems. Therefore, the biggest challenge for HR is to make them ready for industry as soon as possible. Rigorous and customised training programmes are designed for them by the T&HRD division. Besides, they are put into real life workstations from the very first day of induction. Seniors also play a vital role by passing on knowledge and making them learn the functioning and working of the systems. System Compatibility: Being a CPSE, NHPC has to follow some rules and regulations which are imbibed in the system of working. While some of the systems tend to delay results they are also very much effective in checking mistakes or act as a deterrent to “unethical” practices. Fresh engineers and officers, full of aspirations but with limited experience, learn to acknowledge the same gradually. In the initial phase, they see the systems as lethargic and unrealistic. The real challenge is to make them understand the pros and cons of each and every system.

What incentives does the company provide to keep its field staff motivated?

To keep the field staff self-motivated at any field posting and to accomplish the tasks assigned, NHPC provides the Special Compensatory Allowance ( 5-20 per cent of Basic Pay), North East Allowance (12.5 per cent of Basic Pay), Special Additional Leave for Projects and Power Stations, Emergency Passage Concession, Transit Leave, Choice for retaining family at anywhere in India, Bachelor Accommodation at subsidized rates and Group Personal Accident Insurance, House Building Advance Insurance Premium(Insurance premium up to 8 Lakh of HBA advance), etc.

How has performance linked pay system worked in NHPC?

The Performance Linked Pay (PLP) system is working very well in NHPC. There are two types of PLP system working in NHPC. PLGI is implemented for workers where incentives are paid on the basis of the performance of groups like power stations, construction projects, survey and investigation projects, regional and corporate office. Executives and supervisors are paid incentive under performance-related pay which are payable on the basis of individual performance as well as company performance and the incentives vary from individual to individual. The real HR challenge in this case is to fit employee performance rating into bell curve rating. The system has stabilised and is working smoothly.

Is NHPC working on any long term HR Management Plan?

In the year 2011, NHPC reviewed the whole HR ecosystem and drew up the HR Management Plan, considering the existing and projected future business requirements of the company and after benchmarking the best practices. In NHPC, we call it “HR Plan”. In HR Plan, HR Vision and Mission were proposed to align HR Policies with the Business Strategy. Also to transform the Vision and Mission into reality, a HR Strategy Master Plan was laid down covering HR Vision, Staffing, Performance Management System, Development & Learning, Career Management, Employee Relation and Compensation & Rewards. All the policies covered under these verticals are reviewed regularly based on the employee feedback and organisational objectives. Some of them are reviewed internally and some through external consultants. Our HR Policies are benchmarked with the best in the industry. The constant engagement by HR team helps in improving employee satisfaction, thereby keeping them motivated to fulfill organisational objectives.

Is NHPC working on succession planning?

In today’s knowledge economy, succession planning is top of the corporate agenda. Effective succession planning must deliver business continuity and growth. At the same time, it should also deliver tailored, proactive career development for an organisation’s most talented individuals. It also improves availability of experienced and capable employees prepared to assume these roles. NHPC already has an in-built system for better succession planning for all critical positions. From the very beginning, all executives are groomed through skill and management development training. Programmes of minimum 15 days durations are conducted through eminent faculties from FMS and other renowned institutions. Rather, NHPC being the premier organisation in the hydro sector, it needs to plan and identify the critical skills required for success at the very initial stage and chalk out the development plan accordingly. This helps us in creating buffer stock of all critical skills and our career progression policy ensures availability of the desired skill at the right time and at the right place.

How is the attrition rate in the company? Has the widespread slowdown in power sector made the task of employee retention easier for the company?

Currently the attrition rate of the company for the year 2015-16 is only 0.64 per cent. This is very-very low as compared to the industry standard. This has been achieved through implementation of the HR policies benchmarked with the best in the industry and not because of widespread slowdown in the power sector.