Sage India: A Great Place to Work

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Raja Natarajan, Deputy Managing Director, SAGE India, shares what makes SAGE India a great place to work. AABP: Congratulations on SAGE India getting certified GREAT PLACE TO WORK.’ What was the company’s first reaction on hearing the news?

Raja: The people at SAGE make it a Great Place to Work. We always knew SAGE Publishing is a good place to work and is culturally very strong, the foundation for which was laid many years ago by its founders Sara and George McCune and carried forward by the SAGE Management globally. The certification only formally recognizes this truth. SAGE has been, for me, a very different kind of organization which looks at employee wellbeing as the most important factor. SAGE does not give up on its people easily. Over the last few years, we have intensified our efforts to introduce many new policies which are more contemporary and more people centric.

Raja Natarajan, Deputy Managing Director, SAGE IndiaAABP: What makes it the best place to work?

Raja: SAGE is a place where every employee is treated fairly and each one feels respected. This is the hallmark of our culture. No discrimination whatsoever. While hiring a new person at SAGE having a cultural fit matters more than other qualifications; we do not believe in a hire and fire policy; employee safety is our primary concern and we have introduced mechanisms and policies to ensure the people feel safe and cared for. For eg POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) and EWP (Employee Wellness Program) are firmly entrenched; we try to maintain a fair work-life balance; we like to nurture our people’s aspirations as much as possible through cross functional job opportunities, regular trainings and workshops to enhance their skills so they can learn and develop further in their professional capacity. We engage the people in a lot of informal activities to keep them invigorated eg picnics, offsites, competitions and festival/special day celebrations. These events help showcase the hidden sparks which would otherwise remain unseen or unheard. It’s amazing to see them transform into something else when given the opportunity to perform.

We value employee feedback and people are encouraged to speak their mind through various forums. The key here is that the Managing Director and CEO along with the Senior Management Group addresses every single feedback in the company meeting held every 2-3 months. I truly believe the effort that the management puts in understanding its people and empowering them and giving them the atmosphere to work and enjoy, is the acknowledgement that we see through this certification.

AABP: What are the few people practices which Sage India follows to retain its employees?

Raja: You may be astounded if I say that we do not try to hold back anyone when they choose to leave SAGE. We engage with them if they choose to discuss the opportunity that is facing them and, in many cases, have been able to counsel them honestly on how wise or otherwise their decisions are. In many cases, we tell them openly that we may not be able to offer the same type of opportunity in front of them and hence bid them farewell with our best wishes. It is also true that many who have left have expressed a desire to come back and quite a few have actually rejoined and we have welcomed them back with equal warmth.

SAGE is a happening place. I can say that with a lot of pride. Our CEO is not the typical Chief Executive Officer – he is the Chief Enabling Officer – yes, enabling people to do lots of exciting new stuff in many new avenues and learn in the process. Mistakes are truly treated as stepping stones to success. Our retention policy is therefore “Make it a difficult choice for anyone to leave SAGE; allow them to explore opportunities outside of SAGE, don’t stop them; let them experience the outside world.” Our Open-Door Policy allows them to come back home if the right opportunity still exists.

AABP: What other best practices would you like to adopt at Sage?

Raja: There are many plans on the anvil. There are critical improvement areas identified through the GPTW survey that people have conveyed. We will address these on top priority to the best of our ability to work towards becoming a “Greater Place To Work.” It is going to be an exciting journey towards a destination that is going to be invisible…so it’s the journey that we plan to enjoy. Further improving the employee experience through even more proactive employee engagement is something that we have planned. We have learnt that little things make a huge difference. We will continue to take feedback from our people and take suitable actions based on the same. I also feel that emulating good practices is better than trying to invent every little thing, so we will review what has worked for other GPTW certified organisations and adopt and adapt as best for ours.

There are a lot of new initiatives that we are working towards; however, I cannot speak ahead of time about these. I don’t want to take away the surprise element.

AABP: Anything else you would like to add….

Raja: We are proud of the SAGE culture that distinguishes us from many others. Our culture is what gives us a unique identity that runs across each segment of the company globally and no matter which office of SAGE you may be situated in geographically, you will be able to feel that there is no difference at all. We believe in doing the right things and being ethical and fair. We deeply value and respect our relationships with every individual we come in contact with – be it an author, an editor, a vendor, an employee, a freelancer or an outsourced worker with us.

There is never a dull moment at SAGE…there is always so much more to learn and contribute. I continue to feel inspired and am amazed at my own journey and how 4 years have just flown by.

I say this with a lot of responsibility: we worked hard to earn the certification and what we as a company have achieved is no mean feat. While we rejoice in its glory we will ensure we continue to maintain the standards we have set for times to come.

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