Fostering Agility through HR Practices

Peggy Tayloe is fully aware that on paper, Infosys seems like the kind of company that would struggle with innovation. Indeed, the company profile — decades old, with 160,000 employees spread across 30 countries and representing over 100 nationalities — does not sound like a formula for agility. But, she asserts, it’s just the opposite.

Tayloe is Associate Vice President of Human Resources and Talent Acquisition at Infosys, and at our recent Spring Conference, she tackled the question of how an established firm can foster innovation through its HR practices.

According to Tayloe, a lean organizational infrastructure helps Infosys’ disaggregated workforce stay nimble, and its highly accessible and accountable leaders ensure that employees feel supported while working through challenges. Hiring practices matter as well: managers seek not just people with the right skill sets, but the qualities such as competitiveness and learnability that are key to the corporate culture.

“The key take-away is to be open to receiving input from your workforce…Allow your workforce to be enabled and empowered to build out ideas.”

Empowering the workforce is also essential to a culture of innovation. To ensure that all employees have a voice, Infosys provides abundant platforms for proposing everything from customer solutions, solutions to industry problems, ideas for efficiency, and so on. These highly popular platforms are driven from the workforce up and include ways to celebrate key ideas and accomplishments, both professional and personal.

Finally, Tayloe describes the level of flexibility that large companies must embrace if they are to remain competitive. “Innovation is messy,” she says, “and you have to be comfortable with that level of uncertainty.” Rigid expectations can lead to employees who are very good at mastering a company’s particular processes and practices, but whose innovative powers have been stifled.