Q&A with Pat Flanagan from Ireland Top Employer Cognizant
Introduce yourself and tell us about your organisation
My name is Pat Flanagan and I’m the HR Country Leader for Cognizant Ireland. Cognizant is a global multinational company that helps clients to modernize technology, reimagine processes and transform experiences so that they are evolving & differentiated in a fast-changing world. Cognizant has a very talented workforce with over 350,000 employees globally and approx. 1,500 in Ireland serving clients across all industries.
We are working on some very exciting cutting-edge projects which keeps our employees motivated and engaged.
What will be the biggest people challenge you expect your business to be facing in 2023? And what will you do to meet this challenge?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an exciting growth area for us. We recently launched Neuro IT Operations, a next-generation platform that brings new levels of automation and intelligence to applications and infrastructure operations. This platform will act as a springboard from which to leverage the power of automation and AI for our clients. Our challenge is to develop our AI capabilities. We recently launched the Cognizant Google Cloud AI University, a new program that will train 25,000 Cognizant professionals on Google Cloud AI technologies. Our expanded partnership with Google Cloud will help us to accelerate the adoption of AI by businesses around the world and help clients create, migrate, and modernize their AI journeys.
Tell us about a recent initiative you have instigated within your organisation that you are most proud of?
We have recently revamped our new joiner experience to make it a more high-touch, employee-centric experience. This involved mapping out the current new joiner experience from offer acceptance through to post hire activities - induction, manager connect, benefits, training & portals registration etc and completing a gap analysis exercise to determine where our current offering could be improved. The output was a clearer understanding of where adjustments were needed. We now have a more fit-for-purpose digital new joiner experience which is aligned to business needs and is more fun & interactive. We are data driven, we capture feedback from new joiners on day 2, 30 and 60 of their journey. These surveys provide an employee pulse; we plan to use the insights gained from the feedback to make further enhancements.
How do you make sure you really listen – and keep listening - to your employees, especially during periods of change?
At Cognizant, we pride ourselves on maintaining open lines of communication with employees. We run an annual People Engagement Survey where all employees are asked to answer 30 questions which cover the following themes - Career, Work Culture, Manager Effectiveness, Ethics & Compliance, Diversity & Inclusion, Recognition & Rewards. The survey responses are analysed and results are reported to leadership. Managers have access to anonymised responses for their teams that have more than 10 respondents. Leaders, HR and managers prepare targeted action plans to address the feedback points. At a country level we appoint an action planning taskforce that meets regularly to review progress & keep momentum going. Employees are informed of action planning progress via regular comms so that they can see the impact of their feedback. We also run surveys on other topics regularly such as new joiner experience, career & performance management, exit interviews, D&I, community and wellbeing events feedback. The employee voice is powerful, we strive to seek out their input to factor it into our planning to provide the best & most meaningful experiences to our employees.
What are you doing specifically to make sure that everyone in your business feels they have a chance to develop their careers?
We want our employees to constantly be learning & growing in their roles so that they feel challenged. Our preferred learning model is 70-20-10:
- 70% of learning is on the job
- 20% is learning through others
- 10% is learning through formal training, seminars or workshops
We introduced the SkillUp programme in 2020 which encourages employees to set 2-3 learning goals every year that will help them to grow their expertise and career. Taking time out for development is so beneficial; people don’t take enough time to invest in themselves. SkillUp provides a structured framework for employees to identify their goals and leverage resources in our Learning Management System such as classroom & self-paced training, journals, demo guides, podcasts & eBooks. By leveraging this programme, employees stretch their capability & hone their knowledge so that their skills are more rounded. This development is useful for their current role & positions them for future opportunities.
Tell us how you help your employees to understand and shape the social purpose and values driving your business?
Our Cognizant agenda sets out our mission and core values, our mission is to engineer modern business to improve everyday life. Our core values determine how we behave while we achieve our mission. Our core values are:
- Start with a point of view
- Always strive, never settle
- Seek data, build knowledge
- Create conditions for everyone to thrive
- Work as one
Our Leaders regularly refer to our Cognizant agenda during town halls and comms to keep it top of mind in our day-to-day work.
Our ESG vision is to use our technologies, knowledge and partnerships to engineer new levels of environmental and social benefit for our clients and communities. We have committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030. As a first step we have reduced our real estate footprint, adopted clean energy in the office spaces and embedded a strict office recycling policy. Our leaders recently asked employees to complete a Climate System training module to understand the context and risks of climate change so that we can make better personal decisions and equip ourselves to engage with clients about their changing sustainability needs. We are building out a Sustainability practice that can support this market opportunity as it’s a significant growth area.
Cognizant’s Outreach team facilitate volunteering opportunities for our employees and organise many activities that positively impact our community, working with a number of charities and retirement homes locally on different initiatives.
I’m proud to work for a company that cares about these causes; we want to deliver value for our clients but we also want to give back to society as outlined in our Employee Value Proposition. Employees are given an opportunity to do both and that is what makes Cognizant a Top Employer in Ireland.
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