Exclusive Interview With Kaushik Chakraborty, Director (Human Resources) At Jones Lang LaSalle

Q: 1.First of all congratulations to you for making JLL one of the great places to work in India. What inspired you to take HR as a profession and how has the journey till now been?

In my case, it was a very different story. After almost eight years into sales and business, where I was taking care of the corporate segment of the multinational bank ABM ABMRO, somewhere that calling came in.

In fact, it was during a workshop that I was attending where The Question came up “What is it that you want to do in life?” I came up with my statement that said “something that defines you and just connecting authentically with people.

And this is when I realised that my statement can be realised only when I get into a people profession.

There is no better way to get into the corporate world than to live that life by getting into the HR space. One of the best ways to do this is by getting into the learning and development segment. This is how I started my journey.

I was lucky enough because in the bank I got the opportunity to head training and development for them. The opportunity gave me a ready audience at a very interesting time – just after the global financial crisis of 2008. I could experiment with and connect authentically with this audience during those troubled times. This is how my journey into HR happened.

JLL is an amazing place. When I came into this organisation, there were a few things that this organisation stood for – its value system, ethics, teamwork and customer centricity. And these continue to be the qualities that are visible in every interaction at the organisation. It is a highly ethical organisation. JLL has been named as one of the most ethical organisations in the world for nine consecutive years, something that is unheard of in the real estate industry and this is no easy feat. This achievement speaks volumes about the organisation.

What I found here, which was very different, is the amount of respect for individuals. This is one of the key reasons, I feel, what went wrong with the banking and financial sector in 2008.

Second is the energy levels in the organisation. You will never find people getting time to loiter at JLL and indulge in idle talk. There is a lot of positive energy in the organisation and this radiates through their performance every year. This organisation has doubled its numbers in terms of number of people, revenue, and profitability in the last 5 to 6 years. One of the key reasons for this has been the organisational energy levels.

And finally, it boils down to the culture of entrepreneurship. There are so many verticals in this organisation and this creates an environment where people can come up with new thoughts and create a new shape to a thought that you have. JLL provides you a platform. For example, even if you are in the HR function and you have any idea, you are given enough space. Here you don’t have to go through a chain of approvals to implement an idea.

In fact, I keep telling my colleagues that what I could do in this organisation in one year, I could not have done that anywhere else in three years. So this is the kind of platform that JLL creates for its people.


Q: 2. The attrition rate in Indian companies is 14% higher than the global average. What do you think are the factors behind such a high attrition rate? How can firms deal with this problem effectively?

Well, they only answer that I can think of is increased engagement. Organisations should create a space where individuals feel wanted. A space where there is a lot of happiness and energy, where people should look forward to work and be part of something great.

Every individual tends to spend, especially in India, around 50 to 60 hours, even though 48 hours is what we say, in the office per week. As we Indians tend to work harder than any other nation, we end up spending most of our time in the office. If we don’t have the right space, then things don’t work out.

Organisation need to create that space, work-life balance and a high degree of engagement for individuals. The constant need for development must be addressed by organisations.


Q: 3. How do you think automation and demographic changes will impact organisations and in what ways HR and L&D departments can ready themselves for this change?

A well-known corporate guru, at a summit, said that every organisation today is a digital organisation. Every function has some sort of automation. There is a constant automation taking place.

For example, the receptionist at our Singapore office is a robot and it is very efficient. These are the kind of changes that are taking place today. On the customer interface part, a lot of virtual reality is either going to come in or has already started operating. The way of doing business is changing completely. HR might be automated. But we must not lose touch with people as they, and not the machines, compose an organisation. Organisations that maintain the balance will be the ones that succeed after automation.

Organisations are a world without boundaries, and you will see multi-ethnic and multi-cultural work environments everywhere being encouraged. Organisations should work to provide such a platform.


Q: 4. According to several industrial studies, EQ matters more than IQ for success. However, organisations focus more on skill development than behavioural trainings. How do you think the L&D departments in these organisation can deal with this issue?

No, I don’t think organisations focus just on skills. There are some jobs which calls for skills and at some level it requires behavioural shifts. I believe it is the combination of skill and behaviour which is the need of the hour. The two competencies need to be balanced. Many organisations especially in the consulting space and multinationals they focus only behavioural side and forget about the basic skills. The balance is what is essential. It is a complex world. A world with imagination and that is why design thinking and many similar areas are trending. Hence, organisations should be seen as supporting these activities.


Q: 5. What factors are missing from the Indian L&D industry, and how do you think this expectation gap can be bridged?

I think what is missing is the extent to which L&D is viewed as partners to the business. Do they see us contributing to the delta in the business performance. Are we clearly showing quantified deliverables. L&D needs to show measurable values in terms of input. Competencies will see a shift in 2020 and L&D needs to deliver quantified value to remain relevant.


Q: 6. What are the competencies that you think HR Managers need to develop to cope up with the future requirements of organisational effectiveness?

The key competency remains the ability to look at long-term strategy and goals, also innovation helps leaders stand out in organisation. Leaders need to think and become digital. We believe that organisations need to evolve and address digital requirement


Q: 7. What is the one piece of advice you would like to give to budding HRs?

HR as a function is a great way to contribute to the human soul and there is no other function that gives you this opportunity. Being an HR, you need to love HR. You need to love people, being with people and working for people, then be in HR. The people factor is what makes the HR function thrive.


JLL is India’s premier and largest professional services firm specializing in real estate. With an extensive geographic footprint across 11 cities (Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi, Chandigarh and Coimbatore) and a staff strength of over 8500, the firm provides investors, developers, local corporates

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