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Our focus is on softer aspects: Anurag Goel

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-08-2017 Isha Trivedi

Cactus Communications Pvt. Ltd has upped the game when it comes to the best people’s practices. Whether it is flexible work timings and freedom to express ideas or having a Pet’s Day in office and ‘Happy Hours’ every quarter, the company has invested significantly in employee engagement. Ranked 53rd in the top 100 Best Places to Work in 2010, it made its way to the No. 1 spot in 2017 in a study conducted by the Great Places to Work Institute. In an interview with Mint, Anurag Goel, co-founder and chief executive officer, shares his philosophy. Edited excerpts:

What steps did you take to make your company one of the best places to work?

When we started Cactus in 2002, even in those formative years, the mindset was to build a company where people want to come to work every morning; a place where people feel inspired and happy. Once that vision was there, the rest became possible. We kept benchmarking ourselves against the best and instituting practices which made people feel valued and appreciated. Today, people practices at Cactus are built on core values of trust, autonomy, transparency, meritocracy and inclusivity.

Why are people important?

Firstly, growth comes through people and people get energy off one another. It is people who shape and influence the culture of any organization. Leaders can set a certain tone from top but it is how people feel on the ground that influences performance and success of any business.

At Cactus, there is a lot of focus on softer aspects; for example, how we think, how we communicate and how we act so that people feel trusted and valued. It is this focus on cultural ethos that has helped us attract people from companies much larger than us in size and from countries across the world to build their career with Cactus.

What are some of the experiences that helped you design employee-friendly policies in your organisation?

My personal beliefs like meritocracy, transparency and openness have shaped my thinking on people practices.

Personally, I feel motivated when people perform to their best and hence I wanted to put in place an environment that enables people to exercise their passion and leverage their strengths. I also asked myself what kind of working environment will make me feel happy and inspired.

How do you deal with attrition?

We have a preventive approach to attrition, which starts from hiring the ‘right’ people; people who will succeed at Cactus. Our hiring benchmark is quite high, so only one in 500 people who apply to us get selected.

Also, we make it safe for people to talk about desire for change and have an open dialogue with folks who are disengaged and help them refocus their energies.

What are the challenges you face with regards to human resource management?

Currently, a lot of debate in Cactus is about how we can be intrinsically happy, how to bring pride and meaning in our work and how to improve effectiveness through mindfulness. We believe if we are able to apply some of these, we will be successful in not only enriching work and improving productivity but also achieving solid business outcomes.

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