At RealPage, engagement with an employee starts even before they join. Take RealConnect, an initiative to ease a candidate into the organisation.
“During the selection process, a candidate’s focus is on putting their best foot forward and they miss out on asking key questions about the organisation,” says Rekha Narendra, vice president and HR head-India. “Once the offer is in hand, we give them ample opportunities to clarify any queries about the company’s programmes and policies. It’s a great way to start bonding with the new hire.”
RealPage provides a technology platform that enables real estate owners and managers to change how people experience and use rental space. Clients use the platform to gain transparency into asset performance, leverage data insights and monetise space to create incremental yields.
Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Richardson, Texas, US, RealPage serves over 19 million units worldwide from offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. The company has been in India for 13 years and is based in Hyderabad with 1,600 employees working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The growth, success and being listed as one of India’s best employers second time in a row, says Sandeep Sharma, senior vice president and managing director, can be attributed to the constant effort to instill trust in all stakeholders in the US and in India. Sharma and Narendra joined the organisation just one year apart—in 2018 and 2019, respectively—and that’s where the transformation journey began, he says.
“Just three years into the organisation in positions of leadership, two years of which have been consumed by the pandemic, it was important not to let the situation deter us and look at the adversity as an opportunity both within RealPage and the industry,” says Sharma.
In 2020, while he was writing individual letters to high performers and employees who deserved recognition, in 2021 he took this practice a notch higher. He went and delivered them personally, along with awards to employees’ homes.
“Employee engagement is crucial and unless it trickles down from top-down, it doesn’t work because the trust will break at some point,” he says.
During the second wave of the pandemic, Sharma and Narendra, along with many others, remember answering WhatsApp messages for requirements pertaining to oxygen cylinders, hospital beds and medicines for employees or their families.
“We would be frantically looking at our network even late at night to ensure their needs are met,” says Narendra. “These are just the basics that an employee looks for in an organisation—the one that cares for them and one they can approach any time.”
Besides trust and care, they lay as much importance on communication and use multiple ways to get through to their employees. It could be town halls, manager meetings, emails, WhatsApp messages or an activity called Jump-the-Queue to get feedback from staff without their managers present in those meetings.
“It’s important that we listen, because it builds trust. I’ve had people contact me personally to ask questions if they can’t speak in a meeting. This way they know the leadership is listening,” she says.
But not only is the organisation’s growth important at RealPage, an employee’s is too. Through an initiative called LEAP—learn, enable, adapt and perform—an entire week was dedicated to focus on employees’ careers to tackle questions related to their growth and any support they need from the organisation. A series of sessions was organised with external speakers, including the police commissioner of Hyderabad who came in and spoke about his career journey, what he has learned along the way and how he has grown. In addition, there were career counselling sessions and a bootcamp on internal job postings.
“We have to look out for each other. I remember at least 700 employees’ names here. And I keep telling them a job is owned by the company but a career is owned by the employees,” says Sharma.
“I see RealPage as a GCC peer that is charged with energy and initiatives that raise the bar in competitive spirit, which, in turn, keeps us on our toes. Having been colleagues with Sandeep for long places us at a wavelength which is conducive to our style of functioning that helps us work towards common goals,” says Ravi Tangirala, head of MassMutual India and member of Nasscom AP and TS GCC Council.
In addition, to maintain diversity and safeguard women’s careers, through their initiative WOW or Women of Wisdom, they focus on their professional development, networking, health and wellness. In 2021, they launched Mommy Returns through which every employee returning from maternity leave gets assigned a ‘buddy’ to walk them through the changes that took place in the time they were away.
“RealPage has grown significantly under Sandeep’s leadership and made a huge impact in the Hyderabad ecosystem by virtue of its best employee-oriented policies and also supporting the society at large through their CSR programmes engaging their employees,” says Bharani Kumar Aroll, president, Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association.
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(This story appears in the 11 March, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)