Three years ago, the then Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL), B.P. Rao, started talking about investing in human capital. His successor, Atul Sobti, is building on this, mainly through diversification.
The company, for instance, has started sending young engineers to work on new areas such as defence and solar that it is entering. The focus on digital innovations and re-alignment of the core power equipment manufacturing business, too, is giving the employees new challenges to work on. The aim is to inculcate in them a sense of belonging and accomplishment. BHEL also plans to set up incubation centres to promote start-ups. In the third quarter of 2016/17, BHEL posted a profit of Rs93.54 crore as against a loss of Rs1,215 crore in the year-ago period.
This is the second consecutive quarter of profits, after 14 quarters of losses. Sobti says diversification and employee engagement have been the key to this turnaround. But is it easy to diversify a Rs26,702-crore public sector undertaking, the bulk of whose revenues come from manufacturing coal-based power equipment? Yes, says Sobti, adding that communication and teamwork are the key. "From day one, I have maintained open communication. I write to all colleagues every quarter and invite them to mail me ideas as well as grievances. The response has been immense," he says.
Like most Navratana PSUs, BHEL, too, has a policy of "caring and nurturing" employees; for instance, its townships provide top-notch infrastructure such as schools. The medical benefits, too, are far more generous than any private company in the country provides. Sobti's next plan involves building an in-house social media platform for employees in 2017/18. "The idea is to communicate and gain confidence of colleagues," he says.