PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited), the backbone of Pakistan’s Telecom Industry, has been serving the nation since 1947, which is why its history is closely entwined with that of Pakistan. Starting as the Telegraph Department to emerging as the Telecommunication Corporation after its privatisation, the company has gone through massive changes on all fronts since its early days. As astounding as it may sound on paper, the road to this transformation has been a bumpy journey where many initiatives were taken and several ‘firsts’ were risked upon.
Most challenges that PTCL previously faced were attributed to its culture – mainly the underlying reverence for its long history. A culture that was so well-entrenched and a workforce exhausted by recurring organisational changes, PTCL thus took cultural re-birth as a challenge. Post privatization, it has been delivering positive advancements in the spheres of cultural transformation and organisational development.
The first step taken by PTCL was to strike a balance between “Quantity vs. Quality.” As per the “do more with less” principle, PTCL successfully launched four voluntary separation schemes. The Voluntary Separation Schemes were availed by around 70% of employees who got highly lucrative packages and financial benefits, along with provisions of vocational trainings, recruitment support and financial management services.
“PTCL reassured its continuous commitment towards ensuring that support was extended to its employees, who in turn, brought about positive outcomes due to employee engagement, more satisfaction and enhanced workplace productivity.”
Considering the fact that it is people who essentially make up the culture of a company, PTCL has been trying to sustain its hard-earned success by strategizing ways to reinvigorate its workforce. Targeted cultural interventions have been taken by the company over a period of time to provide an enabling environment where employees freely and openly contribute toward the company’s decision-making process. Hence, by adopting novel approaches like Employee Engagement Survey, PTCL as an organization began to welcome and incorporate employee insights and feedback to develop its employee engagement plans. The company revisited its vision, mission and organisational values to create a culture where everyone knows the common goal.
The complex organism that the fast-paced telecom industry is, PTCL clearly understands that it is vital to inject fresh blood into the workforce. Shaped by the digital age, the involvement of a new generation of employees is crucial to drive innovation in the workplace. Based on this premise, PTCL launched a flagship programme called ‘PTCL Summit.’ The programme targets fresh graduates and provides them a platform to share their business ideas and to help them develop into future leaders. The flagship programme has been able to attract top talent to aid PTCL’s cultural and technological transformation and nurture a new era of professionalism in the company. The PTCL Summit Programme has been able to bring on board as many as 350 bright college graduates. It is noteworthy that the selection of these candidates follows a rigorous, transparent and open process, involving various external, and internal hiring channels to ensure a merit-based selection process. PTCL has also introduced online gaming simulation as an assessment tool, which gave better insights about the potential employees and also provided them feedback about their performance.
Following international practices, PTCL ensures the professional development of newly-inducted employees. Summiteers have to attend a mandatory six-week robust training programme to develop their business acumen and to enhance their leadership competencies, functional knowledge and project management skills. During this extensive training programme, the management is involved throughout the process, ensuring that summiteers are given the right direction as well as skills to excel in the organisation.
By doing this, PTCL also ensure that the existing employees are given equal opportunities to grow. In times where companies find it difficult to invest in employee training and development, PTCL, with one of the biggest corporate training infrastructures in the country, is effectively executing more than 100 employee training and development projects every year. Training and development form the core strategy to advance PTCL’s talent base and empower its employees with the necessary knowledge and tools to serve customers better.
The advocates of Learning and Development (L&D) argue that today’s learning strategies and methodologies necessitate change and traditional training methods will not resonate with the employees in the future. Realising the need, PTCL has carefully reassessed and redesigned its training model to incorporate the e-Learning Platform aimed at promoting learning through convenience and cost-effective ways.
Creating a digital lifestyle for its employees, PTCL launched The Harvard Managementor (HMM) Programme, which tends to be a globally recognized product of Harvard Business Publishing and is globally recognised as a premier, on-demand learning resource for leadership development.
The company has collaborated with world-renowned digital content developers “Skillsoft” and provided the opportunity of global cloud-based e-library of Management/ functional courses to over 1,000 officers. The best modules related to technology, business operations, general management, digital services, strategic business management, commercial finance & HR have been offered for capacity building of employees.
With a focus on transformational leadership programmes, PTCL developed a new crop of home-grown leaders who fully understand PTCL’s systems and processes. With this vision, many initiatives have been taken and several programmes have been offered, such as the Professional Enrichment Programme, the Executive Coaching for Top Leadership, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People initiative and the Management Development Programme, as well as several certification courses accredited by renowned professional bodies. Furthermore, PTCL hired the services of leading business trainers such as Ron Kaufman (author of the New York Times bestseller Uplifting Service) and also offered exclusive programmes in affiliation with top-notch universities around the world.
PTCL’s commitment to leadership development does not end here, as its management is mindful of the importance of developing result-oriented executives. Therefore, Talent Review Meetings are held every year to ascertain the capability levels of current employees and to help them fit into future roles. Using this modern strategy, PTCL has placed its employees into talent pools and succession slates, allowing them to develop realistic performance and capability metrics.
These initiatives are taken to ascertain that PTCL employees are well-equipped to thrive in the face of the modifying nature of business, changing customer needs, as well as an overall competitive market environment. The company has wisely amplified its training investments in the form of higher employee engagement, retention, customer satisfaction and revenue generation. While it is important to professionally develop all employees of the organisation, it is also crucial to identify high performing and high-potential employees, who can be developed into future leaders faster than the average ones.
Designed for leadership development, the PTCL’s Fuel Program, is one such intervention that targets high potential employees who are identified through a rigorous screening process. Launched in 2013, the programme, imparts a two-year intensive training, comprising stimulating sessions that are both physically and mentally challenging. This opportunity allows the participants to jointly think ‘out of the box’, being in line with the PTCL’s core organisational values based on teamwork and joint effort.
In addition to that, PTCL has also made a conscious effort to cultivate a culture where women can equally play an integral role in running the company. At PTCL, gender diversity is not just an option or a formality, but a top business priority. Currently, 25 per cent of female graduates are being trained under the Summit Programme, which validates the PTCL’s commitment towards gender diversity and women empowerment.
Understanding the challenges of the Pakistani woman, PTCL helps its female employees maintain the work-life balance by allowing greater flexibility in their work schedules. They can work from home, have the option of multiple check-in times and are provided with on-site day-care facility. This pro-family approach helps female staff perform better at work.
Every year, PTCL officially celebrates Women’s Day to recognise the role of modern women in the development and progress of the world and to appreciate its female employees across the country. Last year, PTCL launched the PINK Club, with the aim to rejuvenate the work-life and to embark on a journey to empower female employees. In recognition of PTCL’s women empowerment initiatives, it was awarded the ‘EFP Award for Excellence in Women Empowerment 2017’ at the International Women’s Day Conference.
The PTCL management seeks to put its employees’ needs first. Examples include the e-medical service portal, flexitime arrangements, employees’ old age benefits, family savings programme, numerous incentive schemes based on good performance, annual Hajj sponsorships and interest-free loans. This offers its employees an attractive working environment to keep them happy, fully satisfied and motivated.
It is important to note that PTCL transformed its operational processes in 2014 by adopting cutting-edge cloud computing technology. As a result, PTCL became the country’s leading organisation which successfully introduced the SAP’s cloud-based enterprise solution called the ‘SuccessFactors’ to optimize its performance management system. Gradually, the system integrated other key processes, such as recruitment, learning management system, etc. Thanks to cloud technology, the strategic shift helped PTCL to drive business agility through process digitalisation in almost every department.
To improve the emotional proximity, PTCL launched its futuristic ‘Workplace by Facebook initiative,’ an enterprise solution to enhance social support, employee collaboration and efficiency at work PTCL is now amongst the 500 worldwide to have successfully launched this programme. In addition to that, PTCL has taken a number of other initiatives to improve internal communication and connectivity between employees. Examples are ‘Hello,’ PTCL’s HR Portal, ‘Insight-A Sip of Life @ PTCL,’ an annual employee magazine, field connectivity with ‘Raabta,’ regular town-hall meetings held with senior management, etc.
PTCL takes pride in being the national telecommunication carrier. Its offices all over the country become an epitome of beauty while celebrating the colours of freedom on the 14th of August every year. However, igniting the spirit of patriotism is not the only contribution PTCL has made to the society. As a socially conscious organization and now with a formal Corporate Social Responsibility plan in place, PTCL is committed to serving the country whenever it is in need. This is one of many reasons why PTCL employees feel pride in associating themselves with the organisation and are driven by their loyalty towards the company to actively support and participate in its philanthropic initiatives.
In June 2017, PTCL launched the ’PTCL Razakaar Programme,’ providing its employees the opportunity to dedicate their free time to work for causes they feel passionate about such as donating to nature, or being a part of cleanliness drives carried out in different parts of their city. Under the umbrella of this programme, PTCL launched a philanthropic initiative called the ‘Box of Happiness,’ distributing handcrafted gift boxes amongst orphans and underprivileged children of the country.
Additionally, PTCL has always mobilized its services in times of natural disasters and has recently taken a more proactive approach in extending support to provide rehabilitation assistance to the affected areas. Other than crisis management, PTCL is rigorously committed to providing medical assistance, as well as organising health awareness sessions in far-flung areas of the country. Undoubtedly, millions of people in Pakistan are benefitting from PTCL’s humanitarian services available across the country.
To highlight the importance of donating blood, PTCL carried out a nationwide blood donation drive in November 2017 in partnership with reputable donor agencies such as AFIT, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and the Thalassaemia Centre. This was the largest blood donation campaign of the year, through which PTCL collected 9,726 blood pints, and set up as many as 100 camps across the country. During the weeklong campaign, awareness sessions were also organised to tarnish the myths associated with donating blood to encourage more people to become a part of this noble cause.
PTCL is passionate to enriching its human resources with knowledge and skills they need through support programmes, as well as working towards introducing processes and systems that welcome change. In this regard, PTCL’s efforts seek to safeguard and maximise stakeholders’ satisfaction and also to utilize its influence and resources to carve out a sustainable role for itself in the society.
by Saman Masood