“An engaged workforce is way more productive than a disengaged one,” says Rashmi Wadhwa Gupta, CHRO and global head of human resources at PRO Unlimited. This fact serves as one of the tenets of Gupta’s philosophy in her approach to HR for the global professional services and technology company—she is committed to ensuring that PRO Unlimited’s employees, who are located all over the world, feel engaged and taken care of.
Gupta studied to be a software engineer but then swiftly made the switch to marketing research and communication, graduating from MICA. Her first job was at the Gallup organization, which has a substantial consulting practice that instilled in Gupta the importance of a strength-based approach.
“That philosophy has been the foundation of my beliefs as a HR professional,” Gupta explains. “They really believe in unlocking the potential of people by focusing on their strengths.” Gallup has published studies that prove the claim that employee engagement improves productivity which, of course, leads to benefits on the bottom line.
After Gallup, Gupta went on to VMware, a computer software company located in Palo Alto, California, where she put her knowledge to work running their employee engagement surveys. “VMware had twenty thousand-plus employees and was, in a lot of ways, a typical Bay Area tech company—which meant that they were very employee focused,” Gupta says. “Amazing perks, big campus, celebrity events, philanthropic focus. All of the things that come with being a big tech company. So it was a very different environment.”
Gupta took on various roles during her time at VMware, including global talent development manager, director of people development, and director and HR business partner. After about six years with the company, she decided that she wanted a broader experience of the HR spectrum and moved on to PRO Unlimited—a smaller company that offered Gupta the chance to make a more focused impact. “It was a very conscious move on my part,” Gupta explains. “I had always envisioned going to a smaller company and leading an HR department through organic organizational growth.”
Though PRO is a smaller company, it presented new and exciting challenges to Gupta. Given the nature of PRO Unlimited’s services, a majority of their 1,400 or so employees are located on-site with their clients, which means that they need to be much more robust and outward focused with their company culture.
When Gupta arrived at PRO in 2018, the company had just reached the one thousandth employee mark and benefited from a naturally close-knit, familiar environment. “I realized that we needed to formalize that spirit and that culture because you have to scale it to all the new employees that have been coming in,” Gupta says.
Gupta and her team initiated this formalization through the “PRO Promise,” a simple statement of who they are and what they do as a company. “It was important to us because so many of our employees sit on client sites. It’s important we strike the balance between internalizing our culture and aligning to our clients’ cultures,” Gupta points out. “So, having a ‘PRO Promise’ and the attributes of success really gave us the grounding in the binding we needed.”
“When people feel acknowledged and accepted, and know that someone is watching out for them, they will be more engaged.”
Then the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Gupta and her team doubled down on the company mission to ensure that the staff felt engaged and valued. “With the unprecedented stress that came with COVID, I saw it as a time for us to rise up to the occasion as an employer and show up for our employees,” Gupta explains. “A lot of people were struggling with parental, medical, and economic pressures of what was happening. So, among other things, we decided to move to an unlimited PTO policy. It felt like the right time to give our people more liberty to take time off as needed.”
PRO Unlimited and Gupta’s HR team also decided to support their staff by shortening meeting times so that employees could check on their kids with more flexibility. They also granted each employee a $600 bonus to invest in their wellness and make sure their at-home workspaces were comfortable for them.
Gupta stresses that part of engaging staff comes through valuing a sense of community. She and her team strive to build and celebrate diversity, which impacts both employee well-being and the company’s financial success.
“As we know through various research studies, greater diversity is strongly correlated with higher profitability and value creation,” she says. “In addition, it helps us build an inclusive, accepting culture integrated into the strengths-based philosophy. When people feel acknowledged and accepted, and know that someone is watching out for them, they will be more engaged.”