Best HR practices in institutes of higher education (Part 1)

In today’s highly competitive world, we often read and hear a lot of news about how “employees are the most valued assets”. The media is abuzz with interesting case studies on the innovative things companies are doing to hire and retain people. Words like “employee engagement” are seen very frequently being used, and the hot topic of discussion among leaders revolve around how to increase productivity among employees.

As someone who tries to keep tabs on what’s happening in the business world and not just related to education, a report on “Great Places to Work” caught my eye. Out of sheer curiosity, I checked the names of the Top 100 companies in India featuring in this august list.

As expected, companies in the new economy or knowledge industry – IT/ITeS, Pharma, Bio technology, Financial Services, Professional Services and BFSI were dominating the list. Old economy companies operating in Manufacturing, Retail, Hospitality, NGOs, Healthcare and Telecommunications comprised the rest. Only one entity from the Education & Training sector made it this list!

The paradox…

This set me wondering; India’s education system is considered to be one of the best in the world. Every year, it churns out millions of graduates from its thousands of colleges across the normal graduation courses (Science, Arts, Commerce) or professional courses like Engineering, Law, Journalism or Medicine.

Our faculty in higher education is highly regarded, and even Ivy League colleges/universities have Indians in top posts, heading departments or even entire universities! Yet, only one entity from the Education & Training sector is featuring at a lowly 90 in the top 100 list.

What makes a company/institution a truly Great Place to Work?

“A Great Place to Work is characterized by individuals who trust the people they work with, have pride in what they do, enjoy the people they work with and have opportunities to learn and grow.”

While organizations in the corporate sector have very clearly defined systems and processes to plan and drive employee engagement practices, the education sector has a long way to go on this front. In today’s context, attracting the right talent, retaining the right talent, and rewarding the top performers is no longer a “good to have”, but an absolutely vital ingredient for success and growth.

I was trying to understand if there were any underlying common themes in the best HR practices in corporations, and I found that it ultimately boils down to nine basic points. Read more in the next part of this blog.


Nissar Ahmed,  Chancellor , Presidency University