ISBInsight: What did you find unique about Intuit as an organisation that made you choose and write a case on the company?
Chandrasekhar Sripada: Intuit India, a fully owned subsidiary of Intuit Inc., a US multinational company, had been in the business of developing financial software for small businesses, accountants and individuals. In 2017, the company was recognised as India’s number one “Great Place to Work” through a competitive assessment among 600 of India’s employers. But the back story was that it was the culmination of a seven-year journey to the top rank. What did it take to build a great place to work and sustain it over time?
What caught my attention was the way Intuit, as a company, focused on the importance of people in the organisation. This was a company that understood how people have always and will continue to be the building and driving forces behind a thriving organisational culture-– and that these people include but are NOT limited to Human Resource (HR) managers or the HR department as a whole. It is not solely the HR’s responsibility to build a Great Place to Work. That task is really for the managers. The role of HR is to provide support in creating a Great Place to Work – by creating frameworks and policies oriented in that direction.
I find that the Intuit case makes for excellent classroom teaching since I get a lot of students who wish to be managers at different levels in the organisation as well as aspiring HR managers–– all of whom would find interest and benefit from this case. It is the sheer universal significance of this topic that inspired me to write the case and teach it in the classroom.
There is something else I found unique about Intuit: it is amazing that a company like Intuit, with just about 1000+ employees, managed to beat top employers such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, to rise up out of seemingly nowhere as the number 1 Great Place to Work in India.
How do you think Intuit managed to rank as a Great Place to Work among so many other companies, older and larger than Intuit?
It is important to understand the magnitude of effort Intuit put into creating a vibrant work atmosphere, positive culture and employee-centric practices before finally achieving rank 1 as a Great Place to Work. First, Intuit worked towards this for seven years, striving until they got it right. This is an important lesson–– a company does not become a Great Place to Work overnight. It takes time and tireless pursuit. Second, I believe that Intuit as an organisation, was a great learner. Each year, they learnt from their mistakes and shortcomings, and saw the process as a journey to becoming a sustainable organisation, rather than merely chasing an award. Finally, Intuit managed this feat over so many bigger and renowned companies by really involving their employees, making their employees the ambassadors for Intuit as a Great Place to Work. Additionally, Intuit’s policies were so employee-friendly: competitive compensation, progressive maternity policies, appraisal measures- all instrumental to creating a Great Place to Work. Above all, Intuit was able to grasp the core values of Trust, Pride and Camaraderie that sustain a Great Place to Work.
What are the major management takeaways from this case, in your opinion?
One misconception persistent among employees is that they believe the management of a company is responsible for creating a Great Place to Work. However, Intuit proved that employees can and should volunteer, participate and partner with the company in a collaborative effort to create such a work environment. Many of the students I teach will join new workplaces as mid–level managers as soon as they graduate from ISB, and what better opportunity could they have to build Great Places to Work than in that capacity? I would encourage students to start thinking of ways in which they can contribute to making their workplace a Great Place to Work- it is a great opportunity stemming from the most major takeaway from this case: I would say, the attempt being to guide and direct the students and their thought process into building organisational capacity and creating a fulfilling work environment.
Tell us something about your experience of teaching the case.
Teaching cases based on Great Places to Work is always an engaging experience for me as well as the students, particularly in Human Capital Management courses, in Strategic Human Resource areas where building a great place to work is one of the key missions of some of the greatest employers. Students find it interesting to understand what exactly makes a company a Great Place to Work. Since the Intuit case has a more hands on approach and is more about the practice of building a Great Place to Work, it is particularly appealing to students. The Intuit case, in my experience, also happens to resonate well with students because the company itself has a workforce full of millennials, contemporaries of the students. The new age work ethos of Intuit draws the students into the discussion each time. When it comes to teaching the case, I ensure that the students do not just walk out with the mere theory of what constitutes a Great Place to Work, but that they understand precisely how such a thing works in practicality.
About the Writer:
Samriddhi Mukherjee is a Content Associate at the Centre for Learning and Management Practice at the Indian School of Business.
About the Case:
Sripada, C., and Shah, G., 2019. “Building a Great Place to Work: Intuit India”. Indian School of Business case. Harvard Business Publishing.