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Two-thirds of Cognizant’s Employees in India and Philippines Received Bonuses When COVID Hit; Here’s What Their EVP Was Thinking

Anil Cheriyan, EVP of strategy and technology, explains how investment in talent is paramount in a time of crisis.

Anil Cheriyan of Cognizant

Just as COVID-19 was pulling the rug from under the digital Information Technology (IT) consulting business in general, Cognizant decided it was a good idea to give two-thirds of their workforce in India and the Philippines a bonus. In this live video conversation with Genevieve Weber, Salesforce’s chief operating officer of Platform, Trailhead & Developers, Cognizant’s Strategy and Technology Executive Vice President, Anil Cheriyan, explains his company’s bold move of corporate generosity.

We hope you’re hungry, because Ayesha Curry does a cooking segment at the end of the episode. Before that, we’ll show you how Work.com can help bolster your employee communications.

Here are a few quotes from Cognizant’s Strategy and Technology Executive Vice President, Anil Cheriyan:

Tell us about how you invested in your team and in your community under COVID.

We were already investing in employee physical well-being, diversity and inclusion, their training and learning, and so on. Then COVID hit really hard, and we took several actions. We immediately figured out a way to get the majority of our employees working from home, building the right security and technology protocols to allow them to do that. And, for those employees who were required to be in an office, we ensured they had a safe space to work that adhered to required protocols. We also provided a one-time bonus to over two-thirds of our employees in India. We felt it was critical as they went through this traumatic experience to really feel that we cared for them, so we raised their compensation. In addition, the Cognizant Foundation invested well over $10 million in communities dealing with COVID issues.

Can you tell us about your Work.com pilot project for returning employees to work?

We understand that trust and keeping our employees safe is paramount. That’s why we partnered with Salesforce. We’re using Work.com to run a pilot – the Cognizant Safe Workforce solution in one of our Solution Centers, in Missoula, Montana. We’re using the Internet of Things (IoT) to look at return-to-office solutions, such as gathering information on building temperature, air quality, and so on. We’re using wellness surveys for staff. We’ve built a pandemic dashboard, leveraging Tableau analytics platform, that allows us to really view where people are and what’s going on. And we’re using myTrailhead custom learning tools for employee enablement and for training.

What do you mean when you say that your employees should be the ambassadors of digitization?

As we go through this digitization of Cognizant, we want our employees to be the living credentials of our own digitization. The old adage, “a happy employee means a happy client,” that’s really fundamental for us. Being a technology company, we’ve got to digitize ourselves. And frankly, we’d better have our employees walk in with a little bit of strut and swagger when they come into a client location to say, “Hey, this is how we’ve digitized ourselves. We know what we’re talking about when we work with you.”

Watch the Work.com demo

Thirty minutes into the broadcast, Jodi Innerfield, director of product marketing, shows us the employee experience solutions of Work.com, like chatbots and agents fueled by artificial intelligence (AI).

Taste the flavor

Rather than a musical guest this week, tune in for the last 20 minutes of the episode to see Ayesha Curry cook from her new cookbook.

Watch the whole conversation

Genevieve Weber, Salesforce’s chief operating officer of Platform, Trailhead & Developers, speaks with Cognizant’s Strategy and Technology Executive Vice President, Anil Cheriyan

This was the latest edition of Leading Through Change, our live video conversation series exploring how leaders use software to drive impactful change in industry. For more interviews: Salesforce.com/Live.


Karen Solomon is the senior editor for the Salesforce Blog, where she brings a wealth of experience as a writer, content strategist, and storyteller. In addition to writing four cookbooks and a travel book, she’s worked for Bank of America, Autodesk, Williams-Sonoma, Donnelly Marketing, and Under Armour. She’s also authored numerous feature stories for national press.

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