Wings of change at Cadila

Being aware of employee pain, HR is consistently modifying practices to improve work-life balance.


Cadila employees have their summer vacation plans set, be it a trip to oversees or mountaineering in Nagaland, thanks to the holiday gift bestowed by their employer.

Not only will the employees but even the organisation will benefit tremendously when they return back from the break – charged up and swelling with happiness. Another milestone moment for culture change in Corporate India!

We are at the brink of the fourth industrial revolution, with 5G technology disrupting business, making it more dynamic and fueling a culture change and the best part is that all businesses are playing a role to take this wave of change forward.

Every drop makes an ocean, likewise every little change in culture will transform an organisation for better. Sunil Singh, CHRO Cadila Pharmaceuticals resolved to modify practices at Cadila when he joined it less than a year back.

The pharma industry has its own challenges and when Singh moved there, he was determined to tweak, add and drop policies and practices that were not pro employee welfare and happiness.

Resolving to become a catalyst of change, he has pushed the boundaries as far as giving free time to employees is concerned, moving from a six-day week to five-day week with effect from January 2019.

His crowning accomplishment is the announcement of a four-day holiday for its employees from May 22-May 25, 2019, this practice is for all employees of the company, including the base line workers at the plant.

Sunil Singh

“Giving Saturday off to even our field workers in the manufacturing unit, has been a path-breaking activity in this industry. Moreover, flexi-working has replaced a very stringent culture revolving around timeliness”

The first-of-its-kind break in the pharma industry has been consciously worked around the month of May, considering the summer vacations of employees’ kids. “Cadila has always been there but its growth has been flat over the years. When I joined, the mandate given to me was to transform the work culture,” says Singh.

So far, Singh has paced his journey consistently transforming one practice after other. Having started with modifying the performance management system and naming it ‘Happyshift’. Under the happy shift umbrella, all bureaucratic approaches were abolished, and happy initiatives were conceptualised.

Evolving from a procedural culture of ‘signature’ to an agile one, Singh says, “I made a promise to myself that I would take the company forward by leaving behind practices typical of an old manufacturing industry and adopting a culture of flexibility.”

“Giving Saturday off to even our field workers in the manufacturing unit, has been a path-breaking activity in this industry. Moreover, flexi-working has replaced a very stringent culture revolving around timeliness,” expresses Singh.

Unlike other companies, most of their practices are common for corporate and plant employees. Paternity leave and joining leave (one week leave after joining the organisation) has not been practiced in this industry before.

Waiting hours at doctors’ chambers, days of field work, sales pressure, stock management and more – stress in the pharmaceutical sector and in general is significant. Moreover, the 24×7 plant operations for timely production do not allow for the pharmaceutical industry staff at production units to get enough time off work.

Also, executives who need to often travel out of town for work, sometimes overseas, tend to miss out on celebrating festivals and quality time with loved ones. While many jobs allow for such workaholism, Cadila is leading the way by ruling work martyrdom out and giving its employees a well-earned break.

According to Expedia Vacation Deprivation Survey 2018, India is the most vacation deprived nation in the world. The survey also states that around 53% Indians take fewer vacation days than they get while 35% avoid taking leaves as work schedules dos not allow for vacation.

However, every employee, even the most dedicated one, looks forward to a little break from the daily grind and deserves it too. Through this ‘Happy Shift’ initiative of a mini vacation, Cadila Pharmaceuticals is setting the precedent of a great work-life balance.

Cadila employees celebrate the many festivals India offers as a big family along with their annual day. “Every three to four months there is an event that connects all Cadilians together,” reiterates Singh.

This is going to be a long story, Singh surprised me with how they celebrated ‘Holi’ in the company. Calling it a symbolic event Singh says, “To get rid of our stringent bureaucratic polices, the employees symbolically burnt the old folders and on April 1 we launched our new policy handbook.”

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