Corporate houses turn to quizzing for right answers

MANISHA JHA DEEPA NAIR | Updated on June 27, 2013

Illus: for BL

The National Stock Exchange, Ultratech Cement, Tata Motors, E-serve, Hindalco, De Shaw and Hindustan Unilever - what do these companies have in common?Apart from being leading players in their respective fields - as diverse as auto, finance, cement and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies - they are also increasingly turning to quizzing as a tool to retain employees, as well as attract promising talent. Traditionally, the bastions of IT companies, these new players are breaking the stereotype in building and encouraging an active quizzing culture in their organisations.

Interestingly, quizzing is being adopted by various vertical chiefs, such as marketing and technical heads, in their organisations to retain talent in their existing roles.

For instance, according to Quizmaster Giri Balasubramaniam of quizzing company Greycaps India, civil engineering companies are initiating quiz programmes that increase awareness about the industry among their own employees and also attract new talent.

“Civil engineering companies tend to lose engineers to the IT sector as they pass out of colleges. While the IT sector is able to hire and train them, civil engineering companies are unable to hire IT professionals and turn them into civil engineers,” said Balasubramaniam. Earlier, while machines and product innovation were high on the priority list of most companies, these days there is a common understanding across industries that better employees make for more productive companies.

Catch them young

Accounting and consulting major KPMG organises a business case study competition in leading Indian B-Schools, where students get to interact with experienced KPMG professionals and present case studies.

“At the end of it, there is a student community which understands the firm much better, and is, therefore, able to make well-informed career decisions. When we go for campus recruitment in these campuses, we find better informed students as applicants,” said Shalini Pillay, Head People, Performance and Culture, KPMG.

HDFC Life insurance started Mission In-genius, a pan-India quiz programme first organised in 2006 for HDFC Life employees, to provide a platform to display their insurance knowledge.

“There is a distinct jump in interest levels from companies. They look at quizzing for two reasons - either to build their brand and engage their audiences, or to engage their employees. The latter is now growing specifically at annual conferences and meets, where an evening is normally kept aside for quizzing. This could be pure fun or based on their industry,” said Balasubramaniam.

Rajendra Ghag, Senior Executive Vice-President and Chief Human Resources Officer at HDFC Life added, “We believe that knowledgeable employees will give us a competitive advantage. Our people processes are centred on building skills and capabilities that will give us a leading edge in the industry. We want to promote this culture of knowledge enhancement by going beyond class rooms.”

This year, HDFC Life has converted Mission In-genius quiz to an online platform. The multiple choice quiz is loaded on the company’s online learning system and sales professionals can take it on the move, be it from office, home or even the client’s place.

“The objective is to build an interactive learning environment for sales professionals by giving them an opportunity to learn beyond life insurance products. This will produce well informed and all-round financial advisors for the financial services industry,” added HDFC Life’s Ghag. Apart from sales staff, HDFC Life has extended the quiz to its front line customer service staff (branch operations officers) and in-bound call centre.

Tech innovation

Investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, on the other hand, uses an interactive iPhone app that engages campus candidates through an online careers quiz. This helps the candidate explore career opportunities at Goldman Sachs. Through a series of 14 scenario-based questions intended to identify attributes and interests, the quiz suggests a few divisions that could be a good fit for the prospective candidate.

Apart from being used as a recruitment and HR engagement tool, the lure of ‘big bucks’ and promise of instant fame through the highly-publicised and marketed corporate quiz events has catapulted quizzing to a fiercely competitive space in the corporate world.

The rewards, too, are now bigger - comprising not just cash prizes starting from over Rs 5 lakh, but also entire packages, including cars, five-star hotel stays, sponsored airfare and fancy gadgets, such as tablets, smartphones and laptops.

The quizzing market in India is estimated to be around Rs 200 crore. This includes the various TV shows and advertising revenues that the shows generate.

“In fact, corporates are willing to spend anywhere from Rs 30 lakh to close to Rs 1 crore per annum on quiz engagements as part of their HR strategy,” said Balasubramaniam

Quiz questions at a glance

Q: If the landmark skyscraper Taipei 101 actually has 106 floors then why is it called Taipei 101?

A: There are 5 floors below the ground and only the ones above are factored to name the building.

Q: In modern architecture, what is vertical farming?

A: Modern buildings that would have small farms on the building.

Q: What is the word that denotes a form of sale or transaction that is derived from the Latin word ‘augere’ which means “to increase” or “augment”. Functions or gatherings to augere value were held giving rise to this word.

A: The word is ‘auction’.

Published on June 20, 2013

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