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Decoding the Culture Fundamentals of a consistent Great Place To Work

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Over the last few decades, the concept of workplace culture has grown in significance as organizations place a great deal of emphasis in developing a culture that boosts performance and productivity. Every organisation has a distinct culture that develops over time – through intentional and unintentional actions. Most organizations often look for what can be done to create a great workplace culture. However, they often miss the fact that creating a great workplace is more about the ‘How’ than the ‘What’. CDK Global has in many ways epitomised this factuality.

“CDK is like a family. Leaders make employees feel valued. Employees care for each other during the tough times. The entire organization exhibits the values set by CDK.”

With over 40 years of experience, approximately $2 billion in revenues and about 6,500 employees globally, CDK Global is a leading provider of retail technology and software as a service (SaaS) solution that helps automotive dealers and manufacturers run their businesses more efficiently, drive improved profitability, and create frictionless purchasing and ownership experiences for consumers.

In India, CDK Global is Great Place To Work® Certified™ thrice in a row since 2020, among Top 15 India’s Best Workplaces™ in Health & Wellness 2021, Top 75 India’s Best Workplaces in IT & IT-BPM 2021, and among Top 100 India’s Best Workplaces for Women in 2022.

“At CDK, our culture puts people first as we firmly believe that only a happy and engaged workforce can create great business outcomes and deliver world-class customer experiences. We have consistently invested in programs that help elevate the employee experience through focus on development, inclusion, wellness & empathy, which builds a safe environment driving engagement & innovation. We are extremely proud and thankful for the recognition, re-affirming our belief in our people-focused approach.”  – Arvind Chaturvedi, Managing Director, CDK Global India.

During this period, CDK India with a growing 1,400 strong workforce, also witnessed a whooping increase in their employee experience where employees saying ‘CDK is a Great Place To Work’ has gone up from 74% in 2020 to 90% in 2022, despite the period marked by a global pandemic and the great resignation. Let us decipher the cultural underpinnings that have enabled CDK Global to create a great workplace culture, that too consistently.

The Power of Empowerment

Among the multiple initiatives launched that empower new employees, women employees, managers, and individual contributors to go beyond boundaries and explore possibilities, one such program is Reverse Mentoring. Chitra Yesodharan, a fresh graduate who joined CDK had mentored one of the senior managers. In Chitra’s own words: “It is one of the most impactful programs I have come across in our industry. It links us back to the values of CDK – Being Open, Create Possibilities, Stay Curious, and Own it. The program empowers new hires to speak up and creates a diversified work environment. During my interaction with senior executive leaders, we were able to think innovatively to empower personal development. It certainly made me feel more connected with my organization’s culture.” While Reverse Mentoring reflects an inclusive learning mindset, it also improves the new employees’ critical business skills and provides the leadership team with views and thoughts from the young minds.

Super Mom: The core team at CDK India for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Spectrum-All In has been working with returning mothers to ensure that their comeback is seamless and a balanced experience for the returning employee. Ensuring performance goals are commensurate to the integration process; a team mentor is also assigned to the returning employee, to ensure they are updated on all changes that have taken place in their absence; refresher training sessions are also conducted to recapitulate earlier learning – CDK leaves no stone unturned to provide women who are returning from a career break, the learning avenues, and opportunities that they value.

CDK is constantly driven by the success of its employees. The approach to career growth at CDK is bottom up. CareerX, the Internal Career Progression program ensures eligible employees can apply for career opportunities across the functions to meet their growth aspirations. What makes this unique is the philosophy of inviting all employees to think about their next level growth, own it and be empowered make it happen, using the plethora of development opportunities and career enablement programmes.

”CDK provides an excellent environment and work culture for teams to excel in what they are doing to deliver the best value to its customers.” says a young software engineer at CDK.

C-Cube (Culture Change Transformation) is another OD intervention where managers and middle-level leaders are trained and empowered to own up the engagement of their teams. In partnership with Great Place To Work India, C-Cube is a structured people manager capability building program spanning 4-5 months, with 150 participating managers, who prioritised action areas that positively impacted: both employee experience and business results.

The icing on the cake is the ongoing improvement of their products, services and processes through incremental and breakthrough improvements that signify the strength of the healthy Innovative culture at CDK.

LEAN Implementation – Fail Fast @ CVR. From the Desk of Sandeep Jain – Senior Director, Engineering

What is CVR (Computerized Vehicle Registration):  One of the product lines, with 100 employees working on it – an equivalent of online RTO operation in India.

What did we do: We encourage people and never penalise for failing. There has been a significant investment done in training over the past one year. We implemented SAFe – a methodology to scale Agile process framework.

How is failure perceived: Employees are recognized for failing as we know only those who fail, have tried to walk the unchartered territory! Overall impact: 15- 25% productivity has increased within one year. The whole process has transparency, and we are continuously improving.

Run it the fun way

Fun at work is often overlooked because it is considered as a “soft” factor. However, it is an important driver for emotional connections and to drive positive relationships within the organisation – prerequisites for high productivity and performance.

”Fun is not what we drive. It is a by-product,” says Joy George, Head- Human Resources, about what is unique in the culture at CDK Global India. Everything at CDK Global is done in a fun way. Adding something fun to the smallest of the tasks makes it more interesting. 

CrossJam – Beyond Work is the platform for Fun, Frolic and Entertainment at CDK which brings together the multi-generational workforce beyond work. For instance, employees are divided in 6 teams based on their birth months. Multiple activities are planned monthly, and teams participate with full energy to get highest score on their team score card. The best part about the fun agenda at CDK is that that it’s all inclusive. It is not driven by the HR function; it is driven by the employees, for the employees. It does not just end there. Events not only include employees but also their families – which become extended family to CDK. This gesture has had a great enhancement in how employees feel that they belong to CDK.

nother example is the family day at CDK, aptly named as Convergence with the theme of celebrating togetherness, where the employees’ families take active part in the festivities and get to interact with colleagues and senior leaders.

Campus Day organized on World Youth Skills Day 2022 is a unique office connect welcome session for interns who are now full-time employees. CDK hosted these young graduates along with their elated parents for an engaging session.

Continuous Listening!

CDK believes in a listening culture and displays receptiveness to feedback. A weekly Pulse survey is run to capture feedback from employees that also gets acted upon in real-time. This helps the organization do regular checks across the employee lifecycle, such as Hiring, Performance Review, Merit distribution, Recognition. A key strength of CDK is reflected through an approachable leadership team, just like how you connect with a peer sitting next to your cubicle. At CDK it is not uncommon to see both leaders and employees break the hierarchy stereotype while sharing and seeking perspectives. “I can count on the Leadership team here and they always treated me with great dignity and respect.”  expresses a Senior Communications Specialist from CDK.

For example, monthly townhalls are a mix of business, culture, and leadership updates along with rewards and recognition. The Managing Director, Arvind Chaturvedi takes all questions from employees on the spot and answers them live.

To sum up, CDK thrives on the diversity of their workforce, by fostering an inclusive culture where everyone feels belonged, and experience a sense of holistic wellbeing. CDK is a listening organization by being receptive to feedback. They firmly believe differences add and do not subtract. CDK’s culture values and celebrates diversity in thoughts and perspectives. They are driven by the philosophy, ‘Together we are More!’ CDK strives to create a respectful, rewarding, and inclusive work environment that enables their employees to produce the best work of their lives at the same time enjoying their passions beyond work.