EPAM Systems: 2023 BEST Award Winner, #8
There are times when global events have such an impact on a company that it changes the entire scope of the phrase talent development. When Russia's military invaded Ukraine in early 2022, the event had a sudden and dramatic effect on any company with assets in Eastern Europe. EPAM Systems, a digital transformation services and product engineering company with 14,000 employees in Ukraine and another 18,000 in Russia and Belarus, found itself facing a unique challenge—and found a singular way to approach it.
Shortly after the invasion began, EPAM relocated thousands of employees and their families away from danger and supported those who stayed in place. News of the invasion had a negative impact on stock prices for companies with ties to the region, but EPAM immediately acted to protect its employees.
Relocation under such difficult circumstances can affect all facets of an employee's life, including productivity in the workplace. EPAM designed its Cross-Cultural Framework to offer a wide variety of solutions, from the basic cultural awareness and adaptation initiatives to a series of facilitated workshops specifically designed for this ambitious initiative. The company implemented the Cross-Cultural Framework program to support "borderless delivery" and to onboard relocated employees.
The workshops helped employees to deal with traumatic situations and learn about new cultures, which assisted with mitigating the "transfer trauma" that can often affect individuals' behaviors, moods, and physiological well-being. Ninety-two percent of participants have reported improved knowledge and skills.
"Company leadership aimed to strengthen the resilience of our organization by prioritizing adaptability of employees," says L&D director Irina Kureichyk. Among the areas that the framework unites are mandatory compliance training, global events and communities celebrating diversity, cultural adaptation, and training for effective communication within multicultural teams.
That large-scale effort is very much in keeping with EPAM's long-established focus on talent development and retention. To keep up with evolving technology and the highly competitive hiring environment in the IT field, the company worked to establish and maintain a continuous hiring pipeline by working directly with colleges and universities around the world to bridge the gap between marketplace requirements and the skills taught in the classroom. EPAM also rolled out an educational program for students of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in shifting to the IT career field.
"In highly competitive job markets, engaging college students early on in their engineering careers fostered loyalty to the company," Kureichyk explains. "Moreover, investing in student training accelerated the enablement of junior specialists, leading to a significant reduction in the time required for them to become productive members of the project team. The resulting return on investment was substantial."
View the entire list of 2023 BEST Award winners.