With a global headcount of 3200 employees, Gurgaon based start-up Make My Trip has gone from a mere flight search engine to becoming one of the best travel aggregators of the world.
A team that has simply been dedicated to making travel as simple as possible by helping people find the best options across flights, hotels and car hires to book the perfect trip, has been responsible for nothing less than a revolution in today’s travel industry. Millions of people across the world rely on Make My Trip for making their trip convenient and memorable.
Make My Trip, with its increasing focus on weaving in a fun-at-work element into training and integration, has made it to LinkedIn’s fourth edition of ‘100 Most Amazing Places to Work in India’. The report analysed over 610 million LinkedIn members, gauging job seekers’ interest in the company, employee engagement, job demands and employee retention. At Make My Trip, it’s not all work and no play — from sports clubs and yoga classes to foosball challenges and bowling competitions, the company goes the length to make work for enjoyable for its employees.
But that’s not all. The company also offers a bevy of free courses for its employees, ranging from customised behavioural programmes to study tours in Europe and Southeast Asia. There’s also a book club to stimulate the bibliophiles.
In a candid conversation with Nikita Zutshi, Director HR at Make My Trip, Ekta Capoor, Editor-in-Chief, Amazing Workplaces tries to uncover what makes the employee experience at Make My Trip truly special.
Firstly, tell us something about MMT’s history, the number of employees and all the locations in brief.
In the year 2000, Make My Trip started with an idea to make travel easier for people. Our focus was mainly on NRIs because Internet at that point of time had not taken the shape it has today. Indian people were a little wary of booking online. In 2005, we started with our Indian operations. Our focus at that time was majorly on flights and for the longest time, flights have been our bread and butter. Over time, as and when we realized that the hotel industry in India stands as a fragmented piece, we moved from being a pure play flight aggregator to a travel aggregator.
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MMT gives people the choice of fully personalising their trips and holidays. The company keeps in mind their choices, tastes in accommodation and travel options, based on which appropriate suggestions are made to suit their needs. From flights to hotels and holidays, we take extra care of every need of our customers. Anything that you can think of, under the travel umbrella, we are able to provide.
Make My Trip merged with Goibibo and RedBus about three years back, in April 2017. Today, we have a strength of around 3,500 employees including Goibibo and RedBus in our offices in Gurgaon, Bangalore, Peru, all countries of Southeast Asia as well as mobile offices across India.
How do you build a seamless employee experience?
We believe it starts with employee value proposition and understanding what an employee values in today’s day and age. We have people across all age groups and ethnicities. You would see a lot of people from different parts of the country because the customer diversity gets reflected in the kind of people we have on board. We’ve tried to create a brand where employees can be themselves.
At Make My Trip , we promote accountability and ownership. We conduct surveys every two years to understand what potential candidates and existing employees are expecting from us. We also try to identify what kind of autonomy this person might get, the kind of technique and technology stack will we be able to provide, peers that this person would be working with, the culture, Leadership, growth opportunities as well as fun-at-work culture that we’d be able to provide to the employee.
We have had a fairly young organisation with the DNA of a start-up. We are constantly innovating and working on newer technologies. Along with innovation, gradual and constant improvement is what we really root for. We are helping our employees learn new skills and technologies. All of this contributes in creating a seamless experience for the employee.
When employees join us, they get an on-boarding experience of 4 full days called Immersion, where our senior leaders interact with the new joiners. These leaders include our founders Deep Karla, CEO and Founder MMT, and Rajesh Magow, CEO and co-founder and Business Leaders. From day one, employees have access to leaders in the organisation. They are apprised of the vision that they were brought on board with. This, we believe, creates immense motivation for the employees and inspires them to want to do their best and be the best version of themselves.
While our Immersion session is about introducing employees to our culture and vision, our second interaction is to understand how an employee feels after spending some time with us. We invite suggestions from employees on areas that they feel we can improve upon. And, if we find value in their suggestions, we go and make those changes.
It’s not humanly possible to stay in personal touch with every employee in the organisation which is why we also use an artificial intelligence chat bot. This is a small survey that goes from the desk of Yuvaraj Srivastava, Group Chief Human Resource Officer at Make My Trip to all the employees, on basis of their tenure and level in the organisation. We use the information we receive from our employees and then use it to build patterns. Basis the patterns, interventions are built.
When it comes to performance management, we have meetings where the employees decide on their goals, which are then cascaded. This helps in building immense ownership and understanding. We also have a continuous feedback mechanism in place to ensure feedback is given on an ongoing basis allowing employees to get better or make changes as appropriate.
MMT is not just about working; it is also about celebrating what you have done together, the distance that you have covered. That is how we give them a seamless employee experience.
We have annual town hall meets with all our employees. The event is all about fun, bonding and recognition where there’s no end time. Here, the organization leaders come to the stage, talk about everything that has happened in the previous year, how it has helped people grow, and the expectations from our people. Every person in the organisation is a part of the annual town hall meet.
One thing you mentioned before said that even before a person comes in, they go through a survey. How do you manage those kinds of surveys?
We design and conduct these surveys internally through our team. The HR team designs the survey and rolls the survey in the campus, to people who we have interviewed and to prospective people who we would want to come and work with us, and we do this even within the organisation. We use the collective data for a detailed analysis and use our findings to make appropriate changes.
And what are the tools of Employee Engagement and Internal Communication used by you?
We use enterprise level communication tool where people can go and talk about whatever they feel like. For example, on World Environment Day, we communicated to our teams to go green and share about it with us on the company intranet. There were about 190 posts from our employees who had gone green. They shunned their own cars, pooled with others or used green commutes to contribute to the cause.
We have an online reward and recognition platform, which we use for awarding our monthly, quarterly and other winners. In addition, we also leverage an AI based chat-bot for employee sentiment analysis. We use a reimbursement tool, which has helped us go completely online.
Besides, we have quarterly team meetings so that team members are aware about everything that’s happening in all corners. We bring them all together over an open-ended discussion.
We also have a distribution list for senior folks called Senate. It consists of our senior managers who then cascade it down. We also use informal messaging services like WhatsApp.
And what are the tools you use to measure Employee Engagement, Happiness and Satisfaction? Basically, how do you measure the Experience Level?
We use a chat bot. The chat bot is built around employee value proposition. There are six dimensions under which we have sub dimensions, since meaning of growth differs from person to person. Our scores have moved and we are at 4.2 on a scale of five. On Glassdoor, we are 4.0 Our followers are increasing by 25% every year.
What is your Staff Retention Strategy as such?
The culture we have plays a big role in retaining our staff. We ensure our managers are getting trained to take up newer roles. So, there’s more focus, learning and development. And of course, the chat bot inputs that we get are also helping us strengthen our managerial capability.
We focus on ensuring that people learn to listen and understand the value of feedback that’s coming from stakeholders. However, I think the way we retain people is by giving them a culture where they are prospering.
There are employees who joined us as newbies and now are currently leading their respective departments. Everybody who has been in this system and has a potential to grow and willingness to prove themselves has seen a lot of growth in the company. We tend to promote people from inside.
We have an unlimited leave policy in the organisation. After we rolled out this concept, many people felt that employees would take advantage of this policy. Surprisingly, the opposite happened. People became much more accountable because they thought the organisation trusts them to do the right thing. There are people who were suffering from life threatening diseases for which they took long leaves and we were more than happy to give it to them. Trust, I believe, is a great factor in helping us retain employees.
With respect to the below, give us insights about Make My Trip.
Power of Praise
Our people are what is taking us forward and we believe in ‘Rewarding and Recognising’ them. A team gets to win 50,000 rupees in the annual award event. There is a category of individual award winners called the CEO’s Ring of honor. These award winners are chosen by the CEOs. They are hosted at an all-expense paid international offsite At this event, the winners get to have a one-on-one interaction with the CEOs. Besides this, we have monthly awards, functional awards, Org. level awards and spot awards. I think it is important to recognise the people.
Culture of Lifelong Learning
We have an e-learning module called My Academy, which offers free of cost courses across Technology and non-technology streams. Every employee has access to the same. Close to 70% of our workforce uses My Academy.
We are constantly working to ensure that within our organisation people are getting an opportunity to up-skill themselves. We facilitated training for about 25% of the organisation on artificial intelligence and machine learning. The idea is to take this across the length and breadth of the organisation this year. Besides this, we have leadership academies, which are three, six and nine months’ journey for high potential employees in the frontline, middle management and senior management.
All our courses are built to context programs which are curated and delivered in-house. There’s a lot of learning and development that is happening.
Benefits of Employee Wellness Program
Wellness is a big engagement agenda for us. Our pillars are – Care, Connect and Celebrate. So ‘Celebrate’ are the Town-hall meets, annual, bi-annual R&Rs. We also celebrate every festival – be it Diwali, Holi, Eid or Christmas.
The ‘Care’ agenda is the closest to our heart. Anybody who is 35 years or older than that, gets a full executive check-up at no cost. Every eligible women employee is vaccinated against cervical cancer. 50% of the vaccination cost is borne by us. We also conduct breast cancer awareness and screening sessions. Besides there is a lot of work that happens on bone density, mindfulness and stress management.
Besides this, we have an on the go wellness app. This app helps our employees take ownership of their health.
For us, corporate social responsibility is not just a phrase. We are really mindful of the fact that we are a single-use, plastic free organisation. We recently helped plant one million trees. It has taken us 10 years but we’ve reached that mark.
We are working with Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, in the environmental sustainability agenda. We are working with various NGO’s in the space of tourism and sustainability. We have also adopted a school in Gurgaon for children of migrant labourers.
Diversity and Inclusion
The issue of D&I is very close to our heart. We are one of India’s top hundred companies to work towards inclusion of women employees. We have about 25% women representation across the length and breadth of the organisation (be it junior, middle or senior management) and we are looking forward to taking it to 30%.
We not just ensure participation of women in the workplace but also ensure that we provide them adequate facilities to perform their duties effectively.
Even before the six months maternity break was introduced, we had a policy of six-month maternity break for our women employees. We also have a crèche for children of our employees.
We have a channel called Holiday Experts where 600+ women employees work from home to sell holidays and add to our bottom line.
We have an employee resource group called Pink Steel, where women come and learn from each other. Instead of celebrating women’s day, we celebrated women’s week. We have a week full of celebrations, celebrating our women employees.
We launched a returnship program called ‘Back to Future’ for women who had taken a break because of marriage or familial engagements and they wanted to make a comeback. We facilitated a six-month paid internship for them, where they came and learnt the new ways of working, were later absorbed based on their performance.
A great place to work is one where you trust the people you work for, take pride in what you do and enjoy the company of your co-workers. In today’s time, creating an Amazing Workplace is an integral part of an organisation’s business strategy.