We recently spoke to Sudakshina Bhattacharya, CHRO, HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company, to understand how she and the leadership team at HDFC ERGO has helped to steer the organization during these uncertain times. We also asked Sudakshina to share her insights on how HDFC ERGO is focusing on #GrowWithHDFCERGO to create a great Employer Brand for its existing as well as future employees.
HDFC ERGO has been on a hiring spree even during the pandemic. Tell us something about your growth during this phase?
COVID-19 has had a great impact not only on individual lives but also on organisations at large. HDFC ERGO has been on a growth trajectory for the last couple of years and what has helped us maintain this momentum is our focus on our greatest asset i.e. “Our People”.
As a leading player in the insurance sector, we are advancing at a fast pace leveraging innovation & technology, offering unique products and best in class services to our customers. However, businesses grow at a robust pace due to their people and therefore we have always ensured our colleagues are nurtured to #GrowWithHDFCERGO at the same pace. Additionally, we empower and encourage them to #MakeItMatter in all their endeavours and stand by them as they achieve their goals. Our core philosophy of “Onetastic”, the power of being stronger together, forms the basis of our Employee Value Proposition.
In today’s unprecedented times we presented our colleagues with all the care and necessary tools to ensure they are safe and can perform to the best, without compromising on their compensations or rewards. As a result, our colleagues have taken care of the Company and our customers, leading us on the path to success.
How has COVID impacted your people? What are some of your key initiatives during this phase?
The impact of COVID has been widely experienced by all. In the last 18+ months, all our energies have been predominantly focused on keeping our colleagues as well as their families safe. We created a task force that worked directly with our leadership team to ascertain that our colleagues are provided with all that they need. Right from hospitalisation to procurement of medicines and even getting our colleagues and their families vaccinated, we left no stone unturned.
A key aspect, which was of utmost importance in these trying times, was the emotional well-being of our colleagues. The loss of a dear one – family, friend or colleague; has a lasting impact on an individual and we felt the need to help and support the colleagues. In doing so, we created support groups, wherein each of our HR colleagues took personal charge of a group of employees, called as the “IOWN” initiative. The thought was to create a touch point with our employees on a real time basis. We setup 70 WhatsApp groups, with every colleague from HR took the responsibility of being in constant touch with about 100 employees to provide support, gather timely information about our employees and their family’s health, and mobilise the resources required by them.
Furthermore, we created a digital handbook that served as a guide to all the information on staying safe and services that are made available, in case of an exigency. Listed below are some of the critical services which were extended as support to the employees:
- Group Mediclaim policy for employees and family, covering home care/quarantine treatment for COVID-19
- A Life insurance cover for employees across all bands
- TeleClinic service for medical consultation from a doctor-on-call
- Hotel rooms in collaboration with various brands, offering accommodation if there was a need for isolation due to COVID-19
- Access to the COVID-19 helpdesk, which provided emergency services such as RT-PCR tests, CT scans, hospitalisation, oxygen concentrators, ambulances and transport
- Counselling assistance for colleagues and families who were suffered from the illness
- Rehabilitation services for families of the deceased to help them through the trauma of a loved one’s loss
How do you cope up with the growing turnover rates in the insurance industry?
Turnover isn’t easy, the entire cycle of knowledge loss and replacement drains the system tremendously. We believe that attrition may not be stopped altogether, but it can be managed and that is our primary focus.
We firmly believe in creating enough pull factors for our employees to see value in taking their careers forward with us. We invest in the right mind set and then work to create a rewarding career through various online and offline interventions and connect programs.
There are a couple of ways in which we are approaching this. To start with, we are working towards creating a process; a self-sufficient system that is managed by the right set of colleagues, rather than having a people-dependent organisation setup. Secondly, we want to ensure robust on-boarding processes, such that the new incumbent has a smooth transition period without any gaps. This is especially critical in an industry like ours where customer relationship management is the key.
However, the most important tool to arrest attrition is to be a fair opportunity employer where employees are treated with a humane touch. At the end of the day, we all want to be treated fairly and with sensitivity, in my opinion. We always have believed in empowering our people to take their own decisions in running the businesses, with the right values. So, there is no one fixed tool or intervention which helps us keep our employees intact, but all the above emanates from HDFC Group’s core employee centric philosophy which not only helps us attract talent but also in keeping the turnover in check.
Can you elaborate on #GrowWithHDFCERGO and how does this impact your employer brand?
#GrowWithHDFCERGO is our philosophy about being an inclusive employer that focuses on building enriching careers for our employees across functions. We believe that for an organisation to witness its true potential, its employees need to experience growth.
At HDFC ERGO, we look at growth, not only in terms of grades or compensation but more from an individual’s skill, ability and competence that enables our people to unleash their capabilities and experiences more.
Following the philosophy of #GrowWithHDFCERGO, we are creating an organisation that will be ground-zero for future leaders in the industry. One of the most important aspects of #GrowWithHDFCERGO is the equal opportunity platform that we provide. We take pride in our practices which give ample opportunity for our people to grow irrespective of their specialisations, skill sets, experience, age and gender. In fact, we are extremely sensitive and focused about making HDFC ERGO as preferred workplace for female professionals and are particularly proud of the noticeable senior positions that are held by our fellow female colleagues in the organisation.
What are some of your best practices that help you in retaining the best talent and maintaining low attrition rates?
We are focused on delivering the best employee experience and in doing so we focus on providing equal opportunities along with the 5 pillars of “Onetastic” which are Services, Wellness, Learning, Appreciation, and Polls.
Equal opportunity & all round exposure: As stated earlier, we ensure that the organisation gives an equal platform to all to grow. We have a well-established program which maps professionals and their acumen as well as their skill-sets. Further, people across all levels are gradually exposed to various facets of their roles and the business, making them thorough professionals gradually. We are very proud of the bench strength that we have created across bands within the organisation. The senior leadership in the company has clearly laid out KPIs to ensure diversity and to create the bench strength across their operational departments.
“Onetastic” Services are the core of all that we do. These services are the touch points for our colleagues and we believe in delighting our team, just as they do for our customers. We have leveraged technology in a big way and plan to continue this journey.
HROne, our mobile app ensures all HR processes are made available simply at the click of a button – this includes marking attendance to payroll services. We also have an exclusive HR helpdesk – which is our one-stop-shop to resolve all HR related queries, so our colleagues are not hassled in case they need any assistance.
To keep the mind and body healthy, we regularly conduct Yoga sessions for our colleagues, which have benefited many amidst the on-going pandemic. Mental fitness has been a matter of concern and hence, counselling sessions too are offered, free of cost in case any employee feels the need to seek a professional’s advice on a concerning matter
Developing and honing skills gives individuals’ an edge to perform better, professionally as well as personally. With this thought, we introduced ‘Onetastic Learning’ whereby colleagues can take up short byte-sizes modules anytime and anywhere through their smartphones. This has enabled them to learn about new products, services and even complex processes in a smart & swift manner
Listening and knowing our employees opinions goes a long way in defining the organisation’s culture. This led us to create ‘Onetastic Polls’ which helps us stay grounded in knowing what the employees have to say. Their feedback builds the foundation for the decision or the actions we need to take in shaping our organisation for a better and prosperous tomorrow.
Recognizing & Rewarding employees for their achievements is elemental in making sure colleagues stay motivated to perform and continue their journey with the organisation. To create a culture of appreciation we introduced ‘KUDOS’, a platform where colleagues can express their gratitude or appreciate one another.
Another such initiative is our annual SEED awards, wherein colleagues nominate one another for showcasing exemplary performance during the year and living our Company’s values – Sensitivity, Ethics, Enthusiasm and Dynamism (SEED)
Our leaders too, conduct regular townhalls sharing information about the company, its performance and the plans. This also serves as a platform for our leaders to know what our colleagues have to say gather their views on the matter that concern the organisation. This has infused a culture of transparency within the organisation.
These initiatives not just keep our colleagues bonded with HDFC ERGO but have also created a sense of belonging among them, lowering the overall rate of attrition. It, therefore, does not come as a surprise when our colleagues address the organisation as the “HDFC ERGO Family”.
How do you foresee the future of work, workers, and workplaces post pandemic?
The last two years have re-emphasised how unpredictable future may be and how unprepared we can be. Organisations reflect the society and with the “New Normal” in place, the face of the workplace has changed forever. Companies have been pressed to realign their strategies and priorities, and employees have a new lens through which they view their career, growth, and flexibility with an organisation.
Additionally, technology has been the game-changer as well and we have been quick to adapt to these changes. Workplaces with a hybrid model and technology will play a huge role, especially in a high volume industry like ours. COVID has made us realise that the employees do expect an emotional hand-holding also from the organisation and hence, in my opinion, employers will have to show more flexibility towards the employees in times to come with respect to how they operate.
Everything ranging from where you work, how you recruit, how you induct, how you train will change in the times to come. For example, at HDFC ERGO, we have shifted our entire induction program to a digital format, our training currently is digital and yet the personal connect with the employees is being ensured with the leadership team interacting with the employees even more than pre-COVID times. We would continue to practice the same, since we find connecting with our employees across the country digitally is a far effective medium and it does bring all of us close to each other and align our thought processes better. We are soon moving to a new alternate work model and shall be pioneers in the industry in adopting the same. Our people policies and practices are being aligned to enable more flexible, self-regulating virtual workplace.
While the future is and always will be unpredictable, which makes it challenging as well as exciting, in my view it will all be about what one is doing NOW!