Article: Talent availability is a problem: Ashish Srivastava


Talent availability is a problem: Ashish Srivastava

Ashish Srivastava, Director - HR, Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance Company

Insurance being a push product, calls for additional time and effort and this distinguishes it from any other normal product. It was anyways never easy to find people for the entry level jobs in this industry. A number of insurance companies work with institutes to provide them industry ready employees by guaranteeing 100 percent jobs for the courses; yet they are not in a position to get the required talent base. So, it is obvious that talent availability is a problem.

We have a unique model called Bancassurance, in the insurance industry. We rely on the bank’s distribution network to sell our products. We have one relationship manager who supports the bank staff, who sells our products. The relationship managers coach, guide and train people. As I said the talent challenges in the industry level are very real, but our being a Bancassurance model, our challenges are a little less. The other thing that helps us is that we are small compared to many, in terms of staff strength. We are one of the players other companies look up to, but we are only 800 people across India. And at the same time, we are doing more business than a lot of other players!! Our model helps us to attract and retain talent.

In terms of attracting talent, we do look at referrals and they are our primary source. We do feel that if employees are happy working for you then they will refer the right kind of people. Our experience is that referral candidates have longer longevity. Not all hires are through referrals though, as we go to the consultants and also have a number of partners that we engage with, particularly for few specialist functions.

While we hire people with 2-3 years of experience; we do go to campuses from time to time based on our needs. This helps create a good mix in the workforce as they come with different perspectives, dynamism and views. However, whether the hire is one with relevant experience or a fresher, we take him/her through relevant induction and training programs. For fresh graduates, it is much more structured; there is a 3-6 months exposure through various departments. For the experienced lot we have in place a 2-day formal introduction and a number of such initiatives, like mentorship, STA (short term attachment program) and all of these are part of the learning framework. We have a tie-up with ISB (Indian School of Business) to deliver and fulfill various leadership and talent pipeline requirements.

When hiring form campuses, we opt for group discussions and criteria based interviews. What we primarily look for in candidates are basic communication skills and right attitude. It is not easy to find the right candidate and hence, we go to multiple campuses.

We do measure the effectiveness of the training initiatives. Apart from the big effectiveness measurements, which show in the engagement survey, we also resort to pulse survey.

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Topics: Skilling, C-Suite, Talent Acquisition

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