Article: Culture & advancement are the key motivators for employees: Narayan Gangadhar

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Culture & advancement are the key motivators for employees: Narayan Gangadhar

"Culture and advancement are the main motivators for employees to shift from their current organisation; thus, we work hard on these two workplace areas," said Narayan Gangadhar, CEO, Angel One Ltd.
Culture & advancement are the key motivators for employees: Narayan Gangadhar

The war for talent remains fierce. The priorities of employees continue to change. While the business landscape for startups and SMEs looks promising the fight to find the best talent and then retain it continues.

In an interview, Narayan Gangadhar, CEO, Angel One Ltd talks about the key pillars of culture that will make an organisation a desirable place to work. 

What are some major changes you have introduced in your HR and employee policies?

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the way companies functioned. The sudden lockdowns and restrictions due to social distancing norms brought infinite challenges for the companies. We faced the same challenges, but we believe in excelling and not just existing. Our ‘Work from Anywhere’ policy enabled people to move back to their hometowns. The flexible working hours empowered our employees to choose their own working hours and manage their responsibilities at home simultaneously. 

Even though we made all the efforts to make sure that our employees remain safe, the virus reached them one way or another. Things started to go bad when people were not able to find beds. Many of our employees were amongst them. We realized that our corporate insurance covers were designed to cover the OPD costs but how would it cover the costs where OPDs were not accessible.

Consequently, we redefined the policy to include a home quarantine reimbursement claim. It enabled Angelites to comfortably home quarantine, knowing that the company will cover all their expenses. The insurance carried a comprehensive list of items ranging from an oxygen cylinder to an oximeter that were covered for stress-free home quarantine.

Also, any Angelite who tested positive for Covid19 was given 14 days of paid leave which has become a permanent policy now at Angel One. This permitted and encouraged our employees to take time from work and focus on their health. We also provide 5 days paid caregiver leave to employees whose family members have been infected by Covid-19. 

While we were continuously improving our policies to provide maximum support to our teams, we took a step further to extend our support beyond a lifetime. Under this, we extended a Rs 30 lakh term insurance and Rs 5 lakh education support for the children of Angelites who lost their battle to COVID-19. We also added financial support for last rites and other expenses to secure the family's sustainability. 

Health and wellness of our employees remains a priority for us. We have collaborated with Zariyaa in association with Your DOST, India’s first and largest online mental health and emotional wellness coach, to be the employees' confidante. This initiative brings expert advice from 1,000+ experts, with complete privacy, confidentiality and anonymity on a range of subjects including relationships, wellness, among others. Employees are offered free Zumba and Yoga classes everyday to help them become physically fit. 

With trends like 'great resignation' and 'quiet quitting' how are you working towards becoming a desirable organisation? 

Angel One Ltd. is a Great Place to Work-Certified organization, a certification recognized world-over by employees and employers and is considered the ‘Gold Standard’ in identifying and recognizing Great Workplace Cultures.

Angel One has excelled in five dimensions – High-Trust, High-Performance Culture – Credibility, Respect, Fairness, Pride and Camaraderie – to create a Great Place to Work for all employees.

Every day at Angel One, hundreds of decisions are made, from the executive to the CXO level, that impact millions of our users. As we bring advances in our products and solutions, it is equally important to bring positive changes to the organizational level as well. Hence, we have consciously integrated progressive value into all our employee-related processes ranging from how and who we hire to the performance management systems and the criteria for promotions, rewards and dismissal. 

One such example is our efforts to end the hierarchical culture by abolishing the outdated practice of addressing seniors with titles like Sir/Ma’am. Instead, in our diverse workforce, we encourage everyone to address their peers by first names. It comes from the belief that respect is earned and doesn’t come with the title. More than the designation of the person, we value the unique ideas and qualities of any individual, no matter the years of experience. It is in line with building a collaborative culture where people can communicate openly, share ideas and participate in collective decision-making. 

The inclusive and collaborative culture is part of our 'Playbook' for new joiners. We convey it at our town halls through team commitments and in day-to-day work life. In fact, this cultural shift is continuously communicated to our workforce through our #BreakTheOffice campaign, which aims to break the conventional mindset. 

At Angel One, the goal is not to create a poster or desktop wallpaper of values but rather a navigation tool to guide Angelites in the right direction. This is evident from the fact that our employee retention rate has been 89% in FY 22.

Talent retention is one of the biggest challenges fast-growing organisations across the country are facing. How have you been able to maintain a high-retention rate? What's working?

Our goal at Angel One has always been to create a workplace environment that inspires our employees to achieve new heights. As a company that has reinvented itself and made innovation a priority, we understand the value of challenges and the growth and rewards that come with them. We believe in the process of continuous learning and have designed a tailor-made learning path for every employee. It not only helps in upskilling but also helps them gain expertise. 

Nowadays, most professionals seek challenges and look for growth opportunities. They want to learn and add value to the company’s mission and achievements.

For this, we have taken initiatives like design lab and failure club, where we allow Angelites to pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of sharks at Angel One for funding. Our failure club is a safe environment for our workforce to experiment, create, fail and then succeed.

We believe that it is a one-of-its-kind initiative that makes our employees feel a part of the Angel One family. It is one reason we frequently have the 5th or 10th work anniversary for our employees. We give our workforce the freedom to experiment with their knowledge and celebrate their failures with them. 

Culture and advancement are the main motivators for employees to shift from their current organisation; thus, we work hard on these two workplace areas. 

As you transform the way you work, how are you enabling a tech-first culture in the evolved business ecosystem?

We have always believed in focusing on advanced technologies to provide a superior experience to our customers. For this, we have imbibed a tech-first culture at Angel One to drive change in a continuously evolving world. We conducted a ‘Bug Bash’ event where more than 1000 company employees from marketing, sales, product, tech, etc., participated in finding bugs in our Super App, the iOS and web version of which was recently launched. It benefited both the company and its employees, as well as users who benefit from improved products and services. Bug Bash-like events are something that most big tech giants such as Google and Microsoft do and Angel One is the first Indian company to conduct an event like this.

The company has transformed from just a digital broking house to a Fintech company with new-age and best-in-class innovations. Backed by technology, our willingness to adapt to changing circumstances has helped us become one of India's largest retail-focused digital broking houses, with a 4.0x increase in overall retail equity turnover market share in Q1 FY23 over FY20. We achieved a significant milestone by expanding our client base to 11.18 million in August 2022, thus growing the client base by 6.2x over FY20. 

Moreover, we have recently set up a tech collaboration space in Bengaluru. It will play an important role in shaping our products, technology and services available to millions of our clients.

Our tech collaboration space is not a traditional office but a place for ideas, innovations, and failures. This is where some of the best developers, data experts, and product managers come to experiment with new ideas to build the best fintech platform for India.

To create the best innovative products, we need the best tech talent. For this, we have partnered with HackerEarth to host hiring competitions created by the CTO and the best tech professionals in the industry. We received over 1600 registrations for the two job opportunities, Software Engineer and Mobile Application Developer, and nearly 700 applications qualified for the challenge. The finalists were selected to join the Angel One’s Innovation Club. 

We have been taking multiple initiatives like hiring competitions powered by HackerEarth, the Failure Club, the Bug Bash competition, Innovation Awards, and Creativity & Innovation Workshops to bolster innovation and advancements in our tech ecosystem. 

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Topics: Culture, Technology, Learning & Development, #Leaders Talk, #SMEcorner

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