The experience that employees derive from their organization is largely based on how companies make them feel; people may work for a salary or economic realities but ultimately, people should feel great about their association with an organization.
As the world of work undergoes disruption, embraces digital and faces a fierce war for talent and skills, creating an employee experience (EX) that differentiates employers and actually retains talent is going to be critical in all aspects.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Vikas Bansal, CHRO, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance shares his views on what organizations can do to create a superlative employee experience.
What are some of the critical things organizations can do to build a differentiated employee experience?
Employee experience plays an important role especially in the life insurance sector, which is heavily reliant on advisory and customer service. Often, companies do not realize that focusing only on customer experience cannot generate the desired business impact unless they are creating the right employee experience. Both are intrinsically linked.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach for EX. Every company has a unique make-up and must invest in recognizing relevant factors that will create a value-based culture, which will make way for the right employee experience. However, one crucial factor for the success of creating a positive EX is consistency and sustainability.
Here are some key tenets that can guide a company in mapping out their EX journey: Association, Purpose, Recognition, Drive, and Well-being. The first three tenets help create pride in one’s work and therefore fulfill the last two. To put it simply, you need to institutionalize all the right technologies and platforms to empower your workforce.
For instance, as a life insurance company, we need to create a platform that develops the knowledge of our advisors and equips them in dealing with customers. This, in turn, creates affinity for the work they are involved in and gives them a purpose or the fulfillment of carrying out meaningful work. Setting up recognition programs at regular intervals also provides them with the drive and passion for their work and keeps them invested in not only fulfilling their professional goals but also personal ones.
How do you build a business case for EX such that it translates in every decision in the talent strategy to maximize business success. How can you design your EX vision to align it with your business metrics?
“Very simply, happy employees lead to a happy and healthy business. Companies cannot lose sight of the fact that they are functional because OF the people working for them and FOR the people availing their services.”
I wholeheartedly believe that an employee’s productivity directly relates to whether he believes that his role is meaningful. A higher sense of purpose is essential for productivity and EX can help achieve that. The older belief that financial remuneration is enough to keep an employee satisfied and productive is outdated. People want to work with organizations that provide value, professionally and personally.
To create synergy with business metrics, it is also critical for HR to partner with the business so that there is company-wide ownership of creating a meaningful and positive EX. When it is co-created with business, EX becomes a part of an organization’s growth story and a powerful tool for brand creation.
In fact, an MIT study predicts that EX can help an organization deliver 25% greater profitability, 2x customer satisfaction, and 2x innovation.
What are some of the things leaders can do to set such an example? There are many factors that can make or break Employee Experience, and one of the most critical ones is – the leadership. A leader’s role starts from first understanding what constitutes a great employee experience, the steps to make it happen, leading by example, and making EX a business priority for everyone.
Leadership, perhaps, plays the most important role in achieving the aforementioned tenets of EX. The success of EX is highly dependent on the belief of leaders in its impact on business and CX.
Leaders play a crucial role in keeping the entire organization tethered to the values and business goals; they help create drive among employees and ensure them that their work is meaningful. In simpler words, they are the foremost agents in telling employees what they should feel about the organization. Creating a culture of open communication and transparency is also incumbent upon leaders as it creates a positive EX and belief in the organization.
“Leaders must adopt a top to bottom approach, where they support and serve their teams as much as their employees are serving them. This goes a long way in creating affinity and a sense of belongingness which is a powerful driver for employees.”
How do you institute recognition programs that enable physical, mental, social and/or emotional wellness with high employee coverage, deliver a great employee experience and build a culture that performs?
A single recognition program cannot achieve the desired EX. There must be a greater emphasis on adopting a culture of appreciation. A culture, by definition, is a habit that you are less likely to digress from.
Recognition can be in many forms – be it through customized development programs, simply recognizing the stellar work employees have showcased or becoming guardians of their wellness. At Edelweiss Tokio Life, we have tried to work on these parameters to ensure a higher involvement from employees.
For instance, we have at least four types of development programs which are aimed at creating leaders, nurturing the individual contributors and enabling managers to effectively manage their teams. Similarly, we are trying to instill an entrepreneurial culture among our salesforce to recognize their potential and helping them fulfill their own dreams and aspirations. We have partnered with well-known educational institutions like NMIMS and IIM Indore that are creating a customized development module to address the leadership and entrepreneurial training needs of our employees.
What are some of the things in your organization’s culture that contribute to building a superior employee experience which in turn translates into better customer experience?
While there are several initiatives we undertake to create a positive EX, there are some that stand out:
a) Vijaypath: The insurance industry is highly reliant on providing the right advisory to customers. Since inception, our salesforce has followed this need-analysis tools which provides customers with a complete overview of their needs and then recommends solutions to those address those needs. This has contributed to instilling the value of customer centricity among our employees. It has become a central point of employee experience, as it reflects our business ethics and emphasis on customer-centricity.
b) Pro-entrepreneurial: We are extremely proud of our Managing Partner program. This recognition platform is applicable for our sales managers and is an industry-first property. Based on certain pre-decided criteria, our sales managers can ascend to the level of Managing Partner, wherein Edelweiss Tokio Life provides them with the infrastructure and capital support to set up their own office. While they continue to be an employee of Edelweiss Tokio Life, they are treated as a separate business unit. This has helped us create a sense of ownership and drive among our employees.
As an extension of this program, we have identified nearly 100 sales managers across the country who hold the potential of becoming Managing Partners. They will undergo a development program called Apex which equips them to handle their own offices among other things.
c) Emphasis on training: In the life insurance industry, knowledge and having the know-how to advise customers is a pre-cursor to having pride in work. We have been focusing on creating robust training processes that can help our employees fulfill those factors. In fact, we recently were accredited with ISO 21001:2018 Certification for Designing and Delivery of Learning Programs, which also is an industry-first development.
d) Tech-enabled systems: We recently launched an interactive chatbot on WhatsApp called Risa for our employees. The idea is to bring in agility and flexibility to work and these measures are helping us realize these aspirations.
e) ICONS: We have instituted a recognition program for all our employees called ‘ICONS’ which not only recognizes their leadership, innovation, customer-centricity, but also their social responsibility. It is crucial for us as an organization that our employees be responsible citizens and provide community support wherever necessary. We have found an uproarious response always to all social initiatives be it Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Contributing to Armed Forces or supporting a cause like Organ Donation. These kinds of recognition platforms have helped us instill a sense of social responsibility.