Kamlesh Dangi, Group Head, Human Resources, InCred, says that working with startups offers an opportunity to experience a thrilling work environment. Dangi who started his career with a pharma management consultancy Interlink back in 1995 got the opportunity to work with various organisations in his close to three decades of experience, both established organisations as well as startups. His portfolio includes retail chain Shoppers Stop, ICICI Bank, Religare, and UTI among others.
In his exclusive interaction with People Matters, he spoke extensively on the significance of employee engagement and well-being and how these two aspects of the modern-day workplace are reciprocal and are able to influence each other’s future state. Here are the excerpts:
What are some of the unique HR challenges faced by new-age financial services platforms like InCred, and how do you address them?
Being a new-age tech-led financial service company, we have our own set of challenges as compared to those who are well-established. Here are a few of them:
Talent retention: In a competitive market, retaining talent with extensive technology skills is crucial. We continuously innovate our HR policies and tweak our employee value proposition to create a conducive environment for our employees. This includes fostering open communication, encouraging collaboration, and providing growth opportunities etc.. We focus on aligning our employees' aspirations with the organisation's vision to ensure long-term retention.
Communication and collaboration: In a fast-paced and dynamic environment, effective communication and collaboration are vital. As organisation grows the risk of creating silos becomes more prominent. To counter this, we promote a culture of open communication, both upward and downward, ensuring that ideas flow freely. Our HR team facilitates regular meetings, town halls, and cross-functional interactions to encourage dialogue and understanding among teams. We prioritise transparency and ensure that information and updates are shared across the organization in a timely manner.
Agility and adaptability: The financial services industry is evolving rapidly, and being agile and adaptable is key to success. We desist from adopting rigid and long-term business plans which can hamper agility or adaptability. We actively encourage our employees to stay updated with the latest industry trends and technologies. Continuous learning and upskilling opportunities are provided to help them adapt to changing market dynamics. Our HR team identifies skill gaps and designs training programs to equip employees with the necessary competencies.
Optimising market opportunities: In a competitive landscape, identifying and capitalising on market opportunities is essential. Our HR team collaborates closely with other departments to understand market trends and devise appropriate strategies. We ensure that our talent acquisition efforts align with the specific skills and expertise required to leverage these opportunities. By proactively recruiting and nurturing talent, we enhance our ability to seize market prospects.
Balancing innovation with compliance: Being a technology-driven financial services platform, we prioritise innovation. However, we also operate within the regulatory framework of the industry. Our HR team works closely with legal and compliance teams to ensure that innovation is fostered while adhering to industry regulations and maintaining high ethical standards.
By addressing these unique HR challenges, InCred aims to create a conducive and agile work environment that supports our employees' growth, fosters innovation, and enables everyone to deliver exceptional services to our customers.
InCred believes in “Think like an Owner. Own the outcome.” In view of this tagline, how does your HR team contribute to the overall success and growth of the company?
The HR team has a crucial role in the success and growth of the company. They are vital for motivating and managing employees creating a transparent system at the workplace by adopting a little different approach such as having a detailed transparent goal sheet for people instead of a job description. This helps team members to stay informed about what their coworkers are doing and what is their goal.
Having such a transparent goal sheet brings in greater alignment in terms of organisation objectives, while a specific job description has a risk of confining employees to a set of tasks or activities. And that is not something that we would want in our culture.
Our employees are expected to take ownership and focus on the outcome while doing a particular task. A sense of ownership makes people more result oriented and this pushes them to roll up their sleeves and accomplish it – a behavior critical in our organisation’s life stage.
In addition to ownership of work, we also nurture a culture of recognition. Everyone is empowered to recognise each other, irrespective of their designation. An appreciation coming from your colleagues is the most valuable as it is an attempt to reinforce good behavior. It brings a sense of pride and encourages employees to demonstrate consistent behaviour with values and support each other.
We believe culture is our strength. We conduct periodic engagement surveys to understand employees’ needs. Having an upward score in every survey indicates that the way our culture is shaping up is fair enough.
What is your approach to talent acquisition, employee engagement and development, and performance management?
Culture is a crucial factor in our talent acquisition and employee engagement approach. It enables organisations to achieve their strategies and engage people effectively. It's like a recipe with various ingredients, and people are a critical aspect of it. In talent acquisition, we consider the specific employer value proposition (EVP) that makes sense for each business unit. For instance, a tech organisation may attract talent by offering state-of-the-art technology, which allows employees to learn and grow. In wealth management, a wide product platform may be an appealing aspect for potential employees, as they can offer a diverse range of products to their clients. Our EVP is tailored to different talent pools to attract the right individuals for our organisation.
Implementing a value framework is another important step we have taken to shape our culture. We reinforce these values in various ways, such as town hall meetings, leadership gatherings, focus group discussions, and engagement surveys. It's essential to consistently emphasise and uphold the values to foster the desired culture.
We also believe in creating moments outside of work-related activities, such as sports events, celebrations, or gatherings. These moments allow employees to connect with their co-workers on a personal level and have conversations beyond work. While some parts of our organisation may have cyclical or mundane tasks, it's crucial to balance them with enjoyable experiences.
Listening to employees is often underestimated but holds great value. We make genuine efforts to listen to employees through different forums. As a financial services organisation, understanding the economic landscape is vital. Employees' insights from the field, such as market trends, customer uptake, or credit utilisation, provide valuable information for shaping our business strategies. We process and analyse these inputs collectively to determine the pace and direction of our organisational growth.
Besides formal channels like engagement surveys, we actively collect feedback from employees on various aspects, ranging from office-related matters to the approach of leaders. This constant listening is a priority for our organisation. Lastly, technology plays a crucial role in our personal and professional lives. We recognise its significance and embrace its advancements to enhance our operations and serve our employees better.
In view of the rapid advancements in technology and the increasing importance of digital transformation in the financial industry, how does the HR department support employees' upskilling and adaptability to new technologies?
We understand the importance of staying technologically advanced and constantly adapting to new technologies. We actively monitor what's on the horizon in terms of emerging technologies and continuously update our tech infrastructure to incorporate these advancements. This proactive approach helps us maintain a competitive edge in the industry.
When hiring new employees, we specifically look for individuals who are aligned with and skilled in emerging technologies. We seek out rare talents who possess the necessary knowledge and expertise in the evolving tech space. Hiring such individuals enables us to stay ahead of the curve and understand how new technologies can be effectively leveraged to solve customer problems.
Furthermore, we encourage continuous learning and provide opportunities for employees to upskill themselves in relevant technologies. This may involve training programs, workshops, or access to external resources and certifications. By investing in our employees' development, we empower them to adapt to new technologies and stay at the forefront of the industry.
Through a digitalised HR environment, strategic hiring practices, and a focus on continuous learning, we enable our workforce to embrace technological advancements and thrive in a rapidly changing landscape.
Employee well-being is crucial. How does your company prioritise and support employee well-being and work-life balance?
We believe that well-being is an integral part of employee engagement, and both aspects are interconnected or reciprocal. We understand that an engaged employee contributes to a positive work environment and overall organisational success.
To support employee well-being, we take several measures. Firstly, we conduct regular engagement surveys that also assess well-being. This helps us understand the needs and concerns of our employees and identify areas for improvement. Attention is also paid to factors like workload, working hours, and stress levels to ensure a healthy work-life balance.
While some parts of our organisation may have cyclical work demands, we strive to compensate for them by providing flexibility and understanding. For example, during lean periods, employees are allowed to come as per their professional and personal requirements to balance the workload that they face during the month's end. Employees are encouraged to manage their time more flexibly to achieve a better work-life balance.
We actively discourage a culture of long working hours and do not celebrate or reward long working hours. We believe that prolonged periods of stress can have negative impacts on well-being. Instead, we focus on outcome-based evaluations rather than the number of hours spent in the office. We appreciate and recognise employees for their achievements, regardless of the time they spend working.
In terms of hiring, we value a combination of skills, experience, and attitude. Each of these factors plays a vital role in finding the right fit for our organisation. Skills are necessary for employees to effectively perform their roles, while experience brings valuable insights and knowledge to the table. Additionally, a positive attitude and alignment with our company's culture are essential for fostering a cohesive and productive work environment. We aim to strike a balance between these three aspects when selecting candidates for our organization.
Overall, our company prioritises employee well-being and work-life balance by promoting flexibility, discouraging excessive work hours, and considering the holistic needs of our employees in our practices and policies.