Investment in people can support talent retention: Kiran Yadav of Canara HSBC Life Insurance
The insurance industry in India has, in the recent past, grown exponentially but unfortunately it still covers only less than 5% of the population. Hence the opportunity is enormous. These low penetration and density rates reveal the uninsured nature of large sections of the population in India, and the presence of an insurance gap within the country. In conversation with People Matters, Kiran Yadav chief people officer, Canara HSBC Life Insurance, highlights that multitude of skills are required to run a profitable business and a diverse workforce is the only way to achieve it.
What are the distinct skills that insurance sector employers are looking for while hiring?
Talent is much more than a resume today. Apart from a few technical roles which need specific background, the key asks from a prospective candidate remain for traits such as collaboration and communication, agility, and ability to adapt to a fast-changing environment and ambiguity. Skills can be learnt over time but aptitude and attitude are what matter the most while taking hiring decisions. Cultural fitment is equally relevant today to foster an environment of trust and partnership.
How important is it for you to strike a balance between experienced employees and freshers who come up with New Age skills?
The insurance sector is now almost two decades old in India and has witnessed a plethora of changes over the years. However, one thing that has remained constant is the fact that the customer is at the core of this business and it’s imperative to find the best solutions for them. A multitude of skills are required to run a profitable business and a diverse workforce is the only way to achieve it. We need fresh talent who comes with new energy and ideas, challenging the paradigms and processes that we have lived for long with and vintage employees who have experienced various storms and are now intuitive about the hurdles and possible resolutions. This delicate balance and mutual respect can create magic. Wisdom and energy can be a potent mix to bring about a revolution for the business and industry.
What are the challenges and concerns of the Insurance sector in India in view of the great resignation and quiet quitting?
Those, who know the insurance industry well, would say that great resignation may be new for many sectors, but we, in the insurance sector has been grappling with the same for quite some time now. Attrition at front lines sales has been a major concern across the sector and the challenge continues in current context. Without all hands on deck, businesses may falter and it can lead to a vicious cycle of few people doing more work and then getting fatigued and leaving. Companies have to come up with their own USPs to attract and retain talent for a longer run.
The absence of a larger talent pool is another concern plaguing the industry today. For a country with a billion people, the sector has been reluctant to hire diverse profiles and fell in the trap of mostly hiring within the industry. Unless we expand the hiring pool and minimise hiring from within the industry, there is a possibility of a situation where we are high on costs and low on new ideas. Finally, hybrid working needs to be refined in the Indian context and the insurance sector still needs to be fully accustomed to the concept before embracing and adapting to it.
The great resignation and quiet quitting are impacting business across the sectors. Do you think learning and development (L&D) can put an end to this?
Putting an end to it will be a very strong statement. However, it will definitely be a key contributor to the situation at hand. An L&D driven DNA in a company will have an enriched and evolved workforce and will make more qualitative decisions including reviewing their career options more holistically.
The Canara HSBC Life Insurance has used a three-pronged approach of engagement for talent development - Experience, Exposure and Education. We put a lot of focus on internal grown talent and provide employees a plethora of options to groom themselves through training and certification courses, experience immersive on the job learning via collaborative meetings and projects and expose them to opportunities outside of core areas. Access to high quality learning modules, coaching opportunities and empowerment to explore options outside of domain are key to our trajectory.
Continued investment in people through diverse and multiple opportunities can support retention of talent in the long run.
As a leader, what would be your suggestion for the current and future workforce aspiring to have a career in the insurance sector?
A lot has changed in the last few years - the emergence of Fintech, insurance aggregators and also the new insurers waiting to go all out to get in, have made the sector very dynamic. At the same time the amount of work being done on automation, customer acquisition, customer servicing, product propositions etc. have immensely increased the potential for the future. My suggestion to all those aspiring to make a career in insurance space will be to: -
Know the Business – Processes in the insurance industry are like clockwork, and it is important to understand the full picture and not just get comfortable in your own role. Any one aspiring to work in the sector needs to understand the dynamics of the whole operation including necessary compliances and regulatory requirements. Nominate yourself for cross-functional collaborative projects, partner with the teams to incubate new ideas, revisit the process to support the business. In short, stay updated if you want to stay relevant. Find opportunities to delve out of your comfort zone and raise your hands for roles in different functions to grasp the various dynamics at play.
Upgrade - Complacence leads to obsolesce. Technology is a game changer and if you miss this bus, it’s a long walk home. Anyone working or aspiring to work in this sector needs to match the pace of change brought in by new age, click of a button, analytics-based business model.
What are some of the best practices for sustaining your organisational culture?
We have always been committed to being an unbiased and fair workplace for all, to fostering a greater sense of inclusion, and to inspiring and empowering the next generation of female leaders. Our programmes and initiatives represent our dedication for creating a culture in which every colleague feels valued, heard and respected. Recently, Canara HSBC Life Insurance was also recognized among 'India's Best Workplaces™ for Women 2022' - Top 100 by the Great Place to Work® Institute, India under the large organization category.
What will be the priorities for HR leaders in 2023?
Growing and Grooming internal talent - Hiring from outside will continue to be expensive and complex. Through rigorous succession planning, job transfers and rotations and rewarding people for stepping outside of domain, relevant L&D practices we need to utilize our talent for mutually beneficial opportunities.
Invest in technology - It’s not a luxury anymore, its fundamental in the business of people.
Employee engagement - Its crucial to keep employees engaged with the organisation as there are too many distractions and temptations today for people to leave the career escalator in the search of "new"
Diversity and Inclusion practices - Time to move away from small steps to giant leaps. Make it count as part of business strategy.
Eager to learn more from Kiran Yadav? Join us at People Matters Total Rewards and Wellbeing Conference 2022 on November 9 at Leela Ambience, Gurugram, where Yadav will be speaking about a pertinent topic and sharing her experience on building stronger and meaningful company culture to make talent attraction, retention and engagement more ‘sticky’. Register now.