HR tech must respond fast to an organization’s needs: CPO, Aegon Life
The life insurance industry in India is expected to grow by 12 to 15 percent annually for the next three to five years. In FY19 itself (up to October 2018), premium from new life insurance business increased 3.66 percent year-on-year to Rs 1.09 Tn. Some of the things that have been contributing to the industry’s growth includes demographic factors such as growing middle class, young insurable population and growing awareness of the need for protection and retirement planning.
While on the one hand the changing mindsets are benefitting the life insurance industry, the revolution in the tech space is also creating new opportunities for the sector. The development in the life insurance sector is further changing the demands for skills and redefining the way businesses manage their workforce.
Saba Adil, Chief People And Operating Officer, Aegon Life Insurance Company, in an interaction with People Matters talked about these new work trends shaping the life insurance sector and shed light on the impact tech has had both on talent function and business overall.
From a science graduate to a human resource professional, how has your journey so far been like? Can you share some key learnings from your journey that have shaped who you are today?
Human behavior has always intrigued me and that’s how my interest in HR spiked up.
When I reflect over my career journey, one of the key learnings that I have had, is that one needs to keep reinventing, learning and unlearning to stay relevant. The world is changing at a fast pace and you need to keep up with the pace of changes by understanding the change and responding as needed.
An important takeaway from my journey has been that for HR to be respected by business and have a seat at the table - one needs to understand the business, its challenges, and opportunities and align people strategy to it.
It is vital to look at roles that add meaning to your purpose and create value to your organization.
With this lesson in mind, I took up roles outside HR and involved myself in projects, operations, design thinking etc. Working outside my function has helped me create human centric designs and enabled me to keep the employee at the centre of all people interventions and design solutions which solve their problems rather than offering solutions that someone thinks are right.
What are some of the current people and work trends that you feel are changing the game for HR?
HR is no longer at the driving seat when it comes to talent development, building meaningful roles, or tracking performance. Employees themselves are owning up their own career paths, performance, learnings etc.
Today, HR thus have to play a role of empowering people with choices and act as an enabler. HR teams have to be more involved and work closely with individuals to help them fulfil their goals. They have to work on creating an ecosystem where the talent can have more flexibility to ensure their own development and engagement.
The need for creating flexible culture brings us to another area where HR needs to work on - Agility.
With the rapid pace at which the business is developing and innovating, it is imperative to understand and respond to those changes to be relevant. And HR’s role becomes critical in facilitating re-skilling for future capabilities as organizations reinvent themselves.
As tech is considered to be one of the key disruptors today, how has it particularly impacted the insurance industry and the jobs in the sector?
Tech has helped us make the life of the customer easier.
A lot of disruption is happening in the space specifically where one is using data and technology together to smoothen onboarding, reducing friction as well as servicing.
Facial recognition, digital KYC, one click buy on digital partner platforms, self-service, and easy claim settlement, among others, are some of the new features which have been possible with the innovations in tech. The demand for these new features have created the need for related skills like data analytics, digital marketing, technology (and not the traditional IT), customer experience etc.
Speaking about tech, how according to you has automation redefined the HR function? What are the challenges and the opportunities the new technologies entail?
The HR function is adopting new ways of working and we at Aegon Life are also trying to keep up with the trend.
Recently at Aegon Life, we have set up six autonomous agile teams (squads) with cross functional representation for a faster go to market and continuous innovation and the system needs to reflect this change e.g. Performance management needs to be agile with continuous feedback and a system of objectives and key results.
For each firm, their HR technology needs to keep pace with the other changes happening in the industry and respond fast to organization’s needs.
Have you at Aegon implemented tech based talent solution? If yes, Can you talk more about the processes you have automated and how you have benefited from it?
At Aegon, we have automated most of our processes throughout the employee lifecycle, starting with onboarding. Besides using tech for our talent functions, we have also leveraged the principles of design thinking to create more relevant and impactful talent strategies. We also introduced an app where all employees can learn and communicate with each other. The app has helped us foster knowledge sharing and organizational communication.
The element of tech and design thinking has helped us save time, money, and create a better user experience. Further, we have seen an increase in employee engagement, particularly among new joinees.