Jerry Varghese is the Head-People Strategy at Videoverse, where he is responsible for driving the company's strategic human resources efforts and initiatives. He plays a key role in fostering a positive and inclusive work culture that supports employee engagement, development, high productivity and retention. With over 14 years of experience with companies like REA India (proptiger.com & housing.com), Nippon India AMC and L&T Financial Services he has a strong background in building and leading teams, developing organisational culture, and implementing change management strategies.
In this exclusive conversation with People Matters, we discuss how a fast-growing organization like VideoVerse is reimagining employee experience and how modern HR systems are integral to the process.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation.
In the current disruptive and dynamic marketplace, what is the value of a powerful employee experience? Why should organisations prioritise it?
One of the most drastic changes in the interview process over the last few years is that candidates, regardless of the role or seniority, are very curious about the company culture. It has become an extremely important consideration that can ultimately help people decide whether to join a company. In a talent-driven job market, where people have multiple offers, workplace culture and employee experience have become important determinants. What’s more, candidates are not just asking about the culture during interviews but also tapping into their network to get first-hand experience with people working in the company and referring to company reviews online. So, it has become impossible to ignore this aspect from a cultural perspective, and designing an end-to-end journey for every employee has become a priority for HR leaders.
How would you define "Experience 2.0"? What differentiates it from traditional approaches to employee experience and culture?
Employee expectations have grown multifold over the past decade, particularly over the last couple of years. People are no longer seeking jobs based on brand names or industry leadership positions but looking for effective mentors and managers. So an essential aspect of ‘Experience 2.0’ is managerial training, especially first-time manager training. Managers are the most critical piece of the puzzle for fostering a positive workplace culture, and companies are slowly realizing this. Next, having an intuitive, modern, and interesting HR system is non-negotiable. If we aren’t making our digital systems easy to use, we shouldn’t be surprised when people don’t end up using them. Finally, the third vital aspect of ‘Experience 2.0’ is the learning that an organisation can offer its employees. Accounting for the development and growth of employees is the surest way to engage and motivate them.
So, the future of the work we are building cannot be one-dimensional. We must incorporate different aspects of employee expectations, sustainability, business strategy, and work experience. The narrative about work has changed, and it’s no longer just about putting in certain hours in a day but participating in something bigger and meaningful. Simply put, if you want to attract someone from another organisation, you need to offer them something they aren’t already getting there.
In fast-paced organisations, employees often face increased workload and pressure. How can we support employees' well-being while maintaining high performance and achieving business objectives?
One of the simplest and most effective ways to address this issue is to talk about it. Our leadership team is very vocal about the importance of mental well-being, and we are only beginning our journey in this regard. Within the organisation, we want to destigmatize the conversation about mental health and challenges. We are exploring how to get experts, counsellors, and coaches on board to implement activities in this domain and have big plans for the future. One small step we took recently was to organise a ‘Walk-a-thon’ to nudge people to make time for physical activities. Different teams in different locations walked in a fun yet competitive event, and we discussed the importance of physical health in maintaining good mental health.
What is the role of technology in enhancing the employee experience? How can digital solutions strengthen a sense of collaboration, belonging, and purpose among employees?
People are so used to the UI of smooth social media applications that they expect the same from their work systems. Archaic systems with stunted UI designs simply will not fly today. When we were looking for a new HR system at VideoVerse, we got a demo from nearly 15 providers before shortlisting one. We were also okay using different modules and suites of different service providers as long as the integrations and features were robust. Keka’s performance management system offered us something that others didn’t, as it was very seamless to navigate and operate, even for first-time users.
Our current HR system works for our teams in India, the US, and Europe, which means it has a universality that makes it appealing to diverse users. When finalising one, look for how easy it is to get things done on the dashboard, how much manual effort is required, and how well it integrates with existing systems. The bottom line is that if you have to click ten buttons on your performance management system to simply add a goal, you will get bored at the first step. So, HR’s challenge will then become to get people to use the system, and driving performance management will come secondary. Thankfully with Keka, we have a system that keeps users engaged and interested to keep coming back, so our team can focus on implementing performance management assessments.
Employee feedback is crucial for improving experience and culture. How can HR teams in fast-rising organisations collect and act on feedback effectively to drive positive changes?
While there are traditional feedback mechanisms, such as feedback and pulse surveys, in our experience, what works better is when HR team members interact directly with employees. This is not just to identify challenges but simply to understand what is happening on the ground and what the workforce is experiencing. With this approach, HR can maintain a sustained dialogue with people without waiting for official surveys to get feedback. And since these conversations are usually personal and informal, they tend to be more authentic. We need to realise that HR’s role is not limited to a desk job or a laptop; it is eventually about being with people. So, designing a feedback loop can enable a culture of instant feedback and correction, if necessary. In our experience, when managers, HR professionals, or company leaders actually listen to employees, the need to rely on tech tools to gather feedback reduces, as people feel heard and valued.
Could you share a success story or a best practice that significantly improved employee experience and organisational culture in your organisation? What is the greatest learning you would like to share with our HR Community?
Our biggest success story is also our most significant learning: transparent, authentic, and timely communication is vital to HR success. When people find it difficult to talk openly, implementing even the simplest policy change can be challenging as the HR team will second-guess everything. So, keep those communication channels open and healthy, provide psychological safety to employees to open up, and build connections that surpass hierarchies and functions.