Article: Practices that Wow! InMobi's innovative people practices

Strategic HR

Practices that Wow! InMobi's innovative people practices

Here's a sneak peek into what prompted InMobi to create innovative people practices and what sets the company apart from the rest
Practices that Wow! InMobi's innovative people practices

All practices and programs came into being through the culture itself. Culture has become the core of our company.


Truly growing your people comes with a realization that you need great people programs to support their growth


InMobi was recently declared as one of the most innovative companies in India, and so were its people practices, which are disruptive, game changing and could potentially set a tone for what is believed to be the new face of HR!

Building a self-sustaining organization

Every organization, big or small, needs to manage its people – its core. Understanding that and closing the current vs. future skill gap required innovative solutions including a revisit to the practices to overcome challenges ahead. InMobi experimented with some extraordinary and counter-intuitive people policies in order to engage its employees and grow with them. InMobi witnessed a spurt in growth in 2012-13 where its headcount rose from a mere 200 to 900 employees. Managing such talent was not easy as such a sudden spurt in growth was unforeseen. The need to understand, differentiate and address concerns of hiring, managing performance, providing careers and learning, led us to investigate and relook at our policies and practices. There was a need to build a culture, a vision supported by deep-rooted values that was built on a solid foundation and which resonated and amplified those values. We began to invest and build a strong, unique and colorful culture that resonated with the organization and its values. We wanted to create an organization in which employees knew what they had to do without any ‘handbook’ given to them and without demarcated lines or politics lurking around. All practices and programs came into being through the culture itself. Our culture became the core of our company.

People at the center

Every HR function in every company wants its programs to matter to its people, and they want their people to be genuinely proud of the company and its people programs. At InMobi too, the design of every people program starts with this belief. Every program that is shaped stands on two thoughts — Give employees what they love and what they will love! At InMobi, we believe that both these thoughts are equally important while designing or communicating any program for people, hence we ensure to keep that in mind while we put on our thinking hats. It’s because of this unique lens that all our programs have a hint of surprise and special ‘wow factor’ in them. Additionally, no program passes muster if it does not address our current people demographics and the expected shape of our demographics in future.

Innovation that matters

When any program is created at InMobi, we know that it will have a shelf life. The team assesses the health of people programs through usage patterns and qualitative fact finding every six months. When we gun for innovation, we don’t innovate for the sake of innovating, but for it to matter to our people and our business. Considering that no program lasts forever, we at least make sure that everything we create matters and resonate with our people at a deep level. Innovation in HR programs, policies and practices is not a common phenomenon. There are challenges of budgets, requirements of proving a return on investment, missing buy-in from management and of non-existent executive sponsorship. More often than not, it is simply lack of courage to try things that are different, away from what the stalwarts in the industry practice.

At InMobi, we adopt a fresh perspective for all our initiatives. For example, when we see benchmarks, we question why everyone is doing something. Is it herd mentality (playing safe)? Or it is because it’s mandated? We stretch the possibilities of what can be. With a supportive leadership that believes that every employee can grow 10X if people practices and culture enable them to. We also communicate with people internally and externally who give their views, validate our beliefs and challenge our opinions. For us, such interactions provide us with unique thoughts that shape our thinking and design.

Unique and special by design

Creating this unique value is very much like creating a product, and we apply product management and marketing concepts when designing or communicating to our people. Be it the product features we design, or the compatibility of these features with our culture, or the marketing of this product to our internal and external audience to get their buy-in and appreciation, each of them follows a similar process as to the design of our product for business. Alongside our thinking and creation, we are constantly learning; looking up new research, getting inspired by the wealth of information in fields like sociology, interpersonal neurobiology and behavioral economics. For our people practices, we rely on already conducted researchwhich supports our values and culture.

Creating magic and communicating it

Most of what we do can be done by any company, if it resonates with their culture. Here’s a list that we’ve been inspired to create.

• Employees don’t need their supervisor’s approval for up to six days of leave - which is strongly in line with our values of ‘Enjoying Freedom with Responsibility’.

• Everybody gets a 100 per cent bonus (except the sales team, which could get more or less depending on performance) - In line with our compensation philosophy, that there is no limit to how much you can stretch yourself. A cap on Variable pay structure must not define that.

• Conventional performance appraisal systems that include ranking, force fitting a normal distribution, goal sheets have been eliminated. The focus is now on conversations - how to fuel growth in the future, not assess performance of the past.

• There is no international travel expense policy; we have guidelines to assist our people with decision making.

• Employees get $800 annually as a ‘learning wallet’ which they can utilize to do anything — professionally, master new technologies, learn new skill set or then utilize the same personally for cooking classes or learning a new language.

• Everybody gets $200 every year to change their handsets.

• When anyone wants to quit and start a new venture, the company does everything they possibly can to support them. So instead of taking their access card away when they quit, InMobi is happy offering them free office space, allowing them to intermingle, brainstorm with their ex-colleagues and even eat the free food that a well-equipped cafeteria serves round the clock.

• If employees refer bright talent for recruitment, they would get exciting experiences such as a tour for two in Europe, Scuba Diving in the Andaman as a reward.

Innovation inspired by research

Here is a sneak peek into some of the InMobi people practices and the research that backs it. 

Programs Description Innovation Inspired by Research Benefit to InMobi
Learning Wallet

InMobians get USD 800 annually as a 'learning wallet' which they can utilize to do anything — grow professionally and personally. 

Compliance is highest when self-initiated. This is money well spent.

A learning organization
Bridge Opportunities

InMobians take up internships in the company in other functions, alongside their normal duties and role. So someone in Technology can learn about Sales or Finance or HR or Product Management.

The best way to break up silos is to get an appreciation of what others do, by doing it first-hand.

A connected organization
Referral Rewards

InMobi provides excellent experiences like trips to Europe for 2, Royal Enfield bikes, Cage diving with sharks in South Africa, just to name a few.

People say they want cash, when what satisfies them is a memorable ultra-extraordinary experience.

Increase in cultural fit, non-existent agency hiring.

Maternity Leaves 6 months of paid leave that helps our women employees get back to work in a staggered manner - 4 months of paid leave, next month half day at full pay, and the 6th month, half day in office and work from home for the remaining half. To support a change, start by making changes slowly but definitely. Women in Tech
Leave policy Auto approval of leave if the requested period is less than 6 days Your actions should match your words. Amplifies our values.
Live Your Potential InMobians get first access to any new roles in the company and can apply to a new role if they have spent 12 months in their current role. Value your people by putting them in control of their career choices. 10% of positions get closed through internal movements
InMobi Promise Harley Davidson, Volkswagen car or DeBeers diamonds when employees complete 3 years with the company  People who thrive in a startup that's growing exponentially are performers; else they wouldn't still be around.  A performance reward that also serves to attract and retain.


Every day is a new day and we go about thinking, designing, creating programs that resonate with our culture and our playground. We are inspired to leave a mark and go the distance to make our programs memorable.

At InMobi, we know that truly growing your people comes with a realization that you need great people programs to support their growth. While our innovation engine keeps chugging; we still strive to be the planet’s most innovative company for its people practices.


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Topics: Strategic HR, #BestPractices

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