Article: Talent management strategy should integrate technology vertically and horizontally: Turtlemint’s Shanil Verma

Talent Acquisition

Talent management strategy should integrate technology vertically and horizontally: Turtlemint’s Shanil Verma

Discover how Turtlemint’s CHRO Shanil Verma leverages a powerful Employee Value Proposition to enhance talent acquisition, retention, and organisational growth.
Talent management strategy should integrate technology vertically and horizontally: Turtlemint’s Shanil Verma

Shanil Verma is the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at Turtlemint. With over 18 years of experience in HR, Shanil has delivered global assignments in India, the USA, Europe, South Korea, Middle East. He has been partnering in business growth and on several occasions scaled the organisation multi-fold in a short span of time. His previous stints include Mahindra Electric Mobility Ltd., Mahindra & Mahindra, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and more. 

Shanil is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and Symbiosis Centre for Management. He was recently recognised as the top 30 startup CHROs in India; previously he was also among the top 100 HR under 40. In this exclusive interview, he sheds light on the incredible people practices launched at Turtlemint and shares critical takeaways for HR leaders seeking to level up their talent management strategy.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

In the competitive fintech industry, talent acquisition and retention pose unique challenges. How does Turtlemint approach these challenges, and what strategies have you found most effective in attracting and retaining top talent?

Our talent strategy revolves around a robust Employee Value Proposition. Our employees benefit from top-tier reward practices, tailored learning programmes, an agile work culture, comprehensive career development opportunities and a healthy work-life balance. With an in-depth understanding of the economic, personal, and professional needs of our workforce, we have created industry-leading policies. 

We emphasise career development through quality projects and best-in-class L&D practices, offering educational opportunities and customised training. Fast-track career progression helps employees achieve their goals effectively. Over the years, we have seen people grow tremendously within the organisation through our holistic interventions. For example, our colleagues in sales who joined in front-line sales roles have gone on to take up roles as regional managers. Individuals hired at the middle managerial level are now operating as senior directors, engineering leads, technology heads, vice presidents, business heads, and even CXOs within 5-6 years. 

Our competitive compensation structure recognises and rewards contributions, fostering short-term, long-term, and wealth-creation opportunities across the hierarchy. Our commitment to social and cultural interventions ensures an excellent organisational culture, positively impacting productivity. 

We have just entered our 10th year of operations, and I am glad that more than 225 employees have spent 5+ years with the organisation, with many of them reaching as high as 7-9 years, in addition to this, 2/3rd of former employees expressed a desire to rejoin Turtlemint. 

These are powerful indicators of a healthy and conducive organisational culture. Our continuous focus on employee capability development and addressing workforce needs has enabled us to attract and retain top talent across India, driving our accelerated growth.

As your organisation continues to scale and expand operations, building a cohesive company culture across multiple offices can be a challenge. How do you foster a unified culture despite having offices across India, and what initiatives have been particularly successful in this regard?

In India, we are present in over 20 states with more than 75 offices and an international office in Dubai. We prioritise building a cohesive company culture as we scale operations across India. 

Uniformity and standardisation in infrastructure, resources, and engagement are core to fostering cohesiveness across all offices. High levels of employee engagement are fundamental to our approach, achieved through tech-enabled interactive sessions, town hall meetings, and feedback mechanisms to ensure every employee feels heard and valued. 

In the last financial year, we conducted over 100 events, including team-building activities, webinars, cross-functional projects, and cultural exchange programmes, further supporting our holistic connectivity. We leverage advanced communication platforms for real-time interaction and seamless information flow. We have created internal platforms to recognise the best performers across geographies using digital means. Managers receive specialised training to foster inclusive leadership and effectively support their teams. These initiatives collectively contribute to a unified and robust company culture, driving both employee satisfaction and organisational success.

Learning and development are crucial for employee growth and retention. Can you elaborate on the L&D programmes at Turtlemint and how they contribute to upskilling and career advancement for employees?

At Turtlemint, learning and development are integral to employee growth and retention. We place great emphasis on developing learning agility among our employees. Our holistic programme addresses diverse workforce needs, offering customised training for both technical and soft skills. Managers and business leaders undergo intensive executive coaching at a global level and attend prestigious institutions like IIMs and Ivy League colleges for leadership programmes and certifications. 

We have developed in-house customised leadership programmes, such as "First Time Manager," to cultivate future leaders through training and mentorship focused on digital dynamism and agile learning. 

We firmly believe in elevating the overall learning capabilities of our industry by providing training and assistance not only to internal stakeholders but also to external partners and advisors. Our in-house L&D team delivers impactful daily, weekly, and monthly sessions, training over 70,000 individuals in the last financial year, and supports the development of our 400,000+ advisors. Advanced study policies enable employees to pursue further education and certifications. 

Our in-house sales training module is one of the finest and most comprehensive in the industry, significantly boosting productivity and performance while catering to diverse organisational needs. 

Over the past year, we have observed a productivity improvement of more than 20%. 

Flexibility in work policies has become increasingly important, especially in attracting top talent. How have you adapted your work policies to meet the needs of its diverse workforce, and what impact has this flexibility had on employee satisfaction and retention?

Turtlemint is dedicated to fostering a healthy work-life balance, recognising its paramount importance for our success. Our people-centric policies ensure employee satisfaction and wellness, especially in the post-COVID-19 era. We've intensified our focus on flexibility, implementing policies that allow employees to manage their schedules based on task completion rather than rigid shifts, promoting ownership and empowerment. Our flexible reporting time policy across the organisation accommodates individual needs, reducing stress and fatigue.

Our 'Single Swipe In' policy, including field roles, streamlines attendance tracking, allowing employees to focus on their work without unnecessary administrative burdens. Additionally, our open 'work from home' and 'Work from Anywhere' policies for Technical and Product teams promote work-life balance by allowing employees to choose their work locations. 

In the past 12 months, more than 70% of the employees have utilised the benefits of these policies. Our commitment to employee well-being is reflected in consistently high Employee Net Promoter Scores (ENPS), ranking in the top quartile among surveys of over 250 organisations consistently for the past three years. We are proud of our achievements but remain dedicated to continually refining our people-centric policies to uphold the well-being and success of our organisation.

How do you see technology shaping the future of HR practices, particularly in fintech companies? How does Turtlemint leverage HR technology to streamline processes, enhance employee experience, and drive business outcomes?

Technology is profoundly shaping the future of HR practices, especially in fintech companies like ours, by streamlining processes, enhancing employee experiences, and driving business outcomes. We have integrated the entire hire-to-retire process into our HRMS portals, simplifying daily activities for our employees. 

Our in-house performance management application, 'NINJA,' provides real-time performance and productivity analysis, offering valuable insights that drive employee development and organisational efficiency. 

Additionally, we have implemented a ticketing system to ensure quick responses and have onboarded partners to streamline recruitment, ensuring we hire the best cultural fit.

With technological assistance, we have released over 6,000 offers and onboarded 5,000+ candidates in the past two financial years. 

Looking ahead, we plan to incorporate AI into various processes to make them more engaging and effective. This technological infusion empowers HR professionals to better connect with employees, addressing diverse needs and grievances more effectively, thereby improving our organisational culture. 

Drawing from your extensive experience in HR and leadership roles across various industries, what advice would you offer to other fintech companies looking to enhance their talent management strategies and build a strong organisational culture?

For sustainable growth and a robust organizational culture, fintech companies should prioritise a long-term perspective. Talent management strategy should include integrating technology vertically and horizontally into talent management processes, leveraging it for recruitment, skill assessment, performance evaluation, development, and more. 

Organisations must emphasise digital competency during hiring and further develop this competency to cultivate a highly productive workforce adaptable to dynamic technological advancements. This alignment of the overall talent strategy with the business model will be beneficial. Investing in continuous skill enhancement aligned with industry changes will enable higher capability development in the workforce, resulting in increased returns to stakeholders. I believe organisations embracing and promoting Learning Agility, can build a resilient, innovative, and adaptive workforce capable of thriving in an ever-changing business environment.

Organisations must look for opportunities to utilise tech to drive a human-centric approach to productivity, balancing technological advancement with personal development. This requires cultivating a culture of learning agility and trust, encouraging employees to embrace change and take risks. Establish transparent communication channels to provide visibility into career growth, enhancing employee engagement and retention, and building a resilient organisational culture conducive to long-term success.

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, Leadership, Skilling, HR Technology, #HRCommunity

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