Democratizing access to cutting-edge technology for safe and efficient commercial fleet management, LocoNav aims to make smooth fleet operations accessible to every business. The brains behind this startup, Vidit Jain and Shridhar Gupta, the co-founders, have planned a bigger picture in this niche and practically have envisioned taking over the globe. They spearhead scaling the business rapidly to become a hyper-growth market leader along with being capital efficient.
But how does LocoNav plan to thrive in the new world of work? How are they looking at managing the current talent war? People Matters recently interacted with the founders to find out LocoNav’s journey from pre-covid to post covid world and how they are ensuring the best EX for their people.
COVID-19 has been the biggest workplace transformer. Affecting not only the business but employee experience massively. How did you manage to thrive in the crisis? Tell us something about your best practices to enhance the employee experience.
At the core of our innovations lies a strong belief that a commercial vehicle is the atom of LocoNav. We center all of our efforts around this atom. As a business, we have witnessed exponential growth in the past few years with the relentless contribution of our employees, some of whom have been our cheerleaders since the very beginning. We feel a strong sense of responsibility towards each LocoNav employee. When COVID-19 struck, it brought us face to face with a situation never seen before. From innovating and brainstorming in our meeting rooms we suddenly found ourselves in our living rooms and bedrooms managing personal and professional lives.
But we couldn’t stop. Several commercial vehicles we serve are part of the backbone of the global economy providing essential services even when the world is locked down. We had to fundamentally change the way we work to continue to empower fleet operators and drivers across the globe. To achieve this, we took inspiration from our work culture motto - ThinkBeyond. With our tech expertise as an enabler, we made our workforce believe in the power of communication, resilience and empowered them with the right resources to mitigate this humanitarian crisis.
The pandemic required us to lead by example. Honest conversations with our people on what the situation was at hand laid the foundation for building a practical way forward. We initiated a consistent feedback loop with our teams that helped us plan remote working better and build trust.
Resilience - a core value at LocoNav - has always helped us tackle challenges and the pandemic was no exception. We built an empowering environment where our employees didn't feel the pressure of work or were overwhelmed. We enabled them to seamlessly adapt to the new norm while dealing with both professional and personal responsibilities. On the personal front, self-care was key. This included sessions on mental health, a vaccination drive, and fitness sessions. As a tech-oriented company, we also empowered the workforce with upskilling and learning opportunities like training programs for both hard skills and cognitive development. Our HR team actively worked to schedule engaging sessions between teams internally and with some credible external speakers and trainers including a cooking session with a leading chef! While no one knows when things will get back to normal, and what this ‘new normal’ will finally look like, we are forging ahead with the employee-first flexible work culture and a hybrid approach to workplace presence.
Corporates are talking about returning to offices largely now. As business leaders, what plans do you have in place?
Since we are expanding aggressively both in India and in global emerging markets, we are still trying to find the perfect hybrid approach between work from anywhere and work from the office. As all of this evolves, our utmost priority is the safety of our employees and their families. We are cognizant that some roles and teams have now become forever remote and/or hybrid. To serve our people we will keep evolving systems and policies with employee safety and convenience at the heart of everything and also introduce effective communication tools internally.
We currently have a hybrid model in place. Depending on the role and the team structure, this model has been carefully designed to ensure that all Covid safety norms are being followed. The hybrid approach has been applied to hiring as well. For instance, technology or marketing teams based in Delhi-NCR and Bangalore have access to the office, but others can work remotely, should they choose to. We remain flexible in our approach, with the guiding principle being to put the physical and emotional safety of our people above all else.
Fixing the new talent management equation is easier said than done. What do you think are some of the broken links that need to be addressed?
In the aftermath of the pandemic, employee experience has become even more crucial to the growth of the company. As a core tech business operating in the B2B space, we realized pretty soon that we would have to think and go beyond to build an enriching experience for our employees. For us, a potential employee is not just someone with great technical skills but one who lives by similar values. We strongly believe that such candidates pay long-term dividends in terms of retention and business growth.
Companies and recruiters often seek ‘perfect candidates’ who tick right on every box from experience to skills. We don’t believe in this concept and term. In a dynamic industry like ours, it is crucial to learn on the go. We look for candidates who show a willingness to learn and grow with us - hiring as much for attitude as we do for aptitude. On-the-job development and education are essential to employee experience. The employee evaluates the ROI as much as an employer does. Coaching, opportunities for upskilling, and timely feedback are intrinsic motivators and help build trust.
It is also crucial to embrace the fact that even the best of your employees who have had the most amazing experience would want to explore something new. In that case, the parting experience should be as good as the recruiting experience. Remember that once you create an advocate for the brand, it will always work in your favor to cultivate them whether they exist in the organization or not.
What could be the big differentiators for companies to win the talent war in the aftermath of ‘The Great Resignation’? With the current crisis reinforcing the value of human capital, how can talent leaders and business leaders up their game to help companies head off the exodus of talent? Any specific strategies you are currently working on to retain top talent?
“The Great Resignation” has definitely gained steam in the aftermath of the pandemic but we believe that the companies have been fighting the talent war since forever. Businesses across industries have seen the workforce quit their existing jobs due to various reasons, be it not being able to adapt to the work from home culture, finding time for family, or as basic as a change in priorities.
We are inculcating our philosophy of ThinkBeyond in every aspect of employee experience to retain talent:
- Empowerment: As a company, we lend an attentive ear to all amazing ideas, concerns, and feedback. We encourage our team members to cultivate an open and transparent communication channel within the workforce so that we can drive in maximum productivity and positivity possible. We motivate our people to think out of the box and take ownership of all amazing ideas they come up with.
- Drive on ground impact: It's not always about the compensation or benefits. Employees are motivated to build on-ground impact and drive positive change in the lives of people. We enable that with our vision of democratizing access to fleet-tech in emerging and high-growth markets. We help our workforce believe in that vision and be part of this change.
- Two-way feedback: We ensure that our employees are constantly sharing their feelings and feedback to be able to relay support in time. Everyone is going through a tough time and it is important that companies showcase some compassion and figure out the best way to support their workforce.
- Validation: Employees need to feel validated and recognized. One of the major reasons people seek out alternative places is not getting appreciated for their efforts. Constructive criticism and learning opportunities further make them feel that the employer is interested in their growth.
- Automation: Automation in our hiring process has helped us make more consistent hiring decisions and helped remove variables that are not predictive for job performance. It also helped our potential hires to enjoy a seamless hiring process. It reduced our overall time to hire and helped make faster decisions and the candidates didn’t have to wait for long for a hiring decision.
How do you see talent management space shaping up in the next 2 years? What plans do you have for LocoNav?
The ecosystem is very dynamic right now. As organizations and employees adjust to the new normal, talent management and employee experience will see rapid changes. Conversations on themes like mental and financial health will become more prominent. There is increased enmeshing with the personal lives of employees and more use cases have come to the forefront. This has given employers a better understanding of the psyche of their employees and actionable insights to make their experience better.
Up until now, organizations steered clear of commenting or participating in social or political issues. However, employees are now looking for workplaces that align with their values. They want their workplaces and leaders to lead by example and act with real impact on society.
We will also see more gender inclusivity in the workspace. This is a company priority for us as we scale across the globe. Flexible work arrangements and hybrid work models will further boost this trend.