Fifteen companies have been recognized as the best places to work in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry by the Great Place to Work Institute. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Fifteen companies have been recognized as the best places to work in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry by the Great Place to Work Institute. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

The best workplaces to work bank upon the best talent

'Mint' reached out to the HR heads of the best workplaces in the financial industry to understand their hiring and retention policies and what makes them an attractive employment choice

In an era of rapid change in the banking and financial services business, 15 organizations have turned people challenges into their strength, creating a culture that is engaging and attractive for their employees. These 15 companies have been recognized as the best places to work in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry by the Great Place to Work Institute.

Mint reached out to the HR heads of these companies to understand their hiring and retention policies and what makes them an attractive employment choice in the BFSI sector. Edited excerpts:

Carol Furtado, head HR, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

Ujjivan’s 360 degree review process in hiring is a continuing practice. We have a well-structured process to ensure equal opportunity is given to candidates irrespective of their background or gender. More than 50% of hiring in Ujjivan materializes through an internal employee referral model.

As a part of a regular practice, candidates are requested to visit an Ujjivan branch and spend time with field staff before the job offer is rolled out. Ujjivan also has a well-structured induction programme that ensures that every new member of the Ujjivan family is given a detailed overview of the banking structures, the workplace, values & culture etc.

Our ‘Employee First’ policy is a core value of all employee engagement initiatives within the organization and all our HR (human resources) processes are aligned to this goal. Employee-based themes such as work-life balance, career development opportunities, focused training and development projects, and reward and recognition programmes have gained significance at Ujjivan.

Ujjivan also inducts a good percentage of fresh graduates every year through a well-planned management trainee programme, which moulds young professionals to take on challenging projects, thus enabling career progression and long-term association with Ujjivan.

Given the many malpractices that have surfaced of late in the financial services sector, how do you ensure integrity and ethical behaviour at your workplace?

Ujjivan has zero tolerance toward any kind of malpractice, especially if it concerns our customers. In the past, cases of severe misconduct have been dealt with by strict actions, even leading to termination of the delinquent employee in a few instances. Such value propositions have set a strong example for everyone in the organization to abide by. As a practice, all Ujjivan employees are required to read, sign and follow the organizational code of conduct every year.

Our induction programmes and orientation sessions are well-aligned to ensure that the code of conduct and policies are fully followed.

Mark E. Benjamin, chief human resource officer, American Express India

Given the many malpractices that have surfaced of late in the financial services sector, how do you ensure integrity and ethical behaviour at your workplace?

American Express is committed to doing right by our employees.

Leaders at American Express embody this on a day-to-day basis, and we have dedicated teams responsible for robust monitoring of end-to-end processes, which help identify any gaps or proactively detect any warranted behaviours that may occur.

In addition to this, the human resources team in partnership with leaders conducts reiterations of “dos & don’ts", “zero tolerance scenarios", “case study-based training" via innovative methods like street theatre and drama-based learning that resonate with our young workforce.

Is there a correlation between people practices and corporate performance?

Our new chief executive officer, Steve Squeri, has rolled out our framework for winning, which clearly calls out attracting and engaging talent as a key imperative. At the same time, we place a large focus on growing great leaders to lead us in to our next phase of growth.

In short, at American Express, human resources has long had the seat at the table.

Girish Kamath, head of human resources and administration, Aditya Birla Sun Life Asset Management

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

The last 3-4 years have witnessed an unprecedented growth in the asset management industry. This has resulted in various industry players undertaking business expansion, leading to a talent shortage. Historically, we have primarily met our talent needs by hiring laterally from others in the asset management industry. Secondary sources included other allied industries such as banking, broking and wealth management.

Given the talent crunch, over the last 3-plus years, our strategy has moved to hiring and grooming young talent from campuses. We are also experimenting with other models linked to government’s initiative of Skill India.

On the retention front, we have not found any need to alter our existing policies since they seem to be working well for us. We would be one of the very few organizations which has been able to successfully retain talent in the given environment.

What percentage of revenue will you be spending on training in 2018?

Approximately 0.6% of the revenues or about 1% of the PBT. Roughly this translates to ~3 learning days per employee.

Deepak Reddy, chief of human resources, administration and Group Learning Academy, Bajaj Finance

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

Like every organization, Bajaj Finance Ltd too believes that hiring fresh talent is of utmost importance. Every year, the company visits top management colleges across the country to hire sharp minds and young talent. The selection process is extremely rigorous and those who make the cut are absorbed into various business verticals across the company.

For retention, we are concentrating on our practice of “facilitating and driving growth" by empowering employees with various skill development programmes, enabling them to achieve business and personal growth. Our philosophy is to maintain complete transparency and allow employees to control their career path while we mentor them at every stage of their career. We have always nurtured each employee to be a part of the growth journey and cultivate them as the leaders of tomorrow.

Is there a correlation between people practices and corporate performance?

The people strategy in the organization is based on every employee feeling highly engaged and having a sense of pride in what they do. To enable this, the organization encourages innovation and empowers employees to feel for a common cause.

In order to improve delivery, Bajaj Finance follows a metrics-driven approach towards performance. The human resources team has metricized the performance of employees on a simple philosophy—things that can be measured can be improved. The performance of every employee is measured on a variety of parameters, each of which has measurable outputs.

Rinivas Vudumula, chief people officer, Bharat Financial Inclusion

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

In the talent market, we have stressed on improving our selection process’s reliability, and made significant efforts to improve predictability, especially as we have decentralized hiring—it happens at 150 places across the country. In the case of retention, our focus has been to retain top performers, who in turn will be inspiration for others to stay and thrive. We have been using a healthy mix of cash compensation, career growth and ESOPs (wealth creation and sharing), as well as meaningful differentiation based on performance as a means to drive performance and retention. We are happy that most people continue to see BFIL as the place to chase their dreams.

Given the many malpractices that have surfaced of late in the financial services sector, how do you ensure integrity and ethical behaviour at your workplace?

In an industry which continues to deal with significant amounts of cash, driving risk mitigation is a huge business opportunity with a direct impact on bottom line. Our approach to de-risking goes beyond employee behaviour, in which we make huge investments. We also make significant investments in processes, technology, business controls and operational policies to reduce risk of people gaming the system. The above are coupled with monitoring and analytics, which provide us assurance of operations.

Dr Sriharsha A. Achar, executive director and chief people officer, Apollo Munich Health Insurance

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

At Apollo Munich retention starts right from the application process to screening to choosing who to interview, who to test, who to probe more and then finally making a decision that ensures a culture fit. Apollo Munich is an employee-centric company. We revisit our policies each year based on inspiration from best practices across industries to bring in newness, and incorporate innovative ideas to become more employee-friendly. When we get feedback from our employees to add practices, we do it—like visiting homes of new hires, and sending welcome letters to the family once the candidate accepts the offer.

We have to look at this as a long-term game, and take steps to ensure that we are doing it right by making sure every employee is completely engaged with and part of the company’s ongoing success.

Given the many malpractices that have surfaced of late in the financial services sector, how do you ensure integrity and ethical behaviour at your workplace?

At Apollo Munich—manners matter. We encourage our people to be respectful and behave in a professional and courteous manner at all times. We endeavour to practice accountability, live and practice our C.A.R.E (Compassion, Accountability, Responsive, Expertise) principles and core values. Our rewards also revolve around C.A.R.E principles. Each one of us (irrespective of our level/grade) is measured on values and C.A.R.E principles in our appraisals as well.

Moonmoon Roy, general manager-human resources, Mahindra Rural Housing Finance

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

With the recent focus of the government on ushering a digital economy, our talent acquisition strategy has been tuned to focus on hiring for digital literacy.

Further, Mahindra Rural Housing Finance utilizes artificial intelligence to make more informed hiring decisions and leverages predictive analytics to determine which talent is at the highest risk of leaving their jobs/leaving the company. We then take concerted efforts to understand the underlying challenges to resolve the issue.

Is there a correlation between people practices and corporate performance?

Our customers hail from the economically weaker sections in rural India.

In order to best serve them, we have spread our roots deep to approximately 69,000 villages (over 630,000 live contracts).

The highly dispersed workforce necessitates people practices which create a sense of “One Big Family" as our mission is to transform Bharat, together. Further, our reward systems are tuned to reward improving our market reach and not over-selling to existing customers.

In this way, our people practices drive sustainable corporate performance.

Sunil Bijlani, head of human resources, Synchrony International Services

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

Our hiring and retention policies constantly evolve with the changing market environment to better serve our employees and potential employees.

At Synchrony, our values shape who we are and how we interact with our colleagues, partners, customers and communities. So, when it comes to hiring, we look for candidates who can thrive in our culture which emphasizes honesty, passion, drive, boldness, responsibility and caring. We look for people who value the importance of relationships and teamwork, and are not afraid to offer bold ideas.

Throughout the hiring process, we strive to ensure a cultural fit by emphasizing our mission and values in our recruitment materials, on our career sites, in ads, across social media and during the interview process.

We believe our philosophy differs from other companies because instead of chasing roles, we want employees to chase experiences. We encourage professional growth through empowerment and innovation. Synchrony offers employees multiple development opportunities to gain critical experiences through annual development programmes.

In our commitment to engagement, we also look at ways to use advanced technology and interaction across our communications, interactions and brand experiences. It is an investment articulated in our purpose, “to pioneer the future of financing" — in short, to innovate at all steps.

Our innovation success is created by collaboration, exemplified in our Innovation StationsTM—cooperative, technology-forward workspaces. Composed of dynamic, cross-functional teams, these spaces ensure we’re a market disruptor by focusing on new/emerging technologies and mobility, ideation techniques, data analytics and new product development.

We also promote empowerment and thrive on engagement because workplace collaboration and employee engagement are intertwined. We believe that having fun at work means employees will do their best work.

That’s why we’ve created a culture that supports our employees’ professional ambitions and their personal ones, too.

Lastly, showing a little gratitude at work is the simplest, yet most effective way to boost morale and promote a healthy culture. Our employees are our greatest asset, and we continually encourage and reward behaviours that help us maintain our high standards internally and externally through recognition programmes.

What percentage of your revenue will you be spending on training in 2018?

We are continually upskilling our workforce and training them both online and offline. We offer various exchange programmes, leadership courses, development programmes through critical experiences, such as our STEP (skills training for evolving professionals) programme, BLP (business leadership programme) and multiple knowledge-exchange sessions that are promoted by our various networks throughout the year.

Kavita Shrivastav, head of human resources, Piramal Finance

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

We are an agile organization; we constantly align our people practices with the dynamic environment. Our hiring process focuses on enabling strategic talent acquisition through technology and social media. All hires are not only assessed on cognitive ability but also on alignment with organization’s core values through psychometric assessment tools.

We offer our employees a thriving environment where they get challenging assignments and get the opportunity to do their best every day. Our talent management programmes are designed to build leadership capabilities.

Our people-friendly policies allow them to strike a balance between work and life.

Given the many malpractices that have surfaced of late in the financial services sector, how do you ensure integrity and ethical behaviour at your workplace?

We have thorough governance and compliance processes across each function within the organization. This is further reinforced through a lot of communication and awareness campaigns.

Shailesh Singh, director and chief people officer, Max Life Insurance

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

Our hiring strategy is designed to help us proactively resource in line with our business strategy. Our sourcing pools go beyond financial services sector.

We have a multi-pronged approach to meet our varied needs. Besides traditional approach to hiring such as referrals and consultants, we are actively leveraging social media, campus hiring and tailor-made programs to meet our talent requirements. Focus on diversity has resulted in improving our gender ratio. Our retention polices focus on creating a compelling employee value proposition. These include:

—Total rewards covering fixed, variable pay and long term incentives

—Growth opportunities including talent mobility and learning and development opportunities

—High-performance and values-driven culture … we are inclusive and promote meritocracy

—Coaching and mentoring at middle and senior levels

We have built experience maps for key roles that act as a compass for talent development initiatives. We are in the process of deploying a Max Life Leadership Success profile which will help us groom our employees for leadership roles at mid-management and senior roles.

Given the many malpractices that have surfaced of late in the financial services sector, how do you ensure integrity and ethical behaviour at your workplace?

Our vision and mission identifies six areas of differentiation including values-driven culture and corporate governance. We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to unethical practices. There are policies and procedures, both preventive and corrective, that ensure we practice what we preach. Mentioned below are ways by which Max Life promotes integrity and ethical behaviour:

—Celebration of Compliance Week annually to reinforce organizational stance

—New employee orientation, annual compliance certification, games, street plays and posters to promote ethical behaviour at workplace

—Policies such as business code of conduct, conflict of interest, whistle blower, anti-fraud to promote the right ecosystem

—Strong consequence management on negative sales behaviour

Sudhir Dhar, head of human resources, Motilal Oswal Financial Services

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

The challenge is how to get the right people on board and meet the targets at the same time. So we focus on a few things to hire the right people. It is important to understand the cultural fit of the candidate.

An employee, who is a good cultural fit, will work well in the existing workplace.

Behavioural interviewing is one of the tools which aids us to get the right fit and skills. Behavioural interviews give us an accuracy of 58%, and when complemented with psychometric assessment, the accuracy goes to 70%.

Secondly, a competency-based interview helps in consistently administering interviews to all employees.

It gives us insights into the expected behaviour of the individual in the workplace and preferred style of working. We also believe that a fair and consistent interview process will help in hiring the right candidate.

Now the question arises as to how we retain our employees? During their tenure in the organization, we identify the high potential employees, they are the illustrious group of individuals who are the rising stars in your organization.

We provide them the right ladder to climb the stairs towards their success. We put them through different development programs, and give them extensive coaching sessions.

So, to put it simply, we give them the career path, through small developments, but ensure consistency is taken care of.

We ensure that we inject in them the leadership skills required for the particular role. For employees who fall under the effective performer category, we focus on their development by providing a variety of assignments; train them with technical and soft skills; and enhance their knowledge from the top leaders of the industry.

As the employee grows they will be quite reluctant to adopt new things, posing a lot of questions before adapting to change, we have to answer and listen to questions and make sure they harmonize with the answers and the change.

We have built a platform where employees can share their ideas, suggestions and feedback. TING, our idea sharing tool, makes sure that the employees have someone listening to them, not letting their ideas, suggestions and feedback go in vain.

Do you benchmark your people policies within your industry or also look at companies in other sectors?

We benchmark our policies within the industry and with other companies outside the industry.

Some policies or practices from the other companies are adapted and we try to incorporate them within the existing policies, though all associates follow only one group level policy which has minor amendments as per different businesses.

That said, we don’t limit ourselves to best practices outside; we always love to explore new things which might not be the industry practice.

I feel you need to drive your culture and not industry culture, hence it is good to benchmark to industry or other sectors.

Rajesh Derhgawen, chief human resources officer, Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management Ltd

Rajesh Derhgawen, chief human resources officer, Reliance Nippon
Rajesh Derhgawen, chief human resources officer, Reliance Nippon

Given the many malpractices that have surfaced off late in the financial services sector, how do you ensure integrity and ethical behaviour at your workplace?

We do a strong background check to ensure that for every hiring we do a comprehensive end to end background check.We have managed to build a strong compliance culture that is engrained right from the first hour of the person joining, and reinforced via various leadership communications at regular intervals. There is also a whistle blower policy, reinforcement via process audits—regular internal and external audits and strong information security policy and process in places. We also believe in zero tolerance for any violations of code of ethics/compliance/risk management processes.

Do you benchmark your people policies within your industry or also look at companies in other sectors?

Yes. We partner with organizations like Great Place to Work, AON, CII and others to evaluate our competitive advantage on areas like people processes, culture, compensations among other things.

Vikramjeet Singh, chief human resources officer, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company

What percentage of your revenue will you be spending on training in 2018?

In the rapidly changing business world training has to be agile for employees and it has to be relevant as well as contextual. Understanding the scenario, we have moved away from the traditional methods of learning . Now with newer technologies and ever changing landscape, we believe in conducting trainings which are customized as per the unique learning needs of individuals at different stages of the year. This is also in tune with the geo-spread of our manpower.

We emphasize on learning inputs in combination with a customized delivery medium and learning style of an employee in order to deal with the training gaps. Some employees find mobile learning suitable, while for others gamification i.e. learning through simulation, game hour etc or classroom environments are more preferred. The amount that will be invested in imparting the training in the year to come will be guided by the learning needs as well as learning methodology.

Do you benchmark your people policies within your industry or also look at companies in other sectors?

To a certain level people policies for a specific industry are benchmarked, however, our approach has been to take the relevant references and bring the best policies on table, irrespective of the sector and platform we pick it from. The best part about people policies is that anything could be a point of good reference such as our society, families and the industry. We are always exploring the best examples, to offer the best culture and policies to our people. For example, traditionally formal attire is an essential for BFSI sector, but we introduced smart casuals policy for our employees with the overarching theme of Workforce for one and the response received was warm. Our aim is to create a repository of customized employee friendly policies which aid in building a great workplace to work and steer the organization to become the “Biggest & the Best".

Nikhil Save, head people development, Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd (MIBL)

Nikhil Save, head people development, Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd
Nikhil Save, head people development, Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

During the process of evaluation of prospective employees what we focus on is finding the employee with the right fit. Right fit not only in terms of skill sets, experience, etc. but also in terms of cultural fit. And this is what gives us a competitive edge at MIBL.

Team members who demonstrate attributes aligned with the company’s core values, ‘Vision, Mission’ have proved to be our most valuable assets, and hence these attributes form an important part of our selection criteria in our talent acquisition process. As far as retention is concerned, we work hard on creating and nurturing a culture that provides a positive employee experience.

Various People Practices ensure clear communication at regular intervals, transparency, clarity on what employees are expected to deliver, people empowerment. We also provide training to equip our team members to perform their best. We acknowledge and reward high performance and even have a system of handholding those who need that extra boost to explore individual potential. The trust and camaraderie that the culture engenders have gone a long way in increasing employee engagement and satisfaction.

Given the many malpractices that have surfaced off late in the financial services sector, how do you ensure integrity and ethical behaviour at your workplace?

At MIBL, we constantly reinforce the core values we stand for and the emphasis on integrity, good ethics through various means including continuous communication, and by management walking the talk. These softer aspects complement the stringent checks and controls we have in place. This has worked well for us as it has been our experience that team members, even in times of business pressure, do not succumb to the easy way out or compromise on the values we stand for.

Vinay Deshpande, Chief People Officer, Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Limited

In an era of rapid change in the financial services business, how have your hiring and retention policies changed?

“Being a rural NBFC, we find value in recruiting local talents as one of the capability building drivers at Mahindra Finance is to make local talents employable. However, there are some limitations such as the portability and mobility of such talents outside their comfort geographies. We have recognized this issue and worked around it effectively, because of which our attrition is not a strategic concern. Earlier employees who were recruited as homegrown graduates were internally developed to take up supervisory and managerial positions. But by analyzing the need of the hour where we require talent of higher caliber, we have revised our hiring policies in order to facilitate campus recruitment programs from local management institutes. The new blend of certified homegrown talent working in synergy with those recruited from local management campuses have worked in our favor."

Do you benchmark your people policies within your industry or also look at companies in other sectors?

“At Mahindra Finance, our people policies are based on 4 drivers - capability building, engagement, HR processes and culture. These drivers have acted as enablers of change along with our focus on continuous improvement, taking our people policies to the next level year after year. Our recognition as a Great Place to work is only one of such outcomes. We take pride in being the World’s first NBFC to be certified as PCMM level 5 in our People Processes by CMMI Institute, which is the highest level of Maturity. Other than these, we have also received many accolades on prominent competitive platforms for our capability building initiatives and global recognition for our Talent Management practices by Mahindra Group.

We do benchmark our practices and policies with other companies in order to understand what will precisely work for us. However, our real achievement is in the fact that we have created our own benchmark in the industry.“

What percentage of your revenue will you be spending on training in 2018?

“We don’t believe in being rigid on controlling the spend for our people development. However, our past trends show that we have contributed maximum of 5% of our total revenue for training."

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