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First 6 months are crucial

Dr. Sriharsha Achar, CHRO at Star Health Insurance, shares their winning retention strategy, innovation, benefits & DEI focus:

Ravi Lalwani: What improvements have you made in your financial and non-financial engagements with employees to improve retention?

Dr. Sriharsha Achar: Star Health & Allied Insurance (Star Health Insurance) is India’s largest retail health insurance company. We have a comprehensive strategy to ensure our employees remain loyal to us. We invest in career development programs, offer competitive compensation, compressed workweeks to enhance work-life balance and accommodate diverse employee needs. We also have employee recognition and rewards programs, and we promote employee well-being through comprehensive wellness initiatives. Recently, we moved to a brand new corporate office in Chennai, and our employees are thrilled with the new facilities, including a vibrant office, a gym, a creche, and a cafeteria that offers healthy food options with a great ambiance.

We have widened the scope of our health insurance coverage and now offer an attractive car loan policy. Our ESOP policy is applicable to many employees, not just a few, which helps us to attract and retain top talent by providing a competitive compensation package and a sense of ownership.

What new courses and training programs are you offering your employees to improve employee retention?

We are prioritizing the development of soft and human skills this year, particularly in the areas of Management and Leadership. Our aim is to ensure that all our employees are equipped with the most relevant skills required in today’s workplace. To achieve this, we have designed inhouse Management Development and Leadership Development programs that focus on improving strategic thinking and decision-making abilities, communication skills, cultivating leadership and motivation, and advanced problem-solving. Our goal is to empower our employees with the necessary skills to excel in their roles and drive the growth of our organization.

Freshers are often the most difficult to retain. What new initiatives have you taken to improve fresher retention?

The key to retaining freshers is to hire the right people and provide them with proper training. We believe that guiding and mentoring new employees for at least 6 months is crucial. We provide sufficient time for them to get familiar with the company culture and become productive.

To ensure that new employees fit into the system and start contributing to the company, we encourage mentoring and coaching by their peers and buddies. At Star Health, we cultivate a culture that emphasizes the importance of each employee’s role within the larger picture. We have found that employees tend to stay in environments where they feel valued.

What do you think will be the impact of Generative AI on employee retention?

In my opinion, Generative AI has the potential to replace employees who are unable to adapt to AI. It can increase efficiency, but it is necessary for employees to adapt and learn new skills. AI adoption presents new job opportunities and roles, which can help in retaining employees. However, resistance to change may lead to automation replacing human workers. Organizations need to communicate, train, and support their employees to navigate this shift effectively. Failure to do so could result in dissatisfaction and higher turnover rates.

In this ever-changing landscape, proactive upskilling is crucial to remain valuable. Ultimately, the impact on employee retention depends on how well businesses manage the transition and how effectively individuals embrace AI.

What steps have you made to improve DEI in your organization during the last 12 months?

We have made an effort to increase the number of women in our workforce, and we have achieved a healthy representation of 28%. Our next objective is to have a similar level of female representation at senior levels, and we are actively working towards achieving this goal within the next two years.

What new job roles has the company introduced in the last 12 month and what has been the success in attracting the desired candidates?

We have been mainly hiring for job roles in Data Science, Digital, Analytics, and InfoTech. Although there is no shortage of available talent, it comes at a cost. Hence, we have made significant investments in critical talent that will make a notable difference in our efforts in the aforementioned areas. We expect to see positive results within the next 2-3 years.

How effective has employee data analytics been? What problems has it helped solve and which problems does it not solve?

We at Star use Bucket Analysis to quickly retrieve solutions to numerical problems. This method is not applicable when emotions are intertwined with decision-making.

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