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The Art of Retaining Top Talent

Anaahat Singh, Head of People Functions at Aviva India and Kiran Yadav, Chief People Officer at Canara HSBC Life Insurance, provide insights into their respective company’s initiatives to uplift employee engagement and improve retention:

Ravi Lalwani: What improvements has Aviva India made in its financial and non-financial engagements with employees to improve retention?

Anaahat Singh: To enhance both financial and non-financial engagement with employees and subsequently support long-term associations, we constantly come up with initiatives to promote comprehensive financial literacy and upskilling our workforce and have recently partnered with an application providing a one-stop solution for various financial planning needs for our employees. Additionally, we also have learning sessions with the Investment Team to support them in their financial investment goals. These sessions encompass topics such as long-term investment strategies and product information, ensuring that all employees have the necessary tools to make informed financial decisions.

Kiran Yadav: Employee attrition in the insurance industry is a significant concern, impacting organizational stability and productivity. High turnover of skilled professionals leads to increased recruitment costs and loss of valuable expertise. To address this issue, Canara HSBC Life is fostering a positive work culture, offering career development opportunities, and implementing competitive compensation packages. Investing in employee well-being, recognition programs, and continuous training has enhanced job satisfaction and retention. Competitive compensation and performance-based bonuses have been implemented, along with a continuous learning and enhancement plan that supports employees in continuing their education. Flexible compensation packages allow employees to choose benefits that suit their individual needs, including health insurance, retirement plans, and other perks.

A holistic approach is needed to achieve these goals. Recognition and appreciation programs have been implemented, and work-life balance integration is promoted through flexible working hours, remote work options, and family-friendly policies. Employee wellness programs focus on physical and mental health, and counseling services and wellness workshops are available. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are provided to support employees facing personal or professional challenges.

What new courses and training programs are you offering your employees that you expect will improve employee retention?

Anaahat Singh: Our focus on employee development includes the introduction of new courses and training programs aimed at bolstering deeper and stronger associations. Particularly, we have prioritized mid-leadership development by collaborating with specialized training institutes possessing profound industry expertise. Through these partnerships, we aim to nurture mid-managers, equipping them with the skills needed for effective leadership. Additionally, our employee education program is designed to empower our workforce with continuous learning opportunities.

Kiran Yadav: Training and learning initiatives are crucial in controlling attrition in organizations, particularly in the insurance sector. They enhance professional growth, job satisfaction, and engagement, reducing frustration and reducing the likelihood of leaving. Investing in training not only equips employees with the necessary skills but also creates a positive work environment, contributing to talent retention. Key actions include leadership development, career development workshops, mentorship programs, technical skills enhancement, and innovation and creativity training. Canara HSBC Life Insurance has implemented these programs to prepare employees for future roles, connect experienced employees with new ones, and provide training on effective mentorship and coaching techniques.

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

Anaahat Singh: Recognizing the unique challenge of retaining fresh talent, we have implemented a targeted onboarding program tailored specifically for new hires. This initiative aims to acclimatize newcomers to our organizational culture, product, systems, and processes, ensuring a seamless transition into their roles. By providing dedicated training on product knowledge and operational procedures, we aim to instill confidence and readiness for success among our newest team members.

Kiran Yadav: Fresher retention is crucial for the insurance industry, as it ensures a steady influx of young talent with fresh perspectives and adaptability. This fosters a skilled and dynamic workforce, essential for navigating the evolving landscape of insurance, driven by technological advancements and changing customer needs. Investing in the retention of young professionals helps build a sustainable talent pipeline, reduces recruitment costs, and ensures continuity of knowledge transfer within the organization.

Canara HSBC Life Insurance initiatives include structured onboarding programs, mentorship programs, skill development opportunities, feedback mechanisms, recognition and rewards, employee engagement initiatives, clear career paths, and transparent communication. These initiatives help build a sustainable talent pipeline, reduce recruitment costs, and enhance the industry’s long-term success and adaptability. By investing in these initiatives, organizations can build a sustainable talent pipeline and maintain a competitive edge in the insurance industry.

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

Anaahat Singh: The impact of Generative AI on employee retention is multifaceted and requires careful consideration. While AI technologies hold the potential to streamline processes, enhance productivity, and personalize employee experiences, their integration may also pose certain challenges. Ultimately, the successful implementation of Generative AI in the workplace hinges on strategic planning, effective change management, and a commitment to upskilling employees to adapt to evolving roles and responsibilities.

Kiran Yadav: Generative AI can be used to enhance employee learning and development, onboarding experiences, predictive analytics for employee engagement, customized career paths, automated feedback systems, work-life balance assistance, employee wellness programs, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. By analyzing individual employee skills, preferences, and learning styles, AI can generate personalized plans that enhance skill development and job satisfaction, contributing to employee retention. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide real-time assistance during the onboarding process, addressing queries and guiding new employees.

Canara HSBC Life Insurance uses predictive analytics to identify patterns and predict potential issues that may lead to employee disengagement or turnover, proactively addressing these issues to improve retention rates. Customized career paths can be suggested based on employee performance, skills, and preferences, providing a clear vision of their future and potentially increasing retention. Automated feedback systems can provide real-time insights into employee performance, contributing to professional growth and job satisfaction. Work-life balance assistance can help employees manage workloads more efficiently, preventing burnout and promoting a healthier work-life balance. Personalized wellness programs can be designed based on individual needs and preferences, contributing to a healthier and happier workforce. In conclusion, leveraging AI can significantly improve employee retention, job satisfaction, and overall organizational success.

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

Anaahat Singh: Over the past 12 months, significant strides have been made in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within our organization. We have achieved notable success in fostering gender diversity, particularly at the leadership level, earning recognition through prestigious awards. Moreover, we incentivize diversity through referral programs and prioritize employee safety and convenience by offering cab facilities for late-night travel.

Kiran Yadav: Canara HSBC Life is committed to improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as a strategic initiative. A diverse workforce fosters innovation, creativity, problem-solving, and decision-making, contributing to a more adaptable organization in the global landscape. Enhancing DEI has led to higher productivity and collaboration, with the company ranking as the best place to work for women employees.

Addressing DEI gaps is not just a short-term goal but an investment in the long-term sustainability of the organization. Leadership commitment is crucial in driving DEI initiatives, with top executives playing a crucial role in fostering a culture of inclusivity. Assessment and benchmarking of current diversity metrics are conducted to identify areas for improvement and set realistic goals. Diversity training programs promote awareness and understanding of diversity issues, including educating employees on unconscious biases and fostering an inclusive mindset. Recruitment and hiring practices are reviewed and potentially revised to eliminate biases and ensure a diverse pool of candidates is considered for all roles. Inclusive policies and practices, such as flexible work arrangements for returning mothers, financial support for nannies, accommodation for disabilities, and non-discriminatory policies, are developed and promoted.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) provide a platform for employees to connect and contribute to DEI initiatives. Regular communication through the DEI newsletter and internal communications keeps employees informed and engaged. Equal pay audits address gender and racial pay gaps. Transparent reporting on diversity metrics and progress toward DEI goals demonstrates accountability

and fosters a culture of openness. Continuous evaluation and adjustment are made based on feedback and changing organizational needs.

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

Anaahat Singh: In response to evolving industry demands, we have introduced new job roles over the past year to strengthen our digital capabilities, operational efficiency, and risk management. These roles, which span across operations, technology, and risk management, have attracted top talent from around the globe.

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

Anaahat Singh: Employee data analytics has proven to be a valuable tool in driving strategic decision-making and addressing various challenges within our organization. By leveraging data insights from sources such as employee feedback surveys, exit analyses, and skip-level discussions, we have been able to identify areas for improvement, enhance employee engagement, and mitigate iteration risks. However, it’s important to acknowledge that while data analytics can provide valuable insights, it does not inherently solve all organizational problems and must be complemented by thoughtful interpretation and action.

Kiran Yadav: AI in the insurance sector has several strengths, including efficient data processing, risk assessment, and automation, which can streamline operations and improve customer experiences. Machine learning algorithms can analyze vast datasets, enabling more accurate underwriting and fraud detection. However, weaknesses include the potential for biased decision-making and the lack of a human touch, which may impact customer satisfaction in complex scenarios. Striking a balance between AI’s strengths and human intervention is crucial to harness its benefits while mitigating its limitations.

Canara HSBC Life uses AI for talent acquisition and recruitment, employee retention, performance management, workforce planning, diversity and inclusion, training and development, and employee engagement. Analytics can help identify successful recruitment channels, optimize job descriptions, and reduce time-to-fill positions. Predictive analytics can help forecast future talent needs based on historical data and business trends. Additionally, data analytics can help identify skill gaps, create customized training programs, and assess the impact of training initiatives on employee performance.

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