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Unlocking people’s potential key for BFSI players

Other than creating a culture of transparency, organisations must encourage and help employees transform ideas into reality, say experts

ET Bureau|
Sep 17, 2019, 07.45 AM IST
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For a while now, we have witnessed the BFSI industry being reshaped by the rapid adoption of digitisation and automation.

Multiple disruptive technologies along with artificial intelligence, machine-learning and data analytics are seen playing a transformative role in the industry. For instance, companies using artificial intelligence powered data science accelerators to solve complex business challenges. Banks are starting to adopt machine-learning models to forecast customer behaviour using existing data.

At the same time, the rise in competition from conventional and unconventional players, the arrival of innovative digital currencies and payments, an increasingly demanding customer base, and continuously evolving government regulations are some of the key forces to be reckoned with by the industry.

These forces raise questions of sustainability in terms of traditional business models and ways of working. This, in turn, creates an environment of apprehension for the workforce. Fortunately, the flip-side is that these forces are an opportunity for change: change in an organisation’s ways of working and gearing up for the future of work.

To prepare for this change, aside from relooking at their strategy and business model with a forward-thinking mindset, companies need to consider revisiting the way they manage their talent.

We spoke to some of the members of the India Leadership Council (ILC) to understand some of the ways in which they are preparing themselves for these shifts:

Culture of transparency
It all starts with clarity. To keep employees motivated through times of uncertainty, organisations need to create a culture of transparency and free-flow of information. Through this, employees can remain up-to-date on key trends in the industry and their implications on the organisation.

For example, at SREI Infrastructure Finance, employees have biweekly interactions with the top team with no set agenda. During these sessions, they are free to discuss any topic relevant to the organisation with the top management. Having multiple channels of communication that cut across all levels of the workforce can also help facilitate open discussions about change.

At Arcesium, for instance, pulse surveys are leveraged to not only monitor employee engagement levels, but results of these are translated into actionable changes in the organisation’s ways of working. Such practices help organisations build trust, engagement and buy-in from their employees.

Learning and unlearning
Every day, new players are entering the space, and internet and smartphone penetration is rising. This has improved the consumer’s access to high quality services. For instance, it is now possible to obtain a loan in half an hour.

Companies need to upskill their employees to understand their competition, stay proficient in the wide array of service channels, and meet the demands of varying demographics of consumers. Organisations across the industry see learning as a top priority.

For this, formal classroom trainings are no longer considered enough. A combination of multiple learning models, including digital learning and experiential learning, need to be leveraged. Capital India upskills its employees by exposing them to the latest technology and automation trends on a regular basis. Additionally, targeted training is conducted based on an understanding of employee needs.

Unlearning has also emerged as an important skill in an ever-changing marketplace. While it is a skill that can be taught, for it to sustain, a cultural shift is necessary. Organisations must empower their employees to forgo traditional ways of thinking and breaking down problems, and embrace divergent perspectives.

Cross-functional teams: No more silos
At Principal Global Services, events are conducted to stimulate mental diversity. Policies are framed to allow employees to move freely and work across verticals. The aim is to cut down the divide between verticals and prepare people for diverse jobs. Organisations are best suited for success in the future when they invest in creating networks of teams, rather than continuing to go down the path of traditional hierarchies. These networks are small cross-functional teams that operate on shared values, work towards common goals, employ transparent communication and prioritise skills and ability over hierarchical positions. Such teams can help companies stay agile and ahead of change. At SREI Infrastructure Finance, cross-functional teams are being developed in a structured manner to pursue opportunities.

These teams are given a broader mandate, with the freedom to develop insights by conducting internal research or taking an outside-in approach. They are coached by industry experts through an action learning programme and are empowered to get to the deep-end of a business opportunity.

Innovate and incubate
Creating a culture that encourages innovative thinking is one thing, but providing the right infrastructure for it is another. Organisations need to help employees translate their ideas into reality.

For example, at Arcesium, the “Explorer” initiative encourages employees to propose new technology projects they want to work on. Based on business or organisational impact, projects are sponsored by senior management. Free time is carved out of the employees’ everyday work to pursue these. Successful projects are sponsored by the company and are converted into full-time initiatives.

Employee well-being
A happy workforce is a productive workforce. Focusing on employee wellbeing, while an industry-agnostic trend, is one that will benefit those organisations which invest in it. Take Arcesium, for example. It caters to the wellbeing of its workforce by dedicating 25% of its infrastructure to recreational activities. The company has onsite specialists in health and fitness, yoga and nutrition. Additionally, employees have unlimited sick leaves — a move which has actually reduced the number of sick leaves taken across the organisation!

Chiratae Ventures, a VC firm, examines not just capital returns but also the purpose of the organisation and its broader impact on society, every time they look at investing in a venture. This contributes to employee wellbeing by ensuring that everyone at the firm operates with a sense of purpose.

Change starts at the top
Regardless of the nature of change taking place in the industry, it is up to top teams and senior leadership to pave the way for the future for employees, through leading by example. Demonstrating collaboration and transparent communication, and working with an enterprise mindset when taking decisions can go a long way in instilling the desired culture in the organisation. As industry continues to evolve, change is a guaranteed constant. Organisations have the opportunity to adapt to it and forge the path for sustainability, through setting the right culture.

Disclaimer Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTI LLP) has supported The Economic Time India Leadership Council (ET ILC) for this initiative on understanding the industry opinion of ILC members. The views carried in the article are of ILC members, in entirety, and not of DTTI LLP or ET.

(The ILC members who have contributed to this are: Ranvijay Lamba, country head, India, Arcesium; Amit Sahai Kulshreshtha, CEO, Capital India Finance; Sudhir Kumar Sethi, founder, chairman & MD, Chiratae Ventures; Kaushik Majumdar, MD, Principal Global Services; and Rakesh Kumar Bhutoria, CEO, SREI Infrastructure Finance.)

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