We talk with Subhankar Ghose, Chief People Officer at Zoom Insurance Brokers Pvt Ltd about Employee Engagement and best practices.
Rajarshi: Hello everyone, this is Rajarshi here from GroSum, we welcome you to one of the episodes of GroSum TopTalk. To begin with, we appreciate the support that we’ve got for GroSum, all the influencers sharing the insights people commenting on it. That is why we value TopTalk a lot. It becomes a curated center of great learning for everybody. We plan to build up a pile of resources, which helps people in Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture. And with me today, I have my guest Mr.Subhankar Ghose, Chief People Officer at Zoom Insurance Pvt. Ltd. He is a speaker, writer, singer and a rally driver.
Subhankar: Thank you so much Rajarshi for inviting to this podcast. It’s really interesting to share the knowledge and experience.
Rajarshi: So what does the term Employee Engagement mean to you?
Subhankar: Rajarshi, Engagement to me is very much linked to the performance of the employee. You can actually understand how engaged the employee is by understanding how well he is able to fulfill the key responsible areas, which he has been given whether, at the time of joining, or maybe whether it is at the time of maybe the starting of the appraisal cycle. So if the person is able to keep on track and able to perform and do some value addition for himself, department and the organization, you can absolutely be sure that the employee is engaged with the company and he is able to understand the objective of the organization, and he is also able to understand that how the objective of the organization is also able to fulfil his personal requirements. Because ultimately there are a lot of things which we talk about, like your culture of the organization, your peer network, how well the people around you are cooperating and they are able to work in a collaborative environment. We also talk about maybe people who are supervising you, how good they are, whether they are able to take care of the people are not. And the same time, whether you know, you in competition to the competitors which you have in the market, what are the Unique Selling Points(USP), benefits you are giving, which is giving you an edge over the other competitors. So there’s a lot of things which we talk about, but ultimately, what I understand is that if the organization, if the board of directors, if the top management is clear about their own objectives, what they want, and if they’re able to translate the same thing from top to bottom and people are able to understand that objective, the company’s main objectives, like for example, the company is sitting at 50 crores in revenue and the company is targeting at 150 crores so they are almost 3 times targeting maybe in three to five years. If each and every employee understands what this is and how it is going to get achieved and if the leaders downline are able to translate these management objectives to them and if people are able to help the organization by creating a value addition and each and every employees’ to this growth, I’m sure that the organization, the employees, will be completely engaged. It’s completely performance linked. When people are not able to translate these objectives clearly to maybe the lowest rank which is there in the organization, the objective is not met. So, it’s very easy to say that the low level or the people who are at the junior most level they are not able to perform and the organization is not able to achieve the objectives. But I see the other way round, I see that how well the top management is able to download it to the next level and how that next level is going to a pass on to the next level without any loss in the communication. Because what happens is that when the communication flows from top to bottom, there are a lot of things which is diluted, which gets maybe lost in the communication channel. And ultimately, when is being received by the junior management guy, it is something absolutely different there, which is what happens is that that person starts feeling that’s okay. I’m working in an organization, which is not going to give anything to me. So I just better just past time and maybe the moment, if I get the better opportunity, I will move from here to some other organization. Most Of the time I’ve seen that those organizations who are very clear in their KRAs, who are very clear in defining their KPIs, I know that out of maybe four or five, or six or seven goals, which you have listed in your KRAs, maybe everything you cannot quantify, but the art of a good leader or the art of a good management, if to make the goal as much as objective as possible. So that when you are actually doing the appraisal, when you are giving a feedback back to the employee, you are able to give a picture that if you are getting a promotion, you’re getting an increment, or if you’re getting a bonus, why you are getting it. And if you are not getting it, why you are not getting. Most of the times I have seen in the organization that the communication between the leaders and the reportee, the people who are actually being mapped to the leader, the communication is not very transparent. So there’s a lot of ambiguity and because of that, what happens, the person loses the trust. It is something like staying in a family when you work when you actually say in a family, what happens if you have got maybe two kids? One of the kids is, is supporting the family a lot like bringing some items of the markets, or maybe some food, or maybe keeping the house in order. So what happens? The parent generally gives more responsibility to that child and when that child gets a reward from the parents, maybe in kind of money or any property or anything. He tries to do more. It’s basically is a two-way process.
Rajarshi: That is an interesting analogy you made. Because I think, what companies really suffer is that they can do this for 10 or 15 employees in your first company which is more of a startup. But the moment you move to a bigger organization, where you need to have 50 employees, the CEO can drill down the vision to 50 employees but what about the 51st employee. They might have a different journey, they might have a better office to look. The 51st employee might not understand the struggle, which initially the company went through. I think there is the main challenge. It’s a challenge. Coincidently, it’s very rare to see about measuring to constantly bring about. It’s more of an HR thing that, more of numbers and measurable thing. The second question, which I really had and is that how will you measure Employee Engagement?
Subhankar: It’s a very good question Rajarshi. We often struggle a lot and the funny answers come up, some very funny.
Nowadays, when, we talk about HR we frequently use the term business partner. So, HR is no more an HR now. it is more like an organizational development person, or maybe people in the other departments. they are so much engrossed in their own work. Sales is doing their own sales work, marketing is doing their own promotional work, finance is doing their own financial transaction and other things, taxation, and other things.
So, every department is actually engaged in some work or the other, even HR is also doing, but HR, I feel they still have a lot of time to actually think through and on behalf of the management, do all these things in the form of a project and guide the management in the correct way. HR can actually dive down, understand the purpose of the organization and report it correctly to the top management. If they are able to do this, they can really create an impression in the minds of the board of directors. Most of the time you might have seen there are very few HR who have gone to the level of the CEO or a director or who have been inducted into the board. The biggest reason why you know, because very few HR are there who can actually deal well with the business. They want to be only doing, hiring, performing whatever the functions of HR, but never think from an angle of a business leader.
The most important thing is that what is your retention? How many people now are not moving out of the system? Number two is how frequently the people are getting promoted in the system, or getting into new roles or jobs or responsibilities. These two factors are very, very important, which will actually give a clear picture.
So what I feel is that performance management and attrition, obviously, these are the two factors, this can actually give a clear picture of the employee engagement in the system.
Rajarshi: I think I’m just gonna move to the next point, which is very important and put it in very context to you here. So, what makes a really effective Employee Engagement programme? We understand that we work in a fast-moving world right now. Millenials are taking more of the workplaces, and it’s more of everywhere articles are cropping how on to handle millennials.
Subhankar: Small things, if done properly can create a huge impact. So talking about my current organization, our organization still fall into a kind of a mid-size organization, trying to become something someone big. We have a games room in our company and we have been very clear to people that whenever you feel lethargic whenever you want to do something different, you can just pick up a partner and play table tennis or some other activities.
You don’t need to do really big things. Like for example, we keep on doing an annual day event every year and for the last three years, we have been doing it in the Jim Corbett National park. We have been taking all the employees we haven’t left, although there might be some underperformers, we have actually taken everybody in that off-site. So in that offsite intentionally, we have not kept it loaded. Most of the organizations what they do is that they will have a kind of a conference or in heavy discussion and then followed by a gala party in the night.
But we have kept the annual day just for enjoyment and relaxing, and what we do is that we have made those room sharing and other activities, which we do like gaming activities with two, we have actually paired people who are not working with some other person, people who have got regular interaction we have not kept them in the same room. We have actually made a mix or match while doing the room sharing so that when they talk to them when they meet them in the room, they can share their experience.
What I feel is that nowadays in each and every HR should think from an angle of the management, if you’re not able to see from an angle of a management that what they want, and if we have not understood my advice to all the HRs is that please say it sometimes and spend some good hours with your management or senior leadership team and understand what do you want. If you’re able to understand you know what they want, you’ll be able to help them and also help the organization and also help the employees rise up the ladder. If you talk about you know what makes a really effective Employee Engagement program, it is very difficult to answer, but the only thing which I want to tell you in that first of all, you have to set house in order, if your HR team and is very much synced with the management and if their houses in order automatically all the practices, all the programs, all the engagement activities will be very, very good and it will fetch result also. And you can see that and you can measure that also. I hope I am able to give you some perspective.
Rajarshi: I think, it is very clear on the perspective that I think it’s very important to focus on small things right now, and it’s also important for the HR to understand the management perspective out there. Also most important, as you said, that you can like somebody is talking like the sales, like talk to them in their language to make them understand or probably to help them understand better, that is what I will look out. Any more on this more that you know what are the Employee Engagement strategies you think they are there, which can be used, especially for the new fast-moving world?
Subhankar: I have always focused on small things, and I recently what, we have done maybe it can be helpful to people, the kind of business you are into. you need to dive down into that.
So you need to understand your line of business as an HR. Once you understand the line of business, you need to understand that what are the activities which can give laurels to the employee? It can be a form of an education only like for example, in our insurance industry there a lot of certifications which are there, which create a lot of value for the employee and for the organization also.
Rajarshi: Any other things that you would like to recommend to HR leaders and to organizations on how to make sure that your employees work? Yeah, money works as a great motivator, but I think everybody is in looking at how to make sure that my employee has the same vision as my first or second employee had. And because primarily, they also talk to them.
Subhankar: With all due respect to my fellow colleagues, the HR leaders, very important. Your relationship or your understanding of the thought process of the management for all the HR leaders. And specifically, it’s very, very important and few of the things which I feel is that you’ll be able to understand it for six months on the very, very, very clear, maybe not within the day or not within the month. You need to understand that we all are humans not machines. So at times, we might work on the pressure and we might not behave the way we actually, we should behave So human psychologies is in the place, very important. So you cannot judge a person in the day, but at least in six months, you should be able to understand, you know a person or the management very well. So if You see that there is some gap or some answers that you have not been able to find out you should take some time you should sit with your management to understand where is the gap, where are you are lacking or why you are not able to understand. You should always be connected to them, you should always talk to them because just the fear of getting scolded or getting kicked out from the job. It’s not going to solve the purpose.
Rajarshi: Mr.Ghose we are very thankful that you took out time for us. It’s been more than an hour, you have put in your experience keeping it as crisp as possible, and I think the crux of the entire conversation we had has been that do actionable points as well as try to keep things as simple as possible. That is very important as you mentioned. Thank you so much for your time. We hope to engage more in this to be more in touch. And I hope that the people who listen to this will, take out some key points.
Subhankar: Thank you so much Rajarshi. I wish you all best and your company. You people are doing a great job and sharing knowledge it’s a very noble cause. Thank you so much.
About the interviewee
People Management Professional & IIMA Alumni with over 17 years of experience; has skilfully handled Talent Management, Compensation & Rewards, Organisation & Change Management and HR Business Partner roles. Brings in a can-do attitude which thrives on integrity and a result-oriented focused approach to creating a culture of excellence. His association with various Industry Bodies make him a sought-after HR leader and has also been awarded the “Most Influential HR Leader in India” by World HRD Congress.
About the host
Rajarshi Chakraborti is Customer Success Partner at GroSum. He helps HR leaders automate their companies Performance Management Process.
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