General Insurance Premiums Unlikely to Rise in New Year – Shilpy Sinha Mumbai:

Premiums not likely to harden as international reinsurance rates have cooled owing to liquidity
General insurance premiums are unlikely to harden in the New Year despite record high catastrophe claims in India in 2014, as reinsurance rates have cooled internationally because of a flood of liquidity in the market and fewer calamities, say industry executives.
“International rates have softened by 10-20% during the treaties (reinsurance contracts) that have come up for renewals now,“ said a senior executive of state-run General Insurance Corp. “There are claims in the aviation sector but not big enough to harden the rates,“ this person added.
“This year has been good because of lower claims (globally),“ GIC chairman AK Roy agreed.
The loss to insurers due to natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2014 was 25% lower than in 2013, said a senior executive at a private-sector general insurer.
While there were fewer catastrophe claims globally, the situation was different in India. The Kashmir floods in September and October’s Cyclone Hud hud on the east coast had led to a higher number of claims in the local market. But the impact of that on premiums will be offset by the lower international rates, say the executives. Reinsurance capacity in the international market has increased with the entry of new players and that should also help keep the rates low, said KK Mishra, chief executive of Tata AIG General Insurance. Another factor is the liqobal reinsurance uidity. Big global reinsurance firms have raised around $14 billion by issuing catastrophe bonds in 2014. Absence of large claims, along with excess capital, also means lower premiums.
Global reinsurers such as Munich Re and Swiss Re renew two thirds of their annual treaties with various non-life insurers in January, and the rest in April and July. In the Asia-Pacific, including India, renewals are typically effective from April 1.
Treaty reinsurance is reinsurance of insured exposures, which are accepted within the terms of the reinsurance contract, called treaty. These are of two kinds proportional and non-proportional. In proportional treaty, reinsurers pay for losses in the same proportion as the amount of the premium they receive, while in non-proportional arrangement, they pay an amount greater than the threshold. Insurance premiums in India depend on the reinsurance rates offered by General Insurance Corp and global reinsurance companies.

Source : The Economic Times
Date : 31st Dec 2014

Corporate India Goes Full Steam to Improve Gender Diversity

FAIR POWER ALL THE WAY While companies are increasingly looking at having more women representation in boardrooms, they are also including men in gender-diversity policies to create a more balanced leadership at workplace

India Inc has aggressively pushed to close the gender gap and improve diversity this year, not because it is the thing to do, but because having women across management levels makes business sense.

Also, a mandate from the new Company Law and Sebi to have at least one woman on board has prompted companies to look for women representation in boardrooms and create a pipeline of women at senior levels.

“For gender diversity, while the improvements will be systemic, the acceptance will be personal,“ says Nishchae Suri, partner and head of people and change practice, KPMG in India.While culture and values at an organisational level will drive group actions for fostering gender diversity, Suri foresees an increase in the number of senior leaders who will own the agenda, narrate their experiences and champion tangible action.

Similarly, the top five gender diversity trends forecast for 2015 include an increase in the number of women hires at every level, inclusion of men in gender policies, arresting the leaking pipeline of women leaders, raising awareness of unconscious biases, and focus on CEO-led or government-mandated gender strategy.

Numbers To Grow

With an increasing percentage of women in its customer mix, telecommunications company Vodafone will hire more women across levels and functions -general management, sales, marketing, finance, technology, legal and human resources, distribution and retail, enterprise and mobile banking.

“Over the past two years we focused intensely on becoming gender balanced and moved from having 14% women in our workforce to 20% today. This focus will continue in 2015,“ says Ashok Ramchandran, director, HR, Vodafone India. The company’s Discover Graduate programme, under which it hires from business schools and technology institutes, focuses on 50% women hires at the entry-level. This, too, will continue, he adds.

At the Tata Group, the Group Executive Council is committed to double the count of women to over 300,000 from the existing 115,000 in the 540,000-strong workforce. The group has also stated its objective to develop 1,000 women leaders from this workforce.

“It’s a two-step process that looks to counter the unconscious bias as well as policy shortfalls,“ says Richa Tripathi, chief human resource officer, Tata Teleservices.

Programmes like Tata Second Career Internship -a career transition management programme for women professionals -should see more replication at individual companies, she adds. The programme is for women who have taken a break of six months or more and wish to reenter the professional space. Such women get an opportunity to take on flexi-hour assignments with various Tata Group companies.

Male Advocacy

The New Year will also see more companies including men in gender-diversity policies, a step forward from gender-only to genderneutral policies at the workplace.

“When you talk `gender’, you are being exclusive. But if you position it as a `balanced leadership’ pro gramme, you envelop the entire employee base,“ says Gayathri Ramamurthy, lead, diversity and inclusion, Capgemini India.

Inclusion of men in furthering the cause of women will see the emergence of male sponsors or mentors for the cause of womn en at the workplace, home and society, says Nishchae Suri, party ner and head of people and change practice. and change practice.

Srimathi Shivashankar, assistant vice-president, diversity and sustainability, HCL Technologies, agrees. “It is impossible to foster a work environment where women are respected and recognised without considering the viewpoints and outlook of the gender working beside them,“ she says.

Arresting The Leaking Pipeline

Companies will increasingly aim to arrest the leaking pipeline of women at every level, by strengthening policies that support women in critical life stages of pregnancy and childcare.

The life stages women face during the ages of 28 to 40 will need proactive corporate support, says Ramamurthy. “While companies are more sensitised today, organisational dynamics bring in natural challenges as women handle the dual roles of work and home,“ she adds.

Vodafone India, through its Pathways to Success career series, helps women in the middle management to focus on their careers, make the right choices in sync with their life stages, be aware of the glass ceiling and negotiate their way through, and build a personal brand.

Technology has arrested the loss of talent amongst the women workforce, and the trend will be leveraged further in the coming year.

“Organisations have started recognising the productivity and cost benefits of using digital channels, which have opened up opportunities for both the genders in several industries,“ says Manoj Biswas, managing director, human resources, Accenture India. Biswas cites the example of consulting, wherein technology allows young mothers to mitigate challenges of travel and meet demands of a client-centric role.

Reskilling women to enable them to return to work after sabbaticals and other personal commitments will also be crucial. “The focus here is to work on the 50,000 women who quit jobs for personal reasons in the information technology industry and bring this to a much lower count,“ says Shivashankar.

CEO-led Gender Strategy

For a diversity strategy to succeed over the long-term, organisations must accept it’s a complex issue, debate and test the business case for it, and develop a CEO-led communications platform to set the agenda. People listen to “what CEOs say, what we prioritise, how we act and what we measure“, says Raj Raghavan, director, human resources, Amazon India.

Unconscious Biases Capgemini this year used theatre as a tool to break into behavioural bias and create awareness. “We have found, through experience, project managers who have been sensitised to unconscious bias becoming more empathetic; independent of gender of the manager,“ says Ramamurthy.

The aim is to root it out from source.“Go looking for bias. Hunt it out without expecting punishment. You’ll get insights and more value,“ says Raghavan of Amazon India.

Source: The Economic Times ( Mumbai)

Date: 30th December,2014

Cos Walk Thin Edge in Talent Retention

FINE LINE Organisations have to deftly balance strategies to retain top performers and give poor performers a chance to improve. They peg high performers at a higher percentile, mentor employees and give those at the lowest end a gentle nudge

Organisations are discovering a twin talent challenge in a competitive business environment. While they need to retain top talent, they also need to let go of consistently poor performers. In doing so, they often walk a thin line -are they letting go of the right set of people?
HCL Technologies uses starkly differentiated compensation strategies to separate good talent from the rest.

Top performers get more than 100% performance bonuses provided company targets are met. Low performers get a “claw-back“ incentive -payouts for increasing performance ratings year on year. In spite of all these efforts, if employees still continue to lag behind, they are encouraged to look for opportunities outside the organisation, says R Anand, VP, rewards and career and talent management at HCL Technologies.

Most organisations use a mix of these techniques, besides their own strategies. Pegging high performers at a higher percentile than others, enabling employees to work on live business problems, mentoring and timebound performance improvement programmes are some of the techniques they use.

“Top performers expect the organisation to recognise the value they create with more than just a pat on the back,“ says R Anand, VP, rewards and career and talent management at HCL Technologies. The top 30% are the most productive and expect differentiated rewards, career growth and other benefits, he adds.“These programmes and focus have helped HCL retain their top 30% performers at more than 90% retention levels,“ adds Anand.

The bottom 30% attrition, however, is over 15%. Employees rated in this category are given deferred nominal increases and also less than 100% bonus payouts.

At Tech Mahindra, the top 20% of associates are pegged at a much higher percentile as compared to the others. Consistent top perform ers, called ACErs, go through various interventions including an annual global felicitation ceremony by CXOs along with their families, invitation to thought leadership forums, involvement in special initiatives as well as accelerated career growth opportunities, says Sucharita Palepu, global head ­ people policies and practices.

At MTS India, the differentiation begins with segmentation, wherein key talent across levels is identified. Talent is segmented into key successors, high potentials and subject matter experts (high performers). A mix of strategies which cater to monetary, development and growth needs for an employee is applied.

“Employee churn is a major cause of concern for most telecom players. Talent retention is not easy, especially when 90% of your talent is Gen X and Gen Y,“ says Tarun Katyal, chief HR officer at MTS India.

Non-performers are given opportunities to improve through mentoring and in case they still don’t perform, the company follows a `con sequence management’ policy to promote meritocracy. One of the levers MTS uses is a formalised HIPO (High Potential Employees) attrition rate for all circle heads and human resource employees. “Since this gets reviewed quarterly, it has been very effective to identify problem areas and take remedial action when required,“ says Katyal.

At Whirlpool, high performers are put on action learning projects where participants work on live business problems using techniques they have learnt. This is in addition to bagging critical roles, coaching and mentoring. “It has a long-term impact on the employee’s capability ,“ says Whirlpool India, VP -human resources, Sarthak Raychaudhuri.

More often than not, retaining high performers is a bigger challenge than identifying non performers, says Chandrasekhar Sripada, president and global head of HR at Dr Reddy’s.

“Contrary to popular belief, it is neither compensation nor status needs alone that help retain best talent. The key is to have a deep sense of personalised engagement with top talent -with an empathetic understanding of their lifecycle needs,“ she adds.

While companies have little tolerance for non performance, they give ample opportunities to non performers to improve before showing them the door.

When an employee falls below the performance curve at Abbott, they are put on a 90-day improvement programme that identifies, engages and re-energises talent that needs a bit of a brush-up.

This plan includes feedback, coaching and intense performance monitoring. Nearly 60% of employees who need to be brought up to speed jump back on the performance track, says Ajay Bhatt, regional HR director at Abbott India. “We believe everyone, no matter which bracket of performance they belong to, should be given a fair opportunity to improve,“ he adds.

At HCL, “structured reflection“ -hard hitting but balanced feedback against the required competencies is given to help non-performers focus on specific areas of work, explains Anand of HCL.

By ensuring that the talent that is unable to align with its business processes leaves, companies are working at creating an environment that will help them to transform before taking them off the system.

“It is like creating our tomorrow. Our talent mindset is not only about changing behaviour, it is about rewriting the future altogether through talent management,“ explains Whirlpool’s Raychaudhuri.

“So we could rewrite the future across the critical mass, transform a tired workforce into innovators and a burnt-out culture into one of inspiration, a command-and-control structure into a system in which everyone pulls each other for success,“ he says.

Source: The Economic Times

Date: 26th December 2014

PF Makeover may Bring Down Employee Outgo

Mandatory 12% payment by workers could be waived to widen security net

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation has proposed sweeping changes in practices that are more than half-a-century old as it looks to widen the social security net by bringing more people into its fold besides encouraging the regularisation of lowincome, blue-collar workers.

It has suggested that the compulsory 12% of salary paid by employees to EPFO be reduced or even waived for a certain period. In addition, the labour ministry has proposed scrapping schedule I of the law governing EPFO, thus widening its scope to every establishment employing 10 or more people, down from 20 or more now. It’s also looking to moderate the powers of scrutiny of its officers, set up an appellate committee and establish a multi-member tribunal to address grievances of EPFO subscribers.

The proposals are in line with the Narendra Modi government’s vision to provide social security cover to a larger number of people besides creating a conducive environment for companies. From Page 1 The Modi government wants that companies should be able to operate without the fear of unnecessary harassment by EPFO officials. “If the central government is of the opinion that having regard to the financial position of any class of establishments or other circumstances of the case, it is necessary or expedient to do so, it may, by notification in the official gazette, and subject to such conditions as may be specified in the notification, reduce or waive the contribution payable by the employee for such period as may be specified in the notification,“ according to the draft amendments to the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, which ET has seen.

EPFO, which comes under the labour ministry , runs a contributory provident fund, a pension scheme and an insurance scheme for organised sector workers.Employers and employees make a matching contribution, 12% of salary each, that is split among three schemes.

The 12% mark is too high for low-wage workers because this cuts into takehome pay and hence they prefer to stay in the unorganised sector, a senior government official told ET while explaining the rationale behind proposals for such drastic changes to the Act. The employer’s 12% payment will continue.

“This provision will incentivise people to come into the organised sector and avail social security benefits as now the government will be empowered to reduce the employee contribution to as low as 1% or even waive it off, if required, through a notification for a certain period, thus incentivising even construction workers to save a small proportion of their salary every month,“ the official said. Limiting the powers of EPFO officers will be a major relief for employers, said the person, who didn’t want to be identified.

“EPFO officers will no longer have the power to harass employers by asking them to maintain accounts that are as old as 20 years. Instead, only accounts up to five years old can be re-opened for scrutiny (under the proposed changes), thus easing the process of maintenance for employers,“ the official said.

The law is aimed at providing social security by way of PF benefits along with pension and monetary assistance to industrial workers and their families.

Source: Economic Times

Date: 23rd December 2014

5 WAYS TO – Incorporate Fitness into Your Day

Many of us plan a fitness regime that falls through despite our being aware that a healthy mind and body boost productivity . While planning a day, other issues often take precedence, but the lack ofexercise brings in fatigue that kills one’s performance. Prachi Verma figures out how to incorporate a workable fitness regime.

1 Squeeze Fitness into your Routine

Never make paucity of time an excuse of skipping fitness. Remember, like others, you too get the same number of hours in a day. You juggle work and life just like others. It is within these 24 hours that you must seek some time out for fitness. Even on a day where you have back-toback assignments to handle, take time out.

2 Plan in Advance

A day before, prepare for the fitness regime. Zubin Mody, head of human resource at IndusInd Bank, keeps his shoes and tracks ready for his early morning walks. “When you make preparations in advance it helps you get out of bed easily,“ he says.

3 Set an Alarm

Set an alarm for early mornings or late eve nings -whatever time you choose. Especially for early morning alarms, clocks should be strategically placed far away from the bedside.This will discourage you from going back to sleep. Also, you can have repetitive reminders. This will surely nudge you to work out.

4 Discuss Fitness

Share your fitness regime with family and colleagues. This will encourage you to be more sincere in following it. Also, you can get some ideas from others. “Instead of looking up the internet and pondering over the kind of regimen you will require, start talking to your colleagues. You might come across brilliant time management practices from this networking,“ says Hema Mohandas, director -HR, Chennai ATC, Virtusa.

5 Balance your Workout and Diet

Following a balanced fitness regime is as essential as following a balanced diet plan. You do not have to go overboard. Take baby steps.Start with less exhaustingworkouts and gradually increase the levels. Work out at your pace. “You know your body better than anyone else. Redefine your limits for exercisingafter some days,“ says Mody. Importantly, watch what you eat. Many offices offer a choice of healthy food. Stick to the healthier options and eat at regular intervals.

Source : The Economic Times

Date : 19/12/2014

Quiet Performers Get Their Day in the Sun

Cos find ways to recognise, reward low-profile but high-potential talent through special evaluation, nomination and feedback from peers and business heads

They are high on performance but prefer to lie low -getting things done and outshining others without making noise and demanding pay hikes. High performing low-profile talent is a prized asset in companies, and increasingly companies are looking to find ways to keep this pool happy.

Companies across industries -from mobile operator Vodafone, financial services firm Edelweiss Financial Services and travel portal MakeMyTrip to carmaker Maruti Suzuki and software firm SAP Labs -have either devised differentiated strategies to identify and acknowledge top performers who keep a low profile, or follow a pay for performance culture strictly on merit where personalitytypes don’t matter.

Vodafone, for example, has a programme called `Global Hero’ to acknowledge its low profile­high performers among managers, executives and frontend staff. Every quarter, Vodafone India recognises two such employees for their outstanding performance. And from among their eight quarterly `global heroes’, two are nominated to be their annual global heroes and are invited to London to be felicitated by group CEO and HR director along with global heroes from its operations across the world.

“Given the macro-economic environment and hyper competitive nature of this industry , the market for the right tal ent has perennially been on the boil. It has become incumbent for telecom operators today to be sharper in the way talent with the right skill sets in customer facing and frontline roles is retained, rewarded and recognised,“ said Ashok Ramchandran, director HR, Vodafone India.

Edelweiss, which has a three-pronged strategy to take care ofpromoting a lowprofile performer to leadership depends a lot on the culture of an organisation em ployees who like to keep a low profile or talk less, recognises low profilehigh performers through evaluation based on data and demonstrable achievements. “This helps to recognise the achievements of an employee while rewarding the performance with very little dependence on self-presentation,“ said Maneesha Thakur, group head, HR, at Edelweiss Financial Services.

Through Edelweiss Titans, employees, regardless of their hierarchy can either self-nominate or get nominated by their colleagues for living the Edelweissvalues. “These awards bring to the forefront employees who may not bevery high profile but are value champions as the nomination process requires employees to list out their achievements backed by data,“ Thakur said.

So, what’s the potential of low-profile high performers? Are they leadership material? The answer is, yes, they can be leaders.

Padmaja Alaganandan, leader of PwC’s people and change practice, cites the example of AG Lafley, chairman of the board, president and chief executive of Procter & Gamble (P&G), who is known to have maintained a relatively low profile in his second innings at P&G. Lafley had retired in 2010, but was called back by the company board last year as chief executive after his replacement Bob McDonald failed to drive sales and profitability of the FMCG giant.

But promoting a low-profile performer to leadership depends a lot on the culture of an organisation, Alaganandan said. “Some large organisations place a premium on traits such as a visible display of energy or assertiveness. This sometimes means they overlook or lose out on low profile good performers. Inclusive leaders need to focus on getting views and participation from allkinds of people, the extrovert as well as the introvert,“ she said.

Yuvaraj Srivastava, senior vice-president, HR, at MakeMyTrip, said that although low-profile performers are usually regarded highly by managers and peers, lack of communication from their end might lead to some dissatisfaction as all managers may not perceptive enough to understand their needs and wants.

MakeMyTrip identifies top performers across teams and job functions through cross functional feedback from peers and business heads. The company also runs training interventions through development centres to identify performers and those with high potential. “To identify the needs of this pool we hold both formal and informal sessions, and multiple connect sessions with leaders, skip managers and HR. Besides, we conduct focused workshops and discussionswhere they are encouraged to talk about their needs in a closed forum,“ Srivastava said.

At Maruti Suzuki and SAP Labs, talent is graded and awarded based on performance and potential.

T Shivaram, head of HR at SAP Labs India, said, “We know who are the high performers as well as people who have the potential. Since every employee is mapped, the talent process is independent of whether the employee is low profile or high profile.“

SAP Labs runs skip-level meetings, midyear reviews, year-end reviews and career development discussions with managers to understand the needs of its employees. Employees, who may not be as forthcoming on their needs, can use the skip level meetings to share their expectations with the skip level managers and the HR Business partners.

Maruti Suzuki has a fast track career growth path for high-performance and high-potential employees. Then there is the normal track for employees with good performance and potential and an extended track for good performance but low potential.“There is a sizeable population which comprises of solid citizens. They possess good knowledge, long practical experience and a stable career with the company . They have contributed significantly to the organisation but have limitations in terms of potential,“ said SY Siddiqui, chief mentor, Maruti Suzuki. “Most of them may be thus part of the extended track in the career growth matrix.“

The company also runs `stay’ interviews -a contrast to exit interviews -with existing employees. “These have helped us devise need based new HR policies and processes,“ said Siddiqui.

He doesn’t think low-profile employees could lose out on career growth. “The principle of equal opportunity, three career growth tracks and supportive development processes will enable all to compete for career growth,“ he said.

Source : The Economic Times

Date : 19/12/2014

India: Govt-owned insurers to create nuclear insurance pool

India’s stalled civil nuclear power programme with foreign participation is set to get kickstarted with public-sector insurers agreeing to create the INR15-billion (US$242 million) insurance pool without insisting on inspection of facilities or support from foreign reinsurers. Abroad, insurance pools insist on inspecting nuclear facilities.

The issue of the insurance pool has been holding up the country’s nuclear power programme since 2010. Under Indian law, besides the plant operator, equipment suppliers are also liable in the event of an accident or mishap up to INR15 billion. This has deterred foreign equipment suppliers from entering the sector, reported the Hindu Business Line.

According to a senior GIC Re official, domestic insurers have now agreed to go ahead with the nuclear insurance pool without insisting on inspection of facilities. The official said that the four domestic insurers — New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance, National Insurance, and United India — can provide cover of up to INR7.5 billion.

GIC Re is looking at overseas nuclear pools for the balance amount. The official said: “We have written to many foreign reinsurers and have made it clear that there will be no compromise on the issue of inspection.”

Further, with the central government accepting the responsibility of providing support as the “insurer of the last resort,” GIC Re is all set to create the country’s first nuclear insurance pool.

The issue has gained urgency as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is understood to have asked his officials for a quick resolution of the issue to facilitate the realisation of an India-US nuclear deal ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January.

At present, nuclear reactors in India only have insurance cover for zones that are outside the area of radiation and reactors. The proposed pool will cover material damage and the civil liability arising out of any harm to the hot and cold zones of nuclear plants.

Source : Asia Insurance Review