Organisations ought to start investing in their employees

The evolution of HR practices is likely to see a greater focus on developing HR strategies to grow and sustain talent in the organisation. In order to establish a talent strategy, it is important for organisations to define what talent means to them. Clearly, one organisation’s talent is not the same as another organisation’s talent. Talent strategies that are unique to the organisation will be sources of sustaining competitive advantage. Talent is as unique as the organisation’s strategy, and when the fit is right, talent thrives, people flourish and the business strategy comes alive delivering the organisation’s goals. At the centre of a successful talent strategy is the relentless focus on purpose and alignment of all processes to this. Once an organisation establishes its unique definition of talent, it can align all its HR processes to meet the talent development needs. In equal measure, it is important to keep the business horizon and business-model complexity in view, while establishing the talent strategy. This influences the time required to `ripen’ fresh entrants into meaningful talent.

Organisations should establish an integrated talent management approach, which defines, identifies and engages talent, such that every HR process speaks to each other. The degree of transparency and formality of talent management practices influences how employees view themselves and the organisation, at large. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to acquiring, retaining and developing the right talent. From an employee’s perspective, shehe wants to continuously have a better CV (Curriculum Vitae). A CV becomes stronger by gaining experience, becoming more developed or by achieving a higher level. Organisations must provide every employee a holistic nurturing and nourishing environment where there are periodic development inputs, challenging assignments, and an opportunity to make great friends and build strong bonds and relationships with colleagues and the organisation. The goal should be to create opportunities for every employee to discover their potential and continuously push their own limits to achieve greater heights.

Recruit, train, sustain and retain young talent from various campuses and cross disciplines such as engineering, management, law, finance, environment science, secretarial, safety, etc. This approach enables the creation of a critical mass of young talent available for organisational requirements across functions. Adopt a “farming“ versus “hunting“ approach in talent acquisition for the organisation and the cadre management function is a key enabler for this.

Be committed to growing talent primarily from within the organisation, in order to meet the technical, managerial and leadership requirements. Towards this goal, it is essential to deploy a fair, contemporary and credible system of performance management which goes through a process of continuous improvement. There is an appraisal step redressal mechanism in place to handle grievances related to the process.

Capability development of employees at all levels forms a critical part of the nurturing and nourishing environment that the organisation provides. Relevant interventions should be designed to build leadership, managerial and technical capabilities in the organisation based on a roadmap. Inputs for capability development should also be taken from various HR processes like performance management, functional competency mapping, senior leader career discussions, 360 degree surveys, high potential management and succession management.

Source: Economic Times

Date: 27th October 2015

5 WAYS TO – A Guide to Office Etiquette

Even as companies try to relax work policies for professionals and try to change status quo, some ground rules on what to do and what not to do still exist.
Being mindful of those can help one get better at office etiquette.
Anumeha Chaturvedi tells us.

1 Appropriate Dressing

While some companies seem to be relaxing dress codes for employees, there are some fine lines which shouldn’t be crossed. “I am completely for dressing comfortably and in business casuals -not being bound by ties and jackets. Having said that, office wear should be subtle and professional. Torn attire, apparel with obsceneoffensive messages don’t belong in an office,“ said Sabah Adil, talent head of Aegon Religare Life Insurance.

2 Maintain Eye Contact

Swapnil Kamat, founder and CEO of Work Better, said some of the bigger concerns around office etiquette these days are looking into your computer or smartphones when someone is talking as it’s disrespectful. “Be receptive to those who are talking and do not look elsewhere,“ said Kamat.

3 Mind Your Language

Adil said one must ensure that one is using the right words and tone, at the right time. “Don’t lose your cool and bash people up with your words. The same goes when you are drafting emails -they don’t carry your emotions, so watch for what you send,“ she added.

4 Be On Time

While one is often at the mercy of traffic these days, try and keep your commitments and appointments as much as you can. Wasting someone’s time is disrespectful. “Plan and help others plan by giving them enough advance notice for a meeting,“ said Adil.

5 Be Responsive

Some companies are moving away to an open door culture, and are designing workspaces keeping that in mind. “Everyone has smartphones these days, and it would help to keep yours on silent or vibrator mode to avoid disturbing others,“ said Kamat. Acknowledging missed calls, and mails is also important. “Basically, respond to people when they try to connect; you may not always be able to resolve all their queries or answer positively but a response gives closure to a correspondence,“ Adil explained.

Source : Economic Times

Date : 23-10-2015

Insurers welcome Irda clarification on management control

Insurers feel that the new clarifications from the regulator Irda on higher FDI will boost foreign capital inflows into the industry.

Clarifying the issue of management control as specified in the new Insurance Act, the insurance regulator on Monday said Indian promoters will have control over appointment of majority of directors and that of key management persons, including CEOs.

However, foreign investors can nominate non-CEO level key management persons provided such an appointment is approved by the board where majority of the directors, excluding independent members, are the nominees of Indian investors.

Stating that “both direct and indirect holding in a domestic insurance company shall not exceed 49 per cent”, the regulator said existing companies need to comply with these guidelines within three months.

Both the insurance subsidiaries of State Bank of India, SBI Life and SBI General are already progressing towards the hike in FDI from currently existing 26 per cent to 49 per cent.

While the foreign partner of SBI General, IAG has appointed Deloitte for valuation exercise, SBI has appointed PwC for the same. In case of SBI Life, the foreign partner Cardif has roped in Milliman for the valuation exercise, whereas SBI was yet to hire a consultancy firm for the same.

“The Irda has clarified it in a very well manner that how will the exercise of FDI hike to be conducted and in what manner,” SBI Life managing director and chief executive Arijit Basu told PTI.

“We are already operating on the guidelines of the regulator on the FDI hike issue,” he added.

“In fact the IRDAI’s guidelines are generic guidelines which are helpful in getting the things done,” Bharti Axa Life Insurance MD & CEO Sandip Ghosh said.

“We understand that the Irda, in light of the control guidelines, will examine each shareholders’ agreement/joint venture agreement to determine whether rights granted to a foreign shareholder are acceptable,” Anuj Sah (associate partner) and Rohan Singh (associate) of the law firm Khaitan & Co said in a statement.

“Accordingly, Indian insurance companies and their shareholders may have to wait for a few stake increase applications to be cleared before it becomes clear what specific rights are not acceptable,” they added.

Source: Agencies

Date : 20-10-2015

5 WAYS TO Foster Innovation at Work

As a company becomes large, it tends to get bureaucratic and local power structures emerge that stifle innovation. Bureaucracy is aimed at curbing wastage, which becomes essential as a company scales up. So how does one discourage wastage while fostering innovation? Varuni Khosla finds out.

1 Create a Culture of Excellence

Innovation can occur only when each vertical, department and individual are clear about the standards of the organisation.The company should expect only the best standards and goals must be quantifiable and be communicated clearly to individuals. Once people know that mediocrity is unacceptable in the organisation, they will find new ways and means of doing things more effectively, says Aditi Balbir, managing director and founder of V Resorts.

2 Be Tolerant of Failure

There is a fine line between innovating and being wasteful.One needs to foster tolerance for failure, or else people will be afraid to experiment. Companies need to discourage wastage but be tolerant if a new idea or experiment fails.

3 Don’t Make too Many Rules

Companies need to inculcate values in their employees, not give them a set of rules to adhere to. “Managers need to develop in their workers a particular sensibility and value judgement capability so that they can make decisions on their own, while adhering to the overall value system of the organisation,“ adds Balbir.

4 Develop Employees

CEOs suggest companies give employees the freedom to do things their way. This will enable new innovative approaches towards problem solving, says Amit Mittal, founding partner and CEO, Simpli5d Technologies.

5 Involve More Teams

Involve everyone from sales, marketing, product and user experience design teams to participate in the innovation ideation sessions as it is not an engineering-only effort. Participation from all the departments yields better results as they bring different perspectives to the table, with greater focus on customer value. Brainstorming sessions bring a lot of energy and creativity to the table and help us build on each other’s ideas, explains Ankit Bansal, founder,

Source: Economic Times

Date: 16th October 2015

AON exits Indian broking insurance JV, may look for a new partner

Aon BV , the world’s largest insurance brokers, has decided to exit from the existing Indian broking joint venture-AON Global Insurance.

Aon was holding 26% while Global Insurance , promoted by Prabodh Thakkar has 74% in the joint venture.

Aon in a statement said , ““ We are not exiting India. Aon remains committed to India and its Indian operations. Aon maintains a strong presence in India as a leading HR consulting and outsourcing provider in the region.  For Aon’s insurance broking operations, Aon is parting ways with its current insurance broking joint venture (JV) partner, although Aon remains committed to continuing its operations in India and retains its 26% equity shareholding in the JV. Aon is focused on ensuring that clients’ needs come first. Aon has been working with full transparency to regulators to help ensure an appropriate solution.”

When contacted by PTI, chairman of Aon Global, Prabodh Thakker declined to comment anything on the issue except saying that “the insurance broking operation will continue to grow in the country.”

Global, owned by Thakker family, has been functioning in the country’s insurance broki market for more than three decades successfully.

Even before entering the joint venture with Aon in 2003, Global had been in trading relationship with the foreign company for a few decades in past.

The trading relationship was converted into a formal JV in 2003 with a view to have a long-term commitment in India which has been jolted with regulatory changes, the source said.

The RBI guidelines talk of fair and reasonable price for the domestic partner for any such exit.

Source: Asia Insurance Post

Date: 16th October 2015

Source: Asia Insurance Post

Date: 16th October 2015

Irdai mulling long-term health insurance products: TS Vijayan

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) is planning to develop long-term health insurance products as part of its efforts to penetrate…

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) is planning to develop long-term health insurance products aspart of its efforts to penetrate deeper into the health insurance segment. Currently, health insurance policies are renewed annually, or for two years in some cases.

“We are looking at long-term health insurance products to expand our reach. Such long-term health policies could carry a tenure of over 3-5 years. There is also a proposal to bring in long-term products for group insurance as well,” TS Vijayan,chairman, Irdai, said at the sidelines of an ICICI Lombard event marking the company’s milestone of 1 lakh policies in long-term two-wheeler insurance. ICICI Lombard is the first general insurance company to have launched long-term product for the two-wheeler industry.

“We have appointed a committee to evaluate the proposal, which include industry experts besides companies. The committee will bring in a report for long-term health insurance products soon,” Vijayan said, adding that the issue is pricing of products, which has to be streamlined.  The insurance regulator is also mulling long-term products in the four-wheeler segment.

Vijayan clarified that claim experience has to be looked into because that is vital for longer-term offerings. On the industry, he said insurance penetration has to increase  as the extent of risk cover is a measure of its stage of development. “In the US, almost 80% of the assets are covered by insurance whereas it is just 7% in India,” he said.

He said there was an unmet need for long-term products in non-life sector as well.

Asked about FDI, TS Vijayan said about 6-7 insurers have approached Irdai seeking permission to increase FDI. Refusing to give names, he said they wanted approval to raise the FDI ranging from 36% to 49% in both life and non-life sectors.

Meanwhile, ICICI Lombard has sold 1 lakh policies of its long-term product, which offers 2-3 options to two-wheeler owners, after it had started actively marketing the product in July this year.   Bhargav Dasgupta, CEO,  said about 40% of its online two-wheeler insurance sales were coming from the long-term product and the response suggests a new trend in this segment. “Long-term products are going to be a game changer in the two-wheeler segment where renewal of insurance was a major issue.”

Source : The Financial Express

Date : 08-10-2015

London’s JLT in talks to acquire Vantage Consulting

London-based JLT, the world’s fourth largest insurance broker, is in talks with Vantage Consulting to buy the Indian firm for an undisclosed sum as the increase in foreign holding limit has offered global players an opportunity to rapidly expand their presence in the country. JLT, a Jardine Lloyd Thompson associate company, formed a joint venture with Chennai-based Sunidhi Group and started operations in December 2014 to service high-end and complex risks in India.

We are in talks with six-seven insurance brokers for acquisition to expand in areas that we would like to be present in,” said Sanjay Radhakrishnan, chief executive of JLT Independent Insurance Brokers. The spokesperson of Pune-based Vantage Consulting said, “We would not like to comment on the matter.” This will be the first acquisition by JLT. In 2012, US-based private equity firm LeapFrog Investments had acquired a 15 per cent stake in Mahindra Insurance Brokers, an arm of Mahindra and Mahindra Financial Services, for Rs 80.4 crore.

JLT, among the late entrants in India’s insurance industry, is trying to gain market share by way of acquisition. It is the global leader in businesses including oil and gas, aviation, financial institutions and marine.

The acquisition will give it an opportunity to scale up employee benefits business since Vantage Consulting specialises in this area, providing advisory services to individuals and corporates. Vantage has served over 700 organisations with nearly one million lives. The company does a business of over Rs 400 crore in premium charges. Founded in 2004, it has over 230 associates, the largest pool in the country in employee benefit insurance domain.

Source: Economic Times

Date : 12th October, 2015

Banks & Insurers may have to rethink tie-ups after IRDA cracks down on mis-selling

Bancassurance, the sale of insurance products through banks, which is the most preferred route for growth of the sector, may be at risk.

After the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority of India (Irda) indicated that banks would have to take responsibility for policies sold through them, lenders may prefer not to become mere distributors of insurance products. Onerous rules and the threat of penalties could also make banks wary of such deals.

“The whole point of Irda is to bring better surveillance and discipline. For banks, this will require sufficient trust and seriousness in relationships with their insurance partners — if the responsibility of customer complaints is going to be on banks,” said Girish Kulkarni, MD and CEO of Star Union Daiichi Life Insurance.

This may discourage banks from entering into plain distribution partnerships with insurance companies. Banks may prefer to be equity partners so that they have a better control over the eco-system.” However, banks may seek high valuations for equity partnerships, driving insurers away.

This may discourage banks from entering into plain distribution partnerships with insurance companies. Banks may prefer to be equity partners so that they have a better control over the eco-system.” However, banks may seek high valuations for equity partnerships, driving insurers away.

Insurance companies tie up with banks to sell products because it is a low-cost distribution channel and gives them access to a large customer base. The most recent partnership was between Punjab National Bank and MetLife. IndusInd BankBSE 1.51 % has a corporate agency tie-up with Aviva, which is coming up for renewal.

Many banks including Indian Overseas Bank, Syndicate Bank, Central Bank, Allahabad Bank and UCO Bank are without any equity partnerships.

Irda chairman TS Vijayan recently said banks would be made accountable for insurance products sold through them by misleading customers. At present, insurance companies are responsible for any mis-selling of products through the banking channel.

“Blatant mis-selling will go away,” said RM Vishakha, MD and CEO of IndiaFirst Life Insurance. “The regulator is making the responsibility more explicit, which was always implied.”

During a sting operation by a news portal a couple of years ago, employees of both public and private sector banks were caught mis-selling insurance products, partly due to stiff targets set by banks. The share of banks in total individual new insurance business went down to 15.62 per cent in 2013-14 from 16.18 per cent in 2012-13, according to Irda’s latest annual report.

Source: Economic Times

Date : 12th October,2015

Is Motivation or Qualifications Most Important in a Candidate?

One-third of nearly 500 executives surveyed in August 2015 said a candidate’s motivations and drivers are the most important factor when sourcing for open positions.

Respondents chose a candidate’s skill set as the next most important factor (27 percent), followed by past experiences (24 percent), and then traits such as assertiveness and confidence (16 percent).

None of the respondents believed the college the candidate attended or the degree he or she attained was most important, according to the survey released by Futurestep, a Korn Ferry company specializing in recruitment process outsourcing and professional search.

Futurestep Managing Director of Global Operations Vic Khan explained that a candidate’s motivations and drivers are clues to whether they will be a good fit. “For example, one very potent driver is power—the motivation to attain work-related status, visibility, responsibility and influence,” Khan said. “Those who work in a competitive environment and have this driver would likely be highly engaged and successful. Conversely, those same people working in a more collaborative culture may struggle.”

Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of Cornerstone Search Group, a life sciences executive search firm, agreed that fit is important, but not at the expense of being qualified.

“When we are sourcing for candidates, there are two important factors: Can they do the job and do they want to do the job? The first level is a technical assessment, meaning, do they meet the qualifications? Once you have determined that they have met the requirements, then during the interview you can assess if there is a cultural fit,” Raz explained.

He added, “Clearly from a long-term standpoint, the candidate’s expectations and motivations should be logical and match up to the company’s vision and plan for this person. Both the company and the candidate should be as aligned as possible about the expectations for the position from day one, as well as what the future looks like.”

Candidate Sources

The survey also found that:

  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents said their best candidates typically are active job seekers.
  • About half (52 percent) use their own professional network first when sourcing candidates.
  • Only 6 percent said they rely on internal referrals.

“Having a solid professional network has been and will always be critical for those sourcing candidates,” said Khan. “However, we also recommend that organizations create an internal mobility program to tap into the gold mine of key talent that already exists within the company.”

Source: SHRM

Date: 22-09-2015

Expert Take – IRDA’s Latest Rules an Attempt to Clean Up Bancassurance

Will the insurance regulator’s tightening of rules under which banks sell insurance change anything much?
Insurance regulator IRDA says that banks are going to be liable for the insurance policies that they sell. Just as importantly, IRDA wants recording of, and access to, the actual bank employee responsible for each insurance policy sale.

Of course, it will come as a surprise to ordinary people who have been at the receiving end of banks’ hardsell that this isn’t the case so far. However, this is basically a dance around the meaning of the word `liable’ that is typical of the complex regulations around insurance.

In the official terminology, insurance can be sold either by agents of insurance companies or by independent insurance brokers. Agents represent one particular insurance company while brokers can sell policies of many.In the sense above agents are not `liable’ for what they do, but the insurance company that they represent is. Up till now, banks have acted as corporate agents of a single insurance company. An actual policy sale could be done by any one or many bank employees but the identity and conduct of that person was an internal matter of the bank.

Now, IRDA wants to regulate this whole process. This accompanies new regulations that will allow each bank to tie up with up to three life, non-life and health insurance companies. According to what the IRDA chief has said that the regulator would want it to be recorded of who was the actual person who conducted the policy sale and would want access to all this data.

The idea seems to be that this would make mis-selling less likely because the salespeople would be trackable and the bank liable.Do you find this convincing? I don’t, and I doubt anyone who is familiar with banks’ insurance sales business would do so.

This idea is based on the belief that the bank employees who sell insurance are the culprits behind all the hard sell and the misselling while the banks themselves (at an institutional level) have their policies and priorities right. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The employees’ hardsell and misselling is exactly as the banks themselves are driving it.

For better or for worse, customers trust banks. This trust is bestowed upon them by the simple fact that they are permitted to call themselves banks. They then turn around and abuse this trust and have specially done so on a vast scale in the matter of selling insurance. It very much remains to be seen whether IRDA’s focus on the actual employee, or its shifting of liability to banks will actually have any effect. Unless IRDA makes a serious effort at proactively detecting misselling and then handing out exemplary punishment that seriously squeezes the bank where it hurts, nothing much will change.

Actually, the heart of the problem lies even deeper. To a customer who doesn’t have adequate life cover, selling any kind of insurance scheme except plain term insurance should be recognised as mis-selling. As a general rule of thumb, one should have at least ten years’ income as life cov er. But if you try to do that as part of ULIPs or traditional insurance plans, you will find that even paying your entire income as premium will not suffice.

The result is that after close to two decades since insurance privatisation started, no one is willing to talk about whether it has improved the quantum and rate of actual life cover that Indians have.

If anyone is really serious about forcing the insurance industry to do its primary job -give life cover to people -here’s a simple idea. Make it illegal to sell any non-term policy to anyone who does not already have at least ten years’ income’s worth of term insurance. The ten year’s income must be based on income tax returns (say, the last two or three years’ average) rather than a self-declaration. This way, insurance companies and their agents will still sell unsuitable policies, but at least it will limit the damage that they do to their customer’s finances.

Source: Economic Times

Date: 05-10-2015