April 2016 | Sanghamitra Bhowmik

'A happy workforce is key'

Kristyl Pais Bhesania, senior vice president and head of human resources, Tata AIA Life, receiving the 2016 Aon Best Employer award

Among the Aon best employer 2016, Tata AIA Life Insurance senior vice president and head of human resources Kristyl Bhesania, talks about the key HR programmes and initiatives that make it the best employer in the insurance space

Grooming future business leaders and developing a sound leadership is key to an organisation’s success, how do you strike that balance?
At Tata AIA Life, we focus on creating transparency and accountability among employees. This has been key in building trust within the organisation and to ensure that the performance process is transparent. This also allows our leaders to be held accountable for execution. Our focus is to develop and grow our internal talent to deliver our key business objectives.

To start with, we have a robust talent management process to identify, assess and develop top talent for leadership roles. We launched a talent conclave to facilitate career and individual development conversations between top talent and supervisors. This initiative is recognised as the best practice in the industry.  Our top talent is also enrolled as members of the Good Club, our in-house talent club.

Our structured organisation and people review process aims to identify the readiness and develop the succession pipeline for critical roles. The focus is to actualise the development and career action plans for our key talent in order to build a leadership pipeline for the organisation. SPEED – Superior Performance Execution Excellence and Delivery – our unique fast track programme for frontline employees from the support and operations functions provide development and career progression opportunities for the talented employees. The organisation’s executive committee members too are active mentors and invest significant time to develop and prepare “ready now” successors for key roles.

As an organisation we are receptive of feedback and it allows us to continuously evolve and achieve key business objectives. We generate 360-degree feedback to accelerate change in the most critical behaviours to enhance leadership effectiveness.

At Tata AIA, we believe every employee is a star with a unique sparkle. Our aim is to identify these stars, shape and groom them so that they believe in themselves, outperform and dazzle and make us proud.

As an organisation, how much do you invest in learning, development and training?
Learning, development and training has been our focus right since inception. We build capabilities through our own in house training teams, external partners like TMTC, TQMS, etc. and a lot of other industry specific partners from time to time.

We also leverage high impact learning and development interventions from the AIA Group. Our learning approach covers offline, online as well as blended learning. Our strategy is to provide differentiated training programmes for employees based on their function and key responsibilities. Priority is to ensure that the development is relevant to their roles and also help them to achieve their personal and professional targets.

We use assessment tools like MBTI, 360 degrees and Manager Scorecards to design and develop interventions and coaching plans for our managers. Our Good Club members receive customised interventions that prepare them for potential future roles. We also ensure that our employees are certified as per industry standards such as LOMA and FLMI and other international certifications.

What are the key challenges you face when acquiring talent and retaining them, especially in the current market scenario?
We follow a structured recruitment strategy and have been fairly successful to attract and retain the right talent. Our overall attrition is almost the lowest in the industry. We have been able to retain our top talent with focussed HR interventions, beginning with a delightful onboarding experience, innovative employee engagement initiatives, structured training and development programmes, talent management, and reward and recognition initiatives that have ensured a high employee engagement experience resulting in ring fencing our key talent and reducing our overall attrition.

How tough is ‘the best employer award’ journey?
Our employees are delighted that Tata AIA Life has won the Aon Best Employers Award 2016. The award is a symbol of appreciation to every employee for partnering and making Tata AIA Life a high performing organisation. The study covered 113 companies across 12 industries, cumulatively employing approximately 950,000 employees. A rigorous analysis is run to measure the alignment between ‘intent-design-experience’ and is assessed through CEO survey, interview, people practices survey and employee opinion survey of all participating organisations.

The shortlisted set is taken through an intense on-site audit to validate the details provided. Client names are masked during this process and revealed to the jury only post final selection. An external panel of unbiased jury comprising corporate and academic community evaluated the participants and arrived at the final list of India’s best employers of 2016.

This was an assessment of the best among bests.

What makes Tata AIA Life Insurance the best employer?
The ability to successfully create a high performance work culture and striking the right balance of work life harmony, where our employees are very passionate to deliver their best, while staying delighted and engaged at work, makes us the best employer.

We strongly believe that ‘Passion on the job results in perfection in work’.

To quote Tarandeep Singh, partner, talent and performance consulting, Aon Hewitt (India), “We congratulate Tata AIA Life Insurance on being adjudged an Aon Best Employer. In the difficult times that the insurance industry is going through, Tata AIA ensures due focus on existing talent through nimble and effective practices. Creating a cohesive work environment as indicated by employees in such difficult times is true testimony to being a best employer.” Engagement is a two-way process between employees and an organisation. The first is the level of engagement employees have with their career or profession and the other is the engagement employees feel towards their organisation.

Tata AIA Life provides clear objectives and a work environment that recognises the value of our employees and strives towards building a high performance work culture. We firmly believe that an engaged and happy workforce is the key to sustained competitive advantage and accelerated business performance.

Tata AIA Life Insurance, Tata AutoComp Systems, Tata Chemicals and Tata Communications won Aon best employer awards in 2016. Heads of the human resource departments speak about the best practices which helped each company win the award. Read more:
Overview: Putting people first
Tata AutoComp braces change and comes on top — Siba Satapathy, president (people & engagement) and CHRO, Tata AutoComp
On top of the transformation game — R Nanda, chief human resource officer, Tata Chemicals
'Creating a great place to work has been a key imperative for us' — Aadesh Goyal, chief human resource officer, Tata Communications