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Diverse Staff, Diverse Ideas

Shubhra Rishi | Jan. 21, 2013
When businesses battle intense competition, they turn to their employees to spin up innovative products. Creating a culture of attracting and retaining talent from diverse backgrounds propagates new and unique ideas. How Anuraag Maini, Executive VP-HR & Training, DLF Pramerica Life Insurance (DLFP), is doing just that.

How has this change impacted business?

We are in the service business, which means we require the right type of people in right quantity for various business functions. We have hired a lot of employees who have been with the armed forces. They work with affinity in order to provide insurance solutions to our customers. We are also conducting a pilot to sell insurance to parents of school children. It's a natural choice to hire women sales employees for the job as they have the ability to relate to parents and communicate better.

Second, as a new company, we pay very attractive salaries. Even though our brand is still being established, we make sure that even with a stipulated budget, we give performance-based incentives to our employees. As a result, attrition has been insignificant. We ensure that our cost of hiring remains under control. Just to give an overall sense, 20 percent of hiring within DLFP is through consultancy and 80 percent via referrals, Web-based forms, walk-ins etcetera. So we are very stringent about how we source or recruit people.

Tell us about some key strategies which have laid the foundation for HR at DLF Pramerica.

We just wanted to make sure we were attracting the right kind of talent. We have defined our basic competencies and values that an employee should bring to the organization. Also, we made sure that we hired employees who had spent at least a stipulated time in their previous companies. Due to speedy growth and shortage of talent, a lot of skilled resources in the insurance sector were over-rated in terms of their performance and caliber. We didn't want to fall into that trap. Therefore, from the beginning, we laid out strict parameters on how we rate and calibrate performance.

Also, we have been extremely rigorous on the talent management aspect. For instance, we spend three days every year with our leadership team, providing feedback about their performance. This discussion circles around where the company sees their potential, the areas that they need to develop or improve, and what they need to do better in order to survive in the company. Very few companies do that.

How is managing HR different in the private insurance sector, considering the industry opened up only 12 years back?

Luckily, we started the company at a time when the industry was slowing down and we wanted to phase out our growth so that it's profitable for our business. Therefore, we could procure some high-quality HR practices. The employee turnover in our industry is very high. People also resort to unethical ways to make a quick buck. That's why background verifications are very crucial. Initially, we used to lose around 20 percent of our salesforce as a result of negative background verification. But now we have been extremely careful and this number has come down to 6 percent.


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