It pays to learn AI at OLX India

The Company has been encouraging its employees to utilise the pandemic period to learn more about AI and has also set targets

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Under the flagship programme of the company, called ‘AI Accelerator’, all employees at OLX India have been given quarterly targets to learn different aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) in addition to their regular functions.

While it is a voluntary and open course, targets have been set for each quarter to ensure that the employees cover a base. The goal is to have every individual understand the value of AI and machine learning (ML) for the business in the future.

Therefore, aspects such as, the difference between supervised and unsupervised data or the importance of big data will be learnt by everyone in the organisation.

The course is available at My Academy, the Company’s online learning library. “While learning has always been important for us, the pandemic has helped us fuel that energy within the organisation,” says Puja Kapoor, head HR, OLX Group India.

In an exclusive conversation with HRKatha, Kapoor asserts that it is important to re-evaluate one’s performance parameters during these uncertain times. “There is a need to readjust targets to make them meaningful and reimagine what it means to perform rather than merely look at hard metrics,” says Kapoor.

For OLX India, it has meant a different way of navigating goals rather than changing goals entirely. The leadership at OLX has taken a closer look at what is possible. Since it was not possible to operate with pre-COVID targets at that point in time, the energy of the teams had to channelised elsewhere. Kapoor says that the Company did not focus too much on hard metrics to define performance, so that the employees could feel a sense of security at the time.

Puja Kapoor

“There is a need to readjust targets to make them meaningful and reimagine what it means to perform rather than merely look at hard metrics.”

 

The product and technology teams were working on new features and defining road maps for new products. While the customer intake was low at the beginning, the sales team focussed more on generating customer satisfaction and assurance. Rather than focussing 100 per cent on lead generation, they were encouraged to focus only 60 per cent on leads and the rest on streamlining their processes by doing more customer-engagement calls.

Kapoor mentions that in the past one month, business has picked up and there has been an increase in user base and the classifieds business.

With its major offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Gurugram, the OLX has more than 1200 full-time employees in the country, which goes up to 2300 plus if the contractual workers are taken into account. While employees have been receiving regular salaries all this while, increments and promotions have been deferred until normalcy returns. “Our focus during this time has been on job conservation and will continue to be so for the next 8 to 12 months,” says Kapoor.

On the initiatives side, Kapoor mentions that the agenda of the Company was to ensure that people are able to sustain the pressures of the COVID pandemic. This is where the human resources department took the first step. Around the first week of March itself, the entire HR department went into a work-from-home mode. The goal was to experiment and determine the pain points for employees in the event of a lockdown. “We sprung into action pretty early to understand where the gaps could lie,” claims Kapoor. This way, the Company managed to take care of the needs of the employees and the kind of support they would require.

The organisation has directed a lot more focus on the learning side, right after the lockdown, and luckily, the employees have been eager as well. In the first week of April itself, employees clocked 948 hours of training in one vertical alone.

In the health and engagement corner, OLX has topped up its health insurance policy to cover COVID-related costs for all employees, down to the last man standing, including the contractual workers.

To facilitate work from home, managers were given training on how to manage distributed teams, employees were taught how to take care of their work-life balance and limit screen time, while working.

Kapoor asserts that heightened leadership communication with employees and the extension of the health insurance have been the highlights of the organisation’s efforts towards ensuring employee wellbeing.

In the past few months, the Company has run three employee-feedback surveys, and Kapoor claims that all three scored greater than 92 per cent on employee happiness and wellbeing. “This has assured us that we are on the right path,” she adds.

On the hiring side, Kapoor says that they have honoured all commitments made before and after the pandemic hit, and claims that hiring has been stronger for the product and tech teams.

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