Why Equitas Small Finance Bank wants to shift from individual-focused to group learning

During the pandemic, it was difficult for the Bank to focus on cohort or group learning activities

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Equitas Small Finance Bank, founded as a microfinance lender about five years ago, had been focussing primarily on upskilling people, with focus on their capacity and requirements as individuals. The pandemic had made it difficult to facilitate cohort learning and drive leadership collaboration. However, now the Bank is doing all it can to make up.

Talking to HRKatha, Pallab Mukherji, chief people officer, Equitas Small Finance Bank, shares that due to pandemic-imposed restrictions, there was frequent transition from work-from-office (WFO) to work-from-home (WFH), and vice versa.

He tells us how in the last two and a half years that witnessed three waves of COVID-19, some of the staff in the branch had to continuously travel to work as the Company is part of the essential services sector, while others had to keep switching between WFH and WFO.

“We all resumed office but it was very transactional, with a continuous ‘switch on’ and ‘switch off’ mode. Sometimes, we worked from office and sometimes from home, depending on the rise in the number of COVID cases,” says Mukherji.

Therefore, it was difficult for the Bank to focus on team activities, collaboration and utilisation of employee strengths.

However, in the coming year, Mukherji says that the Bank’s major focus will be on leadership development and team collaboration.

Development & collaboration: “As we have opened up with 100 per cent capacity at all our locations and branches, we want to shift our focus from individual development to group development,” Mukherji shares.

Initially, the Bank hopes to start some leadership-development interventions at the C-suit level.

Leadership competencies will be defined through the five core values of the Bank —customer first; pride in performance; transparency; ownership and respect for people.

Succession planning: The Bank also wishes to further strengthen its succession planning model.

As of now, Equitas is still working on developing a roadmap for its leadership development and collaboration interventions, but it would be interesting to know what the Bank has achieved in the last two years, given the constant focus on developing individual capabilities.

“More than 1000 courses were available on behavioural training, aimed at making employees better at their jobs”

Pallab Mukherji, chief people officer, Equitas Small Finance Bank

Digital skills: Mukherji feels the Bank has made tremendous progress in the digital side of the business. One can very easily open a saving account through a tab in less than five minutes. Moreover, the Bank is also offering FASTag collection solutions and the work on the digital payments front is still in progress. For all this, the Bank needs to develop the digital skills in the workforce.

In the last two years, Equitas has worked on developing people at the C minus one level, taking them through courses revolving around subjects such as strategy, digital and creating a balance between the top line and bottom line.

Behavioural development: Apart from equipping the workforce with digital skills, some interventions on behavioural development were also introduced.

“All learning happened through virtual means and our LMS system,” reveals Mukherji. The Company identified and targeted some behavioural skill-development courses.

While some courses catered to the needs of people working in the finance team, others catered to those in the analytics team and so on.

“More than 1000 courses were available on behavioural training, aimed at making employees better at their jobs,” shares Mukherji.

The learning content comprised bite-sized videos, audios and articles. As a good 12,000 of the total workforce of 17000 comprises field personnel, WhatsApp was widely used as a medium to ensure accessibility to content and wider reach, especially for the people in the frontlines.

With these strong learning interventions in place, the Bank was able to increase its man days from 1.2 in 2019–20 to 3.5 in 2020–21. About 11,500 people were upskilled via almost 3 lakh hours of learning.

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