Companies across the globe are either laying off their employees or introducing pay cuts to safeguard their businesses and survive the economic after-effects of the pandemic. Amidst such uncertainties, it brings in a pinch of positivity, when companies, such as IDBI Federal Life Insurance decide to continue their appraisal cycle, even during the pandemic and give out salary hikes to its employees.
The insurance company, with its ‘Employee-First’ philosophy at the core, has also given an average bonus of 22.4 per cent in FY 19-20 and has retained its Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contribution at 12 per cent, despite the Central Government offering an option to reduce it.
As per the recent guidelines from the Central Government, the statutory rate of EPF contribution by both employer and employee has been reduced to 10 per cent from 12 per cent, for wage months May, June and July, 2020. However, this is optional, and IDBI has chosen to continue contributing at 12 per cent, keeping in view the long-term benefit of the employees.
Additionally, the Company has also promoted 15 per cent of its employees.
The insurance company has ensured that the appraisal process is carried out on time without any delay in maintaining employee growth.
Despite the lockdown, Vighnesh Shahane, MD & CEO, IDBI Federal Life Insurance, claims, “We were determined to ensure that our appraisal process was completed as per the timelines. As done every year, we launched our process at the end of March and announced the rewards by the middle of May.”
The appraisals were conducted as per the defined steps, which includes submission of the online self-appraisal by the respective employees, followed by performance discussions with the reporting managers or reviewers and signing off on the appraisal in the system.
“We were determined to ensure that our appraisal process was completed as per the timelines. Our methodology and guidelines remained the same, the only difference was that all discussions were carried out digitally.”
Moreover, performance discussions, a key aspect of the appraisal process, took place over phone and video conferencing as face-to-face discussions were not feasible.
Kapil Udaiwal, chief people officer, IDBI Federal Life Insurance, says, “We regularly organise workshops for managers called PATH and BRIDGE. As a part of these workshops, we focus on how managers can effectively conduct performance discussions with teams in remote locations, and evaluate competencies. Hence, we were already prepared in a way, to conduct performance discussions digitally.”
When asked about the difference in appraisal procedures as compared to the pre-lockdown era, Shahane said, “Our methodology and guidelines remained the same, the only difference was that all discussions were carried out digitally.”
“our usual workshops for managers, on how to effectively conduct performance discussions with teams in remote locations and evaluate competencies, had already prepared them in a way, for digital appraisals.”
This only shows that while working from home, with the help of robust technological infrastructure, the Company managed to ensure that everyone remained digitally connected and meetings and discussions were conducted in a smooth way.
“Our appraisal system is online, which made it more comfortable for users to complete submissions on schedule. Hence, there were no specific changes that we were required to incorporate,” states the CPO.
The Company evaluated the holistic performance of the employees including the pre-defined performance parameters, as well as on the basis of the competencies and values of the employees.
The one-on-one appraisal discussions were conducted digitally, as per the mutual convenience of the managers and their reportees.
Not everyone can work from home and be equally productive at the same time.
Often, employees may be working very hard, but may not be as responsive in terms of sharing ideas or even being vocal about them. Many managers may feel that such team members are not working enough.
Do organisations really consider these things while evaluating employees?
At IDBI Federal Life Insurance, Shahane reveals, “We have created a work culture that fosters openness and transparency, promotes meritocracy, and limits politics and bureaucracy. We trust our employees to focus on their goals and do what is necessary to achieve them.”
Even before the lockdown, the Company claims to have given its employees the space and liberty to work as per their comfort, through initiatives, such as flexi-timings and work-from- home arrangements.
Shahane understands that during this lockdown, many employees have struggled to balance managing their professional commitments with their personal work.
“Maintaining a work-life balance is critical during this period and we have encouraged our employees to look after their physical and mental health by spending time with their families, exercising at home and pursuing their hobbies,” he adds.
The Company had gone into lockdown about 10 days before the end of the financial year. Hence, employees were evaluated on the basis of their performance and achievements during the last fiscal.
Also, the cherry on top was that the Company opted for an early salary disbursement post the lockdown.
“The moment the lockdown was announced on March 24, we immediately released salaries to all the employees to ensure that they had adequate cash to meet all their requirements,” claims Udaiwal.