Expectations of customers in the insurance industry are now changing. With so many processes going digital, customers in the insurance sector are also demanding a digital change. While talking to HRKatha about the current digitisation wave, Jaishankar Balan, head – HR, Bharti AXA Life Insurance, shares that, Bharti AXA Life Insurance is not only competing with similar companies in the insurance sector, but also with e-commerce giants in India. Pointing out that now people want digital solutions for everything, Balan says, “Just like how we order food using an app and track the order from end-to-end, similarly, in the insurance industry also, customers are bound to demand the same digital experience. Therefore, our employees and the senior leadership team are already preparing for that change in advance,” says Balan.
Bharti AXA Academy
To make this happen, the Company has come up with the Bharti AXA Academy, where it is trying to focus on each job role, how it will be impacted and changed by digitisation and automation, and what the learning path of the employees should be, in order to achieve the relevant skills to prepare for the future.
Earlier, Bharti AXA Life Insurance followed a very homogenous approach towards learning — analysing the learning needs at an organisational level and covering four to five areas. However, now the learning need analysis is very role specific. For instance, what makes sense for someone in the customer service role will be different from what is meaningful for someone in an IT role, and so on. “Now, it is all about how we can train or upskill managers for automation and digital disruptions; how we can equip them with various digital skills and tools; and how we can help them develop a digital mindset. Simply put, it is about how a person can become better at the job,” shares Balan.
After analysing the learning needs of every role in the organisation, programmes are built to fulfil those specific learning needs.
Bharti AXA academy is the big umbrella of learning, under which the training needs of different groups in the organisation are being fulfilled. For instance, at the senior-most level, workshops and trainings are being held to understand how digital is changing the world and what impact it will have on the workplace. This helps the management and leadership teams to make digital strategies for the Company at the organisational level. A level down, leaders and senior managers are being taught or trained on how to execute the digital strategies in the Company.
These leadership-level trainings and development sessions are being held through zoom meetings and workshops, and will be spread over nine months. To facilitate this, Bharti AXA Life Insurance tied up with third-party vendors who further facilitated partnerships with universities, such as Columbia University and IIM Calcutta. After understanding the needs of the organisation, these universities have designed the curriculum for the whole leadership-development programme under Bharti AXA Academy.
“We are training employees for automation and digital disruptions; equipping them with various digital skills and tools; and helping them to develop a digital mindset”
Jaishankar Balan, head – HR, Bharti AXA Life Insurance
The branch managers at Bharti AXA Life Insurance are being trained using gamification technology, where employees can use gamification learning tools to train themselves. These branch managers are trained in various management skills via their mobiles and laptops. For instance, in case of a training on hiring the right talent, these branch managers have to select the right team of front-line sales professionals from a limited pool of talent. Or, they can choose to train people internally or hire someone from outside to fill a skill gap. Generally, these sessions are held in a group. This way, peer-to-peer learning is also supported, where people learn from each other’s choices. After the completion of a module, the participants get a scorecard and an assessment takes place. Time is set aside in the evening or in the morning for such learning sessions.
Under the Bharti AXA Academy, which was launched this year, more than 1,500 employees, including leaders, are being covered and trained.
Gurukul Training Programme
Another new intervention that the Company has come up with is the Gurukul Training programme, which is more of an induction programme for the sales team. Though such induction processes did exist earlier, now the needs and the ways of working have changed, and sales professionals in the insurance sector are being trained in these new areas. “With the pandemic and lockdown, the art of selling financial products and policies is changing. Earlier, people were used to visiting people’s houses and meeting them in person. Now, they have to sell without physically meeting anyone,” points out Balan.
The very way of pitching an insurance is changing. Earlier, people gave immense thought to the ROI they would get out of the investment. However, since the pandemic struck, people are more concerned about their health, safety and security. Therefore, now it is about how much the insurance covers. Also, as a sales professional, one is required to create teams at one stage. For that, the ability to recruit the right talent and build teams is something one has to learn and master. The Gurukul Training is a three-week affair that follows a hybrid learning model. The in-house trainers — spread over a large geographical area — are assigned the task of training the new sales recruits. While some manage to attend these induction programmes physically, the others join in virtually.
In a bid to completely transform itself as a digital organisation, Bharti Axa has also introduced an app called M-Smart, which is like a virtual workplace for the employees. All sorts of customer-service interactions are carried out using this app. “It is like an office on the mobile,” explains Balan. Earlier, employees had to travel to the office for documentation and filing purposes, but now they can achieve all of that virtually, using this app. Employees are not required to travel daily. “It makes the lives of employees more flexible,” admits Balan.
Also, for salespeople, it works as a great tool to gain access to small bite-sized learning material any time. “Those who wish to quickly brush up their knowledge of a product, can do so using the app, which is very simple and user-friendly,” reveals Balan. The M-Smart also acts as an activity-tracking tool. For sales personnel who make multiple calls in a day, it can be rather time-consuming to prepare an activity sheet and update their managers on the activities performed for the entire day. This tool can record all such data and save valuable time that was unnecessarily wasted in preparing track sheets.
Clearly, Bharti AXA Life Insurance believes in being ready and forever prepared. While it is actually moving rapidly towards transforming itself into a digital workplace, it is skilling and training its employees in advance, before any major digital disruption takes place, so that everyone is equipped to handle it. Balan shares that the enthusiasm amongst the employees is quite high and they are open to changing their mindset. He believes that with time, employees will start adopting behaviours suited to achieving this digital transformation.