The new face reflects cultural changes, policy restructuring, talent positioning and leadership strengthening.
Time and again businesses have had to modify, diversify and restructure in order to survive and stay contemporary. One close look at the oldest businesses that have overcome the test of time, and it becomes evident how they transformed to stay relevant. Take for instance, the Timex Group that began operations more than a century ago in 1854 as the Waterbury Clock Company. Fearing insolvency, it reformed itself into Timex Corporation in 1944.
Whatever the reason to transform, businesses do need to reflect and act to stay competitive, which is what LIC Nomura Mutual Fund did in the past few years. With a belief that change is the only constant in the present business environment, LIC Mutual Fund began rethinking its people strategies back in 2012-13 and has since then undergone a complete makeover. The change encompasses alteration in the culture, restructuring of policies, positioning of talent and strengthening of leadership.
Talking about the need for change, Shefali Suri, chief-human resources, LIC Mutual Fund, says, “The need for change was long overdue as we had to compete with the market, which was changing at a breakneck speed in terms of the overall economic environment. We needed transformation and it had to be fast.”
When LIC Mutual Fund entered a joint venture with Nomura in 2013, the group realised that while the policies and practices were in line with LIC of India, which is a giant in the insurance sector, the standards in the mutual fund industry varied a bit. With that began the conceptualisation and planning for something that was going to be an overhaul for most people policies and practices in the organisation.
The modifications had to begin from the most basic practices as the company first looked at moving employee provident funds from the LIC trust to EPFO, as is the norm. The compensation and benefits structure, which was earlier a grade-based system, where increments were given on the basis of tenure instead of performance, was modified to a fixed annual performance-linked CTC system.
In addition to systemic changes in the compensation and benefits, the performance review mechanism was also changed to a balanced scorecard system, which ensures that each of the employee objectives is aligned with the overall business objectives. Suri shares that all of their employee-related policies actually underwent amendments and were aligned with the industry benchmarks.
The new compensation structure had gone live in 2015, and this year, the company stands at par with the market standards. Although it looks like a basic alteration in the system, it had a huge impact as it enabled the company to build a strong talent pool by attracting the right market talent.
The compensation and benefits structure, which was earlier a grade-based system, where increments were given on the basis of tenure instead of performance, was modified to a fixed annual performance-linked CTC system.
“With great talent by our side, we ensured that our policies and practices are such that our people stay engaged and happy. Also, while bringing about this huge organisational change, it was also important for us to see that our people are competent enough to deliver that change,” says Suri. To accomplish this, the company dedicated its time in 2014-15 to identify the competencies that their talent required to stay relevant in the market; and during 2015-16 they trained and skilled the staff on those competencies.
“We ran 24 functional learning programmes over this year,” Suri shares. The core functional competencies were identified for each unique role at the company, through gap analysis and assessment centres, followed by learning programmes, interventions and job rotations. Suri believes that the initiatives have had a significant positive business impact. According to her, “As a result, our growth rate in the industry is far higher today. The overall RoI has been extensive as people are more active and motivated.”
In addition, the HR team at LIC Mutual Fund had another challenge as they had to change the existing perception of HR being just the personnel department amongst the staff. To achieve this, they had to position HR as more employee friendly, for which they rolled out monthly employee engagement programmes, interesting newsletters highlighting company trends, etc.
For promotion declarations, the company sends a letter to the concerned employee’s family first; a day before sharing it with her/him.
Furthering this motive and adding to people’s learning, the ‘share and soar’ sessions are conducted every month, wherein a single function speaks about their purpose, role, processes, etc. It is a sharing session aimed at dejargonising and demystifying what other employees at the company are doing. It generates know-how amongst employees and at the same time helps build cross-functional teamwork. To add to the fun, they now also celebrate all occasions with an employee engagement activity to re-energise employees, at the end of each month.
Making HR an employee-friendly arm and enabling people bond better with the organisation, the HR team at LIC Mutual Fund also did something extraordinary to delight not just the employees but their families. For promotion declarations, the company sends a letter to the concerned employee’s family first; a day before sharing it with her/him. “The night before the promotion announcement at work, we send a personal courier with flowers and a promotion letter stating that it is because of the support of the family that they have been able to perform well and get promoted,” shares Suri.
A transformation — even though with the most basic practices— at this scale never comes easy without the support from the entire management of an organisation. As Suri rightly states, “The change process did seem like an arduous and mammoth task. However, our leaders and employees have always embraced a ’can do’ attitude towards transformation and growth. We work in a silo-less environment and each one believes they have a role to play in contributing towards accomplishing the overall corporate objectives. We do not consider any function as a support function, as each one is strategic to business and this heads-down is a matter of pride in our company culture.”
All geared up for the present day competition and heading into the future, LIC Mutual Fund recently inaugurated another large-scale learning initiative called ‘Soar’. Under the scheme— inaugurated in August and due for launch in October— the company has built in-house learning content that includes all basic competencies, as well as behavioural and leadership training support, in line with its objectives. The programme will be launched across six locations and extended to the entire staff gradually, for which they have also tied up with consultants and trainers for efficient dissemination.