Flexible timings, opportunity to innovate and scope to unleash their creative sides — companies these days are going out of their way to offer these privileges to build a friendly environment for their employees.
In a bid to adapt the entrepreneurial work-style, they are not just changing their hiring policies but also bringing about changes in their operating procedures.
Entrepreneur India spoke to Martijn De Jong, Chief Digital Officer, Aegon Life Insurance about how they have changed the work culture.
Looking Beyond Insurance for Hiring
With the growing demands of technology, it has become necessary for companies to evolve with it. Jong, who has earlier worked with various telecom giants, said, “Younger people from non-insurance background constitute 80-85 per cent of my team. In fact, most of them are from e-commerce companies like eBay, ShopClues, Mu Sigma etc. So, while it takes some time for them to get the hang of the insurance terms and policies, they are enriched with data and customer experience.”
Internal Hackathon, Global Appreciation
In order to keep employees motivated to innovate, corporates often organize hackathons or present them with real challenges in a fun format. “We conduct internal hackathons. In fact, recently 20 teams, representing different countries, met in Holland for a 48-hour hackathon. These teams work on ideas that will benefit the company in the digital space. In the recent one, the Indian team was in the best 3 for coming up with an idea that will allow one to auto-fill the required forms while applying for insurance using AI, data analytics, social profiling, and Aadhar. This will optimize the purchase journey of the customer,” said Jong.
But that’s not where the competition ends. Once back in India, the team has been sanctioned a budget of maximum 30,000 euros to develop a prototype for their idea. “We have an in-house R&D facility, so the testing of the product will also be done in India. This makes way for data-driven innovation,” he said.
Back to School
While the younger generation brings in new concepts, it also becomes important for the senior management to reinvent ideas. Jong opted for a year-long corporate innovation programme at Stanford so that he can implement the learnings at Aegon. “Other senior officials, too, are opting for the 12 months’ course at Stanford or the 6 months’ one at INSEAD,” he added.
All of this is being done because corporations increasingly believe that a shift in mindset is necessary. Jong has seen the change even at start-up events in India. “From people who showed up just in suits for events, we now see jeans and suits mingling in the same crowd. With everything becoming technology and culture oriented, it’s creating a different way of thinking,” he added.