In such volatile times, despite organisations being consistently on their toes trying to retain talent, re-inventing policies and practices to keep people engaged, there is no stopping people from hopping companies, in search of better avenues of growth and learning. In times like these, when managing attrition is one of the trickiest challenges organisations are grappling with, does something like zero attrition even exist?
Well, there’s one young company that has totally nailed it! The six-year old financial services company, Zerodha, has been able to maintain zero attrition over these roller-coaster initial years, growing from a team of six to a workforce of over 500. While large organisations have been scratching their heads, to identify the best ways to retain and engage talent, this startup has been able to do that with simple, yet effective practices that keep its people happy and motivated to continue together in its journey of growth.
Founded on 15 August, 2010 by the ace stock trader and entrepreneur, Nithin Kamath, the Bengaluru-headquartered firm literally celebrates its people— not for the sake of saying alone, but each employee really counts. One look at the ‘About’ page on their website, and you’ll see a picture of every employee and not just the leadership team there. Though not a huge initiative, it is surely a small gesture that makes every employee feel valued. Zerodha has various other initiatives that keep people hooked to this company.
Seema Patil, head of HR at Zerodha says, “Creating an inspiring workplace has been the top priority for us. We believe it’s essential to foster a work environment that encourages people from different upbringings, cultures, talents to thrive and be successful.” In line with this, the company put in special effort to make people feel valued, providing them all possible opportunities to learn and grow. Here are a few interesting ingenuities that keep its people glued to Zerodha.
Stay interviews: Conducted every six to eight months, these online interviews followed by one-on-ones ensure that employees can express their concerns and issues and the management can also identify gaps, if any. The stay interviews are administered across employees, starting the process with new joinees followed by under-performing employees and lastly, with valued ones.
Patil believes, “The process helps in understanding employees’ satisfaction level with their immediate bosses, work culture, employee expectations, their own assessment of work, etc. It gives us instant feedback to improve our performance and also to understand the psychology of each employee — what she or he is thinking. It also helps us identify future leaders and groom them accordingly,” she says.
Lunch with the CEO: Highlighting the fact that the organisation does not believe in hierarchies, this is a unique way of getting new joinees to interact with the CEO directly. Lunch with the CEO is organised quarterly, getting together all the new joinees during that period to meet with the CEO over a lunch session, breaking the formal shackles of hierarchies. It not only motivates the new entrants, but also gives them a sense of importance, helping them imbibe the culture of the organisation. On the other hand, the CEO also gets a chance to appreciate the talent pipeline that’s building up in the company.
Pet-friendly office: Zerodha not only allows its employees to bring their pets to work, it has also adopted five street dogs. “We’re an extremely pet-friendly office, and encourage employees to bring pets to work on designated days. Our belief is that having pets around helps in reducing stress and encourages healthy living. Don’t be surprised if you bump into a bunch of tail wagging, squishy, four- legged friends!” Patil exclaims.
Rewarding fit employees: This is not just an employee engagement initiative but a CSR one as well that promotes the culture of being and staying fit. The company participates in various sports tournaments, marathons or runs organised for social and healthcare causes by different organisations and associations. The employees are encouraged to participate in such events. “So if you’re someone who can run that extra mile, you may just be rewarded with that extra bit of bonus!” Patil shares.
The benefits of having a fit employees are many, which is why the company has dedicated a certain weightage of its annual appraisals to how fit an employee is.
Parental policies: Apart from a paid six-month maternity leave, Zerodha also has a maternity return programme to ensure that the return of a woman employee after her extended break is smooth. In cases when they want to extend their maternity leave beyond six months, the company allows them to work from home, ensuring they’re compensated additionally to meet their needs. In fact, there have also been cases where an employee has quit work only to re-join after a year or two, and the company has wholeheartedly reinstated her at the same position that she quit in.
Talking of a unique paternity policy, Patil shares, “In addition to extending these benefits to women, we also ensure that certain benefits are extended to the new father. Not downplaying the importance of a father in nurturing a young one, we offer new dads an option to work for three hours from office and the rest from home.”
Buddy initiatives: As part of this initiative, the company identifies three people and assigns them a group task to solve as buddies. Patil feels that it helps in team building, establishing mutual trust and respect for each other, maintaining healthy competition, and in turn, nurturing utmost commitment towards the organisation.
Internal investment fund: “Being in the BFSI sector, more so in the investment space, it’s important that we inculcate the habit of savings/investment in our employees too,” Patil says. “It’s with this motive that we started ‘Fletch’ an internal mutual fund of sorts for employees of Zerodha,” she adds. The motive behind each investment made by the fund is explained to the employees, which in turn, helps them get a better understanding of the space the company operates in.
Corporate wellness programmes: The company organises dedicated sessions for women employees where important discussions related to various women’s health issues take place. In addition, there are routine health check-ups for employees and their families so they can always stay in the pink of health. “The ‘Bald n Beautiful‘ initiative is another yearly event where all our employees participate by donating money and shaving their heads to create awareness for breast cancer,” Patil shares.
With such engaging initiatives already in place, looking ahead Patil feels that retaining talent remains the biggest challenge for HR and will continue to be so forever. From industry-leading salary packages, to great incentives and ESOPs – Zerodha has it all, but this will still not be enough to retain the best. Keeping that in mind, the company has an ‘Identify Talent’ programme, which encourages senior management to keep a close watch and point out good performers. Under this programme, whenever a senior leader or the CEO has pointed out a great talent, that person has been rewarded significantly without waiting for their usual appraisal cycle. It is these unusual yet simple and effective practices that make people stay.