Covid-19 was a tight slap on the human resource landscape. The best professionals struggled to stay afloat as they kept losing people either forcefully or due to the pandemic. The one theme that however emerged victorious was the fact that employee health, both physical and mental, was now a shared responsibility – Covid had thrown the Employer as an equal stakeholder in the employee value proposition mix. The employee no longer shouldered this responsibility alone.
Another emergent theme that is slowly but steadily gaining traction is the employee happiness proposition. It would be a lie to say that Covid didn’t catalyze this vertical as well, says Susheel Agarwal, Founder Director, Ethika Insurance Broking Pvt. Ltd. I have been servicing this vertical since before the pandemic, and there is a clear upswing to the volume of interested parties after the pandemic, he adds.
Back in 2014 when Susheel started Ethika, he saw a huge gap in the service element of the health insurance procurement and delivery ecosystem. It was this gap that he intended to fill.
The last couple of years have been extremely enterprising for the industry, but it is nothing as compared to what we are about to witness, he remarks. Technology integration with insurance is bound to overshadow every development in the past. The nature and kind of steps by the Regulator especially since the onset of the pandemic is also palpable. Susheel is so upbeat about the way the industry has been shaping up that he is willing to bet that India could be the first country to achieve a hundred percent penetration in the health insurance vertical. He sure is one fireball of optimism, we say.
But, grandiose notions on paper often cripple in practice – implementation is the sword that can cut through the air.
How is Ethika different from the other five hundred brokers servicing the insurance industry? In your question lies the seed to your answer, says Susheel with a zen grin.
Service was the element that the industry lost in jargon. Service also appeared to be the first casualty at the earliest signs of distress. But, the neo-consumer isn’t afraid. You cannot scare her with jargon. Her loyalty goes to the bidder with impeccable service. And service is the foundation on which Ethika stands.
In an industry starved for professionalism, Ethika has emulated service standards from an industry known to have created benchmarks in quality – the Information Technology industry.
- At the pre-sales juncture, the sole focus is on requirement gathering and educating the client.
- Once all the relevant data has been assimilated, comes the product fitment for the client. Fitment is not only about the quantitative but the qualitative aspect of the product as well.
- After-sales is a round-the-year exercise and the team is at the beck and call of its clients around the clock.
It is a no-brainer then that, 90% of Ethika’s business is repeat business; add to it a retention rate of about 97% and you have a Mcdonald’s in the making.
It is however the employee happiness proposition that Susheel is pumped about. Covid was the nitro boost that the industry needed, he says.
It is strange how staring at mortality can force clarity into lives. The workforce has suddenly woken up to the fact that they need not work today to live tomorrow. These two aspects of life can go hand in hand.
It was as if the stage was being set for the entry of Gen Z into the workforce. Accounting for about 30% of the workforce, the You Only Live Once culture, attributable to Gen Z, seems to have precipitated the other 40% of millennials. This 70% workforce however seems to have toppled normal on its head. Employees now want happiness at the workplace, and they want it now. They don’t mind switching loyalties for a culture that can guarantee happiness today, sometimes at lesser pay.
The Human Resource Department which was already challenged trying to balance the ship reeling under Covid has suddenly found itself face to face with another battle – providing for Happiness in the workplace.
Susheel however thinks employee happiness is a proactive approach to employee relations as opposed to a reactive one. Ethika has, over the last five years, built a robust architecture of programs that ensure the delivery of happiness at the workplace.
Most of the program subscribers have seen a boost in employee morale and therefore productivity.
Ethikas pioneering efforts of morale booster sessions with the who’s who of the industry are now emulated across the industry.
But Susheel isn’t complaining. He feels the pie is too big to be catered – Marsh-mallows or Plums, there’s room for everyone, he says, tongue in cheek.