Performance Appraisals Across The Fintech Industry

Employees want a better understanding of their performance which is not just confined to their shortcomings, but also captures and acknowledges their positive contributions.


"From providing real-time feedback to offering generous perks to recognise individual efforts, we have provided our team with multiple benefits that mattered to them including uber credits for travel and much more," states Sapna Sukumar, Vice President, HR, Cashfree.

  1. How has the year 2021 been in terms of performance evaluation and appraisals?

As an equal opportunity employer, we have always fostered a culture that encourages our team to do their best and be their best at work. From providing real-time feedback to offering generous perks to recognise individual efforts, we have provided our team with multiple benefits that mattered to them including uber credits for travel and much more. While work from home and flexible hours always existed at Cashfree, we further refined our rewards & recognition programmes to meet the new-age imperatives.

Employees want a better understanding of their performance which is not just confined to their shortcomings, but also captures and acknowledges their positive contributions.

Performance evaluation infused with experiential learning

We have also augmented our evaluation programme by implementing several L&D initiatives to streamline every employee’s professional as well as personal growth. We have personalised L&D thrust to help advance their careers with value-added, customised modules. We have set up experiential yet focused activities like skill-honing through gamification and ‘peer-to-peer learning’ to encourage effective and immersive knowledge-transfers and symbiotic relationships across diverse teams.

Learning & Development has always been crucial to our organisation, for which we have allocated 5% of our overall HR budget against the industry average of 1-2%. We believe growth is a two-way process, and an employee’s progress is imperative to the company’s success. Upskilling and reskilling are critical aspects in building and maintaining a high-performing organisation, and Cashfree’s initiatives help employees overcome any form of a career slump and stagnancy. 

  1. What were the key learnings from the pandemic?

One of the biggest learnings for us has been to continue to focus on building a sustainable yet growth-focused business model. Staying lean during such unprecedented market downturns has helped sustain and scale our operations while driving home innovation. 

Furthermore, the pandemic-imposed guidelines and restrictions have brought about drastic changes in our day-to-day operations. In 2021, we also decided to renew our focus by building an environment that promises assurance, job security and heightened productivity and output. It is now more important than ever for employees to feel secure, supported, understood and valued in their current jobs, and at Cashfree, this is the norm.

  1. How is the organisation conducting performance appraisals this year?

Cashfree has always been on schedule with appraisals, promotions, and bonuses. Even at the peak of the pandemic when several large and small enterprises turned to retrenchments and pay cuts, we continued to go over and beyond with our rewards to ensure that our team not only feels secure at their workplace, but also satisfied, fairly compensated and motivated at all times.

During the first wave of the pandemic, in 2020, we introduced an HR software tool for our employees to fill in self-evaluation forms virtually from wherever they are. The process included a 360-degree assessment, including detailed feedback about their contributions from nominated peers who have worked closely with them.

On this platform, employees recorded their self-evaluations, outlining a summary of their achievements and good work for the review period, as well as peer evaluations. Managers assessed the self-evaluations and peer forms, circled back to their earlier routine of 1:1 feedback and filled in their observations. Based on the final report and discussions, a customised, developmental plan for the coming year was created for all employees.

From 2021, we have started a goal setting process for our teams. This involves our employees to set their professional goals at the beginning of the quarter, broken down into how they plan on achieving them. At the end of each quarter, they do a check in with their line manager to see how far they have come towards achieving or exceeding their goals. This way, they can track their professional development in line with the organisation’s vision. The goals are set on our HR software tool and goal setting is open throughout the year and can be edited as and when required. In the case of some teams where every quarter is not feasible due to long term projects, goals can be set quarterly, half yearly or yearly.

  1. What new technologies have been roped in for this evaluation?
     We have enlisted an external HR management tool which can be accessed by every team member remotely. Using this software, team members can list out their performance goals, in collaboration with their line managers. This tool can also be used to share 360 degree feedback as and when required.

With this HR management tool, employees can also look up various details about each other, such as contact details, designations, organisational structure and teams. This helps with collaboration and knowledge sharing when teams are working together on common projects.

  1. Were there any challenges/obstacles evaluating the performance of a remote workforce?

While a lot has changed in terms of workforce and workplace models, the crux of streamlining employee performance remains the same. It is especially important right now to continue with merit-based appraisals, offering fair performance bonuses to help the teams stay motivated and productive. 

We were familiar with the concept of ‘working from anywhere’, even before the onset of the pandemic. We have always encouraged our team to work out their own hours or work from anywhere while making sure they are equipped with the right tools and resources to help them perform and deliver. Our HR tools and digital implementations have further helped ensure a smooth, systematic and fair evaluation process to help employees stay content and productive.

In addition to our tools, we provided real-time feedback and set realistic goals to map progress. Despite the similarity of all the best practices prevailing in the industry, Cashfree stood out by creating real value through its initiatives and bonuses, rewarding talent that contributed to the business’ growth every single day.

  1. What is the overall outlook of salary hike, promotion, and bonus for this year at the organisation?
     The overall outlook of salary hike and promotion stood at an average of 19% merit-based increase, with individual increments going over 65% to ensure market correction alongside bonuses. Cashfree’s incentives have an earning potential of upto 500%, and our employee’s can avail this based on their performance and their contributions. Recently, we have market benchmarked designations and compensations for individual roles across the organisation. Over 75% of the individual compensations have been corrected as per the market benchmarked compensation. 

We offered a merit increase to practically everyone in the organisation! Together, we want to build a place for performance, where the sky's the limit with no glass ceiling for great performers.

  1. How far can fintech drive employment and opportunities?

The fintech industry is now growing at a CAGR of 22%, and will witness brisk talent acquisition ahead of the appraisal season. With the ongoing fintech boom and India’s digital payments accelerating at breakneck speed, innumerable opportunities have opened up, driving employment and incremental rise in income levels across diverse technical and non-technical roles. Increased collaboration between traditional banks, businesses and fintechs have further driven opportunities, creating requirements for new skills and technical roles across the industry. 

In the period from March 2020 to March 2021, we have recorded a 129.55% growth in merchant sign-ups, highlighting the gradual and systematic increment in digital payments adoption. As e-payments continue to become more entrenched in our society, we are all set to raise the bar and continue to expand our workforce introducing new, growth-oriented opportunities for professionals in the space. 

  1. Which are the most in-demand roles and skills across India’s Fintech industry and what are the roles Cashfree is hiring for?

As the fintech ecosystem catapults to the next level of growth and innovation, demand for skills across both technical and non-technical roles have gone up. From marketing, product and technology professionals to sales and leadership roles, the industry has opened up countless opportunities for emerging talent. We are currently targeting to cross headcount of 400 by December 2021, hiring across the board for roles such as Brand Marketing Managers, Growth Sales Leads, DevOps Engineers, Product Designers and Senior Software Architects to name a few.

We have recently appointed Vaibhav Mehrotra as the Head of Marketing and veteran banker Arun Tikoo as SVP, Business & Strategy, to further strengthen our leadership with expert minds. We are also hiring engineering managers for the payments teams to lead a team of high-paced & smart engineers. Additionally, we are diversifying and hiring across verticals for roles in marketing, growth, engineering, product design and software architecture to create specialised teams.

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