Best Emerging HR Strategy: Gitesh Karnik Resistance On Return To Office To Be Addressed

Gitesh Karnik, Chief People Officer, Nearby Technologies sheds light on the changes needed in HR practices and discounts the premise of imbalance between individual and organisation goals


What have been some of the initiatives evolved by you and your team that have made a big difference in the organisation? Do you see any feedback coming from your own employees as to how well has it been?

We’ve had a complete organisation development journey, we did things in small installments, and we got there. Our learning and development programmes are created in such a way that these build domain expertise, create leadership behaviour, also build into your skill base. And behavioral aspect is what we have focused on, which also includes your top talent.

The second initiative that we have built is about feeding forward. We look at data proactively. A lot of our initiatives are basically based on the feedback we get from people, and we work on them proactively.

The third emphasis area is exhaustive communication. We have communication forums on Town Hall, we have directors detox and we don’t do anything unless we have spoken to our colleagues and asked for their point of view. We reach out to people and take feedback on various initiatives. And the feedback is taken and accordingly worked upon. That’s what really has created the difference in the company. And that’s how the team has also evolved over a period of time.

What have been some of the challenges in your journey?

In terms of challenges, the FinTech industry has very little or no entry barrier. And it is quite easy to replicate the business model of peer companies. So, as an organisation it is a conscious call to make product technology, innovation, and people key differentiators. And we have made significant investments in branding

our services towards simplification of our platform, and through design thinking and empathy in our colleagues to serve our customers.

The entire organisation works towards these objectives of creating, keeping customers at the heart of what we do and then build programmes around it.

What are the areas of corporate HR practices that need to change according to you?

I see some amount of resistance on acceptance of the hybrid model, from both sides. While our organisation has started working on the hybrid model, we still notice that there are people now who are not reciprocating in full measure, they still want to work from home five days a week. That’s something that needs to be addressed.

That’s not just our challenge but for many organisations. We are not a company which will mandate things. We don’t want to force things down people’s throats to just do it. We’re seeing how on their own they can look forward to coming to work and work in a collaborative environment, which was always there.

Another aspect I would like to highlight is the co-creation of people’s agenda with key stakeholders. I believe that the HR function is perhaps the only function that draws the energies from other functions to deliver on its promise. In the HR function, you cannot do things in isolation. If you launch a PMS, you need people to participate. You launch a learning enrichment programme, you need people to participate, launch an engagement programme, you need people.

How can there be a balance between the organisation’s goals and employee concerns?

The premise of this question, perhaps arises from the belief that there is some amount of imbalance. I believe that’s not true. If one aligns with the purpose of the organisation and marries that purpose as one’s aspiration, a balance can be formed. There’s so much data available on creating engagement, retention programmes, aspiration programmes that work for different employee sets, you can actually do different strokes for different folks, which was not possible earlier, because of a lack of automation. Now, with automation in place, and so much data available, it can be definitely leveraged, and a balance can be found.

The survey that you collect, and all the data can help you build that balance, which was not there in the earlier days, where people just left telling you why they’re leaving.

Finally, what has been your guiding principle, as far as HR practices are concerned?

My guiding principle is very simple, I quote Abraham Lincoln here, which I keep telling my teammates: ‘For the People, Of the People, By the People’. The guiding principle should revolve around people. Build sustainable people practices, that will pass the test of time and scrutiny, hold yourself accountable, and work with an intent to bring positive change in the lives of people who have chosen to work with you. And most importantly, everything that you do, has to have a business impact.

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