diversity

"We embrace the latest technologies, from AI to machine learning, but we never lose sight that our people and our culture set Everise apart," Sudhir Agarwal, Founder and CEO, Everise, says.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore, Everise received the silver award for Best Use of Recruitment Technology Tools.

In this interview, Sudhir Agarwal, Founder and CEO, Everise, shares the secrets behind this win - how the organisation prioritises attracting, grooming, and retaining the best and diverse talent, creating a people-first culture, and more.

Q Everise is known as a people-first, technology-enabled customer experience company. What does that mean?

We are an outsourcing firm, and every day we use the latest technologies to empower our partners to go out and deliver remarkable customer experiences. Our partners are among the biggest companies in the world - from healthcare to consumer technology. We are people-first because our partners rely on us to ensure that each customer interaction is a VIP moment. We make their customers a priority.

We are also people-first because our greatest asset is our in-house customer-facing team of champions. Our people are ambassadors for our partners - and it is their energy and passion for customer service that make Everise a success.

All of our technology, from our omnichannel software, to our artificial intelligence, automation, and analytics tools, is focused on enabling our people to deliver more efficient and outstanding service for our partners and their customers. At Everise, our people and our culture come first.

Q How did you conceptualise and adapt this people-first strategy into the company culture, and how does tech play a role?

I founded Everise with a clear vision: we would disrupt the outsourcing industry by putting people first, by creating a culture that would inspire the world’s best customer experience.

I found leaders who shared my vision and my passion for culture. Together we identified our three core Everise values: we celebrate diversity, we incubate innovation, and most importantly, we put people first.

Because we defined people as our most important asset right from day one, we have made sure that our technology is aligned with our people.

The role of technology at Everise is to empower our people to thrive at what they do and to deliver our partners relentlessly reliable service. We embrace the latest technologies, from AI to machine learning, but we never lose sight that our people and our culture set Everise apart.

A powerful example of how we bring people and technology together is our recent Best Use of Recruitment Technology Tools win at the Employee Experience Awards (EXA).

Q How do you ensure diversity of talent and entrepreneurial spirit among the employees so as to create fresh experiences for your customers?

A big part of our competitive edge is our focus on putting people first and our winning culture. We are determined to take that edge to the next level. That is why we have a unique recruitment process: we are obsessed with attracting, finding, and retaining the best talent. We call this psychographic hiring, meaning we hire based on an individual’s preferences and aspirations.

A good example is in our approach to diversity. Celebrating diversity is a core value at Everise because diversity inspires a culture of innovation and equips us to empathise with the customers entrusted to our care.

Recruitment is only the first step. We make sure we provide welcoming and inclusive workplaces where our team can do the best work of their lives.

In addition, we lose no opportunity to appreciate hard work and celebrate achievements through our many recognition, performance, and promotion programmes. Everyone needs help and support to thrive, and that is why we invest heavily into programmes to spark personal and career advancement.

There is one final aspect to why being focused on people and diversity matters so much at Everise. Everyone here is welcome to submit and pitch ideas for improving our business—every person's voice matters. Our diversity helps us evolve faster than our competitors.

Q Everise is known for its unique home-based support staff dispersed globally. Has this led to enhanced performance among employees?

Our pandemic response is a good example of bringing people and technology together, while never losing sight that we are a people-first company.

Like everyone else, we faced a steep learning curve when the pandemic arrived. Fortunately, we had invested in a robust technology stack that made it possible to move our colleagues into a productive work-from-home mode while continuing to scale up to meet the surging demand for our services.

A big part of our culture was face-to-face interaction, but we quickly adopted the latest productivity and collaboration solutions. Technology empowered us to deliver seamlessly perfect customer service throughout this period of adjustment.

Just as many studies have since demonstrated, we found that our blended workforce strategy that mixed a work-from-home and brick-and-mortar schedule for our people boosted productivity and engagement.

What's more, we have a culture where everyone can contribute ideas and incubate innovation, which helped us find new ways to stay connected and support each other.

This has translated into continued growth, not only for ourselves, but enabling our partners to grow into new segments and markets.

Q What are some of the unique performance programmes that Everise has rolled out and what has been the impact of those on the overall employee experience in the organisation?

Putting our people first means empowering our colleagues to thrive and succeed and then rewarding their accomplishments.

That's why we invest heavily into exploring and assessing new technologies that improve performance and the employee experience.

I am passionate about coaching, so one of my favourite initiatives is our virtual coaching support that gives leaders the real-time information they need to optimise their team's performance.

In addition, we have seen great results from our Everise Accelerator programme: an immersive instructor-led career fast-tracked training programme for our top performers. These programmes have shown us the strong relationship between mentoring and readiness to take the next career step.

We have broader lifelong learning initiatives, including our in-house developed digital learning platform called Everise University. It's proven to be an excellent way for our employees to benefit from a large pool of easily accessible knowledge at home or in the office.

We constantly explore ways to make the learning experience a two-way interaction. For example, our Chief People Officer, Sheena Ponnappan, pioneered a series of virtual roundtables which have encouraged the team to talk about anything and everything. This helps strengthen our inclusive and innovative culture.

Q What are the Experience Labs at Everise? Can you share some details on how they have benefitted the employees?

Incubating innovation means giving our people the opportunity and space to think of solutions to problems they encounter. Digital Experience (DX) Labs help them explore and assess new technologies that improve their performance and the employee experience.

Once a prototype is made, they are able to interface with proofs-of-concept and improve the experience. Their creativity is embraced, they feel heard and become an integral part of the solution, which makes them feel valued as an employee.

Through these endeavours, Everise has launched products like our internal onboarding chatbot, Ana, who helps automate the onboarding journey; as well as, Agent Intelligence, an internal analytics tool that helps gamify the performance of our people working at home and in the office.

Q How have some of the people strategies at Everise helped carve out a cohesive culturally diverse workforce? Can you elaborate?

We are proud to represent and employ 68 nationalities who speak up to 32 languages around the world. At Everise, we believe that diversity and diverse ways of thinking help improve innovation and drive growth. But in order to accomplish that, our people need to feel supported and heard.

To accomplish this, we have launched a diversity council, multiple diversity training courses in our Everise U digital learning platform, and adjusted our procurement strategies to ensure we are part of a diverse supply chain.

We also empower our people on a local level, enabling them to engage with the communities we operate in and create market appropriate programmes.

Finally, our talented acquisition strategies are optimised to ensure our goals are continuously reviewed. As an equal opportunity employer, 1.5% of the Everise workforce consists of people-with-disabilities, and 7% are of mature age.

Q Are there any specific initiatives that Everise has put in place to make it a Gender Equitable Workplace?

Since our founding, we have challenged the traditional workplace to enable a more inclusive work culture - we knew that diversity would become a powerful competitive advantage.

That is why we have challenged the gender pay gap right from the beginning. We started by eradicating pay inequality and gone beyond to address gender biases by ensuring a proportionate mix of women in management. Mentorship is a topic that is very important to me, and I’m proud of our work to strengthen the number of women in mentorship roles.

We are making progress.

Today, women represent 65% of our workforce, and 45% are in leadership positions. I have no doubt our stellar performance is a reflection of the power of diversity; it’s fair to say that Everise is powered by women.


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