Do You Think About Work in the Shower?

with Co-Founder & CEO of Vantage Circle, Partha Noeg

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Our guest today is someone obsessed with all things employee engagement and HR tech, Partha Neog, the CEO and Co-founder of Vantage Circle. He has over two decades of expertise in product and executive management. He has demonstrated a proven track record of scaling great businesses and was instrumental in the conception and launch of 99acres.com. Partha gained valuable experience in a variety of industrial verticals while working for organizations like Airy Cent Aricent, Hughes Software Systems, and Bharat Electronics. Through his frequent association with several companies and HR departments over the years, he has gained deep insights into the employee engagement space. Partha's vision for Vantage Circle has helped it become one of Asia's leading HR technology companies, as well as one of North America's and Australia's fastest-growing employee engagement platforms. A global savant, if you will! 

  • What does employee engagement mean in today's workforce?
  • Perks vs. rewards and recognition
  • The product expansion journey of Vantage Circle
  • The Serendipity of starting your own business
  • Moving outside of the Asian marketplace and scaling a business internationally
  • Has Partha experienced equal treatment/equal air time while trying to expand internationally? 
  • What's the next thing coming in the recognition and rewards space?
  • Is employee pulse work critical for HR leaders? 
  • Where is the value in rewarding employees? 
  • Partha's take on employee adoption of company mission
  • Partha's challenges along the way

[Tom Finn]    00:00:02    Hello, and welcome to the Talent Empowerment podcast, where we lift up people leaders so they can lift up their organizations. I'm your host, Tom Finn, co-founder and CEO of LeggUP. Together. We'll learn how to drive people innovation, how to transform HR into people ops, and how to secure buy-in to disrupt the status quo. And as I like to say, it's finally time to stop smoking on airplanes and update your people strategy. Let's transform your organization and move from a culture of talent management to talent empowerment. 

This week's episode of the talent empowerment podcast is brought you by LeggUP’s Talent insurance, an inclusive people development platform designed to help HR leaders empower their people through one-on-one professional coaching with results like a 66% improvement in avoiding burnout, a 54% jump in leadership skills and a 73% increase in job satisfaction. LeggUP guarantees improved employee wellbeing, productivity, and retention. In fact, they ensure it, your people stay or they pay! Visit LeggUP, that's L E G G up.com, to learn more. And without further ado, this is Talent Empowerment

Welcome to the Talent Empowerment podcast, ladies and gentlemen, where we lift up people leaders. So you can lift up your organizations. I am your host, Tom Finn. And today my guest is someone who is obsessed with all things, employee engagement and HR tech Partha NIAG. Welcome. Welcome to the show. Thanks  

[Partha Noeg]    00:01:39    Tom. Thanks for having me on this show. Really excited to talk about employee engagement.  

[Tom Finn]    00:01:44    Well, I gotta tell you, before we get started, um, you are gonna love part's background. It is rich and deep. Uh, he currently serves as the CEO and co-founder of Vantage Circle. He's got over two decades of expertise in product and executive management. He's got a proven track record of scaling wonderful businesses. Um, and he was instrumental in the conception and the launch of a company called 99 acres. Now Partha gained valuable experience in a ton of industry verticals while working for organizations like Airy Cent Aricent, Hughes Software Systems, and Bharat Electronics, and through his association with several companies in HR departments, and over many years, he's gained deep insights into the employee engagement space. And we're gonna spend a lot of time on that today. Partha’s vision for Vantage Circle has helped it become one of Asia's leading technology companies, as well as one of North America's and Australia's fastest growing employee engagement platforms, a global savant, if you will, uh, he has done it all and is doing it on a global scale. So let me start with the basics. Partha, what does employee engagement mean in today's workforce? 

[Partha Noeg]    00:02:59    Thanks for the wonderful introduction. Uh, Tom, I know, uh, dive, uh, directly into the question, you know, so for me, employee engagement, it's, it's, it's, it's made up of a lot of different, uh, things. Okay. But overall, if I look at who's an engaged employee, an employee who goes beyond the job description. OK. Uh, so everyone has their job description, but beyond that, what does it mean? OK. Okay. What do I think about the company when I'm in the shower? I mean, there's an extreme, that's a little bit of an extreme part of it, but that's an engaged employee. You know, I've seen some of my, uh, colleagues who like suddenly on Sundays, we got this brilliant idea. Now, what do you think about this? That was not the person's job to do that. OK. But suddenly they got excited about some idea. So I think that's engagement. 

[Partha Noeg]    00:03:48    And the second part of your question, which is like, what is it in today's world? Okay. Now I look at it as a difference between, you know, maybe a couple of decades back and now is that people are not going doesn't mean that an engaged employee would not leave your company. Okay. They will work with you for some time, they have better career opportunities, or for whatever reasons they might leave. But as long as they're in the company, they're fully engaged. You know, I, I, I, my analogy for this is a marriage, you know, as long as you're married, you love each other. You're engaged, you are dedicated to each other, but you might divorce, you know, for various reasons, you know, you, but then it's a different story. So as long as you're in the company, you are engaged, but people might move on. So I think that's a little bit of shift, which we have seen, uh, and what I think, uh, compared to a few decades back.  

[Tom Finn]    00:04:41    Well, I, I love that. I, I love the idea and the visual of how do you feel about your company in the shower, right? I mean, that's really, that is engagement. Do I feel excited to get to work in the morning? Do I feel empowered? Do I, do I feel like I want to be there and go beyond my job description? And I think that's a beautiful way of sort of surmising so much detail. I mean, there's a lot of detail behind it, um, which we'll get into as well. But before we get into all the detail there, tell me a little bit about you. Um, you, you had this wonderful career going in, in multiple verticals, very successful, and then all of a sudden you decided to become an entrepreneur and build something 10 or 11 years ago, uh, called vantage circle. So tell us about that journey.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:05:24    I, I think I, I felt disengaged from my company, uh, where I was working and, and that's why I decided to look out, but, uh, on a serious note, you know, uh, it is not the, what we had today, what vantage circle is today is not something which I had the vision for. It was just that, let me just start something. I wanna start something on my own, uh, there. So we started off with very basic stuff. We said, Hey, let's catch this corporate niche. OK. And let's provide the employees in these large companies, with deals, and discounts. Okay. Special pricing on products and services, uh, there. So what happened was, uh, we went to these companies and we said, Hey, uh, lots of brands are out there, right from your neighborhood restaurant to the Samsungs and the apples who want provide your employees with the special pricing of products, you can manage all those things. We will manage all these things for you. You'll give us access to your employees. We become this, the, the channel through which all these brands reach out to your employees. So that's where we started from. And, and, uh, uh, and our brands used to pay us money as a marketing channel to use this as a marketing channel. And, and HR loved us because, you know, if their employees were, were getting, you know, all these great offers, uh, specifically to, to the corporate audience, you know, and that's, that's where it started.  

[Tom Finn]    00:06:44    That's part that's perks, right? Partha, so we would call that sort of employee benefits perks. There's a per platform that's built. I get discounts on, uh, maybe my phones or TVs or a variety of, of services, even tickets to amusement parks and things of that nature.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:07:01    Absolutely. Absolutely. But, but when we started doing this, uh, what happened was we started talking to this engagement team. OK. The employee engagement/ employee benefits team inside these large companies, by the way, the very nature of our business meant that we couldn't go after those hundred people companies, because the brands used to pay us only for large audiences, right? So we, we had to go to a very enterprise kinda clients. So the biggest client, or, or the first few clients were actually hundred plus companies. We were ourselves surprised that they trusted us. Uh, and, uh, but when we start talking to these people, what came out was there were lots of gaps, which this HR was facing, uh, and where, uh, they're looking for tools and platforms or solutions to help drive the engagement. Uh, and then from there, we started with different modules.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:07:54    We started the next model, which we started was the rewards and recognition, uh, space, rewards, and recognition primarily is, has two components. One is the social recognition you see on LinkedIn, you know, thanks Tom, and give kudos to Tom, happy birthday, Tom work. So whatever those kinds of thing, the recognition inside the company, uh, network, uh, that's a recognition part of it. And the second part of the rewards and recognition is that is the rewards. What do you give out to people? Some, uh, points. And they redeem it against gift cards, products, merchandise, all these kinds of things. Uh, there has been a shift. Uh, we will talk about it later. Uh, but that's the rewards and recognition space, which, which we entered around two 15, uh, there. And, uh, our first client who took it was the custom-built it for them. And we never thought that there's a market in this. OK. We just said, OK. They asked us, let's do this, uh, for them, which  

[Tom Finn]    00:08:49    Is the way, which is the way most great companies are built is customer-centric, right? I mean, mean, you start with my customer has a problem. Uh, or even if you're in HR, you start with, uh, my organization has a problem. And how do I find the tools and resources to solve it? Uh, and rewards and recognition is one way of doing it. You know, my, uh, my, my parents always told me, they said, you know, points means prizes, right? Anytime you can rack up points, you get prizes. And, uh, I think that's really the fundamental component of, uh, of rewards and recognition.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:09:23    Absolutely. And I think that you bring a very interesting point there. Uh, one is customer-centric, which tells us what they require, but it also told us one more thing. The big companies were already vendors. It was not like they had to ask us. There were lots of players out there in the market home. They could have just gone and taken the product off the shelf. For large companies, vendor onboarding is such a major headache. You know, they would rather work with the existing, uh, their partners whom it's a known is better than an unknown person. So, uh, they rather work with the existing vendor than go out and search for a new partner or in this space. Now that's where the next part of our journey started. We said, okay, we do this reward and recognition. They also looking for, uh, wellness, uh, solution, you know, wellness from an engagement point of view, not wellness, like reduce your insurance premiums kinda thing, but reduce, uh, as in like engage how to engage employees in wellness activities there.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:10:23    So we built up a wellness platform, we call this the vantage fit today. And, and that really took up during the COVID in the last two years is where we have seen a lot of, you know, uptake on that product advantage, fit, product productive. Um, and, and then, uh, so, so, so I would say we worked connected the dots later on. It was not like we had a huge vision about employee engagement, but as we started working with these guys, and as we started developing these products, we realized that we can connect these dots together to employ engagement. You know, everything is around employee engagement and, and the most important part of employee engagement was how do you measure that? Okay. And that's something which we didn't do. And really this is something which we should have done in the, the very beginning. So we, we started the last module, which we have currently is the vantage, uh, pulse it's, it's basically, uh, a dipstick sentiment analysis tool, which finds out overall what the mood is in the company across different categories of, or different, uh, areas, uh, how the mood is in the company.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:11:27    And, uh, think about it, like, uh, walk across, walk in your, in a floor. If you walk in your floor, your employees are there. You don't need to talk every employee, you just talk who three employees, you get the sense of what's happening inside the company. So the same thing is becoming pretty popular in, in this remote working, uh, space. You know, you, you can't walk around now, so you have to get the sense of it. So we develop this. So while I mentioned that this is our last product, I mean, this is, is the last product. As of now, there are other areas of engagement where we see, uh, uh, uh, that there's some gaps, which we can fill up.  

[Tom Finn]    00:12:01    So I think there's a beautiful story here, uh, for entrepreneurs that are listening, that you don't have to have all the answers on day one. You just have to take that first step, uh, and you've gotta have enough confidence to say, I'm gonna build the first thing. And then as I go, I'm gonna learn. And your, your story, uh, is one of learning from your customers. And if you think about it, you've got vantage rewards, uh, which we talked about, right. Points mean prizes, um, vantage perks, which is where it all started, uh, with, uh, providing discounts for large employers, uh, vantage pulse, which as you said, is a, a moment in time, uh, test to see how people are feeling. And then the fitness part, which, which is really the wellness or wellbeing part, which typically relates to some sort of physical activity to help people feel better and function more effectively at work. We know that our brains and our bodies are very well connected. Uh, and so all of that comes together in a product suite, but it didn't have to start there, I guess, is the secret, right?  

[Partha Noeg]    00:13:03    Absolutely. I mean, if I write a book, I'll say that, you know, I had a big vision someday and that I'll become like this. No, it, we, we just, uh, you know, built it along the way, uh, there, uh, and I think it is also, uh, uh, you know, most companies, I would say, uh, we don't give value to the serendipity of it, you know, uh, if you, if you can survive for a few years, okay. I mean, if you get VC funded and loaded and all this, that's a different journey, which is there. We, we have it bootstrapped, uh, there, and, and we've come become a very profitable company in the last three years, but it's been a 10-year, 11-year journey, uh, for us. So I give a lot of importance to this whole serendipity thing, you know, luck happens, you know, it, it comes out. I mean, there, it just has to grab that. I know, but just give it some time. It might not happen in the first one or two years, but it does happen.  

[Tom Finn]    00:13:55    So how did you, how did you make that switch from being sort of Asia-centric? You're based in India? Um, you're building this really cool company, and then all of a sudden you wake up and you are, or you're growing in the United States and you're growing in Australia and you're, you're in these big global markets and, you know, in addition to a huge global market in India. And so help me understand that, how did you decide to go international and what, and what did that look and feel like? 

[Partha Noeg]    00:14:21    So, uh, take a step back on, on certain things. So we never, till 2019, we never thought beyond India. Okay. There was, and there still is a lot of potential, and we've just scratched the surface there. Uh, but again, I will give it to the Seren Pitino. We were working with one client in India. It was a global client. And, uh, they had a huge office in the US. And, uh, so two years back, the US office had taken some other partner, a local partner there, and the India office had taken us and, and, uh, rather partner messed up. Uh, so, uh, so already a trusted partner in India, they were looking for someone to someone replace them. And then we got, uh, and somehow they trusted us and they took us there. Uh, now that was the first entry. And when we got that, what we realized is we started thinking, okay, why are we not going after the bigger markets like the US markets or the European markets or Australian markets?  

[Partha Noeg]    00:15:21    Fundamentally, everyone, every company in the world, let's say about 50 people would be thinking around employee engagement. Okay. What they do is different. I mean, they might be doing, using some technology platform. They might be doing some physical activities, all these things, whatever they do, but they're thinking about engaging their employees. Now, our software is something which can be used across anywhere. So why are we restricting ourselves to only India? So we said, Hey, let's try it out in the US now that we've got one client, which gives us confidence that this is a product, which even the us audience can use. So, and they were about 60,000 people company. Okay. In the us, they had 60,000 employees. So such a large organization trusting us using our platform, being very happy with it. They said, okay, let's try it. And then 2020, we started at, uh, going into the US market and COVID right.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:16:15    So, uh, immediately, like we, you know, we couldn't travel there. And initial market is it's again, a new enterprise journey for, we have in the journey for again, and excuse me now. Uh, so three grand was lost there, but we still believe that the market was there, uh, uh, in the US and ‘21, we hired a few couple of people there and we got pretty good traction, uh, in the US now. Uh, it is still, I think, um, we don't have a brand presence as strong as in India, which we have India, almost like every HR would know about us, uh, in the US. We don't have the presence, but that's what we are working on, uh, right now. But the entire world, I would say, if you can manage the language capabilities, I think the entire world is, is there, uh, its platform?  

[Tom Finn]    00:17:04    Well, I couldn't, I couldn't agree more. I mean, these platforms are very scalable, uh, and, uh, language is really cultural differences and language sort of tied together as the component that we have to be thoughtful about when we go international. But I, I think my question for, for HR leaders out there, you know, as you're, as you're thinking about partnerships, and you're thinking about those to bring in, I wonder if they, if they give an Indian based organization, the same credibility and the same leverage within their own organization, as they do an American based company or an Australian based company. Um, I, I just wonder if, if you get the same air time as, uh, as more localized organizations, do you feel like you do?  

[Partha Noeg]    00:17:47    No. I think, uh, and it's seen it's human behavior, human nature, right? So I would trust the guy whose, whose house is next door to me. And then I know someone staying off in staying in the US, you know, I don't even know who that person is. Uh, however good the product is. Okay. So that will always remain and, and understand that this is a product which affects the entire company. It is not a CRM tool for five sales guys, which they take today. If they're not happy, they take the next product. OK. They move on to the next product. This is a product which will affect all the employees. OK. So the mentality is the old one, no one gets fired for buying IBM. Right. So the same thing here, why would someone risk something, you know, which they haven't, you know, used it themselves, or haven't seen them so that a, I would say the air time is there, but the confidence level is what we are trying to build in now.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:18:42    So we have this client list, we have a referenceable client across the globe. Uh, we, uh, we are investing a lot on our thought leadership, you know, in this R R space, then the rewards and recognition space. Uh, we find a lack of, you know, uh, good material, good, uh, you know, white papers on how to go about designing this program. So we invested in, in a, in a center of excellence, uh, for that, with hiring local people, you know, the cultural nuances, which are there. So in the US, we have hired us, uh, you know, I mean, us folks there not, we have not posted someone from India to the US. So all those cultural nuances are there, uh, which we are totally aware of and appreciate that. And, and, uh, but it just takes a little bit of time.  

[Tom Finn]    00:19:27    Yeah. It sure does. So if you were, if you were sitting back and thinking about sort of the future of where, where this is going, and you had your crystal ball, uh, where, where would you go, uh, with this, with this market and this model, what do you, think's next for HR leaders that are really trying to dig into this, this turnover, tsunami and figure out why people are leaving, what's the next product set or the next pivot, or, or the next thing that's coming in this space?  

[Partha Noeg]    00:19:55    So I, I would not say pivot, but I think the focus is, is slowly coming. So one is this in the last two years, that demand has increased hugely, okay. Now the great resignation, as they say, the great resignation is happening there. Uh, companies and HR leaders feel the need for an engagement, you know, for employee engagement. And they're looking for what tools are there to engage, uh, their employees. So that focus has already come in, but some of the mature organizations who have been using these kinds of products, you know, not just our product, but any of the products out there in the market have now started asking more deeper questions or answering fundamental questions. Like, how is it connected to my performance management? How is it connected to my attrition? OK. All those data, which is there, and the analytics and the insights are going to be more and more important, then the, just the user interface and, you know, giving out rewards or doing a wellness challenge, kinda.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:20:54    I mean, how, how can we use all this data, create a profile of the person, create an understanding of what's happening in the company. I think the focus is going, uh, there and see, I, I would love to use the dropping the AI and the ML there, but, you know, that's there, okay. Whether it's used or not, doesn't matter, we still have, without all these things itself, there's so much stuff, uh, out there, you know, all intelligence may not be artificial, you know? So, uh, we can use this data to build a lot of insights for, you know, for the HR leaders and not just us. I mean, there are lots of players working in this space or moving in the direction.  

[Tom Finn]    00:21:30    And do you feel like pulse work and understanding your employee population? Is that critical to building a strategy going forward for HR leaders?  

[Partha Noeg]    00:21:41    It is. It is, uh, I mean, it is so, uh, uh, critical. I mean, we didn't realize that and that's the CEO CXO dashboard. Okay. When I look at all our products, I, as a CEO, think that is the most valuable insight which I get. I mean, R and R are the tools to increase engagement, the wellness of the tools to increase engagement, but what's happening currently? Okay. Maybe my US team is, uh, all engaged. My India team is not okay if I can slice and dice this data to see are our women employees, uh, engaged, okay. Even diversity and inclusion parts. Okay. Certain, you know, diverse candidates, you know, are they engaged, are not engaged. Okay. That'll give you a lot of insights. And, and the beauty of it is don't need too much data, uh, to just pull up these insights, you know, uh, just a sense of what is happening can give you the insight and then you can dig deeper.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:22:39    For example, we have found that in the category of relationships with, with managers are women. Employees are actually less engaged with the managers compared to the, uh, uh, the, the men, uh, and trying to find out why, uh, uh, and, and we are not sure yet quite, but some of these things which have come up is very, very, I know you don't need analytics for that. You can always make up, dig out big more for the drinks with the bosses, right. Uh, the guys goals out poor, the women go less, at least in, in our organization. Maybe that is one of the reasons we don't know. We have not started digging deeper, but these insights are very important at a starting point for, you know, you to work toward certain, uh, you know, solutions.  

[Tom Finn]    00:23:24    Yeah. And you, you talked about sort of engagement of, of female leaders and female managers within a company. Is there anything you all do specifically for, um, women in the workplace, uh, that, provides tools, and additional resources to help climb the ladder to help build those relationships within an organization? 

[Partha Noeg]    00:23:46    So, uh, the good thing is that we didn't, we didn't put a specific focus that we hire women employees more or something like that. But overall we have about 40 of our employees, women, employees, our employees are women. So, uh, that has happened. But I see what one problem, which is which we are facing. We of course provide certain, you know, tools or certain special access. And all those things are there for women employees, which we do. Uh, but one thing which I sometimes feel is that the leadership needs more women. Okay. Employees overall, we have a good population, 42% of women, but I'm making a decision for the women. You know, when I say, I, I mean, management is making the management, which is the top two, three people in the company are all made, right? So how can we ever understand that part? So if I had women leadership, uh, in that, that would've helped to make better decisions for, for this. So I think we lack in certain areas and we work, we are aware of that. And we are working towards that where the leadership if we can build up the leadership team of women, I mean, bringing women in the leadership team, we'll be able to solve more of their problems and make it more inclusive. 

[Tom Finn]    00:24:58    You know, just hearing you talk, I, I just want to stop and say, thank you, thank you for being a real leader in today's market and saying, we're not perfect. Uh, uh, we are, but we recognize we're not perfect. And we're gonna do something about it, uh, to bring more female leaders into the leadership and management roles in, in my company. And, and I love that because it doesn't have to be, uh, that we all wake up and everything's perfect and everything's diverse and everything has equity and everything has inclusion it's that we need to figure out how to get there. And, and it's leaders like you Partha that are trying to do this with an open heart and an open mind and saying, I'm gonna do it. I'm, I'm working on it. I'm not perfect yet. Right. And, and thank you for having the space and the, and the heart to be able to say that, um, cuz some people would cover it up. Right. I mean, let's be honest. Some CEOs would say, ah, you know, I I've got it all covered, don't worry. Right. And they're sort of sweeping it on the rug, which is the absolute wrong way to go about it. And the fact that you've got this open mind and open heart, I think, uh, you know, if you're an HR person out there, that's gotta speak to you, uh, that the CEO is really thinking about this and, and recognizing that there's work to do.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:26:12    Absolutely. No, I, I think it's very, very important and uh, uh, we all have to work towards it. We all come up with our own biases, right. I mean, it's not, the world was not the same, so I'm 47. Uh, and, and the world was not same when I was 15, uh, there, and when most of our behavior, most of our thinking, most of our biases are formed around that in our teenage years. Right. So that has changed. So we also have to adapt to it. And I think running this company, uh, tells us that we have to adapt for everything, you know? Uh, so, so we have adapt as a company and as a human beings also, I guess we have to adapt to changing situations.  

[Tom Finn]    00:26:48    Yeah. AB absolutely. And since, since we're on this topic, I wanna talk about sort of rewards and, and recognition and, and service awards. And you, you know, we, we wanna lift people up. We wanna empower employees within all levels of our organization. So, what's your take on, on rewards. Um, you know, what's your take on swag, uh, you know, where, where do you think the real value is in rewarding employees to lift them up?  

[Partha Noeg]    00:27:14    I, I thank you to, I think this is a very, very important question. You know, when we have spoken, uh, to lots of HR leaders rewards, they, they identify rewards with, with the service awards, with the company, branded merchandise, the swag, which is there. OK. You have company five years here, the watch for you. OK. Uh, with the company brand. So you can't wear it anywhere. So, uh, uh, so, uh, so hold,  

[Tom Finn]    00:27:38    Hold on a second. I hope everybody heard that. So here's your five-year watch with the company brand on it. So you can't wear it anywhere, right? Because you're not wearing your company-branded watch on the weekends with your, your friends and family going to the park or whatever it is you're doing true. I, I love the way you said that. I, I feel the same way. We all put our logos over everything. Right. And all of a sudden nobody wants it  

[Partha Noeg]    00:27:59    True. No, I, I, I think that's where some of them, I mean, I'm not saying it is not happening, but the, uh, many people, many HR, uh, folks, uh, actually, uh, confuse rewards with that part of this. So that part is a small part. That's the catalog business. What we call in our business, the catalog business, lots of players are out there in the market who can provide that. So that is not important. That's like giving anyone who brings in this R and R has to give that solution to you anyway, there's not too much differentiation there. We feel, uh, recognition part that the other R R R rewards and recognition. The second R is something that you know, companies should focus on. That is the whole purpose of doing this whole, uh, uh, your reward program in a company. You know, the recognition which brings in that brings into engagement, how you bring the recognition.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:28:53    So we have this framework called the air framework, right? So appreciation incentivization, uh, uh, reinforcement and the emotional connect. Now, if you recognize a person, an automated mail goes to your Tom, your five-year anniversary award, please go and collect, uh, your watch from the, you know, from somewhere. Uh, so that's not gonna do anything, but imagine your team lead, uh, comes in and says in front of, you know, an audience, you know, whether it's a virtual audience or, or a physical physically present, Tom, it has been a great, you know, five years with us. We really love the way you work. Just two minutes, one minute. OK. Tells you the connect immediately happens. Now, you see what is happening there. You are getting more engaged. You might actually not like the company, but at least it adds up something. Okay. It adds a little bit extra do that.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:29:42    And service awards, service awards over five years. But what about the daily thing? What about the weekend? Which you work for me and you help me on a different projects. What do I do about that? Right. I want to thank you. I don't have money. I might have just a hundred bucks with me or 50 bucks. So what would I, can't give you 50 bucks, Tom, for helping me out. So I say, Hey, Tom, I know, uh, I thank you in front of everyone. I shouted in front of everyone. That's where the difference comes in. Okay. That's where the impact will come in, and HR needs to focus on that part more, uh, recognition. And that is evolving and that is evolving to give you more and more insights, uh, there. So that's how, you know, that's what I would say. I mean, you asked me the question, what do you think about, uh, the service awards? Great. But also focus on the other part, which is more important.  

[Tom Finn]    00:30:30    Yeah. So I, I think too, to wrap that part up, I you've got, uh, rewards and recognition, which is R and R. And I'm gonna come back to that in just a second. So you've got rewards and recognition. And what you're saying is, look, if you want to give out the five-year watch, great, wonderful do it, but don't do it quietly. Don't do it. Uh, you know, with a box that shows up at the person's office, they open it by themselves. They see the watch that might not have the same impact as if we're in a public setting. And we are lifting people up by saying, we're so proud of the work that this employee did. And we're just, we're so grateful to have you on the team and, and let that shine in front of everybody else. Then give 'em the watch and say, and here's the watch, or here are the 50 bucks, or here's the, you know, whatever the company can afford at scale for their organization.  

[Tom Finn]    00:31:18    Um, and you're right. I think, uh, at times we, we tend to send the box to the office or the home office and say, Hey, we, we check the box and we didn't necessarily do public praise, uh, right. For those employees. And, and we all need that. Uh, we all wanna feel, feel rewarded from our company. Now you have a different version. My friend of R and R rewards and recognition, uh, my version of R and R I have a British mother, uh, and her, her version of R and R was rest in relaxation. Um, <laugh> so, you know, it's, uh, the same R and R different, different terminology rest in relaxation. And maybe that is part of a global reward system at some point that we do need to make sure our employees are taking that, that rest, that relaxation using their PTO, uh, using their vacation days to make sure that, uh, they come back with a clear mind. And, uh, and that is part of an overall wellness, uh, and wellbeing offering as well.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:32:20    True. True. I mean, so, so, so this rest and, uh, rest, and, uh, what did you say  

[Tom Finn]    00:32:25    Rest and relaxation?  

[Partha Noeg]    00:32:27    Relaxation? Very, very important. I think I, I never thought of it that way, but thank you for, uh, that, uh, thing. I'll use this. Uh, uh, so, uh, so I, I think it's important for employees to get engaged, you know, this relaxation part of it, the whole, uh, wellness part of it. I'm not saying you can't force you, you as a company, not take the responsibility of making, you know, uh, my employees fit, but I can nudge them. I can show them certain things. I can make it easy for them to do certain things, which is I allowed them to take their leaves. Okay. I allowed them to take their vacations, you know, uh, allowed them to take a one-hour break for whatever, some activities, which is there. I can just enable it. Okay. As a company, the rest, uh, is, is up to the individual, you know, I can do everything, but people might still, you know, end up with the unhealthiest of habits, uh, there, uh, but these tools help you, these tools enable, uh, the HR to provide the, uh, the environment, uh, for a, you know, a healthy place kinda thing.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:33:30    So that, that's how, um, you know, I would see,  

[Tom Finn]    00:33:33    Yeah, and, and HR leaders have the power, uh, this, this beautiful seat, this wonderful opportunity to bring in programs that support employees in all different ways. Uh, and it really is an employer-centric model that we live in, in most countries around the world where we are only provided these types of services by our employers. Um, they're not just out there in the free market. And if they were, they'd be far too expensive on an individual basis for all of us to stack up these tools one by one for ourselves or our family. And so there's a, there's a wonderful opportunity, but also a great responsibility for HR leaders, uh, to put the right tools in place and support employees, uh, both for their productivity, for their wellbeing. And of course, for the company, for their retention, uh, of those folks as well. Now, now  

[Partha Noeg]    00:34:25    What love, love them until they're married to you, you know, <laugh>, that's right. Love them until they're married to you. You can love them afterward. Also, I,  

[Tom Finn]    00:34:32    I, I like that analogy too, right? You're saying we're, we're, we're married and you're engaged if you're in the company and sometimes the divorces do happen. Um, and, uh, and that's okay to, uh, to have change, uh, in an organization. So one of the things that, uh, I'm passionate about, I know you are too, is this alignment of a mission and making sure that employees their own personal mission and, and what they value is a part of the company that they work for. Right. And that creates alignment. So help me understand your take on sort of mission and policy and, and adoption of employees and how that all fits together the right way, uh, at a company.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:35:14    See, uh, I see that the engage, I mean, coming back, I'll answer this from an engagement point of view. So engagement tools and technology and platforms are one part of it. OK. The other part important part is the policies. Which is, which is there in the company. And when I say policies, I'm talking broadly about it, policies mean what's the company's mission. Okay. What kinda leadership is available in the company? OK. Are, are the leaders trained and sensitive to the different and the diverse in the workforce, which is there, you know, so those policies also are very important. Now, if you, if you do all these, all the reward and recognition, this wellness, pulse measurement, everything you bring in all the solutions OK. But you, your mission is not something which is really attractive to the, uh, to the employee. I think, uh, it's not going work out in the long term.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:36:09    It's not going to, and it doesn't need to be like a very, very high, the high flying mission, you know, to save the world or something like that. You know, it can be very simple mission, you know, which can engage these employees, but it's, it's not like a black or white in the entire thing, the tools, the, the solutions which you provide, the policies all contributes to the overall employee engagement. You know, but if I can ask, when I look at my own company, uh, I see mostly what is driving. We, we, we, we grew from about 50 odd people to hundred 50 odd people in the last, uh, one half years, uh, the first 50 people, the first 20 people, I didn't have lots of coffee, uh, office facilities, like a nice fancy coffee machine. And, and, and, uh, all these Hamilton is helping Kong boards or something. We didn't have that, you know, those are those help in the engagement, but we didn't have, but what we had was a very strong mission, you know, we said, Hey, we're sitting in, in, in a small town in India. Okay. Can we really take on the international giant David versus go kind of story? That is what the mission reveal of the employees, what drove us to the stage where we are. So I think that's important, uh, but each has its own role. I mean, your policies, your, your tools technology.  

[Tom Finn]    00:37:30    Yeah. Be beautifully said. I think, um, we're all trying to figure out the alignment between the mission of the company that match the opportunities for advancement that are, that are diverse, equitable, inclusive, right. Across all different affinity groups. It's so important that we're matching the core culture of an organization and then bringing in the products and services that support that mission, uh, and the values that are created, um, within an organization. So, so let me ask, let me ask you this one. Partha, uh, you've had an incredible career. You've built this really cool company, uh, your, your tenures in, has anything ever gone wrong or has it all been, uh, you know, a golden road and, and flowers being thrown at you along the way  

[Partha Noeg]    00:38:21    Know, I had this big vision when I was born that this will be like this, you know, so I thought you, you're an entrepreneur, you know, uh, you're an entrepreneur, you know, I mean, no entrepreneurship story is ever a straight line, you know? It has its ups and downs and more downs, but the ups take care of the highest take care of all the downs. I mean, if you ask me, would I do it again? I think the answer is yes, there have been so many downs. Okay. So, when I created the original business plan, we would have been profitable in year one. We became profitable in year seven. Okay. So, uh, uh, so you can imagine what could have gone wrong. Everything went wrong. OK. Everything went wrong, but at the same time, a lot of things happen. You know, now when I talk about it, some of those original HR, uh, managers, the middle-level managers are not HR directors, you know, the senior C. So they have like grown with me and they know, Hey, our things going on there come over for a meeting. You know, they take, you know, they bounce off some ideas with me. It happens. Okay. All those things. But to answer your question, it's, it's very, I, I haven't seen any single entrepreneur who has, uh, had a straight line journey.  

[Tom Finn]    00:39:38    Well, and I think that same philosophy and that same grit applies to those in HR roles, um, which are some of the tough toughest roles to take on, uh, on the planet, because you're in charge of so many different policies and procedures and people, and, and there's a lot of law behind it and compliance, and then there's the people part. And that's what we do here. We're, we're looking to lift up, uh, organizations and HR leaders so that they can, uh, lift up their people as well. And I think you've done a brilliant job of outlining not only, uh, what vantage circle does, uh, from a business standpoint, but, but really your thoughts on, on probably my favorite when it comes to empowerment and engagement, how do you feel about your job in the shower? Right. I mean, what a beautiful, simple way of saying it, how do you feel about it?  

[Tom Finn]    00:40:29    Um, and it really comes down to those type of moments as, as leaders, as we move the company and try to create the right policies and structure and infrastructure, um, to have a, a world-class, uh, organization. So I thank you so much, uh, for being on the show. I mean, you, you're, you're clearly an innovator. Um, you're disrupting the status quo, and we love to, we love to see that. So if I'm an HR, if I'm a people leader, if I'm around the world, uh, part of how, how do we get in touch with you? What's the best way to find you? My friend,  

[Partha Noeg]    00:40:59    I mean, LinkedIn is, of course there [Partha Noeg]. I think, uh, Tom, you'll be sharing that you a name there. So you just search for me, not too many Noeg’s in the world. So, you will find me on LinkedIn there, and of course, Vantagecircle.com. You reach out to any of our, reach out to us, to the website, and, uh, we can definitely connect and discuss, uh, your requirements or just to chit chat. You know, we also have a lot of podcasts, blogs, and all those things. We'd love to take views from HR folks there.  

[Tom Finn]    00:41:29    Yeah, absolutely. So if you're, if you're thinking about rewards and perks, you're thinking about pulse work, you're thinking about wellness and fit. Uh, vantage circle has, uh, all of that available, but I think, uh, what it really comes down to is, um, great leadership from a terrific CEO who has, uh, been in the trenches and continues to be in the trenches for his, for his customers. So for that part, we thank you for being a part of our talent, empowerment community, and lifting up others around the world.  

[Partha Noeg]    00:42:00    Thank you, Tom. And I think you're doing an amazing job with this podcast of yours. I think this is amazing and I'm lucky we connected.  

[Tom Finn]    00:42:08    Well, thank, thank you so much. And thank you all for joining the Talent Empowerment podcast. I hope this conversation lifted you up so you can lift up your teams and organizations we'll see on the next episode, but until then, let's skip back to people and culture together.  

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