FIP 87: Audience Stories – Ravi Shankar from AcceleratED

Today, we speak with Ravi Shankar of AcceleratED on how Finding Impact has helped the company as it doubles its operations during its growth phase, for which learning from others’ mistakes has been critical.

On this episode:

  • Ravi noted that there had been multiple podcast episodes that have been helpful to his company.
  • An episode that was particularly helpful to Ravi was Episode 78 with Raghu Krishnaswamy. Ravi took away Raghu’s focus on “casting” and building a diverse culture within a team. Some tricks that AcceleratED borrowed from the episode include:
    • Hiring: The company is now taking a “casting” approach to hiring and employing a portfolio approach to human capital management.
    • Retainment: Thinking through the employee life cycle and applying user center design aspects to it.
    • Culture: Connecting with people on a personal level, not just a professional level. They have created a “Hobby Hour” to share interests from outside the office.
  • Ravi noted that when any company is very small, it is easy to develop a culture but can often result in people becoming copies of each other or suffering from group think. Now, AcceleratED is building an internal culture guide to share both successes and vulnerabilities.
  • Ravi was struck by the irony that AcceleratED itself is a behavior change-focused organization, but it is only now that they are incorporating some of the behavior change elements from the business model back into the operations of the company.

Links to Resources:

Connect with Ravi:

(photo: Workers doing maintenance, by World Bank, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Companies Have to Become Human Development Organisations

It’s safe to say that investing in your people is like investing in government securities – it leads to high returns. The workforce is any company’s most valuable asset—no matter what the size, location or even the industry.

In the Finding Impact podcast episode #04 we interviewed Michael Kuntz who talked to us about a unique way to keep a low-skilled workforce engaged and motivated. Michael had worked on this challenge which he saw working in Nigeria, where there was high absenteeism and frequent switching from one job to another. In his investigation into the problem, he found that low-skilled workforce development is a knowledge gap in the sector that needs to be filled. A business which has high margins or has a professional workforce can get away without giving too much attention to this, but early stage businesses which employ low-skilled workers can’t ignore it.

He talks about Generation Enterprise, an organisation he worked with that develops “street youth” into skilled workforce. There is a lot of youth flowing into the urban settings in the city but there are not enough opportunities for them if they don’t have the right skills. To solve this, they developed a model that unlocked the potential of youth to become agents of economic development and social change in their communities.

A few key insights from the interview emerged:

  • If you make training available to the workforce, they can acquire the skills needed to develop their capacities and grow not just professionally, but also as individuals.
  • Creating a stable working environment is important. Helping them see a career progression pathway helps them stick in their role.
  • Creating a feedback loop is essential, which allows employees to understand what they have done well or not, contributing to the personal development process.

There is a lot of great work being done by various social enterprises working to find ways to retain a low-skilled workforce. A few of them include – Samasource, Wave Academy, Kalibrr, DDD Africa.

At the end of the day our aim is to value our employees – they want to feel important, they want to feel like they’re a significant part of the organization. Attending to these needs and values results in not only positive feelings for the employees but also leads to lower staff turnover and increased job satisfaction, ultimately leading to higher productivity.

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(Written by: Akanksha Khurana, Photo credit: Workers doing maintenance, by World Bank, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)