Assured Growth, Compensation, and Inclusivity: A Retention Strategy of Future 2361


Manmeet Sandhu, Head of HR, PhonePe

In a conversation with All Things Talent, Manmeet Sandhu, Head of HR, PhonePe talks about the organisation’s D&I goals pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community, hiring targets, and more.

Q: For people with disabilities, PhonePe structured special roles which were effective from April this year. Please elaborate a bit on these roles, what would be key functions of the same and how will their performances be mapped? How many people have so far been recruited under this initiative?

A: We are experimenting with different models for hiring people with disabilities into different roles at PhonePe. One of the methods we are experimenting with is to work with organisations like Enable India to identify roles with standardised expectations that can be delivered remotely and are easily measurable. Examples of such roles include HR operations executives, accounting executives, and employees in our operations teams.

We have completed an internal review of our policies and ensured that they are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. We have also conducted a detailed survey to understand the current awareness of LGBTQ+ issues within the organisation.

Q: The Employee Resource Group which works to increase the level of awareness about the LGBTQ+ community, what has been the response so far? What are PhonePe’s goals in terms of hiring people from this community this year and how are you going about it?

A: With reference to increased awareness for the LGBTQ+ community, we have had advocates like Parmesh Shahani and Humsafar Trust speak to employees about the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. This included a performance of the acclaimed play “Ek Madhav Bagh”. We have completed an internal review of our policies and ensured that they are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. We have also conducted a detailed survey to understand the current awareness of LGBTQ+ issues within the organisation. While the results of the survey are still awaited, we have had strong positive engagement with the topic within the organization.

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Q: Since a year and a half, how has PhonePe’s hiring strategy undergone a change, given the fact that the mode of work has drastically changed? What are the company’s hiring goals in the coming months?

A: PhonePe continues to hire aggressively across functions and levels. We have been able to effectively leverage online modes of hiring and onboarding employees into the organization. We plan to grow to 2800 employees by the end of the year. We are currently at 2400 employees.

Q: Employee retention could be tricky now with businesses opening up. What will be PhonePe’s action plan to control attrition?

A: We have always had a long-term value proposition for our employees focused on deepening capability, creating opportunity, and enabling impact. Our retention strategy is focused on actively investing in employee’s careers, ensuring that they see concrete growth, and ensuring above-market compensation. Our inclusive ESOPs philosophy ensures that people are able to participate in long-term wealth creation even as they are aligned to delivering great results.

Q: In February, PhonePe allotted ESOPs worth $200 million to its employees. How did this come about and what has been the response? Could this be called an employee retention strategy?

A: The $200 million plan allotted stock options to all 2,200 employees at PhonePe, enabling everyone in the organization to benefit from its success. The PhonePe stock option plan is a core component of our compensation philosophy crafted to encourage collaboration, long-term focus, and organisation first thinking. The success of the organisation is built on the success of each individual in the company.

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Assured Growth, Compensation, and Inclusivity A Retention Strategy of Future 2

Our compensation system aligns with this approach by removing variable pay based on individual performance for most roles. Instead, we use ESOPs to create the incentive for everyone to be invested in long-term organizational growth. By having ESOPs at a minimum of $5000 for all levels, we enable every employee in the organization to participate in the wealth generation opportunity they have helped create — Karte Ja, Badhte Ja.

As roles become more senior, ESOPs are a part of the annual compensation for employees, translating into a larger component of their compensation that is tied to the organisation’s success. This encourages everyone to put the organisation first. The organisation’s success is their success.

Q: How is PhonePe preparing to open up its offices and others to 100% capacity in the coming days with many states relaxing restrictions?

A: PhonePe is running its second phase vaccination camp over the next two weeks. It will enable all employees and their dependents to be fully vaccinated. We have opened up our offices and we are giving employees the option to come into the office if they so wish. We will continue to observe the situation on the ground and assess risks.


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Manmeet Sandhu heads HR at PhonePe Pvt Ltd. She joined PhonePe in December 2018 after 9 years at Amazon. In her last role, she had led HR for the Prime Video Business in Seattle.

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