Dream Sports’ CHRO on talent, skilling and well-being

October 28, 2021

Kevin Freitas is currently serving as the Chief Human Resources Officer at Dream Sports, among India’s leading sports technology firms.

Kevin’s professional background includes more than a decade of business, consulting, and human resources experience with technology companies. He enjoys coaching and partnering with senior leaders to lead business, culture and organizational transformations.

Kevin began his career with Procter & Gamble in 2000, and went on to serve in consulting and multiple HR roles across leading firms in the likes of HayGoup, Flipkart, InMobi and now Dream Sports. At InMobi, Kevin was the HR Leader for the company’s sales organization across China, Japan, Asia-Pacific and India. He also led specialist functions like Culture, Learning, Engagement, Recruitment and Employer Branding. Prior to InMobi, Kevin led the HR functions of Compensation & Benefits, HR Shared Services, Engagement and Performance Management at Flipkart.com.

In conversation with People Matters, Kevin talks about viewing empathy as a business skill,  embedding well-being in the flow of work and Dream Sport’s ‘Learning Wallet’.

There is a significant and continuous rise in employees experiencing stress and burnout across the globe. How is Dream Sports embedding employee well-being in the flow of work?

Dream Sports is a highly culture-driven company that fosters an employee-focused,  transparent, in-person and open culture. We follow our five culture pillars ‘DO-PUT’ that stands for Data-obsessed, Ownership, High performance, User first, and Transparency, and we keep encouraging Sportans (our employees) to DO PUT our culture first. On our journey over the years, we have realized that culture is the only thing that scales with an organization.

At Dream Sports, we believe that if our Sportans feel included and are welcomed to be themselves at the workplace, we can automatically reduce the level of stress or burnout that they may face.

“Some of our organization-wide cultural practices that enable Sportans to perform their best stress-free are the hyper-experimentation based HEAL (Hypothesis, Experiment, Analysis and Learning) under which, Sportans are encouraged to experiment, fail fast, learn fast and move forward.”

We motivate them to share their thoughts and feedback instead of following the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). We also implement collective decision making and changes based on discussions, surveys and feedback from all Sportans.

Besides our focus on culture, we also encourage our Sportans to pursue their dreams and goals beyond their work commitments, especially in a city like Mumbai that has so much to offer its residents. Our wide array of offerings include unlimited leaves, ESOPs grants, conveyance, gym membership, exceptional health and wellness benefits for Sportans and their families, international offsite, etc, Some of our unmatched benefits include: Competitive remuneration packages, opportunity to work in an exciting and fast-growing sector, opportunity to work with the latest tech stack, the Dream Sports Stadium, proximity to the Stadium, Learning wallet, and Relocation benefits.

Additionally, there are notable employee engagement initiatives such as internal contests to test sports knowledge, opportunity to join exclusive sessions and clubs, monthly experience vouchers for employees and their loved ones, one-on-one sessions with physiotherapists, in-house massage sessions twice a week with a professional masseuse, access to healthy meals throughout the day, opportunity to meet and greet sports stars, and the opportunity to avail exclusive match tickets.

With so much focus on strengthening collaboration and connection for a distributed workforce working through a crisis, how can organizations enhance emotional intelligence and psychological safety at the workplace?

Nobody was prepared for the scale and impact of the ongoing pandemic. Everyone has been affected by it in some form or another.

“We want our Sportans to prioritize their health and safety without worrying about their work or job security.”

To ensure the well-being of our Sportans we took several actions last year and initiated new programs to battle the evolving challenges the Sportans might be facing through this health crisis.

We launched a Rapid COVID Resource Channel for immediate help that addressed the needs of Sportans at home to get medical help or hospitalization. For overall personalized and accessible physical and mental healthcare, we have partnered with ‘Visit’ and ‘Santulan’ for free, confidential consultations, health check-ups and counselling. Unlimited leaves were introduced, so employees can take as much time off as required to care for themselves and their families. We also launched a free vaccination drive for all employees and their families residing across the country. These are all in addition to our regular internal initiatives to provide coping mechanisms to Sportans, enhance team bonding and help them to create a positive mindset amidst the gloom, weekly AMA sessions that provided timely and transparent information, fun contests and quizzes that brought teams together outside of their regular work, 90 mins of compulsory lunch break that have now been turned in to three hours of no-meeting zones every workday and occasional surprise gifts for all Sportans and their families.

Due to the pandemic and work-from-home situation, in-person collaborations and discussions are difficult. We quickly adapted and changed to more systemic and process-oriented formats like meetings over video calls, proper software to track and manage team tasks remotely and so on.

“We are now preparing for the Sportans to return to the Stadium. For this, we have enhanced our benefits for their convenience such as relocation and proximity to the Stadium benefits.”

While most of us are working remotely, few of our fully vaccinated team members have already started working from the Stadium voluntarily. To ensure everyone’s safety and well-being, we are following all COVID-19 protocols and precautionary measures, and have arranged for Sportans to get compulsory antigen tests done as they enter the Stadium.