Article: Lynette D’Silva on the COVID triggered evolution of benefits and rewards

Benefits & Rewards

Lynette D’Silva on the COVID triggered evolution of benefits and rewards

Lynette D’Silva, Head of Regional HR - India & APAC at Amdocs discusses the evolving benefits landscape on account of COVID-19, the need to reassess goals in the short-term and her take on redesigning rewards to compensate for the financial setback borne by employees.
Lynette D’Silva on the COVID triggered evolution of benefits and rewards

Lynette D’Silva, Head of Regional HR - India & APAC at Amdocs comes with over 25 years of experience across IT and Telecommunications. 

Lynette played key leadership roles in HR and led cross functional teams on strategic projects. She has championed leading roles in the areas of compensation management, organization development, employee relations, internal communications, HR consulting, talent acquisition, and mergers & acquisitions.

In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, Lynette discusses the evolving benefits landscape on account of COVID-19, the need to reassess goals in the short-term and aligning work expectations in sync with the existing exceptional circumstances.

What has been your biggest observation about leaders and employees throughout the first half of this year?

The first half of the year has been one of immense learning and testing of our skills and abilities, including that of the leaders. The sudden change from the normal mode of working to adapting to the new normal of 'work from home,' came with its own set of challenges. Right from IT logistics to infrastructure, to home networking and connectivity, to managing and balancing personal and work priorities, there have been plenty of aspects that needed immediate attention. 

Some of the competencies that our leaders have managed to demonstrate are the ability to manage during ambiguity, think and respond strategically, lead and engage their teams, be resilient, and display empathy. The leadership team remained true to its employees by trusting and empowering them to take ownership and accountability of their tasks. I am happy to share that our employees have risen to the occasion and ensured we deliver to our commitment while working remotely during the lockdown.

Do you sense a need to train managers and leaders on being more accepting of the exceptional circumstances we live in today and aligning work expectations in sync with that?

While our leaders and managers have proven their resilience by adapting to the current situation, as an organization, we have ensured that we equip them with the right tools, training and resources in order to manage effectively and respectfully.

We launched the Virtually Together website which has all the necessary resources for leading teams remotely during these unprecedented times. The website also has sections on managing self, personal health and wellbeing, activities and tools for the entire family, and an employee connect and experience sharing corner for the larger workforce. 

The colonial mindset around working from home being synonymous with lesser work being done has been challenged by the endless hours of work being put in by leaders, managers and employees. However, there continues to be a need to prove online presence. A recent survey stated that 28% of professionals feel like their boss values them based on how many hours they work. What is your take on this?  What should employers keep in mind while revising the performance framework for their remote employees? 

We need to be flexible and adaptive in order to survive and thrive as an organization. Our employees have been mobilized to work from home to reduce risk of infection while, at the same time, they can securely access the mission-critical systems needed to keep our customers in 80 countries running their operations seamlessly and without interruption.

I think what should matter in situations like these is productivity and our ability to deliver.

We should trust and empower our teams to take ownership and accountability of their tasks and provide them with the flexibility, while accomplishing their individual and team goals.

Being extra sensitive to their time constraints and personal commitments is essential.

Also, timely and constructive feedback on an ongoing basis rather than at stipulated intervals is also required to achieve the desired outcomes.

In your opinion, which performance metrics will now determine compensation?

Compensation cannot be purely based on a specific performance metric or criterion. It is based on the overall performance of an individual along with his current salary position vis- a- vis the market. And this will continue to be the case going forward too. Though, goals set out at the beginning of the year will have to be reassessed in some cases to focus more on the short term, immediate and urgent priorities, especially for the current cycle.

Industry-wide pay cuts have sent several employees 2 or 3 years back in their financial standing. With finances expected to be in a slump for an unpredictable time period, what reward strategies can organizations consider to help employees navigate these challenging times? How should employers go about managing rewards, particularly if they’re unable to bounce back to previous pay levels?

I believe that employees are prudent enough to understand that the priority for every organization is to maintain performance standards and meet business goals. A competitive salary package is always on top of an employee’s wish list, but in situations like the one we are facing right now, every employee is willing to contribute to the organization’s goals and continue to learn and stay up-to-date with future skills. It is the organization’s responsibility to provide learning and growth opportunities for employees.

Ensuring a safe and healthy work environment, benefits like insurance coverage for employee and family, timely rewards and recognition, and giving time off work are some of the initiatives being taken. 

Despite no bonus, no appraisals, and significant cuts in annual compensation, expected work and hours have not been toned down, rather we see a greater blurring of work-life boundaries. In your opinion, have organizations begun to explore alternative ways to compensate employees or consider reducing workload through shorter work weeks or adjusted hours, etc?

We are committed to our employees’ health and well-being, as well as to their long-term employability. Some immediate measures we took to support our employees during these times are zero business travel, regular communication on COVID-19 situation, tools for working effectively and ensuring adherence to safety measures in office or at customer sites.

In this time of great disruption, we are also taking proactive measures for a heathy work-life balance for our employees. Further, we are organizing sessions and workshops for employees and their families, where they can participate in DIY activities, learn art and craft, etc.

As business and HR leaders look to reset workplace and people policies in the new reality of work, how is the benefits landscape changing?

Benefits can range from insurance to special leaves to personal development sessions.

We have made a concerted effort towards ensuring that employees and their dependants are supported during the COVID crisis. Health insurance coverage is provided to our employees and their families, with an additional top up option to cater to the current needs. 

We have launched several employee well-being programs such as meditative yoga, resilience, music, art, etc. Besides, we have launched an expanded employee assistance program for employees and their families. In addition, we are conducting sessions on lifestyle management, healthcare, ergonomics, special precautions to be taken by expecting mothers during COVID-19 and safety measures to be taken for kids in the current situation, etc. 

What are your priorities with regard to adapting to the post-COVID-19 world? Any specific initiative you plan to take around performance and rewards?

We are working each day on how to best continue to keep the health and safety of our employees and their families our top priority during this time, while maintaining our business continuity and performance. We conducted dip-stick surveys to understand the employee sentiments and are working on the ensuing priorities. We will continue to recognize and reward employees for their achievements and outstanding performance.

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Topics: Benefits & Rewards, #RethinkPerformanceandRewards

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