The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted world economies, businesses and people alike. The global crisis had caused a severe disruption in industries across the globe, and the eCommerce industry has been no exception.
Amid all the challenges and changes that organizations are adapting to in this new world of work, one thing that comes to the forefront is about how organizations will align their business strategy with their people strategy. And while doing so, how are they ensuring they provide an ideal employee experience to their people. Change is never easy, and in unprecedented times like these, it is all the more important for leaders to look at ensuring they have a workforce that is willing to give in their best no matter what the situation is.
Diving deep into the criticality of employee experience in the eCommerce sector in these times of crisis, we spoke to Krishna Raghavan, Chief People Officer, Flipkart, where he shares how the eCommerce giant is creating a pleasant employee experience for their workforce amid COVID-19 and how employee experience at Flipkart is driven on the strong foundation of culture, engagement, wellness and growth.
On a scale of 1-5 (5 being extreme, production getting halted and businesses facing losses), how do you perceive the current business situation in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis?
At the Flipkart Group, we are mobilizing all possible resources and exploring several collaborations to ensure that in this national fight against COVID-19, we can contribute meaningfully, by delivering essential supplies to people leveraging our marketplace and technology.
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, why has EX become a top priority for business leaders across the world? Why is employee experience even more critical in times of crisis?
COVID-19 has presented organizations with a crisis situation which is unprecedented and needs to be managed personally and professionally, in ways we haven’t before. Everything that we do during this time at Flipkart is driven by the need for employee safety, their wellbeing and progress.
It is said that during good times - communicate, and in difficult times - over communicate. We want to ensure that there is continuous and transparent communication to help our employees get clear visibility into the future, while we support them with the right tools they may need to stay productive and at the same time inspire them to go the extra mile needed for the tough times. It is an important priority to maintain an open dialogue with all our employees.
At Flipkart, there are several workplace policies and initiatives which contribute to a thriving culture, where employees reach their full potential, while feeling valued and respected. We have introduced new additions during this unprecedented time that we believe are important and will continue to strengthen our employee experience and culture. As our employees work remotely, we are ensuring that initiatives are rolled out to keep employees motivated, engaged and productive. We frequently communicate guidelines on effective team engagement, team building, prioritizing important work and goal setting.
Employees today look for a work experience that is optimized for meaningful work and personal fulfillment, and encourages a growth mindset. What strategies can organizations follow to ensure enhanced employee experience?
At Flipkart, we understand the importance of creating equal opportunities at the workplace, which are inclusive and empowering at the same time and are rooted in a strong sense of trust placed in our employees.
We believe that building a culture that is focused on career progression and advancement has to be built around providing the right opportunities to employees across the organization. These could be opportunities for skill development through carefully crafted learning programs, job mobility through IJPs, continuous growth through competency and behavioral growth frameworks, rewards and recognition systems designed to encourage desired organizational values and more.
Employee experience is a sum total of the culture, benefits, work environment, growth opportunities, values and vision. One way for organizations to achieve is to put their employees at the center of their policy design and continue to improve those policies through constant feedback. A collaborative approach that creates and maintains an open dialogue with employees can help enable organizations to design an ideal employee experience.
Please share examples of how your organization is working on creating an ideal employee experience. How are you creating a pleasant employee experience for your distributed and gig workforce especially?
We are focused on transparent and high-touch engagement across the board by leaders & HR - ensuring that we are proactively helping employees solve professional & personal challenges they are dealing with during these unprecedented times. Their feedback and inputs help us arrive at interesting and relevant solutions and proactively address needs that are unique to the variety of talent that we have across the company.
With all our corporate employees working remotely, guidelines are being frequently shared with everyone on how to effectively engage teams and manage priorities. We place a high importance on the overall wellbeing of our employees and are equipping them with effective tools that will enable them to focus on their mental and physical health, while working from home. Several interesting webinars have been scheduled in this regard. Currently, our primary concern is the health of our employees. This includes not just our corporate staff, but also our employees across the supply chain, including warehouses and last-mile delivery operations. With a strong Business Continuity Plan in place, we are ensuring that our staff follows precautions and preventive measures during this time.
Our supply chain and logistics network comprises more than 120,000 people, and we have organized over 3,000 awareness sessions across all our facilities on how our employees and partners can minimize their exposure by following simple precautionary measures. These programs have been conducted in multiple regional languages to educate our staff and sensitize them to the gravity of the situation without creating panic.
Employee experience is important as we look at our new hires or candidates in the pipeline as well. We are keeping an open and transparent dialogue with all our candidates in the pipeline, honoring all offers and pivoted to ensure that we have a positive, thoughtful and high-touch New Hire Onboarding Virtual Experience. For the interns from B-Schools & Engineering Schools, we have modified our internship program to meet the objective of a learning and beneficial internship virtually.
From a learning perspective, we have customized digital learning sessions for this month to include topics such as tips to conduct a great virtual meeting, managing time effectively and strengthening resilience for success. These initiatives ensure that our employees feel motivated and energized as they work remotely. At Flipkart, we believe that working from home isn’t a deterrent for upskilling and contributing meaningfully; so that our employees can emerge from this situation with a feeling of personal and professional growth.
Last but not least, we are leveraging the power of social media to enable our employees to share their #workfromhome experiences in these unprecedented times through stories on social media.
What steps are you taking with regards to - travel restrictions, work-from-home policy, ways of working, health precautions, communication plan, and business continuity?
Prime Minister Modi and respective State Governments have taken strong, quick and decisive actions to prevent the spread of the outbreak of COVID-19 and we are deeply appreciative of the measures taken to ensure that people stay at home to break the chain. We have been working from home since 9th March and had issued a ban on all non-essential domestic and international business travel as a precautionary measure. We are promoting the use of video conferences for meetings, including job interviews.
For our supply chain and logistics network, we have organized awareness sessions across all our facilities on how our employees and partners can minimize their exposure by following simple precautionary measures. We have our wishmasters with PPEs including masks, sanitizers and other required equipment for their protection and hygiene while they are on the go, and are keeping track of impacted areas to minimize their exposure. Wishmasters who are unwell are being advised to rest with all assurance of medical support. We are working towards building and strengthening the morale of delivery teams and supply chain executives who are playing a very important role in delivering essentials to people across India. This includes providing them medical and life insurance, pay and benefits in case they are quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19.
What policies and processes do you have in place for an infected employee or an employee whose family member(s) have been infected?
Our employees are covered under a comprehensive insurance plan and will be provided with necessary leave and payment benefits as per their individual plan, which can include family members too. Our delivery executives are covered with both life and medical insurance, and in case anyone contracts COVID-19 or is being placed under quarantine, he/she will be provided with leave with pay and other benefits, irrespective of whether it was contracted on the job.