Ramya Sampath Sharma is the Chief People Officer, GreyOrange. With over two decades of experience, Ramya is a veteran HR lead, having led strategic initiatives across companies, along with D&I. Under her leadership, the company is working on its unique culture evolution projects – to drive the G-Force Ambassador program to inculcate a culture of a Real-Life Problem solver.
Ramya serves as the company’s culture ambassador and a passionate champion for the talented team members at GreyOrange who are transforming the fulfillment industry. She drives programs globally for talent acquisition, learning and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, and HR data & analytics, equipping GreyOrange as a foremost employer in technology that attracts, retains and grows the best talent.
In an exclusive interaction with us, Ramya shares how organizations can integrate technology in a way that strengthens culture and makes it inclusive.
As companies pick themselves up and start trudging on in the COVID-stricken world with new working arrangements, how can organizations revamp their work culture in line with their core values?
Fundamentally there is a core that anchors us and that is really your organizational culture. It creates stickiness in the organization. That culture or character fundamentally needs to stay. So how do we transcend this challenging time to make that culture more real than ever? For instance, at Grey Orange, we believe in limitless opportunities as a core and how we are trying to live it in in this digital wok culture is through capturing all current opportunities on a digital portal, kind of a marketplace of opportunities. So people operations will have to be more thoughtful about how we can reimagine the very same experiences in a digital context. Earlier, in an office, you could probably tap someone on the shoulder and ask if he/she was interested in a project. Now we have to curate it and try to give it a similar feel or vibe.
Also, at Grey Orange, a big part of our culture is helping people grow internally. In an environment where the heart of that conversation is going to be a conversation, how do we enable leaders and managers to have that conversation digitally? How do they transfer both sincerity and intent in a digital world? We went through that entire exercise in May to enable that and rethink all these small experiences that employees go through on a day to day basis that bring your culture to life.
So now you need to spend time on aspects that you took for granted and not leave them to serendipity any more.
How can leaders make sure their cultures are adaptable now that it’s harder to solidify shared beliefs with a distributed workforce?
Now more than ever, even leaders have to become more intentional. They have to be intentional about what they are spending time talking about. They have to be intentional about communicating outside the regular channels of communication, about communicating who we are as an organization and what is the trajectory the organization is following. They need to make themselves more available and open and reinforce the organizational beliefs. They have to consciously keep time on their calendar to connect with people and think of ways how do you replicate the pat on the back. For instance, we have started leveraging short voice messages on WhatsApp for the same. Ultimately, leaders will have to spend more energy and pivot faster to this new way of working.
How can organizations integrate technology in a way that strengthens culture?
I feel one of the most underused things by HR practitioners is technology and digital. One of the ways we are employing technology is to use an AI led solution to understand where people are from a mood and sentiment perspective and respond to them quickly. It gives us an early hint and a tracker as to what people may be feeling because there are only so many people that we will be able to touch on a real time basis. So it makes sense to use technology in this area to complement the human touch. Especially in times like these where people are much stressed; it is a great way to know what people are going through and offer simple solutions.
Similarly, it can be used to introduce newer ideas and learning in shorter, more compelling video formats. We are at the cusp of finding solutions for complete digital onboarding and how do we create really strong employee micro experiences and yet enable employees to feel valued and be at that desired level of satisfaction.
What are some of the best practices you will advise to organizations to embed trust and transparency in the virtual working environment?
The best way to build trust is by being transparent about what are we doing, why we are doing it and how are we doing it. We owe all our employees honesty.
We are open about what we can answer; we are also open about what we cannot answer. Secondly, it is also important for organizations to admit vulnerability. We don’t have all the answers. We are seeking them out themselves. We do not know how will hybrid pan out or what will be the after effects of this model. So we have launched it as an experiment, we will learn from it for our employees, and bring that learning back to them.
What as per you are the cornerstones of building an inclusive and high-performing digital work culture?
At the heart of it, whether it’s digital or not, the things that you will have to do to build an inclusive and high performing culture are going to remain the same.
You will need to build a strong cultural fabric that holds the organization together. Organizations need to build a culture that makes feel people valued and recognized, caters to their emotional needs and their rational needs, makes people feel that they have control over their jobs, and ultimately gives them clarity of purpose.