‘Prosperity is a great teacher, adversity is even greater.’
The adverse effects of pandemic can still be seen on the organisations as they attempt to save the employee experience & wellness programs through the rubble of physical offices and executing them in the hybrid workspaces. As the new world of work provides new opportunities to rehash ideas, are the employees ready to adapt to this high-performance culture? At People Matters TechHRIN 2021, Zarin Daruwala, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, India shared how Standard Chartered has taken the initiative.
COVID-19 affecting personal working style
Zarin started off with the emphasis on ‘personal touch’ in a virtual environment, be it team meetings, one on one sessions, or more. COVID-19 has enabled the organisations to appreciate the importance of ‘community’ and ‘communication’. For example, during pre-pandemic times, calling all stakeholders for a physical meeting was a mandate. Now, everyone can meet virtually and topic interests remain the same.
As Standard Chartered India got used to the process of digitizing every task ranging from locating a home loan document to delivering cheques to senior citizens, the question arose h How to keep your employees motivated?
As Zarin shared, the answer is in ‘retaining the human element in a business’.
Virtualisation of the workforce
Working from home or working in a hybrid workspace, both are the sides of the same coin!
The ‘virtualisation of the workforce’ as Zarin highlighted, has its pros & cons which includes ensuring the balance between work and home errands, countering mental fatigue, regular burnouts and more.
As part of the solution, the leaders then decided to repurpose the jobs portfolio of employees for eg. from sales to collections, to make sure the goodwill of the employees is maintained. This maturity from the leadership sets precedence to all the organisations that employee welfare has to be the most priority. The employees need to know that their professional targets can be changed, to boost their morale.
Zarin believes that the virtual setup is providing a complete level-playing field for employees and employers alike. Reminiscing over Narayan Murthy’s speeches, she shares an anecdote of a peon, who asked by the founder of Infosys on what he likes about the ATM, answers quite emphatically -
“Machines don't distinguish between hierarchy”.
Similarly, virtual platforms seem to be an unbiased stage where everyone seems to be equal irrespective of the position in the hierarchy of organisations. Hence, it creates a unique situation of reflection. Zarin shared that every leader can take this opportunity to look ‘inverse’ [inside] and reflect on the actions in the past. It's prudent for the organisations to remember that employee’s safety and emotional wellbeing are the first priority.
How to activate the Digital DNA of the orgs?
With the emerging workplace models, employees also tend to develop different expectations of working. ‘Flexibility’ is the mantra and hybrid models meet their expectations. Zarin discussed a statistic shared by Harvard Business Review that says “Engaged employees are 45% more productive than satisfied employees. And inspired employees are 55% more productive than engaged employees.” Thus, a clear business purpose during the pandemic hit scenario will help employees thrive and perform better.
To keep the right people on board and to inspire & upskill them, Standard Chartered India launched a digital academy to build future work skills through self modules while supporting their employees with a new learning platform called ‘Discover’. Zarin highlighted that through these designs, colleagues can feel what they are learning and become a ‘business enabler’ for their organisation.
Zarin concluded her session by recalling how the pandemic is a ‘black swan’ event and how it's quintessential for the organisations to emerge from the 18 months with deeper learning and insights about managing workspaces for employees and wellness. An empathetic and fair leadership will enable the employees to surprise their employers with inspired performances and commitment.