Benefits must keep pace with the evolved working model: Manisha Agarwal, Director and Head, HR at PUMA India
2020 was a year where organizations had to seriously relook at employee experience. It was a year that redefined their outlook towards EX in a big way, forcing them to tune up and listen empathetically to employees and act fast. While 2021 brought hope with the authorization and dissemination of the first COVID-19 vaccines, yet it is safe to say we are not going to the old ways of working anytime soon. This means organizations have a chance to seriously relook at the culture they are building and the experience they are going to deliver in the second year of the pandemic.
So what is next for employee experience? How can we redefine it for our new world of work, a big part of which has transitioned to hybrid work? In an exclusive interaction with us, Manisha Agarwal, Director and Head, HR at PUMA India, shares what does employee experience in the new hybrid reality looks like.
How do we reboot Employee Experience and tune up for success in our changed world of work?
Covid has broken down many assumptions and PUMA has revamped the whole employee experience quickly to make sure that there is no dilution in experience which employees get in the virtual world.
We have ensured that employee engagement remains the top priority for the organization during this changing time and we ran programs virtually to ensure that they are engaged. Given that sports and fitness are in our DNA, we ensured even during virtual times, this remains the backbone of our engagement program. We launched PSL League (PUMA Sports Life League) which is our flagship engagement that encompasses fitness, lifestyle as well as community. Employees were divided across 4 teams whereby they competed round the year on fitness challenges, quizzes, and other sports. Around 70% of employees actively participated, thus making this successful.
What does employee experience in the new hybrid reality of work look like? What are some of the key defining parameters at PUMA?
Employee experience has totally changed considering that most of us currently operate from home. PUMA is a people-first organization, and we are true to our commitment to taking care of our employees and accordingly we quickly transformed our processes to adjust to the need of the hour. Each aspect of employee touchpoints was looked at from a lens of current reality and revamped.
Some of the initiatives undertaken include:
• Health Insurance limit was enhanced for employees and their families
• We have collaborated with YourDOST, India’s first and the largest online mental health and emotional wellness coach, to bring experts to advice employees on a range of personal issues and help them make positive lifestyle changes.
• Reimbursement for Covid tests for employees and dependents for Retail & corporate employees along with provision for special Covid related leaves
• Home-Internet allowance for all employees
•Our in-house experts from each domain conduct virtual cross-functional trainings to upskill our employees and we collaborated with LinkedIn Learnings to provide access to varied content
• Cross functional projects for the entire workforce to encourage collaboration and understanding of various functions and business needs
• Planning financial wellness in times of Covid-19
• PPE Kit fundraiser in associate with Give India NGO to donate PPE kits for healthcare workers
Benefits have undergone a major change as work models have changed and employees need different benefits in a post-pandemic world of 2020. How has PUMA reimagined benefits for a hybrid world?
Benefits must keep pace with the evolved working model and PUMA India has specifically allocated budgets to focus on employee well-being, mental health, and work/life balance as a key priority.
Over-communication is the focus so that employees feel connected and apt usage of technology via email, webinars, manager cascade have been the go-to route.
In keeping in with the post Covid challenges by our employees, we enhanced our health insurance covers, provided home internet allowance for all employees, reimbursement for Covid tests for employees and dependents, and special COVID-19 sick leaves. Keeping the safety and wellbeing of employees in mind, we are continuing to work from home and allowing flexible work schedules to take care of their personal well-being.
Wellbeing as a focus area for organizations was majorly thrust into prominence for all organizations in 2020. What are the key trends that are emerging in 2021?
Well-being- both physical and mental has been the focus. Innovation around providing benefits that fit into the new world has been implemented. For e.g. PUMA India supported gym membership for employees. Similar benefits have been extended for virtual education for continuous learning and skill upgradation. While working from home, we ensured that work-life balance has been taken care of well by introducing regular checks on stress/burnout levels for employees and helping them through professional counseling wherever required.
Employee experience in 2021 requires continuous hearing and feedback from the organization rather than once in a quarter or once in six months surveys. How can organizations build a continuous approach to EX?
Usage of Cali Chatbot as a tool to measure continuous employee feedback with respect to their wellbeing and mental state has been the focus.
Technology has broken several barriers for employees to share grievances and engage with the management.
This AI-enabled tool has helped us immensely in predictive analysis by providing deeper insights into motivators and drivers throughout the employee lifecycle.
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