Article: Boosting experience in a hybrid world of work– Building a cohesive approach to improve EX

A Brand Reachout InitiativeEmployee Engagement

Boosting experience in a hybrid world of work– Building a cohesive approach to improve EX

It is important to create a sense of psychological safety by linking processes to what makes people feel valued in difficult situations, at a personal and professional level.
Boosting experience in a hybrid world of work– Building a cohesive approach to improve EX

The rise of hybrid has forced HR to rethink its approach to building the right employer value proposition (EVP) to make people feel more valued and perform. Creating a great employee experience has become a top priority, given the great resignation and the workforce diversity. In an exclusive webcast in partnership with Zimyo, Atul Joshi, VP- HR and Admin, Mahindra Finance and Anu Yadav, Lead Implementation, People and Culture, Zimyo spoke about the shifts they observed.

Atul talks about the three shifts to engage the employee in a work-from-home hybrid scenario: flexibility, increased focus on employee wellness, and digital acceleration. “We need to balance the hard and soft aspects i.e. policies and methods vs. personal connect”, said Atul. Anu Yadav, Lead Implementation- People and Culture, Zimyo noted how even the smallest things matter for fresh talent in a start-up environment. Personalization is the answer to curating an engaging employee experience and becoming a talent magnet. 

Challenges in implementing a hybrid work model as a new way of work

As work from home became the new normal, organizations initially had to relook at how to support employees. At Mahindra Finance, HR had to change policies while being sensitive to employee needs. More than harder aspects, the softer side needed to be managed. “Managers had to be sensitized about personal space and time. A lot of anxiety prevailed, but we ensured no employees lost their jobs and got their monthly salary on time”, shares Atul.

With work-from-home, a fear of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ prevailed for a while. Hence, it was important to create a sense of psychological safety by linking processes to what makes people feel valued in difficult situations, at a personal and professional level. This meant recognizing the achievements of people and generating positivity through personal connections. “We connected people on 1-0-1 levels, extending interactions to families and also understanding personal elements like family hospitalizations and extending support. We started an ‘All India Webcast’ wherein senior management addressed all employees, to create a good feel”, shares Atul. 

For Zimyo, the shift towards remote work was easier due to a young population, but it came with its own challenges. Being a product organization, HR had to sensitize leaders and managers that they could not expect teams to be available throughout the day. “The importance of work-life balance, mental wellness and its impact on productivity, and acting with empathy were top priorities to engage employees in hybrid working”, shares Anu. 

Boosting experience during the hybrid shift: the how

Companies took up proactive measures to ensure their employees felt taken care of. Mahindra Finance put in place free doctor consultations and nurse calls, home-quarantine guidance for employees and families, webinars on managing personal and professional life, and psychological counseling and stress management 1-0-1 services. HR relooked at the policies with a lens of empathy to ensure additional support, for example, vaccinations, beyond-limit medical aid, and financing education till graduation for kids of corona-deceased employees. 

At Zimyo, the HR team looked at this slightly differently, the idea being to up the employees’ motivation levels. R&R activities and timely feedback were started, with regular communication on how much the organization values its employees. “With a focus on a young demographic, we conducted a five-day fun get-together covering motivational speakers, yoga sessions, virtual music sessions, management speak etc.”, said Anu. Other motivators included Friday fun interactions and open feedback channels to help employees feel connected and involved. 

Employee insight for better decisions 

To create an ongoing employee ‘connect’ and belongingness, it is important to first understand the employee. “Listen to people”, says Atul. Allowing and empowering people to take ground-level relevant decisions was important. This starts with a mindset of trusting people. “We connected with branch personnel when traveling to the locations, and used those interactions to understand what people wanted. Some of the asks centered on Wi-Fi-reimbursement policy, attendance policy, extended usage of PLs, and flexibility to work from anywhere”, shares Atul. 

At Zimyo too, the ‘employee-first’ motto ensured leaders were tuned in to the pulse of employees. “On calls, we urge teams to be on cameras to bring in an emotion. We encourage employees to speak to each other by introducing new joiners to all employees through a virtual network, giving them an opportunity to connect”, shares Anu. To ensure new-joiners feel welcomed, the company runs a virtual onboarding program and a buddy program. Atul noted how the buddy program with the responsibility of check-ins with a buddy, HR, and employees really ups the EX game.

Leveraging technology to enhance EX

While data is being gathered through various sources, leveraging the latest technologies is necessary to make sense of the insights. Whether it is paneling up with websites like Coursera, or instating a contemporary LMS system, Zimyo ensures the new joiners are well versed with their own internal products as well as market offerings. “We reimburse the cost for certifications and courses. Leveraging skills using technology has been our topmost focus until now and going ahead too”, says Anu.  Digital tools must enhance the entire employee value chain from onboarding to exit. 

To stay agile, organizations must keep picking up signals on what is changing i.e. employee profile, employee needs, technologies etc. Leaders must develop a mindset of quickly adapting to these changes and redefining the business strategy while being mindful of relevance and alignment. Once the overall business strategy is defined, the talent strategy must be cultivated around it on a foundation of trust and connection. The ask is for business priorities and employee expectations to converge at the point where high performance prevails in a sustained way.  

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Topics: Employee Engagement, #TheHybridWorkplace, #EmployeeExperience

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