Article: Foster a work culture that prioritises employee well-being: MBRDI's Mahesh Medhekar

Employee Engagement

Foster a work culture that prioritises employee well-being: MBRDI's Mahesh Medhekar

Supporting employees with training, clear performance evaluations, and encouraging the application of skills for positive changes helps create a culture of well-being and growth, says Mahesh Medhekar, VP-Human Relations at Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India.
Foster a work culture that prioritises employee well-being: MBRDI's Mahesh Medhekar

In an insightful interview, Mahesh Medhekar, VP-Human Relations, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India (MBRDI) unveils strategies being used by his organisation in fostering a work culture that prioritises employee well-being, innovative thinking, and open communication. According to Mahesh, company's emphasis on values, innovation, inclusivity, and transparent communication not only propels talent retention but also nurtures a workforce geared for excellence in the ever-evolving global landscape.

Appreciation motivates employees to produce better work more often. What is your approach towards rewards and recognition in the new-age work culture?

We foster a culture of learning, innovation, and appreciation at our company through a comprehensive and inclusive approach to rewards and recognition. Every employee's contribution, regardless of its size, is valued and acknowledged. We believe that this culture inspires our employees to consistently deliver better results.

We acknowledge both individual and team achievements based on our People Principles and have four categories for individual recognition and one for team accomplishments. We also have 18 distinct Innovation Awards with salary payouts, which are evaluated and announced annually during Innovation Week, showcasing our dedication to promoting innovative thinking and excellence. Our Annual Awards include several distinct categories such as the Cross-functional collaboration Awards, Special Projects Awards, and Long-term Service Awards. Employees receive reward points and a digital yearbook, commemorating their commitment and loyalty to our organisation. Another simple yet powerful way to express appreciation to peers, managers, or any colleague who has made a significant contribution is through E-Cards.

We emphasise an even distribution of awards throughout the year, encouraging instant recognition. Furthermore, we explore the possibility of cross-department awards, fostering collaboration and cooperation across the organisation.

Managers are a vital part of our recognition culture and are encouraged to frequently acknowledge and celebrate deserving employees to maintain a positive and motivating work environment. This practice encourages a sense of belonging and strengthens the bond among team members.

What specific policies and initiatives are in place at Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India (MBRDI) to ensure the physical and mental health of employees in the workplace?

At MBRDI, our approach begins with a strong commitment to the well-being and work-life balance of our employees, recognising the evolving work landscape in the era of hybrid workplaces.

Under our 'Für Mich' (‘For Me’) program, we offer a comprehensive range of services addressing various aspects of well-being, including physical, mental, emotional, and financial health. These services are aimed at providing a holistic support system for our workforce.

To further enhance the well-being of our employees, we have implemented various initiatives such as providing access to healthy and fresh food choices, convenient transportation options, well-equipped wellness facilities, and a top-tier work environment. These offerings are designed to ensure that our employees have access to the best possible benefits.

Our well-defined hybrid working model provides our employees with the flexibility to pursue personal goals while advancing their careers. This balanced approach fosters motivation and satisfaction among our workforce.

In recent wellness initiatives, we organised events like yoga at work, expert-led discussions on mental wellness, breast cancer screening camps, walkathons, and a two-day workshop on scientific yoga, all held across our Bengaluru and Pune campuses.

Additionally, we conduct webinars and events like "Developing an Inclusive Work Environment" and "Mental Health Awareness for New Mothers." These programs address important topics, including combatting postpartum depression, optimising nutrition, identifying signs of distress in peers, and engaging in supportive conversations. We also offer sessions on promoting healthy sleep habits through discussions on sleep hygiene.

In summary, our comprehensive well-being approach focuses on providing physical, mental, and emotional support to our employees, ensuring they have the resources they need to thrive in the evolving work landscape.

Can you provide an overview of the key elements of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India's workplace culture that promote employee well-being and support?

We support our employees through various L&D programs, and transparent performance evaluation metrics, and emphasise the practical application of acquired skills to drive meaningful changes in the organisation. This holistic approach contributes to a culture of well-being and growth.

Value-Based Culture: MBRDI places a strong emphasis on a value-based culture where core values such as passion, respect, discipline, and integrity are integrated into the leadership evaluation and performance appraisal system.

Culture of Innovation: We promote a culture of innovation, recognising it as a vital component of success. We encourage idea-sharing, collaboration, and the pursuit of innovative solutions. The company actively fosters innovation through various learning programmes and seminars.

Inclusivity: We actively work on diversity, equity and inclusion, striving to be an employer that provides equal opportunities. Building an inclusive culture is an essential part of our overall approach, ensuring all employees feel valued and respected.

Appreciation and Recognition: The company places great emphasis on fostering a culture of appreciation. It has a rewards and recognition system designed to ensure genuine appreciation for employees' contributions and achievements.

With a changing work culture all over the globe, open communication is more important than ever. How do you promote a culture of open communication among employees and between leadership? How did it help you in talent retention?

The Human Relations team effectively communicates the organisation's business value proposition and linkage to broader business goals through several strategic approaches. Our HR team regularly disseminates information through various channels like emails, our employee communication app, newsletters, and intranet updates to have constant engagement. These communications highlight the company's business strategy and objectives, and several updates in the space of learning, policies, benefits, and DEI interventions. Topics like Integrity, Compliance, Health & Safety, PoSH, and Grievance redressal are of paramount importance to us, and regular updates are shared with employees to raise greater awareness.

When new employees become part of MBRDI, our focus is on ensuring that the orientation and onboarding process revolves around placing the employee in the centre. We aim to provide a comprehensive introduction to the company's mission, values, and business goals, allowing each employee to understand their vital role in contributing to the organisation's success.

HR conducts an exhaustive survey and feedback sessions to gauge employee satisfaction and engagement once every two years. This feedback loop allows HR to make necessary adjustments and realign its practices with the company's value proposition and business goals. Every department has a definite and customised Employee Engagement calendar that covers an array of activities/ initiatives around the year.

HR facilitates town hall meetings and open forums where employees can interact with senior leadership. This open communication fosters transparency and allows employees to see the direct connection between leadership decisions and the organisation's strategic vision.

What according to you will reshape the culture of reward and recognition trends in 2024?

In recent years, emerging trends have altered how organisations are recognising and appreciating employees. Several factors such as evolving business practices, and shifts in socioeconomic conditions, have profoundly impacted employee expectations in terms of rewards, and organisations need to stay attuned to these developments to keep their workforce motivated. Some of the trends that will reshape the culture of reward and recognition in 2024 are:

  • Increased focus on flexibility: Today, for most employees, monetary benefits are no longer a sole requisite. A workplace that promotes a healthy work-life balance is the most potent motivator for employees at every level. Therefore, we provide a range of flexible work options that are customised to the unique needs of our people.
  • Provisioning for productivity-enhancing tech tools: Given the growing reliance on data-driven insights, technology and automation are expected to become more widely accepted in various industries. For instance, we are currently conducting a social experiment with a group of willing employees to explore emerging trends. Through in-depth conversations and dipstick surveys, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of what drives our employees to excel every day.
  • Constant encouragement & recognition: The frequency at which an employee receives rewards and recognition practices, and how customised they are to the receiver, is important. Most employees today look forward to real-time recognition to feel valued and appreciated.
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Topics: Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, Culture, Benefits & Rewards, #Wellbeing, #HRCommunity

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