As the coronavirus outbreak began and the news of it spreading in India also came in, like other companies, Voltas also began to closely monitor the situation and engage with government and medical authorities to ensure a safe environment for its employees.
Initially, it started with the basics, monitoring every employee’s and visitor’s body temperature, availability of sanitizers across offices, limiting visitors to daily fogging of our facilities, and other measures to provide a safe working environment.
But has the situation worsened, the business and talent leaders had to come up with a more full proof plan and continuously work on strategies to keep up with the changes in the external environment. Leaders at Voltas realized that in these trying times, employee experience has to be a top priority for them and that is when they came up with a slew of measures to not only manage or retain but enhance their employee experience in this time of crisis.
In a recent interaction, Narendren Nair, EVP & CHRO, Voltas Limited shares how the company is improving employees’ experience during COVID-19.
Transitioning into remote working: Hand holding employees’ through the entire journey
Work from home for such an extended period of time was definitely a new phenomena for our employees. Hence it was important to handhold them through this journey.
“Regular communication around ways and tips to work from Home was sent out on behalf of our safety mascot, ‘Vol-ty’. We also introduced a concept called Work from Home Diaries that helped our employees to exchange notes on how they were maximizing their productivity through this new format of work by organizing their day with the help of online workflow solutions, upskilling themselve/e are also providing 24*7 online consultation by Doctors to ease the employees’ health problems while in lockdown,” said Nair.
Digital readiness helped in seamless transition
Nair shared that Voltas was prepared for the transition owing to the digital transformation of its processes that the company had been working on for the past few years. For instance, the workforce had VPN connectivity and were able to focus on their tasks without any technical interruptions. Employees who did not have laptops have had their office desktops shifted to their homes.
For the colleagues who are still working in the field for essential services like hospitals and airports, precautionary health measures are in place to ensure their safety through this crisis.
“Given the regular usage of web and technology for meetings, conferences, etc through the year, the change has not been too drastic. Our employees have been conducting their daily routine tasks and engaging with their team through tech platforms like Virtual Meeting Room (VMR) software by Cisco, hangouts, etc. It is interesting to note that through all of this, our learning and development calendar has gone through no changes. Webinars, online courses and other certification modules are taking place as usual owing to our strong digital infrastructure,” elaborated Nair.
Keeping the workforce engaged & productive
A key focus for the leadership was also to ensure that the employees continue to be productive through various Learning & Development courses.
With Voltas Virtual Campus (VCC), in partnership with SkillSoft, employees have access to courses on customer service, communication, leadership, strategic planning, management, marketing, project management, operations, sales effectiveness and team building.
Voltas is also reaching out to its vast community of field engineers and technicians via the Mobile learning app Handy Train to sensitize them regarding health and safety by sharing COVID-19 awareness videos. Through this app, Voltas is also creating technical content for the users, resolving queries and troubleshooting, as well as conducting assessment and certifications for its technicians in a streamlined manner. Lastly, the senior management has been constantly informing, assuring and directing the employees via multiple digital channels.
“We believe our employees are our strongest asset. Based on this principle, we are committed to the safety of our employees and while doing so during these troubled times, we are ensuring that they are given all the facilities that help them to stay connected, productive and healthy,” said Nair.
Nair reveals, “The biggest challenge perhaps was ensuring our important communication does not get lost in the avalanche of emails our employees get on a daily basis.”
Hence, they came up with the safety mascot, Vol-ty to share health advisories and work-from-home tips in a manner that the employees find engaging. He added that they encourage the employees to participate in the contests by providing reward points to the winners. Adding a layer of gamification is working for Voltas. But then there are other challenges from an IT perspective Voltas is facing those too.
“We have paused all new configuration changes to servers/networks (like addition of storage space, deployment of a new server into our cluster) that require people to be physically present in the Data Centre/Locations. SLA from Network providers is impacted – if a link goes down then remediation is taking time, since people cannot inspect physically,” shared Nair.
Currently, they have set up a common mail ID for IT Support and defined an escalation. All employees are forwarding their issues to this ID, after which IT Support is resolving the issues remotely.
As of now, the lockdown has been extended till 3rd May and with the number of cases still increasing, when the situation gets resolved remains uncertain. There are many questions, will remote working continue for more months? Will teams become more leaner? Will the way work gets carried out change permanently?
For now, it is best to move in tune with time and prepare for the unknown. Voltas has also decided to follow a similar approach.
In terms of impact, Nair shared how some of their initiatives have received a good traction. He said, “Several of our employees have been sharing their diaries on a daily basis, talking about how they are making the most of the work-from-home situation due to the tips shared by Vol-ty. The various courses on SkillSoft and the learning videos on Handy Train have also helped our employees and technicians tremendously, and this has resulted in a significant increase in usage of our online L&D programs.”
The best ROI Nair feels is depicted by how employees are proactively engaging with the content, sharing stories with Vol-ty, asking queries, etc. Voltas shall continue building on this personality to engage and educate its employees both on the digital platform as well as on ground across all our locations. And also continue to closely monitor the situation across all centers in India and work on taking cautionary and preventive measures.