Manoj Kumar Sharma is the Head HR Adani Electricity. In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, he talks about the challenges that the pandemic and the lockdown posed for their essential services business, the shift towards work from home and the impact on the culture of the company.
1. What are some of the roadblocks that you are navigating amidst the crisis?
Since there was a panic early on and fear all around, starting from presence of required people for emergency duty to routine permissions for excavations etc. and clarity on how police will allow our employees from all parts of the city deployed during lockdown, transportation for employees who were commuting by local trains/ buses etc. there were many challenges.
But it was a gradual process and we received all required support from local authorities, Police and BMC to maintain essential services.
2. Could you talk about the shifts that the business had to make and the focus on employee experience?
Our leadership team had started gearing up towards lockdown situation. We had conducted emergency meetings among senior team members for the preparedness of business continuity if lockdown is announced.
We had decided the presence of atleast 50% staff during lockdown but after it was announced, we planned to cut down to zero in support services and 20% for the field operations to maintain continuity of 24x7 electricity supply.
In the initial period of lockdown there was little apprehension about how we are going to have WFH (Work from home) and still maintain business continuity, but within a week, everything got settled as all our employees have laptops and those who didn’t were provided the same. The IT team is of big support during this time and they are guiding our employees for all their queries and resolving it in real time basis. The management and senior team are daily conducting virtual meetings and resolving issues.
3. Since Adani Electricity is part of essential services, what steps are you taking to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your workers on the field?
The wellbeing of our employees is the priority at Adani Electricity. In order to perform duty by our employees involved in essential services, we have provided them with all required PPEs equipment to ensure their safety and well-being. They are provided with masks, sanitizers, gloves and all other necessary gears.
Our employees are also provided with transportation as far as Kalyan and Virar to help them travel to work. We also ensure that they are provided with meals on duty to help maintain their health. The teams facing challenge of working in slum areas are provided with face shields as well. We are taking all measures possible to minimize their exposure towards the environment.
Helplines of Medical, Security and Admin Teams are released to employees to connect in case of any facilitation.
4. What are the initiatives or steps you’ve taken to address employee issues remotely?
The first and foremost task was to equip all employees with laptops to enable them to work remotely.
We have also provided them with various virtual media platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Blue Jeans, CISCO WebEx. Various webinars and sessions have been taken by experts to help mitigate the hurdles that working from home poses. Our business leaders, team leaders and HR team members have engaged proactively to ensure that each employee is provided with the support that they need. A level of trust has been built between them to work together to solve any problems that they might face.
5. How has the lockdown impacted the culture of the company?
When leaders become role models, the teams align to the core. It has in fact created a bond of unison and solidarity on the face of this challenge. Employees are showing courage to come forward to take on roles where organization slags in maintaining customer connect and providing desired services.
There is tremendous load on call centre associates handling customer calls during this time. Executives had taken the onus of supporting by downloading appropriate technology to support customers. There are many areas where employees are undertaking diverse/ multiple roles to mitigate the business challenges.
6. How are you ensuring employee engagement in this crisis?
Adani Electricity being a consumer facing essential services organization, our employees remain engaged from rationale to emotional state to contribute to their best. Be it difficult monsoon scenario when the streets are flooded or local festivals when load on electricity connections touches peak. We take employee well-being with utmost seriousness. We not only prioritise their physical wellness but also their mental health wellness. During this time, we are conducting various webinars, on multiple topics to guide the employees on the various challenges that working from home might pose.
We are also conducting online yoga sessions, to help them and their families de-stress and be more at peace.We are also providing all our employees with IT support to help smoothen the process of working from home, and daily meetings are conducted through video conferencing/calls to ensure productivity levels are maintained. I must say, that the response time of our employees has increased manifold and collaboration for inclusive decision making is more effective during this time.
7. How are you preparing for the future after the lockdown is over?
The new normal has caused a shift in the thinking process of all our leadership and the teams operating from home right now. We are seriously considering, the opportunities and allied benefits of those working conditions which used to pose challenge when we used to think it as out of box. COVID-19 restrictions are likely to shadow beyond normalcy of working in the country.
At Adani Electricity, employee Safety and Health has always been of paramount importance and keeping in mind the same the requisite precautions in safety measures, social distancing, monitoring the health data, visitor management etc. through AI will be best among those solutions which we are look out.
Our new way of doing business will create a paradigm shift even in consumer touch points. We are exploring technological interfaces besides virtual platforms for bringing efficiency and effectiveness in each process design in both spaces for employees, systems and processes internally in order to deal with consumer, vendors and other stakeholder externally.