COVID-19 has transformed the world – people, systems and businesses. The reboot brought about by the pandemic has accelerated several operational aspects for industries across all sectors with a keen attention on being more socially responsible. Did we need COVID to change the way we view things around us? Maybe not. But, it has positively influenced organizations think about better ways to propel progress cohesively with healthy work-life synergies.
Organisations were quick to address the gaps posed by the pandemic
With diminishing boundaries between personal life, work life and home offices, organizations were to have a distinctly rounded vision for people with a resilient focus on physical, moral and emotional wellness. According to KPMG’s survey on HR practices, 90% of the organizations have adopted at least one initiative around well-being of their employees. Additionally, 75% of organizations have re-defined their communication strategy to increase the engagement with employees. Virtual team meetings and briefing for employees by leadership are the top two leading engagement practices.
This new lens has not only added a fresh perspective to innovative working dynamics but also led to smarter ways of enhancing employee productivity by encouraging a healthy work-life balance. Working and collaborating in a virtual and remote environment which was once presumed to be only effective in certain fields such as advertising, media, consulting etc., has become an established practice now for sectors such as IT services, manufacturing, education etc. Focus has shifted from number of hours spent to the quality outcomes achieved. This would not have been possible without meaningful synergies between employees and employers. The testing times has rightly added to the mutual trust and understanding at both, individual and organizational levels.
The 3 “R”s – Relevant, Responsive and Resilient
Organizations now have a significant investment planned, not just in enabling physical infrastructure and professional development, but also in ensuring mental health of their people. We have overhauled the complete working culture in last 12 months. The way we perceived performance and trust at work has transformed. We have come up with the three “R”s framework since the performance and productivity is an outcome of personal and professional well-being. The three “R”s stand for Relevant, Responsive and Resilient.
The core of this approach is to be flexible to the evolving environment, reactive to the changes that come around and still be productive and adaptive to the new developments for cumulative growth. Not many would have anticipated the kind of magnitude that the pandemic led to, but we were fortunate to have a team of people who were willing to go the extra mile to solve for the challenges that came our way. A truly integrated platform was created to welcome suggestions and mull over the next steps to secure qualitative outcome for all of our stakeholders.
We conducted several employee engagement programmes to communicate the new people-centric approach to all our employees and create a completely transparent and approachable company culture. This mantra gave us remarkable results. We were able to, jointly, move out of rigidity, induce the flexibility in our policies and processes around work and people, which is a radical shift to a new way of progress. We are optimistic that such a practice will continue to be quintessential for future workplace.
The future of jobs in India
With almost a year into the pandemic, it is important to chalk out the next course of action, as the existing blueprints might not be relevant for the current work dynamics. Some key attributes that would be pertinent to future job spaces in India are as follows –
Workforce remodelling - Job market in India would draw relevance on three factors – Continuous upskilling with right skills, emotional and professional stability and adaptability by employees. Many people have understood that learning a new skill will be a value-added contributor to the company as well as for personal growth. They have realised the need to be more skilled to have an edge over their peers and corporates have also supported the employees with more training assistance. The advanced landscape has thus paved way for the need to have more capabilities. The focus on professional stability and adaptability has the potential to open up talent pools and break some age-old prejudices. For example - Women workforce in the mid-levels have always witnessed a dip due to many social and personal reasons. With proven success of the WFH model, companies have found a talent treasure in this segment across departments such as technology, management and other functional expertise.
Technology impetus - It will be critical to lay emphasis on technological innovation and having the right employee recognition programs. The role of technology in enabling lives and businesses during the pandemic is vastly evident. Digital on-boarding and AI-based chat bots for employee engagement are examples of some smart tech application in response to the pandemic. There still exists a lot of scope for tech-focused innovations to enhance people practices in workplaces.
People first propensity - Employee recognition programmes is another area that is ripe for positive progressive interventions. In a time when employee connect is restricted, companies are doing a lot to create a sense of belonging for their people. There is a need to emphasize on increasing the employees’ trust in their employers and make the remote workplace happier, through team building and recognition activities, which are constantly innovative in nature. Better ways to reward exceptional work by employees will be key to securing employee retention.
‘Every cloud has a silver lining’. The pandemic has rightly reinforced our faith in this well-known proverb. If there has to be one takeaway from these unprecedented times, it will most definitely be the power of collaboration and compassion. By keeping people at the centre of everything that organizations do, workforce mix has certainly had a huge impact on business continuity and helped mitigate the adversities. For being more future-ready, HR leaders have a key role to play as they define the company’s culture. The onus is on them to constantly be agile, people-centric and help motivate employees in the evolving state of work dynamics that we are in for a holistic growth.