Article: Employees seek empathetic leaders: Deepti Varma of Amazon


Employees seek empathetic leaders: Deepti Varma of Amazon

Pandemic changed the employees’ priorities as remote working became the new normal. Mental health and well being surfaced as major criteria among the employees never like before. Consequently, the employee mindset got affected even in the ‘return to work’ phase, which led the employers to rethink their employee policies to retain talent in the competitive market.
Employees seek empathetic leaders: Deepti Varma of Amazon

How are the global players looking at the changing needs of the employees and job seekers, and recalibrating their policies around their employees under such circumstances?

Deepti Varma, Director- HR for Amazon in APAC and Middle East answered these in an episode of the People Matters Podcast.

Answering the questions about the wellbeing policies, Deepti noted that Amazon being a diverse workplace with businesses ranging from Alexa to e-commerce, on size doesn’t fit for all. The more diversified the workforce, the more variations in the policies are needed. Due to the business pattern, many companies could ask the employees to work from home, but the delivery associates, fulfilment centre employees, AWS technical employees and many such people employed with Amazon had to come to the office due to the nature of their jobs.

However, for some employees “We had flexible working in place even before the pandemic, which made it easy for us to navigate when there was a sudden lockdown,” Deepti said.

Wellbeing is an important criterion that ranges from the ground level to the leadership level. For the leaders and senior employees, Amazon did not mandate a number of days during which they needed to be present at the office. Deepti noted, “We wanted them to take the call on how they want to operate. They are the decision-makers.” During the pandemic, caregiving was a big responsibility that came down upon the shoulders of many irrespective of their age and gender. So, there were people with different needs and thus, “we did not mandate the number of onsite workdays for some set of employees.”

With the changing worklife, the expectations of the employees from their leaders have see a drastic change. Commenting on it, Deepti said, “Employees would want the leaders to create a safe, productive and healthy workplace. They want the leaders to be empathetic and make work fun. In fact, they want to be empowered by their leaders and witness personal success and growth.”

On the other hand, with success and scale comes broad responsibility. So, the employees want their organisations to be able to hear them understand their needs, and create policies accordingly. Deepti noted, “They also want businesses to trust them. Gone are the days when you would mandate the number of functions to be carried out.” Additionally,  the job seekers are also looking for the right kind of benefits and wellbeing policies. Deepti added that the pandemic exposed organisations were not thinking through the wellbeing of employees holistically. 

To listen to the full episode, click on the ‘Play’ button:

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Topics: #PMPodcast, #Wellbeing, #GreatPowerShift

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