The COVID-19 pandemic has totally altered the way we look at work, workers and the workplace. We are living in a world we had never imagined before. But this is the reality now and with each passing day, we are finding newer ways to cope up. What made us relevant in the past does not hold true today. So, it is all about how agile, adaptive and resilient we can be to prepare ourselves for such situations and become future proof.
In this exclusive interview, Pallavi Dhawan Gupte, Director, Human Resources – Dun & Bradstreet India talks about how the world of work will never be the same post COVID-19 and what will be the new skills and competencies that will enable people to stay relevant today and in the future.
Pallavi has a vast experience of leading teams and HR function in multi-national companies with expertise in building talent capabilities, driving organizational culture, change and leadership interventions that enable business results and growth.
With over 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Pallavi currently leads the Human Resources function for Dun &Bradstreet, India as Director – People Team. She is well experienced in leading global projects with people from different countries and varied experiences, compensation related board approvals, managing M&A, leading organization-wide change management projects, employee engagement programs, designing effective compensation & sales pay-out plans and best HR practices.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
What are the key job skills in demand during the pandemic?
The world after coronavirus will never be the same. The expectations of employees and organizations are undergoing considerable change as we navigate a period which no one has experienced ever.
Organizations are re-prioritizing the skills they look for in a candidate. I believe the four key skills that standout are:
- Proficiency with technology – As we have moved to remote working, the ability to manage work in the digital environment is a must. We are evaluating candidates on their attitude and aptitude towards technology.
- Soft Skills – Soft skills have always been in demand and are more relevant in the present environment. Today, people are required to collaborate remotely. We place great importance on soft skills such as communication, problem-solving abilities, and adaptability.
- Emotional Maturity – Emotional maturity, which is one’s ability to understand and evaluate a situation instead of reacting to it is more crucial than ever. This is a necessary skill to manage relationships within the company as well as with customers and vendors. Even in a team of skilled, high-performing professionals, every individual will have to identify and manage their own emotions and must be able to solve misunderstandings and conflicts that could be detrimental to their success.
- Global Mindset – Organizations are constantly looking for candidates who can understand the complexities and nuances of the global environment and collaborate across geographies with ease.
How do you see the recruitment process changing in the post-pandemic era? What role will technology play in that change?
The entire world is at a crossroads where the pandemic has spurred disruption beyond imagination. Processes and strategies are changing every minute. The process of recruitment is no different. We had to learn to adapt and change our strategy accordingly. Digital is the new world order. From recruitment to onboarding, the entire process has now gone digital.
When candidates search for a company online, they should be able to see the company’s policies and culture. I also believe organizations should make use of digital advertising in order to reach the right set of candidates.
It is imperative for us to understand that technology will play a massive role in the post-pandemic era.
As organizations continue to work remotely, how can they imbibe the organizational culture in the new joiners?
We are living in unprecedented times and though employees are fully equipped to function from home, some miss the physical connect of the office environment. The culture of an organization is driven by its employees and it is extremely difficult to imbibe the same in this remote-working setting. That said, organizations today are constantly using different ways to keep their teams connected and motivated.
Leaders at Dun & Bradstreet have meetings (both formal and informal) with their teams to keep the connect strong. All our teams engage in regular virtual fun activities, which help build camaraderie. New joiners find it easy to settle in due to these activities which act as icebreakers.
Furthermore, our online induction program helps new employees meet all the team leaders from across departments. We have also rolled out a remote-working buddy program for our new hires to help them ease into the Dun & Bradstreet family. Even in the lockdown, we have been hosting virtual townhalls regularly so that our team members feel included and are updated about what is happening in the organisation. These multitude of experiences are what help us create a positive organizational culture.
What are the changes adapted by Dun & Bradstreet to work efficiently with the focus on the new normal?
As the pandemic continues its spread across the globe, the health and safety of our employees is our top priority. This has been our guiding principle in making decisions. While we have shifted to a work-from-home environment, we are currently building a staggered approach for returning to the office over the next few months.
To keep up with our organizational culture and our best practices through this difficult phase, there are various initiatives that we adopted to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of our team members. We have organized virtual award ceremonies, town halls, and online corporate social responsibility activities. We also ensured that we have various touchpoints that involve spouses, kids and family members.
During such trying times, ensuring emotional well-being amongst our team members is our priority. With this in mind, we partnered with an employee assistance service provider to provide counselling services for our team members across India. This initiative is called Dun & Bradstreet P.A.L (Partner. Accept. Liberate.).
The 24x7 helpline comprises of experienced and trained mental health counsellors, who are clinical psychologists. Apart from this, employees also have access to online resources where they can access a range of reliable self-help resources to deal with multiple issues.
Overall, we imbibed a culture of transparency and flexibility and had our business continuity planning in place. Most of our initiatives were strategically aligned to adapt quickly to the dynamic environment, so that the transformation to the digital workplace was smooth.