Rachna Parashar was appointed Country HR Leader for Honeywell India, in November 2019. In this role, she is responsible for the Human Resource strategy and building organizational capability. Rachna also looks after Business Partnerships, Mergers and Integrations and leadership and organizational development.
She comes with a process oriented mindset and passion to enhance employee capabilities at individual, team and organizational level. She also believes in a set of strong HR principles – values like strong customer obsession, innovation at all levels and hiring best talent to accelerate growth.
Prior to her role as the Country HR Leader, Rachna served as Honeywell’s Global HR Director and Acting HR Vice President, where she focused on organizational development, effectiveness and talent development.
In conversation with People Matters, Rachna discusses why working from office triumphs a hybrid work model, what the future working model looks like for Honeywell and how the organization is keeping up with prioritizing employee well-being through the sudden digital rush.
There is a significant influence of digital in all our lives today, right after conversations around a much needed digital detox began to surface. How are you bringing in that balance as a leader and as an individual?
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen the world vault five years forward in consumers and businesses adopting digital in a matter of a few weeks. At Honeywell, we enable customers and businesses to adopt digital and this has helped in bringing businesses back to their feet during the crisis. But while the technology can be a boon, excessive usage can certainly be a bane.
As a leader, we continue to promote wellness and flexibility as a key to enable employees safeguard their health, balance work-life needs and stay productive and fit. Leaders are encouraged to set an example and help teams cope with the mental pressures of uncertainty due to the pandemic and the pressure of multi-tasking.
We championed the cause of new-joiners and helped them navigate the new organization in a structured but spaced-out orientation program that was two-week long instead of the otherwise gruelling sessions spent in closed rooms over 2-3 days. Wellness talks, doctor-led employee connects, inspirational talks, leadership chat sessions, third-party intervention to seek counselling and support are a few of the many initiatives that have been implemented while people are working from home.
Short breaks are necessary during the series of meetings that are lined up all through the day. My day starts early but I make it a habit to build small breaks that allow me to stay fresh and revive.
This is what I encourage my team to build as well.
HR has to demonstrate a whole new kind of agility in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. How do you align your HR initiatives with the larger business goals?
The key focus from HR perspective is to ensure organization efficiency. We ensure there is no impact on productivity, employee engagement and employee retention during the pandemic. We have introduced multiple benefits and wellness initiatives to enhance our employees work experience. During the pandemic, we saw a need to offer third party consultation services to maintain mental health of our employees and their families, physical and mental well-being programs were conducted (e.g. Employee Assistance program, Enhanced Medical Insurance support for self and dependants, Internet reimbursement and ergonomic support).
HR needs to partner with the business in ensuring strong productivity is maintained and a healthy recognition program is established to set right behaviours during work from home.
We have enhanced our engagement program as well as rewards programs to set the right example and reward the right behaviours.
Additionally, we continue to perform regular cost optimization and restructuring as an ongoing area of focus to maintain financial health of the organization. We are also working on revising our leadership and skill building programs, and training by partnerships with platforms that can impart high quality programs for employees in a virtual environment.
What changes are you seeing or expecting in your organization’s HR tech landscape to handle the hybrid future of work?
Since we are still going through the pandemic, we are working from home except for the manufacturing segment. These are uncertain times and it is hard to predict the future. However, we will do what is in the best interest of our employees. We currently are working effectively as an organization with a work from home model and find it to be effective and productive. As the future unfolds, we will take a call and ensure we continue to remain customer focused while ensuring the safety and productivity of our employees at its best.
What are your thoughts on the concept of a hybrid workplace? What are some challenges you foresee in implementing a hybrid workplace?
As Honeywell, we lay a strong focus on team collaboration, innovation and a customer centric approach. We have worked well in a remote setting and have seen productivity remain stable, however, the future for most organizations will be a new reality.
We hope to get back to the normal work environment that we all enjoyed. However, at this time it is hard to predict.
Personally, I believe in working alongside my team and enjoy working at office. It helps to strengthen collaboration among team members, creates an innovation centric environment, allows for better physical and mental well-being and ensures better productivity.
What kind of a workplace model are you considering for your organization? Do you foresee any major changes?
As of now we don’t foresee any major changes in our work model.
What are some capabilities or skills that you would like to see in prospective candidates for a hybrid future?
A self-starter, self motivated and entrepreneurial personality is key. Someone who is oriented towards completing tasks and has the ability to take initiative will be able to successfully deliver in the hybrid work model.