Article: Meesho HR chief on driving growth with employee flexibility and empowerment

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Meesho HR chief on driving growth with employee flexibility and empowerment

"The present workforce is always looking forward to a people-centric, progressive, and inclusive culture which emerging organisations are increasingly cultivating and capitalising on," said Ashish Kumar Singh, CHRO, Meesho.
Meesho HR chief on driving growth with employee flexibility and empowerment

In the past two years, organisations have unlocked the potential to create, access and share work anywhere and anytime, signalling a new era of work. Flexible and remote working models that started out of experimentation are now becoming long-term strategies or the "new normal". 

While some might feel that working from anywhere is only for large companies, fast-growing organisations are breaking the myth. 

Meesho, an internet commerce company founded in 2015, recently announced a borderless workplace model under which employees can choose to work from home, office or any other location.

Based on employee demand, the company will be setting up satellite offices at locations with higher talent density. This will enable its workforce with real-time and virtual collaboration tools, providing them ample opportunities to meet and collaborate in-person.

Ashish Kumar Singh, CHRO of Meesho, shares with People Matters the challenges and opportunities of leading new ways of working and reinventing workplace policies in a fast-growing organisation. 

For you, what defines the new world of work?

The pandemic has been a life-changing event for everyone. It has disrupted and altered our work-life dynamics, urging greater attention to personal commitments. 

With family becoming the priority, the constant struggle and readjustment towards catering to both professional and personal requirements have resulted in the 'Great Resignation'. 

Subsequently, people will tend to prefer employers who allow flexibility and empower them to choose the most convenient locations for work. This has gained further attention since, during the pandemic, we also realised the power of technology in enabling remote work without impacting productivity or the quality of work.

The future of work, therefore, will be defined on the pillars of employee flexibility and empowerment, where constant reimagination of work processes and company policies will be a prerequisite to ensuring its implementation. 

Older workplace norms and practices will have to be redesigned and crafted afresh. Policies that are forward-looking, inclusive, and industry-leading will set the precedent.

Meesho’s adoption of a first-of-its-kind Boundaryless Workplace Model is one such example. By decentralising the workplace, we are giving the employees the power to choose to work from home, office, or any location of their choice. Based on employee demand, the company will also set up satellite offices at locations with higher talent density. Meesho has been at the forefront of introducing progressive employee-friendly practices like the 30-week gender-neutral parental leave policy, gender reassignment leave and 10-day reset and recharge policy. The latest initiative furthers the company’s efforts to reimagine conventional workplace dynamics.

How can fast-growing organisations improve and scale HR processes for a more flexible, digital world of work?

One of the core values of Meesho is the 'Problem First' Mindset. We need to inculcate this mindset to identify and then solve problems across the life cycle of employees – from onboarding to exit is the key. 

Taking a fresh look at people problems and arriving at solutions with fresh eyes, which are not colored by the norms and beliefs hitherto, will be critical in the new-age flexible and virtual world of work.

Secondly, employee centricity which puts taking care of varied requirements of people at the centre of all HR efforts is certainly a key differentiator. Today’s workforce is a heterogeneous base with diverse backgrounds, different needs, preferences, and choices. The vast prevalence of differences makes it important to focus on flexible solutions rather than one-size-fits-all solutions.

With a distributed workforce, what's the best way to ensure 'work culture' is adaptable and aligned with organisational goals? How are you ensuring the right work culture for your employees amid this transition?

We need to consistently keep an eye on the work culture – measure it and track progress. The fundamental principles for ensuring the right work culture for employees is that they are able to "see it, get it, and live it.”

To start with, the values of organisations must be clearly articulated and communicated to all. The culture should be brought to life in every aspect so that employees are constantly reminded of it. Secondly, it must be ensured that employees are able to comprehend them along with a clear understanding of the kind of behaviours expected out of them at work. 

For example, we organise masterclasses by senior leaders on each of our values, which we call Meesho Mantras, at regular intervals for their understanding. Lastly, to ascertain that we, as an organisation, are living the culture, we embed it with our hiring, recognition, performance evaluation and other such processes.

We have been monitoring the effectiveness of the culture for the last two years when we adopted remote working at large. During this period our employee strength, too, grew tremendously. The announcement of the landmark move to 'boundaryless' work has established stronger grounds for us to measure and track the culture and take required actions.

What skills and support do HR leaders need to fuel organisational change and propel businesses and the workforce towards new avenues of growth?

The role of HR has massively evolved during and after the pandemic. 

Of all the roles that HR leaders play, people advocacy, in my view, has become the most significant lately as it helps keep the focus on people. 

More importantly, in the hyper-competitive talent market that caters to knowledge-sector organisations, the ability to attract, hire, and retain top talent is what puts one ahead of the curve in the long term.

HR leaders, therefore, need the skill to create a people-centric workplace and the support from other leaders in the organisation towards enabling it.

What are some of the strengths of emerging, fast-growing organisations that could help them compete with large enterprises in winning the war for talent?

Emerging fast-growing organisations provide a fulfilling experience – both in terms of accelerated career growth and the opportunity to solve the most exciting and unique challenges, thereby, impacting the lives of millions of people. The problem statements that these roles solve are making a dent in the industry, in turn, enabling employees to create innovative solutions, and subsequently building a greater impact. 

The scope to maximise one's potential is expanding as new-age organisations chart out a more promising career path with faster growth opportunities and world-class rewards and benefits.

Most importantly, it is the culture that forms the core tenet. The present workforce is always looking forward to a people-centric, progressive, and inclusive culture which emerging organisations are increasingly cultivating and capitalising on.

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Topics: Strategic HR, C-Suite, #SMEcorner

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