While the vaccines are here, the war is yet to be won. COVID-19 is still raging on in many parts of the world, including India. As the new wave of coronavirus sets us back one year yet again, organizations are gearing up to sail through the uncertainty with a greater focus on continuity plans and employee support schemes.
In an exclusive interaction with us, Suraj Chettri, Regional Director - Human Resources, Airbus India & South Asia, shares with us how Airbus navigating the second wave and how is it bolstering employee support systems and work policies to support the workforce.
As the new wave of coronavirus sets us back one year yet again, how are you gearing up to sail through the uncertainty with your continuity plans and employee support schemes?
The latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of everyone in unprecedented ways. The exponential rise in the cases has resulted in crisis situations both on personal and professional fronts. More than a year has passed since the pandemic. In this one year, many businesses have adapted, evolved, and learnt to navigate their way through this pandemic. While the latest wave has brought with it many intense and immediate challenges, the lessons learned from last year have helped us to implement necessary changes to address and counter their effects.
At Airbus, the safety and well-being of our people is our first priority. We have reacted in agile, empathetic and decisive ways to support the members of the Airbus family through this crisis. At the onset of the latest wave, we moved to a complete work-from-home regime for all our functions ensuring their and their family members’ safety and well-being. But the impact of the latest wave has hit everyone hard. Keeping our people’s health and well-being at the top of our minds, we have deployed many initiatives to provide them with up-to-date information and easy access to resources related to COVID-19 care.
We launched an ‘India Covid-19 Helpline’, which is an internal site serving as a repository of links that offer immediate assistance and support to those who have been impacted by the pandemic. We have created an internal group of motivated volunteers who have been assigned to every team and are helping coordinate the efforts to support impacted employees. We are also maintaining regular touch-points with all employees through email communications and virtual town halls and ensuring that we have daily contact with those who are infected.
At the same time, we have taken all possible measures to maintain the continuity of our business and are implementing processes to address the needs of our people, customers and suppliers.
The toughest time is looming as companies have to ensure business continuity and productive output while supporting their workers amid the resurgence of the virus. How is Airbus looking at that?
Airbus is defined by its core values that shape the DNA of our business. We are guided by a set of six values - customer focus, integrity, respect, creativity, reliability and teamwork, which are the foundation of this company. Indeed, like any other organization, business is important for us, but more important are our people.
Right now, the health and well-being of our employees is our topmost priority. We are taking all possible measures to ensure that our employees and their families get relevant medical and mental support, and correct information in a timely manner. Our network of volunteers and crisis management team keeps a close watch on the impacted employees on a regular basis and ensures that they are well attended to during these difficult times.
How should organizations rethink talent management amid all this uncertainty? What is Airbus’s focus here?
The COVID-19 crisis has completely altered the way we work and operate. While technology provided us with tools to remain connected remotely, almost a decade ago, it took a pandemic to truly accelerate this change. This remote work concept has made organizations realize that we need to establish long-term strategies and develop new capabilities to operate in the digital era. Not only those, organizations now need to craft strong career roadmaps to prepare their workforces for any future disruptions, as well.
Therefore, talent management will go through a paradigm shift, and it will not be done through conventional methods.
As organizations look at moving to a hybrid workplace in the future, they will require training managers for remote leadership, new processes will come into play that will ensure equal development and advancement opportunities for all employees, thereby boosting diversity and inclusion.
We believe that talent development will become more employee-driven, and an online and democratic way of learning will replace the classroom approach. Airbus is at the forefront of many of these initiatives. Most of our talent management processes have already moved to virtual platforms. We are renewing our focus on people and their capabilities and implementing best practices that will help them thrive in this era.
How should organizations level up their employee support systems and work policies? What has Airbus done in this regard?
Organizations must develop capabilities that will help them adapt quickly to emerging and uncertain market conditions. This requires making key investments in people, processes, and technologies along with establishing long-term strategies for greater resilience.
No one was prepared for the impact that the latest wave of the pandemic has had on people and businesses. But our learnings from last year have helped us to act quickly and decisively. These lessons have enabled an agile and empowered response to the challenges posed by this latest wave and has helped us to take action in a timely manner.
Airbus has deployed several initiatives to help impacted employees who are taking care of themselves and their family members. These include providing regular consultations by a doctor, dedicated fully-equipped ambulances at each of our offices 24x7, oxygen concentrators, tie-up with specialty organizations who are supporting us with credible information on hospital and bed availability, and a planned vaccination drive for all our employees and their family members.
How are you planning for the future amid predictions of phase three of the virus?
We are continuously learning and building new capabilities to navigate our way through this crisis. At the same time, we are applying the lessons learned from our past experience and are using these to prioritize our actions to build further resilience. At Airbus, we believe in empowering our people who will take the right decisions in the face of new challenges.
What is the strategy and focus for the leadership to tackle challenges posed by the continuing waves of the virus? Could you shed light on the contingency plan for 2021 and Airbus’s industry outlook for FY 2021-2022?
Our top priority is the health and well-being of our people. We are working to inoculate all our employees and their family members by organizing vaccination drives at our sites. We will continue to keep our offices safe by sanitizing frequently, implementing regular thermal checks, restricting visitors and following all the mandatory health guidelines.
The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented for the aviation industry as well. But, for decades, this industry has proven its ability to manage risks in a professional, innovative and globally coordinated way.
Our ability to adapt and improvise, paired with tangible actions, will help us emerge from the pandemic stronger. We are working together with our industry bodies and the Government of India to support the industry to survive, stabilize and recover before we can get back on the growth path.