Few events in history have created the sort of global impact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has in the humanitarian and business spheres. There have been many learnings in the process and inevitably, many changes. In the business ecosystem, difficult times are fairly accurate indicators of how strong a company’s fundamentals are. This realization was reiterated because there were certain companies that did not just endure but thrived during this crisis. In fact, hiring activity jumped by 33% in June, led by key industries, such as IT, BPO/ITES, FMCG and Accounting. According to Naukri.com’s Jobspeak Index, recruitment for jobs witnessed a 5% month-on-month increase in July. Additionally, a report by CareerNet Consulting states that campus hiring is expected to resume by January 2021 with three out of four employers intending to honor offers and onboard new employees.
How were these businesses able to act swiftly, more nimbly and with more empathy than others? What is the secret sauce to success when the market is not looking up? How did these companies manage to welcome new members into their existing family like business as usual?
The answers are rooted in getting the basics right – this in-built resilience has much to do with ensuring a strong value system and the right mindset towards employees as part of the organizational DNA. Companies and HR leadership that saw the crisis as an opportunity to strengthen their internal ecosystems.
Bigger challenges equal greater opportunities
With the coronavirus outbreak arriving as a ‘black swan’ event, it has been difficult to identify the scope of the challenge due to the unprecedented nature of the situation. However, the maturity of management mindset has played a vital role in bringing about swift changes to thought processes organization-wide. As a result, enterprises with evolved mindsets stepped up efforts to live up to their reputation of being great places to work, with two-pronged internal and external strategies.
Internally, this meant putting policies in place to help employees manage the unexpected situation and successfully facilitate team collaborations to ensure business continuity. Irrespective of the process, the underlying idea was to ensure employee health and safety, as well as employee comfort, while trying to respect the personal boundaries of home. This covered a whole gamut of considerations – from providing work from-home (WFH) allowances, ergonomic chairs, and work desks to installing and maintaining UPS systems for seamless connectivity, innovating ways to shorten meetings and reduce long work hours to ensure employee well-being.
Externally, some organizations knew that with changing paradigms, the time was ideal to invest in the right kind of talent despite the constraints. Therefore, it came as no surprise when companies made announcements about on-boarding a significant number of people even during the pandemic – welcoming freshers and senior leaders with the same warmth and enthusiasm. Take Icertis for instance, a global yet relatively compact team that welcomed over 400 hires including those in senior leadership, with around 170 still in the pipeline.
The other phenomenon that proved encouraging was the widespread adoption of WFH as a work policy across sectors. This change lent itself to a reciprocal acceptance of companies and talent willing to enter into remote engagements. The right-person-for-the-right-job approach has become even more relevant now, with work models transcending geographical boundaries and emerging cities supplanting metros in hiring activity. As a result of all these changes, WFH jobs have witnessed a seven-fold growth in applications in the last few months as compared to the pre-pandemic times.
Changing the Indian IT hubs map for the better
The remote working scenario has led to an unexpected outcome in Tier II and III towns in India where jobs with technology companies are highly sought-after. In order to secure such jobs, people often leave behind everything that is familiar. While aspiration also includes an urban lifestyle and work environments, remote engagement has finally let this section of talent experience the best of both worlds.
Remote working has also been a huge learning experience for leadership teams across levels. While inculcating empathy has been the ask of top management, understanding and working with nuances has been a priority for leadership. For first timer leaders, it has been a challenge to do something different without the familiarity of the workplace.
However, one of the steepest learning curves has been within the HR function, thrust into taking the lead in re-imagining workplace configurations, employee behaviour, and the challenge of strengthening the core of culture and values in a boundaryless, remote organization.
With the world cautiously but steadily unlocking economies and public life, there will be myriad parts to the organization-employee puzzle. Companies that have been guided by great vision and best practices will continue to do well and become benchmarks as places that people are happy to be a part of.