As businesses slowly make their way out of the second wave of COVID19, companies are taking stock of lessons learned over the past year. In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Nanda Kishore, CEO of NOVAC Technology Solutions noted that the role of HR has been difficult as well as transformed. He also spoke about the various employee engagement initiatives that helped the company navigate an uncertain and difficult time.
Nanda Kishore is the Director and CEO of NOVAC Technology Solutions. Novac Technology Solution is a digital transformation and cloud-solutions company. Nanda Kishore oversees the group-wide technology initiatives, including Software Application Management, I.T. Infrastructure, Data Centres, DR and BCP, Call Centres, Customer Services Desk, and also the Business Process Re-engineering initiatives across the Group Entities.
Q. The world of work has changed significantly in the last year - with remote working becoming a possible long term option. What are some of the top shifts you foresee as companies face a new business reality?
As a company, we believe that a combination of employees working from the office and from home will continue. Most companies are now used to this shift and everyone is making changes to this model. And the higher pace of digital transformation is here to stay.
The client service models have seen a significant change. Today, most customers expect the support and service requirements to be handled through the mobile app. While the apps were available earlier too, its usage has gone up significantly.
A new generation of customers want even traditional functions to be enabled over online mediums. And we’re seeing a shift in this customer behavior.
For employees, our cloud-based technology platforms were already available and it made the shift from ‘work from home’ much smoother.
Q. What are some new practices that you have adopted in line with the hybrid workplace?
As a technology organization and a cloud solutions company, we leveraged collaborative platforms to assist the associates to work together. They could rely on each other for support and monitor progress. When the entire operation moved to the respective houses, we had initial teething issues.
For junior employees engaged in programming, the shift took some time as they relied on the advice of team leaders regularly. However, we found ways to smoothen the process and this too settled down soon. For seasoned senior programmers, the shift was a lot more seamless.
Q. If you were able to talk about employee experience specifically? What specific steps did you take to boost productivity?
Firstly, there was a mindset issue – since we are not used to working alone in a social setting that’s entirely different. To address that issue, we started to interact a lot more over Zoom Meetings and Microsoft Teams. We also advised our managers to call and interact with their teammates on a day to day basis. These frequent video interactions helped in retaining a sense of togetherness.
For employees who previously commuted longer distances, the shift boosted their productivity. By leveraging collaboration tools, we have more or less streamlined the processes now – and employees feel like they’re working together.
Q. How is the role of management and HR changed – given that there’s a greater role and accountability of the individual?
HR has had one of the most difficult years – as a function that oversaw employee wellbeing during the pandemic and supported employees. The shift away from the office has changed their role tremendously. For example, there was an emphasis on the number of work hours clocked. Now, the emphasis is no longer there. As employees work from home, the outcomes and results have become a key focus area as opposed to the number of work hours. Each employee may face different challenges of their own – and therefore, we insisted that employees work at their convenience and deliver on a weekly and fortnightly basis.
The approach has changed on the management side as well. The way we ask questions and how we assess the business has transformed a lot. And that’s probably a change that’s happened everywhere in the world of business.
Q. How did you capture the employee's voice? And help your employee team to strategize?
Employees are the true pillars of strength. All our programs, processes, and systems are focused on helping our employees become fully successful. Our leaders believe in “Truly Human Leadership” and choose to put our teams’ well-being as our priority. We encourage our employees to involve more and put their ideas into actionable results, thereby allowing them to grow within the organization to greater heights.
Our programs and policies are designed on the pretext of keeping our customers and employees content with our outstanding hard work and benefits, respectively, allowing them to believe in us and rise through ranks as we uphold the values that set us apart.
Throughout the pandemic, we were able to facilitate open talks via call, virtual platforms etc., between team members and managers as a group and also on a one-on-one basis across all levels. Employees were made sure to reach out to us at any time.
At Novac, we have a mentorship community where all the employees, starting from trainees, have direct access to their mentors, who are usually quite senior in the organization. With direct knowledge and carefully curated training, mentors train the mentees with organizational goals in place and employees can discuss any ideas/suggestions or issues with the mentor, apart from their managers and HR.
During the pandemic, the mentors and HR team doubled up as Covid Assistance Team to the employees.
Q. How are you leveraging rewards and recognition to boost employee experience?
We practice a collaborative work environment where all the employees can share their creative ideas and watch them take shape. IDEATORS, our novel initiative, which is conducted every quarter, encourages our employees to open up more avenues and explore new business markets. The ideas that are vouched as highly innovative and align with our business operations and goals deemed to be taken up as projects through the program. We have aligned recognition, rewards, awards, and more to recognize and felicitate our employees whose ideas have come into fruition and implemented in the organization during our annual conferences. It is currently continuing to be done online but surely with some parameter changes.
Q. What is the role of learning in terms of boosting employee experience?
As an organization, we lay great emphasis on talent development. We strive to harness inherent power in our collective talents to create an environment that allows the skills, knowledge, and abilities of everyone to be utilized to their fullest potential. Our Development Initiatives are inclined towards an employee’s Talent Enhancement, Growth within the organization and Personal Development.
Our Learning and Development function identifies the needs for each employee and analyses the gaps in the skills possessed against the skills required to deliver the job in an effective manner. Each employee gets supported with a learning plan for them. This is a highly customized encompassing adaptive learning strategy through our Online Learning Management Platform. The culture that we have built in is conducive and inclined towards learning. Skill development forms a major portion of daily tasks.
Apart from the 500+ hours of content which was already available on the learning platform, during the pandemic, we came out with various courses both on new technologies and soft skills. This too helped in closer interactions with the team.
Q – What are your top talent priorities?
Technology re-skilling is one the key elements to achieve our growth objectives. Increased automation of the development processes, and strategic hiring continue to be the areas of focus.