The emerging hybrid world of work is shifting conventional HR practices. With the possibility of a long-term remote work option for many employees, HR teams are re-thinking their workplace practices. BYJU’S Pravin Prakash shares key lessons from his experience at the ed tech comppany.
Pravin Prakash is the Chief People Officer at BYJU’S. Prior to joining the company, he was a technology consultant.
1. How has the last year and a half changed your perspective on workplace performance and productivity?
The pandemic presented us with an opportunity to innovate, leverage technology, and uncover the potential of a remote working setup. It has also given a new dimension and meaning to employee-employer relationships.
Coming specifically to the edtech sector, the past year has been an inflection point and at BYJU’S, we have had a very productive year so far. It was heartening to see our employees go beyond their call of duty. Their grit, determination, and passion accelerated the launch of multiple products while working remotely. BYJUites in the true sense showcased that we have always been unified by the mission to positively impact the learning journeys of students across the globe.
2. The year 2021 has become the year of continuous reinvention – with new ways of working becoming more permanent and innovation becoming central to HR’s practices. How are you thinking about these challenge areas?
The year 2020 saw us shift away from the traditional work model to one that was more digitally fit, flexible and employee-centric. We will continue to witness innovation along these lines and see the emergence of a hybrid workplace in 2021.
I think the Hybrid workplace model has allowed people to unleash their creativity and experiment with new ways to live, learn, work and play. With BYJU’S being a digital-first company, we were able to smoothly transition from an offline mode to working online. Everyone at BYJU’S went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the learning journey of our students remained uninterrupted. Unified by the mission to positively impact the learning journeys of students across the globe, our teams have been on overdrive mode and even accelerated the launch of multiple products while working remotely.
However, we understand that these new ways of working will essentially require a remodeling of our existing communications infrastructure. A more asynchronous and individual approach to communication and HR practices will be the need of the hour.
3. How is the role of HR set to change? With greater individual autonomy and accountability – what’s the impact of the HR function and policy/ process level change?
The world around us is constantly changing, and companies are rapidly adapting to keep up with consumer demands. In these changing times, HR leaders are looking for quantitative and qualitative approaches to attract, engage, and retain human capital – efficiently and effectively.
To engage the human capital of a company, it is important to create a culture of accountability. This culture goes a long way in motivating employees to do better and to maintain best practices. In the wake of the pandemic, this form of work culture is coming to the forefront. Businesses are realising the need for an open and transparent line of communication with employees. Thus enabling them to expect the same form of transparency and accountability from their employees.
Furthermore, the future of work will witness HR functions as an integrated business strategy coming up with newer practices and processes with a lot of emphasis on the ‘humane’ aspect of human resources.
4. What are some new practices you’ve adopted considering the emerging hybrid workplace model?
At BYJU’S, we have been fortunate to be in a sector of positive relevance. Throughout this period, we recruited promising talent. We were able to integrate them into various departments virtually, in a seamless manner.
Employees are at the core of what we do. We are striving to ensure that our employees live a balanced and healthy life in these challenging times. To that end, we held regular fitness workshops like Zumba, Bolly fitness, yoga, and meditation. We also organised fitness workshops in the morning to encourage employees to start their day on a fresh note.
To ensure our employees are at ease with their new working format, we weaved in a holistic employee wellness program into our existing initiatives. We launched the 'BYJU'S Let's Talk' initiative - a 24X7 one-on-one online counseling platform. We also conducted workshops on mind management, guided meditation and hosted multiple events, workshops, fun contests, LIVE sessions, and more. Through activities that gave employees a sense of a virtual “chai time” session, we have tried to establish a steady communication channel. This has helped employees stay motivated, positive, feel aligned and engaged with the company's vision.
5. What are your top talent priorities for upcoming year?
At BYJU'S we look for people who are enthusiastic about their work and want to make a difference in students' learning journeys. We are a millennial-driven organization with an average employee age of 23-24 years, across various departments, we believe in mentoring young talent to explore their potential and to streamline their goals. To that end, we also focus on recruiting through campuses. We're recruiting across departments for both technical and non-technical positions, and we want to keep engaging with the untapped potential of a young and inquisitive generation.
From a hiring standpoint, we have around 10,000 employees and in the coming year, we plan to hire around 5000 -6000 people across technical and non-technical roles. We are hiring for both mid-level and top management positions, from across the country to ensure a diverse talent pool. Additionally, we will continue engaging with various prestigious institutions to harness the untapped potential of a young and curious generation.