Meenaa Sharma, CHRO at Reliance Securities shares with us about the disruption of this crisis in the finance industry and what are the learnings that people managers can take from COVID-19. She also highlighted, how the employees are being trained to leverage emerging and new technologies such as Analytics, AR/VR, and Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and ICT channels for working efficiently and seamlessly. Read the edited excerpt here-
This pandemic is termed as one of the most serious challenges faced by the finance industry. Lower incomes, production shutdowns have affected the business, how is the industry adapting to the rapidly changing business condition?
The COVID-19 pandemic has enforced vast changes in the established business processes and practices of organizations with technology at the center of such transitions.
IT and HR teams are collaborating to implement the requisite technology infrastructure for ensuring seamless work deliveries. Organizations are working harder to optimize costs and at the same time, initiating measures to retain and re-skill talents that are critical to their businesses. New channels of engagement are being created and stringent protocols are being put in place to get full output from employees amidst the current work-from-home set up. Focus is on Employee Engagement and Employee connect not only to keep them motivated but also on their overall development through different online training intervention.
COVID-19 seems to be accelerating digital transformation in the workplace across industries. How are businesses fast-tracking their digital agenda amid this crisis?
Over the last few months, organizations have learned to adapt and adapt to the new reality of work from home. IT department and tech teams are taking the center-stage of strategic planning at the organizational level. Alternative technology-backed mediums are being developed for information and communication flow with external and internal stakeholders and for the end delivery to ensure business continuity.
Employees are being trained to leverage emerging and new technologies such as Analytics, AR/VR, and Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and ICT channels for working efficiently and seamlessly.
There will be large portions of the workforce that will not return to a traditional office post-pandemic. How prepared are you for that?
We have adopted a policy where 50 percent of our staff will continue to from home after the lockdown restrictions are lifted. The policy is meticulously designed keeping in mind the business continuity and effective communication between teams. We will work on a roster-based model and open our offices in a phased manner depending upon the situation. At the same time, we ensure to keep in touch with our employees through online media- video call / online messages, etc.
Do you see a new tech infrastructure in the making that will help economies recover after COVID-19?
With larger investments being now made in new technologies and for training people for future workplaces, businesses will become more resilient against any future disruptions or risks similar to the COVID-19 crisis.
Henceforth, organizations will be ready with their back-up and business continuity plans even as they take bigger strides towards creating automated and digitized functions. This transition towards digitization will also enable stronger collaboration within and across teams, more productive working routines, and a reinforcement of positive health practices. All these factors together will translate into higher growth for businesses in the post-COVID-19-era and also improve their contribution to the economy.
The current situation is exacerbated by staff shortages, inadequate digital maturity, and pressure on the existing infrastructure as firms scramble to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on financial services. As a people leader, how are you navigating through these challenges?
In these troubled times, the Human Resource (HR) function is playing a crucial role by working more closely and diligently with the management teams to ensure that the organization remains sustainable. At the same time, adequate measures are being taken to attract, retain, train, and engage employees.
HR is helping the organization to achieve the right balance for optimizing and also ensuring long-term sustenance of the business by facilitating talent accessibility, optimization of investments, reducing redundancies, and greater alignment among the teams.
How are you preparing for the new risks? How critical is the role of technology for the post COVID world?
Reliance Capital has always placed ‘digital’ at the core of all its business strategies, and that too many years ahead of this pandemic. This is the reason our transition to the work-from-home model and switch to completely digital functions was much faster and seamless.
The overarching approach towards end-to-end digitalization encompasses every business process -- right from its back-end function, to client on-boarding, sales, client servicing, and even CSR and financial education initiatives. This inclination for embedding technology into every aspect of the business is also what makes us future-ready.
What are some of the leadership lessons that have guided you in the current times of crisis?
The COVID-19 crisis has brought for our lessons that every organization needs to embed into its future roadmap for business continuity. The foremost among these lessons is the need to invest in the latest technology and digital processes, which can no longer be delayed or ignored by any organization. In the post-pandemic workplaces, digitization, health safety, and social distancing will be the rule, and enforcement of these practices would require well-entrenched plans. It is high time organizations start aligning their workplaces for this ‘new normal.’