The pandemic has brought about many changes to the workplace. The shift to the remote working model has witnessed the emergence of newer challenges as HR leaders and employees adjust to a digital-centric, post-pandemic work environment. Keeping employee engagement and wellbeing high is of utmost priority in these uncertain times.
K Jayashubha is Chief People Officer, TVS Credit Service Limited where she is in charge of setting up well-defined employee performance management systems, rewards and recognition platforms, HR metrics using HR analytics and various employee engagement programs.
She speaks to us about managing HR in the second wave of the pandemic, the various initiatives TVS Credit Service Limited has taken to ensure employee engagement and well-being and future-proofing in a time of crisis.
What lessons have the first wave of the pandemic taught us about managing HR that we can implement now in the current scenario of the crisis?
The pandemic has been a learning curve that has taught me to be adaptive and flexible to survive and succeed in this COVID era. As an HR leader for a large organisation, the pandemic pushed us to break through all stereotypes. It encouraged us to move from traditional to remote working style, broaden our network, learn and relearn and find new ways to reconnect with people around us. The current time challenges us to experiment with new ideas and explore new avenues while focusing on our physical, emotional and financial well-being.
How is employees’ physical and mental well-being managed at this time of crisis; what are some of the initiatives your organisation is taking in this regard?
Since the pandemic outbreak last year, the safety and well-being of our employees and their family members have been the topmost priorities of our company. We introduced special insurance schemes to cover COVID centric hospitalisation and medical expenses. Doctors from various geographic locations across India are empanelled with us to provide emergency consultations to our employees. We have formulated an emergency financial assistance fund to help our employees avail of an instant loan. We have also set up a COVID helpdesk and support centre in Maharashtra, New Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh to assist with medical treatment and emergency assistance.
To further assist the mental wellness of all the employees, we have conducted multiple sessions on physical health and virtual engagement, in addition to the above welfare measures. We have added additional financial benefits to our ‘Parivaar’ program to provide financial aid to our employees family.
While we understand that no financial aid or assistance can compensate for the loss of loved ones, we as an organisation need to reassure and provide security to the families while overcoming the bereavement. Since the surge in COVID-19 cases across India, several employee families struck with the misfortune have been assisted. We are committed to continue our efforts and support our employees get through these unprecedented times.”
What are some of the main challenges HR leaders have faced and how has your organisation navigated these challenges?
Below are some challenges the pandemic has created when dealing with dispersed populations:
Communication: Communicating and being in touch with dispersed population is difficult, but we have managed it using the following methods.
- Continuous Communication: Given the daily changes occurring during this period, we kept constant communication with our team members rather than a periodic connection.
- Awareness & Survey using Voice Bot: We conducted regular surveys on COVID vaccination and family health status using voice bots in 8 different languages. We also generated insightful data to provide timely help to employees.
- Open-house: Virtual open house session by CEO and leaders to reach each employee, listen to their perspective, and provide the required solutions.
Maintaining the morale and trust of the employees: Under challenging situations, keeping employees’ morale is quite tricky. Due to the public health crisis, we are surrounded by negative media and news. We at TVS credit have maintained the enthusiasm and trust of the employees in a difficult situation. Below are the few steps we have taken to keep it:
- We are there: We reached out to all the employees, understood their difficulties and helped over 3000 employees and their families. We helped them by providing them with Covid Kavach- an insurance policy for all employees, supporting them through hospitalisation, financial aid to meet emergency expenses, providing them with groceries, helping pregnant women at home, etc.
- Parivaar Scheme: We launched the welfare program during the initial outbreak of the pandemic to provide financial support to the employee’s family in case of untimely demise or terminal illness of the employee.The program envisages providing additional financial security to the employee’s family members in case of untimely demise. Some of the salient features of the program are:
– Provide monetary compensation equal to three years of the employee’s salary.
– The program also provides three years of family medical insurance and a dedicated financial adviser appointed to guide the family on managing the fund effectively.
– The educational expenses of the deceased employee’s kids will be borne by the company up to their completion of graduation.
– To provide employment to a family member or make them employable, basis the qualification, a member will be taught basic computing skills and will be enrolled in other vocational courses.
Recognition: In the pandemic situation when all of us were surrounded by distressing news and an environment of negative information, recognising people for their excellent work and helping nature was necessary to boost morale and highlight the positive stories around us. And we at TVS Credit recognised 50% of the employees through various modes. We have changed the recognition format from physical to virtual sessions.
Employee Well-being: We have launched different programs to address employees and their families’ physical & mental well-being. We conducted several virtual sessions on physical well-being and helped employees stay fit during this time. Also, we have provided PPE for all field employees. We have conducted awareness sessions to be safe during the pandemic. Over 3000 employees and families have been offered various types of support during this pandemic. Also, we launched an emotional well-being program through which more than 300 workers underwent consultations.
Collaboration & Partnership in the Virtual World: Collaboration in the virtual world once seemed impossible, but at TVS Credit, we have managed to move towards it for business continuity. A few of the programs that we had initiated are as follows.
- Continuous Learning: Learning & development are an integral aspect of our organisation. We have used this time to reskill our employees through digital learning platforms and virtual sessions to add to their horizontal and vertical capabilities.
- Engagement: We have developed several engagement programs to keep employees focused and engaged. A few of them are Virtual Open House with CEO, Emotional wellness programs and Virtual Recognition event, etc.
- Knowledge Sharing: We launched Knowledge sharing sessions on December 19, wherein employees gathered and shared details about their project, learning, challenges and their outcomes. These sessions were beneficial to the employees.
All of this has enabled us to see and prepare for the future. Below are a few pointers to enhance efficiency within our business environment in the post-Covid world:
- This pandemic has not only given us crises to manage but also opened up opportunities like moving from physical to digital space to enhance productivity
- We need to broaden our network and keep in touch with people with whom we lost contact.
- Continue experimenting with new ideas and keep exploring new territories.
What kind of financial assistance did you provide to employees during this time?
The pandemic has presented us an opportunity to ensure, address, protect and improve our employees’ welfare and well-being. We helped our employees get through these testing times by providing immediate support. We provided an additional medical insurance policy called the ”COVID Kavach Policy” covering COVID centric hospitalisation and medical expenses. We formulated an emergency financial assistance fund that an employee can avail of and get an instant loan.
How has digital technology affected HR management and the way employees work? Also, tell us about means deployed to manage technology fatigue in employees?
With the changing trends in the industry, we have seen a rapid increase in technological innovation and humanised digital capabilities. In the current situation, our employees must break the traditional stereotypes and push towards learning and relearning. For this, we have introduced several programs:
- CAP Millennial (Career Accelerator Program) created long-term opportunities to participate in social projects of their choice outside TVS and in cross-functional projects within TVS Credit.
- We have also introduced CAP Growth which helps in developing and retaining talent for business growth.
- We focused on analytics as an imperative for the growth of our organisation. We also have an in-house analytics team that helps develop both the employees and the organisation.
How has your organisation approached the new remote work and tech-centric work scenario from a policy perspective? How has your policy been adapted to this change in the work model?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have adopted a hybrid work culture, where we provide our employees with options of remote and office working. We understand that remote and tech-centric working are hurdles in maintaining our employees’ mental well-being. We launched personal online counselling and an emotional wellness platform to help employees cope with the challenging times and help them adapt to this changed working model.
What are some ways organisations, specifically yours, can work towards future-proofing in a VUCA world?
In the continuously changing world, volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are constantly increasing. In this current world, as leaders, before we come to a solution of an unknown element, the other uncertainty and undiscovered territory are there in front of us, and we have to get answers for those.
The future will present more complexity, and predicting it will be difficult; hence, as leaders, we need to future-proof our organisation and our people through:
- Continuous communication
- Continuous learning and building skills
- Inward vs. outward mindset
- Building Resilience
- Listening inward and outward
- Developing cross-functional leadership