A Balancing Act on the Driver’s Seat – HR in 2020 0

Jitender Panihar
Speaking of Diversity & Inclusion at the workplace, a topic he addressed in his top-performing article of 2020, Jitender Panihar said, “The working population has been digital for the last 8 months and the emphasis on creating an inclusive workplace is still a priority for us. We have been able to curate a Returning to Work policy (RESTART) for our women employees who join us back from maternity. This was important since the challenges they face post joining back are multifold and immense and we wanted to help them with this transition. And we plan to uphold this objective in the coming quarters too.”

Remote is the new normal and it is not going away for at least some more time. And digital transformation is essential to survive through these unprecedented times. Crisis management, business continuity planning, digital transformation still remains the most critical challenges for any business and their People/HR teams. The pandemic has allowed the HR teams to effectively demonstrate their ability to plan people’s risk. They are crucial to ensure smooth operations of their organizations and are thus now the driving force to any org success.

At MoEngage, we started remote work earlier than a lot of organizations with approx 300 folks from 6 different geographies going virtual. We still are remote and intend to be that way till we deem it fit for our folks to join back offices in stages. In late September 2020, we were super stoked to be named as ‘The Most Adaptable Organisation’ during the pandemic by a leading HR Consultancy. We were also recognized in 2 more categories for ‘Best initiatives towards Employee Communication and Employee Engagement’. Very recently, we also got named in the Top 25 Highest Rated Private Cloud Computing Companies to Work For During the COVID Crisis by Battery Ventures and Glassdoor! This is a strong testimony towards our people-first philosophy and practices during these tough times.

The pandemic has allowed the HR teams to effectively demonstrate their ability to plan people’s risk. They are crucial to ensure smooth operations of their organizations and are thus now the driving force to any org success. Click To Tweet

Leadership matters now, more than ever to navigate through this new reality since this pandemic is the ultimate leadership test for many. Here is my countdown to what would be crucial for an HR leader to address in the COVID era workplace:

Digitization of the Talent Acquisition Process is Inevitable

Recruitment during a crisis like this is not an easy feat. There have been changes in the hiring needs, the way we hire, and the talent pool available. This has accelerated the use of technology for talent acquisition. We all resorted to virtual interviewing and onboarding. This required a quantum shift in hiring processes, mindset, and comfort levels. Crafting excellent job descriptions and setting correct expectations from the hiring managers/ interviewers has helped us embrace the new normal of recruitment.

Virtual onboarding needs to be all-encompassing with everything that one needs to know about the organization, talk about the culture that we embody and encourage the new person to do the same as well and also have fun at the same time. Lending a hand to those out of work is also a good strategy to fill vacancies at this time.

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This is also a time where your employer brand is of critical importance. Doing things that are people-centric, sharing employer brand messaging promoting community health and employee wellness, and COVID-appropriate content would definitely help you tap into the job seeker pool right now. A structured talent ambassador program, candidate journey mapping, and an exceptional candidate experience are must-haves.

Employee Wellness is Paramount in These Times

The pandemic has also changed the kind of support our employees need. It is absolutely essential to have a corporate employee wellness program in place to reduce healthcare costs and keep employees engaged. We at MoEngage collaborated with a few health and wellness tech platforms to guide us through this time with health tips, doctor consultations, and live workout and yoga sessions, useful webinars, health check-up bookings, doctor’s appointments, self-health assessments, and ordering medicines too. On-demand or all-time access to resources on nutrition, fitness, mental health, financial distress, mindfulness, healthy eating, stress management would be great add ons to your existing offerings.

Mental wellbeing is directly proportional to productivity and thus crucial for all of us. Maintaining open channels of communication to understand how they feel, what their challenges are and how can you help them. Regular communication, engagement meet-ups for your employees would go a long way to relieve them of stress and relieve them of isolation. At MoEngage, our HR team has reached out to 70% of the workforce till now with 1-o-1 conversations with the sole purpose of asking “how do you feel?”

Employee Engagement is an Experience that Matters

People have had varied experiences, perspectives, and outcomes due to this crisis and the remote work shift. So curating engagement practices also need a personalized approach.

Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement for MoEngage would mean to infuse a deeper commitment in our employees towards the organization. It comprises organizational efforts aligned with our core values and culture. The role of our People and culture team was to see things through the lens of empathy. And we never missed an opportunity to get our teams together for a fun Friday activity or celebrating Diwali/Independence Day together.

We also believe that continuous and democratized recognitions will be at a crux in instilling a sense of engagement in employees at these times. We have monthly spot awards, appreciation weeks and special gratitude badges shared and sent every now or then to keep the spirits high apart from our quarterly performance rewards.

Employee Communication is an Ongoing Dialogue

It is important to have an internal communications plan, use the leaders effectively, ensure people come to know about critical information from the company before they hear it from others, use multiple channels and ensure employees are enabled with tools and resources to stay together even while remote.

Increase the internal communications volume and frequency since internally your employees would want to get more information and continuous feedback. All Hands and Town Hall meetings with leadership should be more frequent. One should be empathetic especially during these times when people are at home and have to balance both household chores, parenting, work, and self all together!

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At MoEngage, we ran polls and surveys to gather useful insights that help us improve the experience we create for our folks. We introduced Office Hours with Founders, a platform that gives a chance to all our employees to have a direct conversation with our founders too.

Virtual Office Culture to Stay for a Longer Time

Maintaining the org culture in the new work normal is challenging. With the lack of in-person gathering and face-to-face conversations, it can get harder to solidify an organization’s shared beliefs. Cultural adaptability is important now more than ever. Curating value stories, rewarding culture champions, hiring adaptable folks, encouraging culture conversations, and redefining values and culture with the changing times will be highly instrumental in nurturing the org culture. Open conversations with leaders will help build trust, which is imperative for team cohesion. Tweak some workplace traditions and get some new ones to reinforce a culture in the new normal. Celebrate an accomplishment or encourage co-workers (family/pets) to join a few fun meetings.

Maintaining open channels of communication to understand how they feel, what their challenges are and how you can help them. Regular communication, engagement meet-ups for your employees would go a long way to relieve them of stress and relieve them of isolation.

Productivity and Performance Evaluations to be More Empathetic

When people are wrestling with uncertainty, performance evaluations are dreadful. When everyone is stretching in a certain way, it becomes difficult to assess performance empathetically. Redoing your objectives and goals to meet current needs, taking an OKR and SMART goal methodology, acknowledging varying circumstances people are in, and communicating and sharing feedback regularly with team members would be crucial in making the performance evaluation process successful.

Productivity and Performance Evaluations

More frequent recognition for employees will positively impact morale and retention. At MoEngage, we recognize accomplishments quarterly. We also initiated Speakweek where we aim to have all our employees connect with their managers quarterly to discuss career goals, focus areas, and exchange feedback.

A Post-COVID World with Its Own Set of Challenges

The post-COVID times will see a shift in the office architecture and work environment. The important question is not when we return to the office but how we return to the office. You can expect offices to be more fluid and remote work to be an integral part of office systems. The new way of work might create the need for new roles or make some roles redundant or need heavy upskilling of the workforce. It will be imperative to keep employees motivated and enthused to achieve this future together. The post COVID era needs organizations to get smarter and more digital to ensure they build a sense of security in the minds of their employees.

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