Resilience during 2 years of COVID pandemic

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There is hardly any soul or entity globally that hasn’t been impacted during the COVID pandemic. The past two years have taught us many things. And like every other enterprise, In10s too had its share of experiences, and this blog will help you understand those better.

From surviving to thriving

First things first. A big thank you to every individual across the organization who pitched in during the unpredicted and tough times. This collaborative effort has breathed life into this article.

As humans, our strength lies in being part of a larger community.

With a sense of pride, I refer to the word “Resilience”. In its true sense, a limited-sized team of HR @ In10s demonstrated great flexibility and agility by adopting the required changes in systems and processes to counter the challenges thrown by the pandemic. Wading through severe restrictions of lockdown yet ensuring the safety of the workforce by mobilizing the necessities of their professional needs’ viz., computers, tables, chairs, peripherals to their doorstep to ensure ergonomic condition in their remote workspace. Alongside the frontline warriors like Doctors, Healthcare professionals, Police, Bankers, Essential suppliers, etc. the support staff, an integral part of HR of IT organizations like ours, have secured special COVID passes to handle logistics and movement. Kudos to them for their readily available services.

There is one lesson I have learned in these 24 months that is ‘understanding and care go a long way in dealing with challenges.’ Anything and everything that was needed for employee care was mobilized by the management and as a reciprocal gesture the employees voluntarily doubled up to beat the uphill tasks w.r.t timelines for the prestigious National project. Families extended their support to our employees in such challenging times and were respectfully recognized.

Countering-Encounters

Work collaboration- One of the positives that have come to light is accelerated technology adoption. Companies have risen to the occasion pitching in their best efforts by extending the best possible platforms for collaboration viz., Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, MS-Teams, etc., for a conducive virtual working environment. MS-Teams was chosen as an official platform across our organization for business operations and project execution. A mandate was promulgated to have compulsory daily huddle calls for every team.

Virtual Onboarding – Newest methods have been adopted to ensure a seamless onboarding experience for the new joiners. An all-new New Hire Orientation program with the extension of the NH Reboot programs (held 30 days & 90 days after the NHO program) was initiated during the initial stages of the pandemic and has been a huge success. Associate with buddy mentors (not necessarily from the functional team) to stay connected is yet another key initiative to make the new hires feel at home.

Testing the threshold- It is observed that the median time to hire has gone down by more than 50%, but with a steep increase of appx. 200% in the cost-to-hire. The industry-recognized technology innovations like UniServe™ NXT platform and low-code, no-code platforms to build solutions have provided us an element of consideration for talent retention.

Reckoning wellness – During the peak pandemic period, having noted the rise in fear of infection and sensing the risk of such continued anxiety leading to depression, exclusive HR connect programs were undertaken on contact tracing, by way of collecting frequent inputs on a self-health check from employees, calling up individuals who reported symptoms to comfort them and assuring them that they would be taken care of. Subsequently, we lined up wellness programs viz., Vaccination camp, Sanitization drive, Webinars on health check-ups, enhanced medical insurance coverage, and Fitness challenge programs for the upkeep of physical and mental health.

The organization put together a comprehensive support plan for our employees and their families to tide through this pandemic. Even as we’re hearing grim news from across the world, COVID claimed one of our finest employees. To keep his spirit and attitude as a guiding light for the next generation, the Management has instituted an award “In10s Excellence Award” in his memory.

Great resignations & U-turn instances – After the initial lockdown in 2020, although some companies found their way to get back on track with stability, involuntary exits creating a job loss scenario was a fall out of COVID. However, in less than a year, the trend reversed with “Great Resignation”. As a countermeasure, organizations started to float innovative ways focusing heavily on employee retention to contain further attrition. This helped in creating a sense of belonging and feelers of missing out for the employees who have moved on. The industry is now starting to witness instances of U-turns/boomerangs to complete the circle and return home.

Organization alignment for a future-ready work culture

Adoption of new normal – This has put the focus on Work-Life Balance while at the convenience of working remotely from home. While some MNCs have always had the provision of complete remote work as an option for their employees, for the SMEs intending to switch over to completely remote work, having proper systems, processes, and governance MUST be in place, else it will be a disaster.

Step beyond internships – This is a calculated investment in Human Capital by encouraging the Hire Train & Deploy (HTD) program, targeting the right transition of rank fresh graduates into the industry, and helping them walk the path to productivity. This strengthens the organization’s operations plan with built-in contingencies w.r.t skill pool.

Infuse a moment of pride – Employees must be made aware that even a tiny bit of contribution from the lowest level of employee in the organization counts as a contribution to

  • Building world-class Products & Solutions that have achieved recognitions viz., Gartner Market Guide, Aspire Leaderboard, and Gartner Peer Insights where we were rated exceptional by customers
  • Serving marquee customers across Telecom, Banking, Insurance, Utilities, and the Government
  • Working with the organization that has embarked on a journey to gain global forum recognitions such as
    1. Best SME with Global Footprint Award
    2. Best Innovative Company of the Year 2021
    3. Best Employer Brand Award 2021

It’s all about Re-thinking, Re-designing and Re-imagining

Rethinking and redesigning work practices for employee adjustment and well-being in this new era start with –

  • Facilitating work-environment fitness
  • Scaling down work-family conflicts
  • Promoting an autonomous work environment.
  • Enhancing social and professional bonding

Reverse Mentoring – Studies indicate that the Millennials & Gen-Z jointly are taking the driver’s seat, demonstrating out-of-the-box thinking leading to an enhanced outcome. The existing Gen-X workforce needs to be open-minded to accept as a form of reverse mentoring (learning is earning) some of the distinctly divergent ideas.

Walking the talk – In the aircraft, we’re always told, in case of emergencies put the oxygen mask on ourselves and then help others, similarly Leaders first need to make certain changes to their work style to realize the positive impact before taking it forward to their teams and focus on

  • Additional empowerment of teams and team leads
  • Closely monitor the buddy mentors connect with mentees
  • Stay highly compassionate
  • Carry professional immunity booster i.e. Positivity in abundance
  • Keep a check on emotional intelligence
  • Hyper awareness – Constant scanning of internal and external environments for opportunities and threats

Employee engagement – introduce Automation & AI-based employee engagement initiatives by adopting higher levels of technology.

Stay ahead – Transition to data-based decision models:

Use various decision-supporting tools (including algorithms, predictive analytics, root cause analysis, and even artificial intelligence) to aid human decision-making.

  • Concentrate on future-looking (lead/predictive) metrics and real-time (current) metrics rather than backward-looking (lag) metrics
  • Move from tactical to decision metrics, like trend lines, probability of future occurrences, the impact of the cost of a delayed decision, and recommended actions for preventing or solving upcoming problems.

Famish to fame – Launch focused campaigns on risks of maintaining a low quotient of inquisitiveness, stay hungry to learn, always. L&D to provide “intelligent assistance” covering interdisciplinary thinking, and emotional & cognitive resilience.

Vocal for local – Empower the workforce in Tier 2 cities, by extending opportunities to work from anywhere, should the work assignments demand. Build networks of teams empowered to take actions to drive agility & collaboration.

Retention strategy – to include a multidimensional compensation package and a transparent way to Do Good, Earn Good!

Stronger now, stronger together

The global spread of COVID-19 forced us to adapt and stay resilient but never break. It accelerated digital transformation for enterprises like never before, bringing together technology and people to navigate these times successfully.

The time is now, for Organizations and Leaders to reset and focus on People, Processes, and Partner to win.

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Prabhakar Racherla

Mr. Prabhakar Racherla holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Systems Management with additional credentials of PMP (Project Management Professional) and a CSM (Certified Scrum Master). With 22 years of experience (20 years at Intense Technologies) all focused on generating measurable business value for our clients through reliable, cost-effective and consistently high-quality services, he leads our Training & Human Resource departments to ensure quality and upskilling as a focus on continuous improvement.He has received several excellence awards from our clients across the globe and an "Outstanding Leader Award" from Intense in recognition of exemplary dedication towards service delivery.

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