COVID Challenge Will Push Us To Embrace Technology, Quicker: Director-HR, Otis India
BW People in interaction with Suma PN, Director-HR, Otis India throwing light on the major positives of being under the lockdown. Emphasizing and describing about their measures for employee well being.
Everything has two sides; positive and negative. According to you in what is that one positive and one negative thing that has happened because of this COVID disruption in the industry?
Given the COVID situation, I would like to focus on the positive. One of the things that COVID-19 has done is to foster greater collaboration amongst teams. It has helped us understand and appreciate everyone’s role in the organization. The situation has also brought about empathy for one another. Everyone is facing a challenge and no one is without it. Even though the gravity and nature of the situation is different, people can easily relate to someone else’s hardship. I think in that sense COVID has been an equalizer. Another thing that it has done, is enabled us to adopt technology faster than we would otherwise have.
How are you efficiently taking care of your employees’ wellbeing when they are locked at their homes? People are under pressure and stress during these downtimes, what are the initiatives that you are taking at Otis India to ensure the mental health of all your employees?
The health, safety, and wellness of our employees have always been of importance to us at Otis. In fact, we have had an employee wellbeing program for a number of years which we revived again once the lockdown was announced. This program focuses on the mental wellness of employees and is also extended to their families. We recognize that family support and participation are crucial to make many initiatives stick, including our on-the-job safety programs. The remote wellness program aims to help employees navigate through the new normal which includes elements like the feeling of working in isolation or working remotely, lack of external stimuli, ability to stay motivated, being able to stay emotionally connected while social distancing, all of which are arising out of the remote working arrangements or working in isolation. Based on a virtual online platform, the program will provide employees and their families the ability to connect with professional psychological counselors through phone counseling, chat, email, or face-to-face video counseling as required. The program also provides stress control programs for resilience building, tranquil mindfulness programs, holistic wellbeing, and online assessment for stress and coping skills. The program can be accessed online or via a mobile phone app too.
Apart from that, we also have an engagement team that puts together interesting light-hearted activities and reads for employees to engage in. The idea is to help them take a moment to destress and take their minds off work for a little while and socialize remotely.
There is a fear of job losses in the back of the head of everyone. As an HR expert, how would you like to extend the support to assure people at least morally?
At this point of time, the focus is on ensuring the safety, health, and wellbeing of the people. One of the key Otis leadership traits is empathy, which needs to be lived by all of us during this challenging time. We are investing in an Employee Wellness Program that provides physiological support to employees and their families. This wellness program helps provide employees with a secure platform to raise their concerns on all aspects related to work and their personal situations. Communication too is key - our managers are keeping their teams up-to-date, communicating even more at an individual level and collectively. This helps in building trust and quelling any misconceptions and misinformation that may arise. Recognition that is timely, is also very important. We are constantly recognizing the achievements of our field professionals and other employees through multiple platforms. The other focus point is to prepare our employees for the future. We are maximizing this time to up-skill employees by deploying on-line training resources so that they can put their best foot forward, today and tomorrow. Helping employees socialize remotely is another key aspect to ensure they are in good spirits. A lot of these elements that were already part of our culture are now being amplified for the benefit of employees and the company at large.
What are your strategies to catch the pace of the business with all this disruption and unexpected scenarios?
There are multiple initiatives we are taking to ensure that once the lockdown is lifted we will be able to spring back up to meet our customer’s needs. We are working on delivering a series of online courses ranging from soft skills to technical training, cultural orientations, to even cross-functional training. We are using this time effectively where we can to make sure our people emerge well equipped and stronger than before to deal with the emerging challenges. Apart from that, we are in touch with our customers, vendor, authorities, and industry bodies. This helps us keep our ears on the ground and align ourselves internally to prepare for what is to come. The key is to develop agility amongst our teams.
Do you think, is this the new normal for the industry? What changes are you foreseeing in the execution of the work post COVID?
I think the COVID challenge will push us harder to embrace technology, quicker. Which means we will have to develop ease in dealing with technology. This will lead to a lot of training around adapting to technology. Monetary transactions, meetings, training, discussions, intelligence gathering, etc. will all shift towards the online space. This is a good thing because we will be able to do more, efficiently, and reduce the amount of paper – again, a good thing for the environment.
The work from home concept too will also gather momentum prompting managers, employees and teams to embrace it. This will build a lot of flexibility into work schedules and companies expanding on their work from home policies.