Empathetic Communication to Empower Employees Is Needed: CHRO, Paytm

During a recent interaction with BW People; Rohit Thakur, CHRO Paytm mentioned that "Companies need to understand and ally the fears of their employees related to working during this pandemic. Businesses need to consider all possible situations and help employees in these transitions"


Due to this disruption, People leaders are taking care of employees, keeping them first, and are now being more people-centric. What would you say about being Employee-Centric?

For any company, putting the well-being of their workforce and employees first is of utmost importance. More than being employee-centric companies need to have empathy for their employees. Empathy helps in looking at a problem with greater insight and thinking of ways of solving an issue rather than just feel bad about it.

The future plans being formulated need to be in-line with the unique nature of the crisis. Companies need to understand and ally the fears of their employees related to working during this pandemic. Businesses need to consider all possible situations and help employees in these transitions. As companies experience enhanced work from the home situation during this crisis, it will definitely change the way many have been working in the past. It is as much a behavioral mindset change as it is a physical change of how work typically happens. Collaborating virtually, reducing air travel costs, saving time on the road while continuing to increase productivity is something that the organization and employees will architect by embracing this concept when needed.

What changes you have witnessed in employees’ behavior after practicing weekly Townhall sessions? Why do you think leader to employee connect is important in these unprecedented times?

Every Friday since the beginning of the lockdown, our senior leadership participates in a Townhall meeting to share any relevant updates on the company and also have an open sharing of ideas and best practices with them. There are discussions on business, culture, productivity, engagement, innovation, customer centricity, technology advancements, product features amongst several other important employee-related themes. This has become a highlight of the week for colleagues who look forward to interacting with the CEO as well as the other leaders and discuss their successes, ongoing projects, and goals. The HR through the week touches base with various teams to hear out their concerns and address any work-related issues that they might have. Also, colleagues can directly reach out to their HR single point of contact (SPOC) and speak to them about any work-related issues. We try and help them in every way possible.

Tell us more about your Women in Tech- Empow(her) series.

Empow{her} was launched at the beginning of the financial year 2020-21. It is our monthly series under our umbrella of Inclusion & Diversity Initiatives. It is aimed at cultivating a network for collaboration, opportunity to interact, and learn from the experiences of women entrepreneurs, business leaders from the community. This initiative guides women within our organization to become better leaders. It encourages them to take up challenging assignments and responsibilities and takes them to the path of career growth.
With this initiative, we strive to focus on building a networking program to enable women in Tech to connect with each other and provide them an opportunity to interact & learn from the journeys of senior women leaders & experts.

As the HR Leader, how are you keeping your employees happy and sane during these crazy times?

We have a strong internal peer-to-peer support network that spans across different departments and verticals. Senior managers, team leads, are always in touch with their respective teammates and provide them with all possible support to handle day to day operations.

We have been actively taking feedback from our colleagues regarding 'life in a work-from-home setup'. Most of our employees are comfortably working from the safe confines of their home and there has been no dip in their productivity levels. To the ones who need it, we are giving away ergonomic furniture, to ensure that their posture does not get affected due to the unavailability of apt work chairs and desks.

Taking care of mental health equally important during the pandemic. We encourage everyone to take out at least an hour for themselves and join our online yoga classes as well as consult the panel of doctors and psychologists we have brought on-board especially to handle the physical and mental stress of working from home.

What are those 3 major things that you think each HR leader must have or must do, especially in these times?

1. Empathy
2. Adaptability
3. Effective communication skills

People are in despair and on the verge of losing hope. How you are maintaining a positive and energized work culture during this contactless world?

We are organising online yoga and meditation classes. Other than that fun competitions are held including an online Ludo tournament, quizzes, and challenges where employees share the photographs/videos of their DIY projects of art and crafts, paintings of their kids, their work from home stations, etc. We also have special awards where we acknowledge and reward our top-performing employees from different teams. Besides this, we have 'connect sessions' to ensure there is open communication among employees and their motivation level remains high.

Throughout this period we have tried to make sure in our messaging to colleagues is that to keep reminding them that they are not alone, we are right there every step of the way. While we are all mostly working from home in a semi-lockdown state, not interacting face to face with our peers, team leaders, we want our colleagues to know that we are there for them and would help and support them in every way possible. Our biggest message to employees has been to encourage them to reach out and ask for help if and when they need it.


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