Employee Engagement, Crisis Management & Continuity Planning Are Challenges Faced By HR: Chetna Gogia, Policybazaar.com
In the conversation with BW People, Chetna Gogia, Head-HR, Policybazaar.com discussed the challenges faced by the HR Leaders during this disrupted time; the impact and changes because of WFH; how the future would look like and her definition for the New Normal.
WFH for employees and companies are equally productive as compared to employees working at their work stations. Have you seen any impact of Work From Home on employees' performance?
Having the ability to work from home has become the new norm across many industries and roles given the coronavirus outbreak. Over 80% of workers felt they were equally, or even more productive when working from home. People feel they can be more productive at home because they don’t have to deal with daily office distractions and co-worker interruptions & the commute time. The shift towards this trend of productive remote working is just beginning. We plan to have nearly 30% of our workforce working from home even in the future.
What is your definition for the New Normal?
COVID-19 has required firms to rapidly embrace remote working. This presents a unique opportunity to embed new ways of working in preparation for the ‘new normal’. Ensure your teams are thriving rather than surviving in the new environment – and if not, create the culture, instill the behaviors, and implement the tooling they need. It's crucial to maintain mental well-being amidst the COVID crises.
What are the challenges faced by the HR Industry due to COVID19?
No doubt, COVID has thrown at us several challenges that we have never faced earlier. However, overcoming those challenges has helped us work towards new innovations, improvising quality & in all leveraging strengths in our performance even further. Several countries have been affected mentally, physically & financially worldwide & companies are relying on HR more than ever to ensure that employees feel safe & satisfied in these turbulent times. While the challenges that HR face varies with their company’s location, size & sector, it is clear that most organizations will have to tighten their belts. Organizations are seeking alternative strategies such as using technologies to support WFH or reviewing costs to stretch the budget. However, employee engagement, crisis management & continuity planning remain the top challenges faced by HR during the COVID 19 outbreak. HR departments should frequently communicate with the employees to increase awareness, address employee concerns, implementation of preventive measures, and review of current welfare policies, as employees are the biggest asset to every organization.
WFH is the new normal post COVID19 in this specific sector. What kind of strategies or approaches need to be adopted by the companies to allow their employees to work remotely?
In the times where work from home will become the ‘new normal’, it is simply commendable how organizations & employees have adapted this change and not only they have found ways to make sure that business continues with the least disruption, but they also have found a way to work in a safe and secured manner. Earlier work-from-home was seen as an ‘excuse for not working’ by most people but the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the perception of the companies to an extent and now organizations are willing to experiment with the idea of WFH for a few more months after lockdown as well. While WFH is normal there are certain things that the HR dept. should do is build trust with your employees & maintain a sense of teamwork. One of the major challenges that organizations face when implementing WFH is building mutual trust with the employees and making sure that the employees will continue to maintain standards, meet deadlines & practice open communication. Also, WFH can sometimes experience feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and disconnection from the team. To ensure the wellbeing of your remote workers, it is important to maintain a sense of teamwork within the company.
How are companies evaluating their employee’s performance while working from home?
For us as an organization, the well-being of our employees is as important as their work performance. Before evaluating their work performance, we make sure that they are physically and mentally fit to perform best at the work front. In order to evaluate their work performance while working from home, we focus on evaluating quality and quantity instead of time worked. When handing out tasks to the employees, we make sure that we are very clearly dictating the expectations. Our explanation includes deadlines and defined details about the task itself. We strongly believe that the key to working well with remote employees is communication. We need to be very clear and specific with all expectations, the more clearly we communicate, the easier it will be for the employees to understand and deliver the best. This drastically reduces the need for any micromanagement.
About the new initiatives were taken by your company to engage with the employees working from home which helps them to boost their morale?
In order to keep the employees motivated while they work from home, the HR team on a day to day basis does engagement & wellness programs and emphasizes on staying motivated, safe and healthy. We also organize webinars with renowned Psychologists, Orthopedic, and fitness trainers so that employees could learn to keep themselves fit and motivated and also learn ways to deal with anxiety, depression, and right postures while working from home due to lockdown. While we used to only organize fun activities once a week, now the same is being organized more often to keep employees more engaged. We even organize regular challenges amongst the employees to ease off the work pressure from their minds. Some major challenges that we have conducted in the recent past include Dalgona coffee making challenge, fitness challenge, painting challenge where we involved their children as well, and cooking your favorite dish challenge.
What challenges are you foreseeing specifically in this sector?
The first job of any HR person is to help the company succeed through recruiting, retaining, and developing the best people. And now we have a global health crisis, there are some downsides of what we say will be the new normal, this pandemic has definitely changed the paradigms. HR advises on the tough decisions an organization makes: who gets hired etc. & how to manage the company’s needs & employee’s concerns. You can’t run a business without people, but then you have to monitor how the employee performs & contributes to the company’s growth.
What is one advice you would want to share with other HR leaders that can help them?
The organizations have almost crossed the first phase of remote working i.e. continuously & effectively adapting WFH. The priority for firms now is the second phase to adapt and enhance in order to optimize ways of working. The focus should be on enhancing the effectiveness of remote work, maintaining employee well-being, upskilling teams on remote collaboration to ensure key milestones are still hit, and ensuring that tooling is in place to allow teams to do their jobs.