In Post COVID Era, Leadership Will Need To Display Honesty Without Ambiguity: Head-HR, SE2 India

In an interaction with BW People, Sumit Bhatia, Head-HR, SE2 India Speaks about the high impact on the ways of hiring; changing dynamics of leadership; clear communication as a critical role player and has shared a positive message.


Employment and hiring have been highly impacted. How do you foresee the dynamics of hiring change in the New Normal?

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented massive challenges before us – businesses are shutting down and people are losing jobs. Talent acquisition is quite a task today for most companies as the conventional methods of recruiting are no longer viable. Organizations are now revamping their hiring processes and moving to virtual recruitment platforms – right from screening, assessment, documentation, onboarding, and engagement, the new age paperless strategy is becoming a seamless, yet engaging experience for both, existing employees and potential employees. Even after companies make a cautious start to resume work from the office, virtual hiring will be now embedded in our culture and will keep ensuring a transformative employee experience. We have been actively recruiting for open positions as per our plans and requirements and also successfully e-onboarded 27 associates since March’20 and honored our commitment to interns and campus hires. We have enabled Work From Home (WFH) for them that underlines both our preparedness and the availability of technology and processes to do this.

What is that one message you would like to convey to the people who lost their jobs or on the verge of losing it?

I firmly believe that one should never lose hope. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel and this too shall pass.

In fact, I want to humbly acknowledge that during these tough times, we have strengthened our bonds with our people. We are still hiring and scouting for fresh talent. It’s so hard for people who have lost their jobs especially in these times and my message to them is to have faith in their abilities. Keep learning and striving for the better because every tomorrow is a new day!

What's your take on the comment 'Layoffs is not the solution'?

We at SE2 completely agree with the statement. We have seen that the businesses that are laying off are those that we're unable to adapt quickly to the changing demands of the situation and were not ready to transform digitally. Instead of thinking of layoffs as a solution, organizations should introspect the need of the hour, innovate and address the situation with agility. We continued to be resilient in the face of the pandemic and hence were able to keep up to our hiring commitment. Every company goes through highs and lows, but we should look at treating our employees as our biggest asset and look out for them as much as possible, especially during such difficult times.

As a leader what top three things would you advise keeping that people vibe & humane warmth alive in this 'contactless world'?

Now more than ever, we need empathy and warmth to live and thrive in this “contactless” world. But here are key things to remember:
1) Listen to understand and not to respond - We often forget to understand what the other person is trying to say because we are in a hurry to respond. In this virtual communication world, we need to be even more vigilant in understanding why your team member is reaching out to you or what they really want.

2) Be clear – Let’s be clear and transparent – Clarity in giving instructions always helps in getting the expected results. The way we communicate with each other will directly reflect in the work that we do.

3) Pass on the Kindness - Everybody has their own battles to fight and we need to be kind to each other to get through this together. There will always be a deadline to meet but the key is to not forget that we are working with humans and not robots.

What would employees expect from the leadership post COVID era? As the leadership has also experienced a transformation during this disruption

The DNA of our workplace ecosystem has changed in multiple ways and we have seen some really important leadership attributes emerge. Honesty has always been an important workplace trait but now the post COVID era, leadership will need to display candor (honesty without ambiguity). People fear the unknown and it’ll work miracles for a company if the employees don’t feel anxious. Leaders in organizations will have to communicate facts in a reliable and consistent way. Consistency is an effective way to reduce workplace anxiety and would in turn, bring the organization together.

Another trait that the employees would expect from the leadership is Empathy. The spirits of employees are low and they would often turn to their leaders for guidance and inspiration. The way the leaders will impart their knowledge and show empathy in various scenarios will have a trickle-down effect in the workplace.

What are the best initiatives you undertook at your organization in terms of keeping people intact?

There are a couple of things I can mention we did towards our people.

One is to ensure honoring our commitments to our existing employees (salary increments, promotions, and incentives) as well as our future employees (permanent hires, internships, campus recruitments). It includes continuing to provide enhanced benefits, including improved and comprehensive options on health and wellness (like Employee Assistance Program, Free Doctor Consultation, Nutrition Coach, etc.).

The second is to increase our channels of communication (through our intranet, email, phone, WebEx, Skype, MS Teams, and Yammer). We have kept all employees informed about our business continuity plan, supporting throughout the WFH situation, as well as our return to office plan (which has been prepared in collaboration with employees). We have provided multiple educational communication and infographics towards COVID-19 and maintaining safety and security at home and at work. We have started global newsletters to provide tips to our employees as well as managers on successfully working from home. We increased leadership connects and conducted virtual town halls and recognition felicitations. We have conducted various virtual engagement activities, including our latest one focused on fitness improvement.


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