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Is‘Back to Office’ initiative The Next Call For Employees At Mobileum?
"At Mobileum, we do believe in a flexible model of work and all employees have to report to the office twice or thrice a week. We have a flexible work environment and individuals have the freedom to choose the days on which they want to come."
Amidst these unprecedented times of a global pandemic, it is imperative now, more than ever to align optimal employee well-being with the organisation’s vision and objectives. Mobileum, after close to two years has re-opened their offices and are providing its employees with a host of benefits to settle down in the ‘new-old normal’ environment, which include looking for housemates, insurance covers, loan assistance for rentals and a seamless process for employees moving back from their home locations, among others.
From helping them with their accommodation to assisting them with shifting their base, Mobileum’s ‘Back to office’ initiative has it all covered. Let's hear it from the "horses mouth" Rakhi Shaha, Senior Director of Human Resources, Mobileum as to how was this initiative planned and designed and wit what objective.
1. What HR trends do you foresee in 2022?
The last two years have changed the way we work, how we work and the technologies we use. Reinventing HR policies and processes have become a priority and will require constant updating keeping in mind the pandemic. In 2022, the following trends will shape the HR trends.
Considering the uncertainties around the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, a flexible or hybrid work environment is here to stay permitting the employees to work both from home and office at their own convenience. Additionally, quick technology adoption and its deployment for running various HR programs are going to be key. This is more to support the varied kind of employees we will witness - full time, part time or consultants. We will also witness increased focus on the mental well-being of employees as there is a clear indication of pandemic-induced fatigue and burnout. We all were expecting 2022 to begin with a bang, but with the new variant, there is added stress and anxiety which needs to be addressed. As many industries continue to face talent deficit, another very important factor is reskilling and upskilling which is the need of the hour and we will have to encourage the employees to take it up. Lastly, we will have to redefine employee experience, focusing on a more personalised approach. The “one size fits all” approach won’t work anymore.
2. A lot of organizations are talking about design thinking. Is it something Mobileum will also try to bring in within their organisational framework?
The traditional definition of Design thinking is an approach to solve problems from the perspective of the user. For Mobileum, customer focus is the key – both external business customers and internal employee wellbeing. Design thinking as a framework is being implemented in pockets and we are evaluating how to leverage it as a common framework for problem solving.
For HR practices, design thinking is all the more important as the thing that differentiates it from other approaches is the very focus on user with empathy. HR functions and works with individuals, hunting for the best talent, empowering them with all the resources and support needed for their success, which ultimately leads to the organisation achieving it goals.
3. India has also witnessed the concept of great resignation. What do you have to say about it?
Personally, I feel this concept of great resignation can be divided into two phases. The first phase started after the wave of the pandemic which changed the mindset of people which was unprecedented. There was a fear of life, job stability and people did not know if they will be able to survive the extraordinary situation. Eventually, when the effects of pandemic faded, people realized they can work flexibly as well as they can follow their interests and passions which took a back seat due to their mundane lifestyles. This is where the second phase of the great resignation began wherein due to technical advancement, there was a rise in demand for employees and increase in jobs but there was a deficit. As an example, in the IT industry if there are 100 openings, we have only 80 people to do that job, making a clear deficit of 20 percent.
People are in a different mind space now and are willing to take risks which has resulted in the concept of great resignation.
4. Quite a lot of companies are providing a hybrid model of work, which is one of the upcoming trends. Why did Mobileum not go ahead with this? How do you think this will help in retaining and onboarding new employees?
At Mobileum, we do believe in a flexible model of work and all employees have to report to the office twice or thrice a week. We have a flexible work environment and individuals have the freedom to choose the days on which they want to come.
In the last one year, Mobileum has doubled its strength and grown immensely but most of the people were hired virtually and continued to work in that environment. They have never seen their peers and managers and almost 50 percent of the hires have never worked in the office space. We believe that it is important they come to the office, learn, and even unlearn from their team members. It is not always about textbook learning; we grasp so much more by listening to the experiences and events of colleagues and experts. There is learning which takes place through osmosis, you absorb from the surroundings. We also believe that the office culture develops further when people come together. Thus, we have kept it flexible wherein we understand the need of personal space as well as to be with the team. When we welcome them back, we will ensure we provide a safe and conducive place. We need to understand that humans learn more from visuals and when people see the teams and colleagues managing various aspects at work, it will motivate and build a sense of oneness amongst them.
5. What all benefits do you have under your ‘Back to office’ initiative?
For Mobileum’s ‘Back to Office’ initiative, we developed a multi-pronged plan ensuring the safety and comfort of all employees to move back. We can call it a 3S model wherein we take care of safety, seamless relocation, and settling down without any hindrance.
For safety in the office, we provide state-of-the-art sanitization equipment/processes which are 100 percent compliant. We ensure that employees strictly abide by all specified workplace protocols to make the office environment safe for others as well. We also conduct random rapid antigen tests and are ensuring that all employees are vaccinated with both doses. We also provide company transportation which is sanitised regularly.
As many employees moved back or started working remotely, for a seamless relocation experience, we provide initial company-sponsored accommodation to all employees. We also have a housemate scheme wherein we connect individuals from within the firm who have similar needs and provide them a platform where they can explore if they can share an apartment. Another interesting service is house hunting wherein Mobileum is helping people find houses on rent in nearby areas according to their budget. Additionally, we provide loan assistance for paying a rental house security deposit.
Before the new wave, we had a flexible work policy wherein employees needed to visit the office twice or thrice a week and they could select specific days. We have also been running sensitization sessions on returning to work and adjusting to the new normal. Also, the most important aspect is the mental and social wellbeing of our employees, and we provide EAP counseling sessions for all.
6. How does technology play a role in deriving seamless HR-related initiatives?
Technology, especially, AI enables in making the recruiting process simpler and smarter. There are various tools that are available to enhance the recruiting process which automatically selects resumes that are best fit for skills and responsibilities required for a specific job. This reduces administrative and time-consuming manual actions. Technology also aids in automating processes like internal referral management and campus hiring.
Also, in the new normal, employee stickiness depends on the seamless digital experience provided at the workplace. The company should meet its technology needs expectations. The use of technology is the science of engagement where measuring and analysing employee sentiment on a day-to-day basis is critical. As an example, using chatbots helps the HR team to analyse and address the specific concerns.
Lastly, when it comes to learning programs, they should be adaptable and flexible and HR professionals could use data to understand the learning needs and its impact on their job performance. Technology platforms help in matching the content and recommendations, based on relevance, to the individual employee needs.
7. What areas should HR focus on in 2022?
Firstly, it is imperative for HR to understand the business acumen wherein they translate the organization’s business context into strategy, positioning HR policies and programs to best serve the organization’s interests. It is very important to understand the global context of work and the internal dynamics of the organisation. The ability to recognize the impact to our end customers leads to better HR policies.
Also, another core area where HR personnel need to focus is shaping talent management across skills and not just traditional roles. It is important to provide the employees with continuous learning opportunities and also trying out newer things in the organisations. Reskilling and upskilling employees can also help in meeting the talent deficit.
It will be imperative to build an environment that supports mental wellbeing, constant and quick recognition, engagement through non-work activities and promote disconnecting after work hours. We will also require a well-thought-out strategy to acquire and develop digital solutions, and a culture that encourages its adoption.
HR would need to work as an active function focussing on building a culture that fosters course correction, as required. Also, HR professionals must be able to apply data and use metrics to generate insights that would lead to action plans. This will enable HR to make a huge difference as the action plans will be more specific rather than generic.
8. How will HR practices and performance management adapt in a post-pandemic world in 2022?
By now we have realized that the pandemic is here to stay. Thus, employers and organisations will have to play a significant role in building their programs such that it becomes a safety net for the social and mental wellbeing of employees. In most of our waking hours, we are working; thus, it becomes the duty of the employer to provide those additional benefits. We cannot have a traditional view of the workplace anymore- you have millennials, senior leadership, full time employees, consultants etc. Hence all companies will have to be adaptive keeping in mind talent acquisition, evaluation, training and many more practices.
For performance management, academically and historically, HR managers have been encouraging line managers to implement an approach of continuous feedback. However, due to multiple reasons, this often takes a backseat. But now it is the need of the hour and is non-negotiable. If we are focusing on working in an agile environment, performance measures and goals also need to adapt to that. In this virtual environment, it is more important than ever to provide continuous feedback. If there needs to be a course correction, it cannot wait till the appraisal cycle, it has to happen now. This is very important for the growth, engagement and retention of employees as well as fulfilling the overall business objectives. Another aspect our managers need to be trained about is to focus on building resilience as much as we focus on efficiency. We are in unusual times and behavioral aspects of resilience plays an important role. We also need to ensure that the teams are always communicating (within and across functions). Therefore, we will need to create such interventions for teams to stay connected with each other, and work with managers to initiate actions towards this.
9. How will the technology facilitate a distributed workforce and global talent pool working today?
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the way businesses manage their employees has changed significantly. Although businesses have been using talent management systems and applications for years, they’re more important than ever in today’s increasingly distributed workforce.
Businesses of all shapes and sizes are increasingly leveraging new technologies to transform the talent management process. Using these, companies can improve diversity at the workplace, enhance the employee experience (individuals can work from anywhere), retain and attract employees, increase engagement and learning, improve productivity, (by reducing disruptions and drive collaboration) and so much more.
This will help organisation save costs, gain access to a wider talent pool, support flexibility that aligns with employees’ lifestyles and encourages them to improve productivity which in turn helps achieve business goals.
10. How does one continually aim at optimally advancing employee experience through their ‘Back to Office’ initiative or others in the forthcoming months?
We are going to continue with our ‘Back to Office’ initiatives in the coming months with an extra focus on safety and wellbeing. Currently, employees are working remotely, and people are visiting the office on a need basis. We are in the process of making additional changes to the health insurance policies and employee wellness programs. Once this wave is settled, we will re-initiate the complete ‘Back to Office’ services and benefits.