Re-Imagining Employee Programs As We Adapt To Change

Guided by our core value of ’Putting People First’, we are making sure we keep employees safe and engaged in this new work environment while also balancing the business requirements.


In the extraordinary circumstances that the world is going through with the Covid-19 outbreak, the business environment has also transformed radically. In some of our communities, local governments are beginning to lift restrictions, and many are anxious to return to the pre-Covid time. But there’s no denying the fact that we have entered unchartered territory in terms of workplace norms. And with that, a sharp focus has been drawn on corporate India and its readiness to face this disrupted reality. Many global companies are already restructuring their HR strategies and revamping employee learning and development programs for the future.

Being a part of the food supply chain, our work falls in the essential services category and the demands on our employees during this time are even more than before. Guided by our core value of ’Putting People First’, we are making sure we keep employees safe and engaged in this new work environment while also balancing the business requirements.

Leading in a crisis

Employees across the board have been working longer and harder during this crisis, to ensure food supplies do not get interrupted. We are extending all possible support to employees, whether it is ensuring their safety, keeping them engaged while working remotely or supporting their learning and development needs.

The new workforce dynamics also demands leaders in the organization to inculcate new traits, that of a facilitator or rather an enabler. This has motivated equipping of HR teams and line managers to curate relevant content on various platforms for their teams. This helps make learning solutions more impactful and relevant to employees’ immediate jobs, making them more productive in these challenging times.

We have also continued with our hiring requirements as per plans and moved several HR processes online with virtual interviews and onboarding processes for new joinees. In order to help employees work effectively, we are also providing internet and infrastructure support to those who may not have had such arrangements at home prior to Covid. Cargill’s Online Learning Management System provides managers access to digital learning platforms like Intrepid and Degreed. The programs available on these platforms help them discover and learn skills needed to manage their teams virtually.

Continuous development

Multi-faceted digital learning and skill development enables continuous development for employees as we navigate the ‘new normal’. We are investing in employee skilling in niche areas such as Robotic process automation and Global Business Professionals. Besides this, the suite of online learning tools assembled are quite topical, covering aspects like virtual collaboration, assisting working parents with kids at home and more. Diversity is another factor that needs to be considered to meet the needs of multi-lingual regions. Depending on business requirements, specialized content can be curated in multiple languages for employees to access digitally. Learning programs when tied to individual development plans, helps employees stay engaged and see the organization investing in their career development.

Taking care of softer aspects of employee well-being is also critical during difficult times. We are re-looking at work hours and encouraging employees to take longer breaks to manage their family responsibilities and focus on their health as they balance work and personal life. We are also providing counsellor led Employee Assistance Program (EAP) sessions to help employees and their families deal with personal anxiety. Besides this, we recently launched a psychological well-being toolkit and few other learning modules that cover everything about taking care of oneself and making a sense of this global crisis.

The journey towards sustainable growth

Organizations need to address the dynamics of the ‘new’ workplace and help employees understand the importance of upskilling and reskilling to stay adaptable. While the employee programs and learning platforms existed before this pandemic, companies should now focus on thorough communication through managers and HR partners to meet their skilling needs. We must let go of obsolete methodologies of managing people and introduce new solutions for the sustainable growth of employees within an organization.

Staying connected amidst social distancing

Staying connected with colleagues is important, now more than ever. Apart from organizational-level virtual events where all employees participate, technology-enabled internal channels that allow employees to share how they are working during this time, upload photographs of their workstations at home or of what they have cooked, or videos of their children, bring a sense of togetherness for the entire organization. Amidst the requirement to maintain social distancing, such solutions help foster a strong bond between team members and helps them to bring their whole selves and experiences to work.

To emerge stronger from such a rapidly changing environment, we need to create a work environment that provides both professional and emotional stability, along with inculcating a drive to continuously learn and evolve. This would help organizations create a differentiating factor, as we have learnt that we have no control on the external events impacting businesses globally. By expanding learning opportunities, providing resources for professional development and keeping employees motivated, organizations can enable a digitally empowered workforce that is prepared for the future.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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