Recognizing Their Hard Work Is a Key Factor In Boosting Morale Among WFH employees: Head HR, EarlySalary
In the conversation with BW People's Resham Suhail; Sandeep Raghunath, Head HR, EarlySalary elaborates about the ups and downs he has observed in productivity; adaptability towards technology and the positive discoveries during this lockdown.
How would you as the HR leader would support employees morally in these tough times?
We in HR have been catapulted to the front line. No amount of business contingency planning could have foreseen this. But at the same time, the need to keep essential services running and help our employees through this difficult time has been our driving force. As a Head HR, I don’t limit myself to functional boundaries during this crisis. I am involved in setting strategy and making complex decisions that impact our staff. The one way in which HR can support business is by keeping employee morale high so that they help fuel business growth when the time comes. To keep employees engaged and let them know that they are cared for, we have stepped up our communication methods in the past few months. We also have taken numerous initiatives such as Yoga classes, virtual jamming sessions, motivational talks, psychological wellness initiatives, etc. for keeping the morale & spirit high of our employees.
As this disruption has impacted our lives and so our productivity, what changes have you seen during this in employee productivity?
There has been a marked increase in productivity in our teams. The extra 2-3 hours that people spend in getting ready and commuting to work can be put to better use. So, it helps our associates focus more on delivery, learning, and brainstorming with their colleagues. As an organization, we have made the best use of this lockdown period to enhance capability among our staff. It’s in the form of curated learning content that includes online courses, simulated exercises, and masterclasses. This time, we have taken a step ahead and educated our customers about Financial Wellness programs and the current moratorium proposed by the RBI.
What are the major three positive changes have you seen in employees in this lockdown period?
According to me, it’s a definite commitment towards overcoming the odds and stretching themselves to deliver in spite of unusual circumstances. There has also been seamless integration between teams in terms of business process flows with minimal to no disruption; and finally, the dedication towards our clients has become apparent in the way our folks have gone above and beyond the call of duty to service customers.
We are leading towards technological advancements, do you think everyone is equally able to successfully adapt the advancements?
The kind of business we are in, the majority of our associates are tech-friendly and they adapt the newer forms of technology quite easily. If there is a scenario where some associates find it difficult to get on board with technology updates, we can rethink how teams work and manage their business as usual (BAU). It’s important to explain the new technology to the team members and how the technology is going to help the company. It is also important to hire those people who adapt quickly to new technology and encourage them to train their peers in using newer platforms.
Do you see technology or advancements in AI that would hamper people's relationship building?
AI has tremendous potential to scale and has also made inroads to what are seen as traditional roles like Finance and HR. I do see the potential for it to disrupt traditional workplace relationships as we have known them. In my experience, people feel more comfortable with AI at work, but at the same time, they trust their colleagues and managers to understand their feelings, coaching teams, and bring a more human aspect. These differences could lead to new policies and processes to get the most value from managers, as well as new ways to attract, keep, and develop talent.
Work from Home seems like a permanent phenomenon in the new normal. What is the new form for employee engagement for you?
It’s absolutely essential in this situation to stay engaged, stay connected, and deepen organization culture. At the very top, the need is to prioritize good communications. Remote employees can feel, they’re left out of the loop. As managers, you can schedule daily check-in or sprint with them. Remember that communication is a two-way street. Be sure to listen and empathize.
Set clear expectations-employees who are sure of what your expectations are will be much more motivated to meet them. If you want employees to be online at certain hours, let them know. Let’s also understand that not everyone has an ideal WFH setup, folks might need time to take care of children and help out with household tasks.
Recognizing good work for their hard work is a key factor in boosting engagement among WFH employees. For instance, send an email of appreciation or an e-card or an amazon voucher. There are endless ways to appreciate, and it goes a long way in keeping employee’s stickiness with the firm.
What is that one thing you do to keep yourself upbeat and sane?
Classical music both Carnatic and Western genres strikes a deep chord within me. Singing or listening to classical music instantly rejuvenates me and restores a sense of equipoise. Some of my favorite singers include classical vocalist T.M Krishna and the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky. I also love reading and the genres that I’m most interested in are biographies, historical fiction, and economics.
One relevant book you would want to recommend to read in these crisis-hit times?
I read a lot and sometimes I’m reading two or more books. But if you want a specific recommendation, I’d go for ‘Democracy on the Road’ by Ruchir Sharma. He’s such a skilled narrator as he weaves through the complex fabric of Indian democracy and the threads that hold it together. As a bonus recommendation, I’d go for ‘God and Philosophy’, by the French philosopher Etienne Gilson.