The Recasting of Business Models and Reskilling of Employees Will Be Key To A Successful Transition: Santanu Banerjee

In an interaction with BW People, Santanu Banerjee, Chief Human Resource Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life shared his valuable insights about the virtual setting for the reskilling of employees and the importance of rethinking and rebuilding business models for post-COVID Normal.


This pandemic has made us shift the focus to technological advancements and rapid digitization. How has learning changed in a remote working scenario?

Like (almost) everything, learning took the virtual route too. Right from induction to functional and behavioral learning, we have seen it go the digital way, and in a sense made it even more contextual & agile. Given the uncertainty around us, it’s essential that businesses are re-skill and retrain their employees at a rapid speed, while they are all working from home. It’s been possible by tech adoptions by organizations. For instance, we leveraged our tech-backbone to retrain over 80K insurance consultants on how to manage business using virtual tools. Furthermore, we are using several digital platforms to engage with our employees whether it is on business updates, managing their health and wellbeing or training, as mentioned earlier.

What are your observations and personal experiences in the past 100 days of seeing HR as an emerging function?

The last 100 days have been challenging for every business function and has made the role of HR managers and leaders very critical, thereby bringing the function in the spotlight. The fine balance of managing productivity along with employee well-being and keeping the morale high have been and will continue to be the key focus. The agility of action, from recasting of business models to reskilling and training of employees, will be key to a successful transition into the new environment that we see unfold ahead of us.

More than ever, communicating with employees holds the key in the current scenario. Frequency, content, and tonality all of it matter, as we all are working remotely. There are few or no physical meetings, and hence careful curation is essential. And this holds true across levels – from CXOs right up to our colleagues at the frontline. Finally, I am extremely happy to see the re-emergence of Imagination as one of the foremost competencies among employees. New leaders are emerging, who are offering solutions to new challenges that are emerging. As an HR professional this is a great trait to see amongst employees as it enables us to engage our talent pool effectively.

Organizations are investing in training programs specifically in a virtual setting. Is this virtual learning, screen world here to stay for permanent?

Virtual learning is here to stay. And I’d like to add here that while ease and frequency of communication in the digital era is a boon, keeping employees connected & interested to extended learning sessions after a point of time is a challenge. To address this, action learning techniques have emerged as the most relevant and are proving to be rather effective in developing a number of individual leadership and team problem-solving skills. These techniques are more contextual & agile, often yielding better responses from the learners and better results for the organization.

According to you which is more productive and effective - training in a physical setting or virtual setting?

The virtual setting is a reality & we will need to get used to it. Blended learning techniques always have an upper hand in terms of adoption & implementation of the insights so learned. As mentioned earlier, Action learning techniques have emerged as most relevant and is proving to be rather effective in developing a number of individual leadership and team problem-solving skills.

As a person what have you discovered during these lockdown days?

On the professional level, I have gone through a lot of unlearning and learning in the last 3-odd months. That was interesting as I re-discovered my passion for mentoring and managing leaders, while we collectively are going through a time that none of us have ever faced.

On a personal level, I'm happy to have rekindled my interest in Indian classical music and am now hooked to a lot of Niladri Kumar & Rashid Khan.

What is your favorite one book which is relevant in these times?

The Plague by Albert Camus. Though I read it a while back,I could resonate with it the most during these times. It’s amazing to note how people’s reactions and emotions are so similar despite the fact that it’s been more than 70-odd years since it was first published...seems almost prophetic.


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