Upgradation of Skills is a Critical Factor in an Ever-Evolving World: Head- HR, Mashreq Global Services

In a recent interaction with BW People, Mithun Sai, Head- HR, Mashreq Global Services discussed the Learning and development drives at his organisation; the importance of keeping the workforce happy and upbeat; transformation of HR as a function and he opened up and share the definition for the New Normal according to him.


How do you see HR as a function transforming due to this disruption?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant change across organizations. Right from external to internal stakeholders, the crisis has manifested new ways of doing business. The change we are currently going through has been a catalyst to fast track digital HR operations which were in the pipeline for a while.

A smart workplace is the future of HR. While HR has increased the adoption of digital tools, these are merely facilitators of cohesive work. The real disruption is in ways organizations are offering employees more flexibility, enhancing connectivity, nurturing collaboration, and tracking delivery and performance. For instance, at Mashreq Global Services, the change in mindset has normalized remote working. In fact, we are considering moving into a hybrid working model strategy – employees may be given the option to work from home or office, only expected to come in for few days a week and for important meetings/appraisals, etc.

What is the definition of the new normal according to you?

Disruptions are part of the evolving business environment, but COVID-19 has exacerbated the way people work. Agility and the ability to rewire capabilities and drive change in the ways of working defines how organisations grow during tumultuous times. Fast adaptability to the new normal will help organisations mitigate risks and tap into the new opportunities that lie post the pandemic. COVID-19 has redefined the HR playbook. It is important for organizations to adapt to the newer processes and strategies to stay ahead of the race. Companies will have to rethink their operating model with people at the center of it.

Technology will play an important role which will augment the current HR practices. With the new work from home norm, this trend will multifold and companies will start opening up to hybrid models of working. Going forward, focus from HR will not be merely processed, it will experience enhancement and culture anchor function with a focus on agility and people development.

The recent halt in the industry gave all of us ample time to relearn or upskill; how did you execute various L&D initiatives at your organization? How fruitful they are?

Investment in skill development is a business-critical component at Mashreq. The earlier classroom training required efforts from management to push employees to attend such sessions. However, COVID-19 has rewritten the rules for L&D. As digital sessions offer more flexibility and convenience, we are no longer limited to domestic trainers and have widened our reach by inviting global speakers. We have also witnessed a change in the way employees are now approaching this. There’s been an influx of interest from employees – with more time in hand, they are keen to enhance their skill set with more certifications, update the LinkedIn profile with badges, etc. We have increased the number of online training sessions and participation has almost doubled across these.

Learning and Development programs were shifted to virtual platforms. Do you think that doing many training programs is more of being in a race of upskilling?

Upskilling is paramount at Mashreq Global Services. Upgradation of skills is an extremely critical factor in an ever-evolving world. This has further proved true during COVID, where the situation demands employees to enhance their skills to work in a digital ecosystem. While this is beneficial to employees’ career growth, extensive learning & development programs clubbed with the right strategy also enables businesses to grow. Talent, as we say, is the bedrock of an organization. Through continuous upskilling, the workforce can maximize its potential and bring along innovative solutions to scale businesses.

Happiness/Joy must be a major concern; to what extent do you believe in this? What best practices were introduced to your organization to keep employees happier?

Though organizations are grappling with the challenges of COVID-19, Mashreq Global Services has not left any stone unturned in keeping our employees happy and motivated. Employee engagement has pivoted towards digital channels. While it is not possible to have physical and in-person activities, we are ensuring employees engage and collaborate through virtual initiatives. We believe that engagement should cover all facets covering fun, wellness (physical, mental & financial), effective communication, suitable rewards & recognition, performance management & development.

Our engagement program is centered around this and we call it ‘Joy @ Work’. This approach builds capabilities that enhance competency and performance excellence. We have also introduced a Doctor on call who provides counseling sessions to those dealing with stress and enhanced medical insurance cover for all employees and their dependents in view of COVID 19. These initiatives have enabled employees to de-stress while maximizing efficiency.

Boosting morale and supporting people morally is crucial. What is your take?

An engaged and motivated workforce is an asset to any organisation and hence, in the new world of remote working, it is important that organisations ensure that employees are driven and are in sync with the company’s objectives and are committed to their work. To this effect, Mashreq Global Services believes in staying connected, promoting wellbeing, and increasing engagement to boost employee morale. Here’s what we do under these factors:

Staying connected: The HR team at MGS has been regularly in touch with the employees to make sure they are safe and provide them with the support that they might require to carry out their tasks while maintaining work-life balance. 

Promoting well-being: We have made provision of doctor and counselor-on-call service so that an employee who is unwell and unable to visit a doctor, can fix an appointment and get a free check-up and consultation. We also realized that many of the employees did not have the necessary office infrastructure at home to work comfortably and were working with temporary or makeshift arrangements. 

Employee engagement: From organizing ‘lockdown musical’ to karaoke sessions with the families of the employees, sessions on nutrition and well-being, ergonomics, parenting, laughter riots with stand-up comedians, meditation, and mindfulness sessions, we are helping employees sail through these tough times.

Personally, what are your top three positive outcomes during this disrupted time period?

a) Employees are the biggest assets of any organization. 

b) Current situation has acted as a catalyst in technology being adopted and accepted by customers, organizations, and employees equally. 

c) Emergence of new staffing models and focus on learning and development


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