Our Response to A Crisis Determines What We Are: CHRO, Federal Bank

While we are restructuring the way the different roles work and helping the organization to continue the business operations smoothly, HR teams are also dealing with a variety of problems, starting from the job insecurity of employees to their social isolation. ‘What we are’ becomes pretty evident during the crisis.


From the health of employees to the virtual bonding sessions, HR teams are playing a huge role in determining the organization’s response to this crisis. While we are restructuring the way the different roles work and helping the organization to continue the business operations smoothly, HR teams are also dealing with a variety of problems, starting from the job insecurity of employees to their social isolation. ‘What we are’ becomes pretty evident during the crisis. So we are determined to make full use of this crisis by rolling out a variety of initiatives to help people stay belonged, engaged, bonded, positive, and productive.

A black swan event

Covid19 is a big disruptor and strong reality checker in a fast-paced world we are used to. A never-seen-before global emergency, and far deadlier than an economic recession, because of its impending danger on global health and its impact on what we do. The implications are unimaginable now.

The dramatic shift in work

India realized this danger swiftly and announced a tough lockdown. Many weeks into the lockdown, millions of people are working from their homes, except the essential services which include banking. Even then 90% of people are no more working from the comfort of their physical office spaces and teams around. A new habit of working from home is emerging in a large number of people and it can turn out to be a new cultural norm of working. The remote working is the new normal.

A sense of high-speed adaptability

Human beings have an extraordinary capacity to survive in the middle of extreme chaos and we can adapt much faster than we imagine. The lockdown impacting almost 4 billion people across the world is one of humanity’s largest social experiments on how physical confinement, remote working, and a new set of habits can turn them to be far more responsible and adaptive to a new challenge, that is a pro-longed COVID scenario.

Building a sense of belongingness

Organizations across the world and in India are coming out with new strategies for engaging their geographically distributed teams on to a single mission: how to survive this crisis and come out without much damage. We also saw human resources teams in massive action to keep people engaged and belonged to their organization even when they are staying physically away, quite a hard task as many were struggling with setting up a workspace at their homes and reaching out to teams to stay productive and learn new things to beat the newly found crisis.

HR leadership

Employee well-being is the priority of this time. A period of crisis is filled with anxiety. The fear of COVID and an uncertain future coupled together can make even emotionally strong people vulnerable. The role of strategic HR leadership is important to set a culture of protection during the crisis. When they are fearing of job losses, a helping hand to cope with the fear by offering advance salary and protective kit can go a long way in creating an indomitable bond.

Staying bonded

Throughout the crisis, remember, every employee is keenly aware of the support they are receiving and that can help the organization in building a strong connection with them even if they are far away physically. This connection will last longer and can help them to develop a sense of belonging and gratitude which will turn out to be the biggest assets of an organization.

While every organization is struggling to figure out the financial implications of the crisis for themselves, it is important to help your people. And we strongly believe that. And do things that can build trust.

Emotional wellbeing

We are also seeing a new kind of pandemic. An emotional pandemic spreading because of the prolonged physical confinement resulting in emotional fatigue and disturbances deep inside. Every organization is a talent community and if we treat it like that, their emotional wellbeing matters a lot. What we do is to reach out to them and set systems where they can access emotional wellness coaches and counselors to deal with ‘inner struggles’. Such small yet profound acts of kindness are what make an organization a civilization in itself.

A big test of leadership

What we always tell ourselves and our teams is to be genuinely helpful. That can help to reduce our anxiety as well. Only through giving we settle ourselves emotionally. Leaders across organizations are facing one of their biggest tests in their lifetime. They have to make decisions based on their organizational interests and delicately balancing the human side of things. More tough times in the coming months where it would involve taking crucial decisions. All these while, as human resources teams, our priority is to stay positive and help business teams to make decisions with logic, rationale, and not driven completely by emotions and impulsiveness.

Using this time to learn faster

We are also urging people to use this lockdown as a great opportunity to learn new skills, reflect on themselves, and reprioritize their lives as it can help them to be more productive and happy. Webinars are conducted on various levels to engage them and share insights on topics that matter to them. Learning as working has changed with this crisis. More and more people are now comfortable with e-learning systems. That will build a new set of productive habits in people.

Staying relevant in an age of automation

This is the time to think about the future and not worry about today. A sense of urgency to prepare for a future which can come fast in two years and if we are ready for battling it, we can emerge as winners. A sense of entitlement will not help. We are constantly driving this point to people to make them serious about how the world is moving forward and how it can easily make many roles redundant.

Rapid experimentation and rapid learning

What would matter in a year’s time is something we cannot be sure of. We are all equally vulnerable to this unprecedented randomness around us. What we have in our control is to build a sense of adaptability, a sense of urgency, and a sense of belongingness to what we do and put more genuine efforts to bring our best potential into the game. That is always in our control. Large enterprises like the Federal Bank is moving forward with using technology to enable better customer service. That will also impact the way we work, and engage. A constant readiness to do new things, rapidly experiment, and rapidly learn would turn out to be an essential part of every organization and their teams.

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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