As the country tries to get back on its feet, one thing is for sure it will not be business as usual. The global pandemic has jolted everyone to adopt a new work paradigm, thereby grabbing a slice of time from the future and imposing it on present times. Ruchira Bhardwaj, CHRO Future Generali India Life Insurance Co. talks about the organisation adapt to the emerging situations and transformed to keep pace.
How did you kick start the process of transformation?
To address the required transformation at work, Future Generali India Life Insurance Company Limited (FGILI) -adapted two broad segments to address with the changing paradigm. The core to both the segments is around its people.
Immediate Focus: Having a structured approach towards supporting employees as they shift into the new work routine.
Resetting Future Way of Working: Designing people processes keeping in view the emerging business and customer requirements.
The instant focus of the company though remains to get the following 3 deliverables right and with an alacrity to be fully operational and have business continuity.
The health and well-being of employee is always top priority. It is paramount to keep empathy at the forefront while re-designing work and managing efficiency of people. Support from the leadership teams to achieving higher level of efficiency and productivity is key here.
FGILI ensured that it worked towards having the overall required infrastructure up and running to support everyday business i.e., refurbished office spaces and routine sanitisation; robust IT infrastructure with high bandwidth and integrated platforms to support remote working; prevent data and information security breaches.
Frequent multi-tiered 2-way communication was sent to employees informing them about support extended & policy changes for seamless work-from-home (WFH) conditions.
What were the new rules for the new normal?
For “Immediate Focus” areas, it was important that the line of sight is not missed while business models, processes, and guidelines are being relooked at keeping in mind the need of the hour.
Rethinking Social Connections: Norms and practices have emerged across the organization to connect with remote teams, either individually or collectively. e.g., the launch of employee programs like the #Days of Optimism campaign, by the HR team brought a renewed focus on Care, Concern & Celebrations. The connects have become boundary-less and hierarchy-agnostic leading to a higher level of engagement; and hence would require to be strengthened in the future too.
Seamless alignment of High-tech with High-Touch: Key tech enablers are being identified and put into practice in sync with the life-journey of the employee. Never before has such a close knit alignment and the urgency to use technology to augment human touch been demonstrated.ie from on boarding new associates, to reviews, to recognition etc. We are witnessing how beautifully the two can co-exist. An on boarding note sent digitally to new team member has to be so personalized so that she doesn’t feel your physical absence. Thoughtfulness in re-designing every aspect of a process is the key. The “Warriors of Change” initiative at FGILI became an intimate recognition platform, thanks to COVIDIAN times!
Agility as a way of life: An organisation should be agile in these testing times to be able to switch to new ways of operating while grasping emerging needs of customers and employees. This is a good time for employees to make themselves “agile-ready”. At FGILI, individual and team are part of multiple projects to rethink products/process / services to address the new requirements.
A company has also to be cognisant of the fact that employees’ needs have intrinsically changed. The need to gauge employee sentiments is far higher; hence HR teams should be well equipped to train managers on how to do frequent check-ins with their team members without being macro-managers and/or be over-compensating.
How do you visualise the way forward?
As we reset the approach to work life ahead, three elements are important to keep in mind.
Reimagining Workspace: The important element of a complete “come back” is catering to different segments of people: those working remotely, those with a physical presence and those who are 'hybrid' workers who alternate between remote and physical work-spaces. Each group will have different requirements. Hence the new work space will have to be designed to accommodate the needs of the hybrid working styles emerging in the current work environment. Plus, seating arrangements and shared spaces which will have to be designed to address physical distancing norms.
Manager as the Change Agent: As has been the case earlier, the manager plays an important role in steering the thoughts, behaviours and actions of his/her team. Earlier when meetings were held physically in the office, it was easy to spot non-verbal nuances and gauge employee sentiment. But in present times, how do we motivate team members and get them to collaborate long distance keeping in view varying needs/temperaments/ work styles. Also it is becoming evident that ability to strengthen “customer intimacy” would play a differentiating role in the new normal. Thus, managers will need to lead & demonstrate empathy firstly with their teams and through them with customers.
Need to redefine performance measurement & talent definition: In order to deliver customer value during disruption, performance goals need to be broken down into byte sized measurable actions for all functions. Talent needs and competencies have to be re-assessed. Companies would increasingly look for talent with understanding of managing complex problems (someone who can steer through V/U/W shaped business scenarios), has the ability to work in a multifarious environment, someone who has originality of thoughts, has the capability to lead a team through crises situations, and has higher emotional resilience. Importantly, they would need to be social influencer while at the same time being someone who is concerned about society at large.