International Women in Engineering Day: We’ve come a long way, but have a long way to go

On this International Women in Engineering Day, industry leaders reflect on what has changed for women, and what needs to be changed
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence, and making sure that impact lasts in your absence,” said Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook. While most people agree that this is what leadership means, and it has nothing to do with gender, we are yet to see more women in roles that command authority. Although unlike the distant past, wherein women were hardly ever entrusted with figurehead roles, things have been changed by women entrepreneurs and leaders who have been vocal on the need for gender diversity, especially in leadership. That said, a lot more needs to be changed. This International Women in Engineering Day, Dataquest spoke to notable women in leadership roles who say that this change needs to be initiated through a lot more women being encouraged to take up STEM education.

What has changed for women in the field of technology
Ankita Sinha, software engineer, Intuit Futures team, Intuit India says that during her father’s time, the field of technology was largely considered to be a man’s career path and not many women were seen pursuing engineering courses. However, this diversity gap has drastically reduced with more women taking on computer science and other tech careers.

“What is different now is that there is a level of awareness and understanding about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the importance of accurately representing the diversity of our customers that we’re solving for. Women are changing the narrative across every industry and leading from the forefront with their dynamic and disruptive outlook and practices. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as we embark on the journey towards realizing a future where women thrive in equity,” she says.

Sinha opines that there are a number of programs and initiatives that are being undertaken in the industry to address the myriad of challenges that still exist. Beginning with something fundamental – how girls are taught science and how we can enable them to develop a love for STEM. “When it comes to women in leadership positions, I feel now more than ever, there is a demand for women to lead and mentor, as the need for more empathetic decision making sees a rise. The pandemic has forced us to move to a fully digital world or towards a more hybrid work from home or office setup. This has made the work environment flexible, opening up the opportunity to work remotely. In times like these, women who are in leadership positions can be inspiring role models and torchbearers, inspiring the younger generation to DREAM BIG and Work HARD,” she adds.

What organisations can do to reduce the gap and encourage women techies in leadership roles
When it comes to women in leadership roles, the onus also lies on organisations to reduce the gap and encourage women techies in leadership roles. While it is true that a woman has added responsibilities, it can be overcome if a little flexibility is offered by organisation. The ongoing pandemic has provided an opportunity to women to prove that says Sashikala Viswanathan, director – corporate quality, CSS Corp. “The pandemic has changed our overall approach towards work and life at large. Women professionals are managing their work remotely and at the same time attending to their personal life needs. Sometimes it can be exhausting and affect their wellness. But if we look at the positive side, this has opened many opportunities for women to work from home, grow, and build careers. Organisations offering a range of flexible arrangements to help women achieve work/life balance, providing innovative communication and collaboration tools to help increase productivity, efficiency, and flexibility – adds to the company’s overall success,” she says.

Viswanathan further comments that we need diversity in our working culture. “Most technology companies that integrate workplace diversity at the core of their organisational value bring positive change. Conscious effort and commitment to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture results in better business outcomes as organisations get different perspectives bringing innovation and creativity to the forefront,” she adds.

She further goes on to says that the technology industry is evolving rapidly and is one of the spaces where a woman can explore many opportunities to expand their horizons and succeed in their careers. “The initiatives and support offered by technology companies through mentorship programs, peer training, reskilling, and upskilling courses/sessions provide women in tech a platform to hone and nurture their abilities further and develop/grow within their roles. Today, women professionals are transforming the tech field with their innovative practices and disruptive thinking. Attracting and developing more women in leadership roles requires company-wide change, driven from the top. Organisations need to invest in equipping women with the skill sets and knowledge to take charge of their careers,” comments Viswanathan

Biggest challenges in the role of women leaders
As mentioned before, there are several challenges that women leaders do face due to added responsibilities. Nonetheless, Prashanti Bodugum, vice president, Enterprise Business Services and Chennai Center Head, Walmart Global Tech India, feels that these are challenges that can be overcome. “In today’s dynamic corporate environment, closing the gender gap is an essential factor for competitiveness and growth of any organisation. However, there are some challenges to holistic assimilation of women leaders in many industries. The first aspect is doing an assessment of priorities and an acceptance of a lifestyle change before we accept a leadership position. The second lies in forming an informal network, which requires making choices that will help advance our career for instance choosing between attending a networking event or going back home to family. This is particularly challenging at mid-management levels when one is being pulled in all directions – on one hand managing a team at office and on the other, managing children as they are growing up. Thirdly, the institutional barrier that can still at times be extremely limiting which says that there are certain roles fit for men and certain roles fit for women.”

“That said, there are ways in which these barriers can be overcome. Organisations need to accept that women leaders face these challenges and are constantly forced to make choices between their work and their family. In addition to this, strong mentorships, support for education and most importantly women leaders themselves accepting that they are role models for thousands of women looking up to them are paving stones towards gender parity,” she says.

How organisations are promoting women in STEM
Organisations, of late, have been realising the importance of being gender diverse. Therefore, various measures are being undertaken to encourage participation from women. Balvinder Khurana – technology principal andglobal data community lead, ThoughtWorks India, said: “Organisations have to promote budding talent with consistent support from leadership, the creation of unbiased, open and safe teams. The organization should ensure an inclusive environment and support their employees with proactive conversations about growth and opportunities. Employees should be encouraged to explore new roles and challenge themselves. They should have access to training programs – internally and externally developed skill building resources, meaningful role models and networking opportunities.”

“I would love to see more women come out of their shell and have more confidence in themselves. One study says that women only ask for a promotion if they believe they are already performing at 100% of the next role, while men are comfortable seeking a promotion when they are performing at 60% of the next role’s requirements. More women should recognize that rather than focusing on a failure, they should have the capability to learn from mistakes and proactively ask for more opportunities to do interesting work. I also highly value the role of a mentor or coach in a woman’s career journey. These folks can be effective sounding boards and help women cultivate the mindset and confidence required when making transitions in their career. Finally, I would also recommend that young women technologists start succession-planning, even before they move to leadership roles as it helps alleviate the cyclical issue of women leaving the workforce and younger women not seeing themselves being represented in organizations.”

Flexibility is Key
In conclusion, Jaxa Gohil – senior director, HR and Communications, Falabella, India, says that flexible hours with the aid of technology can help women progress despite all the hurdles they face in life. “Working from home has become so normal now! It has its pros and cons, but technology has evolved the way we think. Can we do different hours? Shorter hours? Shorter weeks? 26 years ago, when my nephew was born, my sister started doing a 4-day week in the UK, working from home for 3 days and 1 day in the office. How do we make this kind of flexibility happen and not be frowned upon?” she asks.

Gohil goes on to comment that women have a lot to offer to organisations, and adds “Be a woman! We bring so much to the table. We are different, stay different! I love that I am emotional and actually I tell people. I have cried in front of each of my managers once, some handle well and some don’t! As leaders we all need to be equipped to handle all kinds of emotions.”


#WorldMentalHealthDay: How tech companies are helping techies combat mental health issues

After COVID-19, most organisations took initiatives to support employees and their mental well being. While some announced mental health breaks, others started various programs to get in touch with employees in person.

If you are a tech professional, find out what tech organisations are doing to help their workforce to combat mental health issues:

Lakshmi C, Managing Director and Lead – Human Resources, Accenture in India
“At Accenture, we believe that mental wellbeing is critical to one’s overall wellbeing and has been a big focus for us, for some years now. We have been running extensive internal campaigns to create an environment where our people feel comfortable about having open and honest conversations about mental health. We have a dedicated mental wellness portal where we share advice on developing mental resilience. On our internal social media platform, our people share their own stories and self-hacks so that others may benefit from them.”

Tina Vinod, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Thoughtworks
“At Thoughtworks, we have an ongoing commitment to educating, raising awareness and advocating against the social stigma related to mental health. We continue our efforts to build a culture and environment where people feel safe to speak up about mental health and wellbeing and comfortable to ask for help when needed. The pandemic and further reiterated the importance of this. We offer employees augmented support, and through it have realised the support needs to be customised to individuals’ personal contexts and the role they play at the organisation, and in their personal capacity. This further needs to be strengthened by having an empathetic leadership, inclusive work environment and the right support.”

Jharna Thammaiah K, Director and India Site People & Places Leader, Intuit
“At Intuit, we are prioritising holistic well-being and encouraging our employees to invest in themselves by providing necessary well-being offerings and resources that can help them handle life’s challenges, build resilience and manage stress. Through our ’Well-Minds’ benefits our employees have access to a digital mindfulness platform comprising over a 1000 self-paced tools and sessions to cater to individual needs. Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has become our employees’ go-to for one-on-one counseling with qualified experts to help them navigate through challenges.”

Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and MD, SAP Labs India
“At SAP, we are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and have removed the stigma surrounding mental health disorders in the workplace. We have made sure that our employees can initiate dialogues around mental health without any fear of judgement. Our Employee Care Cycle aims to de-stigmatise mental health issues by outlining the cycle of support from prevention to cure. Our employee assistance program offers 24*7 free, professional, and confidential counselling. A recent initiative we rolled out provides a safe space for our colleagues to share and talk about their grief in the presence of others with similar experiences.”

Pranali Save, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), Icertis
“We believe taking care of oneself is the first essential step to personal fulfilment. As a team, we are only as strong as our individual members, and we encourage every employee to first and foremost look after their own health and well-being while at work and in their personal lives. Our commitment to supporting employees is represented in the Icertis “Four Rings of Responsibility,” which is rooted in our FORTE values. The framework encourages employees to Take care of themselves, Take care of family, Take care of the community and Take care of business – in that order.”

Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, SVP and Head – HR (Global) and Head of Corporate Quality, CSS Corp

“During times of uncertainty, it is crucial to lead with empathy. CSS Corp tracks the health status of employees constantly. Since the onset of the pandemic, I have personally spoken with more than 90% of the Covid-affected employees. This conveyed the support and reassurance to the employees in a direct personal way apart from ensuring a thorough understanding of the ground-level challenges they face. We also aim to proactively neutralise burnout, anxiety, stress, and the problems that emerge from working virtually over an extended time.”


TSIA and CSS Corp co-author a report on outsourcing trends in 2021

CSS Corp a new-age IT services and technology support company in association with The Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), has released a co-authored report named ‘2021 Trends in Outsourcing’.

The report uncovers two major 2021 trends in outsourcing- an increase in outsourcing contracts and service providers creating sophisticated digital capabilities’ businesses to meet the needs of enterprise customers.

The first key trend predicts an increase in outsourcing contracts this year, as many companies were grappling with their business continuity plan due to several reasons like lack of infrastructure and inability to transition to a 100 per cent work-at-home model. The second key trend focuses on how service providers have begun creating separate business units to make digital capabilities easily available to meet the requirements of large enterprise customers.

Leading service providers have made great advances in sophisticated digital capabilities, including artificial intelligence and robotic process automation. This has led them to identify opportunities to effectively scale operations and accelerate development of digital expertise in support functions across enterprise customers.

The report highlights the trends and patterns that are going to be mainstream in support outsourcing in 2021 and how enterprises can leverage the right digital support partner. It showcases how the outsourcing value proposition has evolved in areas such as near-shore outsourcing, outsourcing of non-traditional functions like sales that form a significant portion of costs in XaaS companies and the rise of outcome-based commercial models.

It also talks about how outsourcing can enable organizations to expand into new geographies. The pandemic has ushered in an era of work-from-anywhere which has further dwindled location dependencies and provided a fillip to remote operations.

John Ragsdale, Distinguished Vice President, Technology Research, TSIA, said, “Technology companies are increasingly forming strategic relationships with outsourcers to not only help scale support operations cost-effectively and guarantee a high-quality customer experience but also to accelerate digital transformation. 2021 will see this trend amplify further and service providers like CSS Corp are well placed to emerge as strong outsourcing partners for technology organizations.”

“The Covid-19 crisis has emphasized the need to adopt digital technologies to build agility and resilience in the organization’s operations. Technology service providers like CSS Corp, have deep industry expertise in enabling business transformation for its customers and driving impact by blending human ingenuity with cutting-edge intelligent technology tools.

As organizations look to strategize in a post-Covid business environment, it will be critical for them to strengthen their core capabilities while partnering with apt service providers to help them in their digital journeys, driving innovation and creating better experiences for customers.” said Sunil Mittal, Executive Vice President, CSS Corp.

Prioritizing technology innovation in response to a rapidly changing world has never been more important. The ‘2021 Trends in Outsourcing’ report is a useful tool for companies wanting to rapidly accelerate their digital automation journey with insights on effectively partnering with technology service providers to leverage their full potential.

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Analytics Insight celebrates the International Women in Engineering Day 2021

Celebrate the International Women in Engineering Day on June 23, 2021, with Analytics Insight.

The field of Engineering is celebrating International Women in Engineering Day annually, for the last eight years on June 23, 2021. This day is dedicated to all inspiring women who choose to pursue their careers in Engineering by fighting against the patriarchal society. These milestones are showing women’s empowerment in this 21st century where women can demonstrate their intelligence and powers in an open forum. Gender equality and equal pay in all workspaces are required to encourage more women to break societal norms and drive success in the nearby future. There are immense contributions to the world from these empowering women leaders in multiple tech companies. They are revolutionizing the workspace by utilizing their incredible traits efficiently and effectively. They are focused to bring diversity, integrity, equal pay, equal opportunities, and a well-communicated team to organizations.

Analytics Insight is celebrating International Women in Engineering Day, by speaking to some amazing women who have hands-on experience in the transformation of the diverse workplace in these recent years— Nidhi Gopal, Director of Product Engineering, Intuit India; Sashikala Viswanathan, Director, Corporate Quality, CSS Corp and Jaxa Gohil, Senior Director, HR and Communications, Falabella, India.

Women Leaders Confronting Challenges-

Nidhi Gopal: Women in the workforce face some unique challenges such as a lower level of confidence, lesser role models and mentors for a career growth discussion and many more. There is a huge demand for women to lead and mentor because women are more empathetic and can be inspiring role models to other women colleagues who come forward for necessary help in navigating life situations, without having to leave the workforce.

Sashikala Viswanathan: Women have already managed to balance their professional-personal life at home in the pandemic. It is overwhelming but the positive side shows that there are a plethora of opportunities for women to work from home to drive success in their careers. There a range of flexible arrangements in multiple organizations to help women achieve the balance through innovative communication and collaboration tools. Women leaders can help in enhancing productivity, efficiency, and flexibility to add to the company’s overall success. Women require diversity in the working culture through conscious effort and commitment at the core of organizational value.

Jaxa Gohil: The world has seen many successful women in technology and leadership roles in these recent years. Yet, it is a long pathway to cover for women to become established and successful to completely transform the mindset of society. It starts with providing education to girls and recruiting women in the workforce for better productivity.

Initiatives for Women in Tech-

Nidhi Gopal: Women are changing the narrative across each industry and leading from the forefront with dynamic and disruptive outlooks and practices. Women need to embark on the journey towards a future, where women thrive in equity. There is a level of awareness and understanding about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through several programs and initiatives in organizations. The fundamental step begins with teaching girls about science to develop a love for STEM as well as celebrate the achievements of multiple women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The workplace is now focused on conscious investment in building, growing, and retaining women leaders. Tech Women @ Intuit focuses on the growth of the women technologists’ community including sponsorship by leaders, development workshops such as negotiation, executive presence, speaking skills, mentoring, and site events.

Sashikala Viswanathan: Women can explore multiple opportunities, be successful in their careers through initiatives and support offered by tech companies such as mentorship programs, peer training, reskilling, upskilling courses, or sessions. CSS Corp provides comfortable, flexible, transparent, equal pay, and approachable working environment for women to make the optimum use of opportunities to drive success in their lives.

Jaxa Gohil: The gender ratio has not changed much for the last thirty years when a computer science degree had only 25 women out of 125 students. There are discussions about how to attract women towards technology through a campus program, scholarships, mentors, and internship programs. These initiatives provide an opportunity to work with Falabella and gain knowledge of organizational impacts through technical know-how.

Providing Exposure to Encourage Women Techies-

Nidhi Gopal: The journey of a woman techie commences from the love for technology at a young age through coding events, corporate events, focus groups where the girls can engage early with STEM graduates. These opportunities will provide sufficient exposure to cutting-edge technologies through sponsoring them in conferences like Grace Hopper Conference, AWS Re-Invent, and many more. This will enable women to build networks and experience the feeling of being a woman in Engineering. Intuit practices Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) while maintaining a dashboard to keep track. The company is focused on providing pay equity also fair and equal workspace to all employees across the globe. Intuit also trains leaders, managers, and employees to create and nurture an inclusive environment with the Leading Inclusively Learning Programme.

Sashikala Viswanathan: Organisations are required to invest in equipping women with the skill sets and knowledge to provide sufficient exposure. CSS Corp challenges the status quo by retention, succession, addressing the skill gaps as well as committing to inclusion. The company celebrated its silver jubilee and celebrated Women’s Day to introduce Women 25 (W25) ON March 8. It is an initiative to bring aspiring women leaders from different parts of the world for a mentorship program. The mentorship program hones their skills and builds the leadership qualities required to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Jaxa Gohil: Organisations have to walk the talk! When there is a 10-membered team in an organization with only one woman, the woman gets multiple looks while talking or getting emotional. The organizations are required to have a mandate50:50 gender ratio to provide more exposure to women and eliminate the looks from their counterparts.

Survival Tips for Aspiring Women Leaders
Nidhi Gopal: Women leaders always need to speak up and ask without assuming that everyone will understand the situation. The outcome will be fulfilling if one must speak up and ask for grabbing multiple opportunities. The leaders must own their growth by understanding the strengths and opportunities. There will be blind spots at the time of self-reflect. It is better to seek mentors who can be the critique. It is important to continue to learn and compete with oneself to be the better version every single year. One must continue the perseverance to focus on the fruitful outcome. The growth is directly proportional to the exposure in the workspace environment. Training and coaching at Intuit provide sufficient exposure to learn from the leaders through their success stories, insights into current business trends, and applying the trends to the current role. Massive exposure to a wider perspective of the organization enables aspiring women leaders to understand the big picture in the nearby future.

Jaxa Gohil: Be a woman instead of a man! Different women bring so much to the table in different ways. Aspiring women leaders must be equipped to manage all kinds of emotions at the workplace. Some managers handle emotional scenarios in different ways. When any leadership position is opened, it is necessary to make it a gender conversation without shying away. Women are always doing the right thing for the long-term success of the team. Falabella looks forward, to engaging with tech leaders for an unofficial meet and greet.


CSS Corp looking at tuck-in acquisitions to enhance offerings: CEO

Global customer experience and technology services provider CSS Corp is exploring making some tuck-in acquisitions to enhance its offerings and reach new customers, its CEO Sunil Mittal said.

A tuck-in acquisition refers to a larger company absorbing another organisation, which is usually smaller in size, and integrating it into its own platform.

CSS Corp, which is looking at going in for an IPO towards the end of 2023 as a standalone business, counts India among its largest talent base with a headcount of about 6,000 employees.

Speaking to PTI, CSS Corp Chief Executive Officer Sunil Mittal said the company is keen on inorganic growth options and is looking at tuck-in acquisitions to enhance its offerings and get to new customers.

“We”re looking at companies with revenues of anywhere between USD 30 to 80 million in terms of revenue ticket size and we”re looking at maybe a couple of them, tuck-in acquisitions at various service lines. If you look at our strategy in the digital engineering space or in the cloud and data center space or in the customer experience space, these are the three focus areas,” he explained.

Mittal said these acquisitions should either build competency for CSS Corp or help it get exposure to a newer sector like healthcare.

“We are not looking at acquisitions just to increase our revenue or margins. Our organic growth is already very industry-leading…the focus (for acquisitions) is in terms of can we create another engine of growth, which gives us more capability and/or exposure to new sectors,” he added.

Mittal said e-commerce will also be an area of focus.

“The other sector that we want to focus on is this whole e-commerce, internet-based business model companies, SaaS. That”s where the future is. We want to get exposure to sectors which are growing, and which are the future,” he added.

The company is looking at hiring about 1,300 people in India from various campuses in the coming year, in line with the strong growth momentum being experienced by it. Out of its 10,000 employee base, around 6,000 are in India.

In February this year, Capital Square Partners (CSP) – a Singapore-based private equity Fund Manager and Startek”s majority shareholder – had acquired a controlling stake in CSS.

At that time, Startek – which competes with CSS Corp – had said it has participated in this transaction by contributing total USD 30 million in a limited partnership managed by CSP to acquire both an indirect beneficial interest of approximately 26 per cent in CSS, as well as an option to acquire a controlling stake.

CSS Corp grew at 25 per cent in FY21, and expects to do better than that in FY22.

Mittal said the company is well-positioned for growth in the coming years.

“…we have enough bookings and deal wins which makes us confident that we can continue with this momentum in the coming quarters…We will end this year at around a USD 225 million annual run rate,” he said. PTI SR ANU


Understanding Metaheuristics Algorithm In 800 words

The term optimisation is not only mathematically important but also closely linked to any business. Everyone aims to optimise the way things are executed, processed, or delivered. For a given problem, there is always going to be the best way among the many possible solutions or approaches, and this is usually referred to as an optimised solution. Here are a few examples of business optimisation:

  • The one-way airfare between New Delhi and Bangalore is INR 5000. There are nine flights scheduled every week with a seating capacity of 120 to 340, depending on the plane type. The average occupancy per route is 150 passenger seats. Research shows that if there is a 3% reduction in ticket cost, then the occupancy is likely to increase by 12 passengers, on average. The constraints are plane type, occupancy rate, scheduling, time, and discount offers. The value of fare that can maximise the revenue and profit with the given constraints is a classic example of an optimisation problem.
  • A tech support business servicing a large global client has daily incoming calls in the range of 20000 to 35000, in a 24 x 7 mode. The support staff is equipped to handle seven languages, and work can be executed in four different centres. The cost of operations varies in each region, and the tech-support specialist/engineers’ availability also has certain limitations. The setup of this project’s operations is another such case of business optimisation with the given constraints.

To solve any optimisation problem, there are three main fundamental elements that one needs to understand.

  1. The single numerical quantity or objective function: It forms the goal of the problem. This objective function must be either maximised or minimised. The best fare for travel is an example of minimisation.
  1. The variables and attributes associated with the problem statement: Their values can be varied, and their impact is likely to be observed on the objective. In the tech-support business, some of the variables are incoming calls by time-day-language, availability of right skills in each centre, cost of operations per seat, attrition rate and calls by technology-module pattern.
  1. The constraints: There is no business without constraints. Most of the constraints can be mapped to a combination of time, cost, quality, and tools & technology. Understanding the restrictions and limitations of a constraint can help in solving optimisation problems.

In the context of optimisation, a heuristic is defined as a method driven by rule-of-thumb without any specific procedure. A metaheuristics method is designed by leveraging more than one heuristic methods and thus inheriting all heuristic methods’ characteristics. Natures inspirations, such as ants searching for food, wolves hunting their prey, the formation of water droplets, diffusion of two chemicals, cell formation, the attraction between electrostatic objects, gravity, have resulted in the ‘Metaheuristics Algorithm’.

Metaheuristic algorithms’ adoption rate is surging in engineering, finance, retail, healthcare, insurance, and biomedical science. The optimisation is a critical factor in solving business and engineering problems. These algorithms can be summarised as a form of stochastic optimisation (an optimisation method that generates and uses random variables) independent of the surface gradient for optimisation. Most of these algorithms are inspired by different sources of nature and evolved from a purely mathematical model to a highly intelligent method of solving problems. Metaheuristics, along with machine language, is gaining wide acceptance in solving complex problems.

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Here’s how companies are trying to keep employee morale up amid COVID-19 pandemic

Just as India was limping back to normalcy after the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020, we were hit by a second, more severe wave in 2021 that not only saw people scrambling for beds and oxygen, but also recorded more deaths.

India’s workforce was forced to remain indoors yet again, and prolonged work from home that has blurred the lines between personal and professional lives has led to increased burnout and exhaustion.
However, companies across industries have started recognising the same, looking at unique ways that can help employees cope with stress, distress and burnout.

Taking time off

Dating app Bumble, for instance, recently announced that all employees – in India and across the globe – will have a paid, fully offline one-week vacation in June. “Like everyone, our global team has had a very challenging time during this pandemic. We wanted to give our teams around the world an opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week,” a Bumble spokesperson said.
Similarly, Cosmetics and personal care company L’Oréal India is offering employees a ‘Healing Day’ off, an extended weekend for self-care, as well as a ‘Healing Week’, which the company said is designed to lift employee spirits and to provide constructive support on coping in difficult times through various learning programmes.

Several companies have also announced an unlimited leave policy. Khatabook has an unlimited leave policy, which CEO & co-founder Ravish Naresh said gives employees the mindspace to focus completely on the recovery of health of their loved ones and themselves.
Other companies such as OYO, Myntra (Unlimited Wellness Leaves) and Grant Thorton too have introduced unlimited leave policies.

Engaging employees

To ensure employees are not blurring lines between their professional and personal lives, mattress maker Duroflex has put in place a rule no work messages are to be sent before 9 am and after 9 pm. This is in addition to organising fun contests, talent shows, among others.
“Our meetings start with ‘What’s the good news?’ just to boost morale and team spirit. Workshops for yoga, etc. are organized during working hours so that employees take a break from work and stretch a little,” Ritu Moitra, Chief Human Resources Officer, Duroflex said.
Godrej & Boyce launched a company-wide COVID Support Group under the initiative called #TogetherWeCan where the company has been organising mental and physical wellbeing workshops for employees. Under the initiative, it also conducts activities such as Yoga Day session, Family Day, cooking workshops, window photography contests and more.

Real estate developer Embassy Group has launched the ‘Embassy cares wellness portal’, where the company engages with employees on wellness with puzzles, trivia, online fitness sessions, among others. This is in addition to the COVID-19 related support, online doctor and nutrition consultation and pharmacy at discounted prices that the portal offers.

“We also introduced an e-learning portal for all employees, initiating a ‘Learn, Grow and Connect’ series that provided master skills with in-depth learning. The monthly challenge on e-learning has enabled employees with key skills on cultivating joy, mindful moments, empowering women along with others. There is constant communication with individual teams at the group level, by connecting and highlighting individual efforts with all team members as regularly as possible,” Maria Rajesh, CHRO, Embassy Group said.

The Souled Store has been organizing several fun and engagement sessions like a stand-up act by a comedian, a therapeutic art session, a magic show event as well. This is in addition to its employee assistance programmes designed to drive home the importance of attending to mental health and arranged for professional counselling sessions through a confidential helpline number.

Seniority, a company that runs a portal for the elderly, too has been organising interactive events like Antakshari, Tambola, Seniority Premier League, Seniority Talent Hunt, etc. to keep employees motivated.

“Besides, we have collaborated with Juno Clinic, Cleartax, Marsh etc. to conduct various online webinars and industry interaction programmes covering various aspects of physical, mental and financial wellness for our employees,” Tapan Mishra, Founder – Seniority and Evergreen Club said.

Ensuring Mental wellbeing
Most companies have also started offering online counselling sessions for employees to be able to talk about and cope with the pandemic situation.

Retail chain METRO Cash and Carry India organises yoga sessions and pep talk sessions from the top management from time to time in addition to regular webinars on physical & mental health wellbeing.
At Budget airline AIR ASIA, the Chief Medical Officer has regular interactions with employees to keep them updated with essential care tips. The company also said that it has manager-lead processes to ensure employees have the right amount of breaks, activities, learning and wellness in place.

“Our much-awaited Coffee with CEO sessions involve heart-to-heart conversations, alongside our daily virtual meets, peer-to-peer counselling, focused group discussions with HR teams and live online sessions which strive to create open and safe spaces for communication and engagement,” Anjali Chatterjee, Head – People and Culture, AirAsia India said.
IT services company CSS Corp has in place a ‘CHEER framework’, developed for COVID times to help drive empathetic employee engagement and positivity “‘C’ stands for Communicating with employees; ‘H’ for Highlighting their accomplishments; ‘E’ for Energising them; ‘E’ for Engaging with them; and ‘R’ for Recognising and Rewarding them,” the company said.
In addition to this, the company also has initiatives in place to offer 247 counselling line supporting employees’ emotional and mental health.

Bharat Bhatia, Vice President HR at fine jewellery brand Melorra, said that the company’s HR team ensures that there is an environment where people in Melorra can approach their managers or the HR team in case they are overly stressed without any fear of being judged. Employees are also encouraged to take leaves as and when needed to ensure that they break the routine when needed.
“As the HR team, we try to do activities frequently to enable people to have fun at work and to break the daily routine. We have also launched a 24X7 professional counselling service for all our employees to seek professional help when needed,” Bhatia added.
Healthtech startup HealthCube also has regular discussions on mental and physical wellness between the employees and the HR team.


Mental Health Day 2021: What Tech Leaders Are Saying?

The challenges and trauma associated with Covid-19 have put mental health front-and-center for employers like never before. According to research, 42% of global employees have experienced a decline in mental health since the pandemic began. Mental health no doubt has proved a hot topic across the tech sector, with research conducted by Harvey Nash earlier this year revealing that concerns among tech workers increased by 75% during the pandemic. Symptoms of burnout are also increasing among employees and leaders alike.

Good news is that addressing mental health and well-being in the workplace can truly make a difference to an individual and the collective workforce – helping them determine how to handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Moreover, there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive.

However, there’s still a long way to go! That’s an obvious reason why World Mental Health Day is celebrated every year on October 10. First recognized by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992, it aims to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and wellbeing, and advocate against social stigma around the subject.

With this in mind, we take a look at how tech companies have been dealing with the matter of mental health, and the challenges that they are looking to overcome.

“Workplace technology and corporate culture are intertwined, and their impact on employee mental health and wellbeing continues to evolve. We, as an organization, have always been mindful of the mental well-being of our employees. Therefore, we have launched a slew of initiatives to leverage technology towards advancing mental health and wellbeing. Our 24/7 employee assistance provides counseling and aid to employees, and HR chatbots automate responses to queries, leading to faster issue resolutions. Additionally, we have been conducting virtual mindfulness sessions and digital detox (digital quarantine) to enable employees to find the right balance amid their hectic schedules. We believe that while the organization could march ahead with lots of accomplishments and milestones, the health and wellbeing of the employees are vital. Technology alone does not help as it cannot replicate the human touch and reassurance, it is important to provide the experience. Sometimes, a simple pat on the back can be good enough to alleviate stress and anxiety. During times of uncertainty, it is crucial to lead with empathy. CSS Corp tracks the health status of employees constantly. Since the onset of the pandemic, I have personally spoken with more than 90% of the Covid-affected employees. This conveyed the support and reassurance to the employees in a direct personal way apart from ensuring a thorough understanding of the ground-level challenges they face. We also aim to proactively neutralize burnout, anxiety, stress, and the problems that emerge from working virtually over an extended time,” – Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, SVP and Head – HR (Global) and Head of Corporate Quality, CSS Corp


Mapping Your Digital CX Journey is Like A Road Trip

CXOs are increasingly recognizing that stepping up their digital game would lead to more efficiency, innovation, and customer satisfaction. But the problem is, ‘where does one even begin?’ Experts recommend, it begins by mapping your digital customer experience journey – which is pretty much like a road trip. It helps brands in understanding their customers’ needs and behavior that can help improve the brand’s product or service.

In an exclusive chat with CXOToday, Vivian Gomes, SVP & Head – Marketing & Inside Sales, CSS Corp., discusses why mapping your digital customer journey is becoming more important than ever in the current scenario, the key challenges and opportunities in this space and how brands can develop their customer journey map, going forward.

Why is digital customer experience getting more important given the current business scenario?

Since the onset of the pandemic, the relevance of creating no-touch experiences has become even more apparent. The entire ecosystem today is evolving around virtual operations, especially, in the B2C context. Customers are becoming more empowered and self-service is a rising trend that is seeing applications in many fields as an enabler in facilitating seamless customer engagements. With this changing business landscape, mapping the customer journey becomes critical to creating digital experiences that will differentiate.

How and why is it important to map your digital customer experience journey?

Businesses today are dealing with digitally-savvy, conscious consumers whose purchase priorities and buying behavior have changed. With the digital highway wide open, brands are understanding the importance of using modern, new technologies such as real-time messaging tools, AI, automation, chatbots, and self-service among others to remove friction from customer interactions. Mapping the digital customer journey becomes imperative to ensure that customers receive a seamless experience and any impediments along the journey are removed.

What are the biggest obstacles companies are facing around digital customer experience?

Digital customer experience is a goal that is easier said than achieved. The key to providing best-in-class CX is personalization, which relies on gathering intelligence about the customer context. This calls for smooth and efficient data capture mechanisms and analytics-led decision making. With so much dark data that is not being used and functions operating in silos, organisations are still grappling with data ecosystems that are yet to mature. Also, many companies are caught in the web of technical debt which prevents them from creating agile infrastructure ecosystems needed to engage today’s consumers effectively. Finally, structuring CX calls for a cultural and mindset shift in the organization. All this takes time as there is an inertia that impedes progress.

What are your recommendations to CXOs looking at designing their CX strategy?

If we look at the evolving technology landscape, cloud technology, data analytics, AI, automation, and other next-gen technology enablers, which were considered cutting-edge before, have become table-stakes today. It is not only important to create a holistic plan to weave in these technologies into the overall strategy, but also to create champion change agents who will be willing to adapt to change and drive it at the grassroots levels. It is also important to build the right digital infrastructure that can support omnichannel experiences.  Lastly, mapping the customer journey to create frictionless and empathetic brand experiences should be the way forward for companies.

It’s important to be mindful of trends in the digital customer experience space so that CXOs can quickly adapt their strategy to meet the latest industry insights and create an effective customer experience. In this video, Gomes talks about the recent trends in the digital customer experience space.

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Organisations lending helping hands towards employees amid pandemic

Amid the present Covid-led disruptions, employees look up to their leaders and HR for guidance on how to navigate through this new normal.

Ensuring employees’ wellbeing and safety has become the norm for almost every organisation. ETHRWorld interacted with several industry leaders to find out how they are standing together with their employees amid the challenging times.

Brillio employees who have contracted Covid can avail home care services from medical establishments arranged by the company. Besides, the company has rolled out vaccination drives for its employees and their families and is helping them to book hospital beds, oxygen cylinders or any kind of help related to Covid-19. The company has also introduced a financial loan and Corona Kavach Policy to alleviate the financial burden.

Aftab Ullah, Chief Operating and Delivery Officer, Brillio, said, “The company’s culture is strongly driven by our ‘We Care’ philosophy. Built on that, we have implemented the ‘We Care’ framework for Covid-19.”

The company has been providing facilities, including 24/7 medical emergency support in partnership with International SOS, and access to MediBuddy to help the employees with medical insurance, and telemedical services.

CSS Corp

CSS Corp has been tracking the health status of its employees and has stepped in to provide the required support. The company has introduced a doctor-on-call helpline that focuses on getting the right aid for the employees and their family members.

The company is also offering home diagnostics options and is currently in talks with medical institutes for collaboration. Considering the health challenges, financial hardship, social strain, and access to treatments, the HR teams are in constant touch with the employees to build psychological morale and extend support to access quality and affordable healthcare.

Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, Senior Vice President and Head – HR (Global) and Corporate Quality, CSS Corp, said, “Our employee assistance programmes, and dedicated 24/7 counselling line supporting the employees’ emotional and mental health have been extensively leveraged.”

Visvanathan further mentioned that the company has introduced the SAFE (Support, Awareness, Facilitation, Emergency) framework for the employees who have contracted Covid-19 infection. The framework includes connecting with the affected employees by the HR Team and facilitating support till recovery, awareness through mailers and slogans, facilities like on-call 24/7 medical consultation, and emergency reach out through the Rapid Response team.

DB Schenker

According to DB Schenker, its employees who have contracted the Covid infection can take unlimited Covid leaves to take care of themselves and their families. The company has also rolled out a vaccination drive and is helping the employees with doctor consultation, and arranging medicines, hospital beds, oxygen, ambulances for them.

Vishal Sharma, CEO – Cluster India and Indian Sub-Continent, DB Schenker, said, “We have taken multiple measures to ensure the mental, physical and financial wellness of our employees across the organisation with customised plans and initiatives to address the corporate office staff along with their families.”

Apart from supporting its own employees and their families, DB Schenker is also supporting an NGO in setting up an oxygen plant in a hospital in Delhi, which Sharma believes will assist in increasing the ICU and oxygen beds. The company is also providing logistics services for the Red Cross.


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