May

Leader’s talk: Manish Tandon, CEO, CSS Corp

“ Leadership is not wielding authority- it is empowering people ”, Beeky Brodin.

Leadership is not only about holding a prime position, it’s much more than that. A leader is someone who has a vision and a passion to make things happen. TimesJobs brings to you exclusive interviews of industry maestros’ whose journey and experience are incredible and influencing. Read on, to know about their journey and their advice for young, upcoming leaders…

Here we have an account from Manish Tandon, CEO, CSS Corp

With which job role/ position did you start your career?
After completing my engineering, I joined the technology subsidiary of a bank. After 2 years of working there and saving some money to pay for higher education, I did my MBA. Right after completing my post-graduation, I joined one of the top financial institutions in the country managing projects in debt and funding. Although I enjoyed learning new things there, I moved into my first love (Technology) by joining the IT Services industry and found my passion there.

When did you join your present organisation?
It’s been 15 months since the time my journey began at CSS Corp – and no two have been the same!

What kind of leadership style do you follow in your organisation?
I follow the transformational style of leadership. Also, I follow the ‘Leadership by Example’ paradigm, as I believe that you cannot lead a professional services organisation without this trait. Identifying changes and creating a vision is really what drives me

How are you contributing to the growth of your employees?
I’ve always said that I am here to build careers, not just create jobs, and that means employee growth is a very critical area. We foster a culture of learning and growth in a lot of ways, big and small, but one way I am very proud of is the learning opportunities. I am a big proponent of constant learning. The industry is evolving so rapidly that we can’t rely on the market to have the talent we need – we must build it from within.

Name one person who had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
I really admire N. R. Narayana Murthy as a leader. He has such a strong vision, driving tremendous growth and change. He shaped not just a company but an industry and a country.

Share that one critical decision that you made as the leader of your organisation?
Joining CSS Corp, I saw a lot of strong capabilities, but they were somewhat siloed. The company needed a unifying vision – a strategy that would bring everyone together. After carefully looking internally at our capabilities and externally at where the markets are going, we developed a plan to transition the company from a pure services organisation to a new age services organisation. We have been executing against that transformation very successfully, creating platforms and ecosystems for a new digital world. Nearly every one of our services has benefitted for an influx of artificial intelligence, analytics, and automation.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
I would choose the candidate that was most likely to question things and challenge the people around them. With the speed of our growth, we need people that can evaluate where we are and where we are going.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Adaptability. We live and work in a dynamic world, and leaders must be able to quickly adapt not only their companies but themselves to all types of changes.

What is one lasting impact that you hope to leave on your present company?
My mantra is to build a brand that imbibes and promotes the idea of “customer obsession” by making sure the customer is at the epicenter of every decision. I am building a workforce that is passionate about customer success. The commitment is strong today and just getting better every day.

What are you doing to grow and develop as a leader continuously?
I continue to adapt and learn new skills – I make it a point to learn something new every week. I read extensively and also take technology courses online to keep abreast of a rapidly changing landscape. In fact, I wanted to teach my 10-year-old son some computer programming and the languages I knew were not suitable for him so I actually learned Python so that I could teach him.

What advice would you give to the new-age leaders?
I would advise new-age leaders to constantly invest in themselves and in those around them. Investing in themselves requires a commitment to continual learning and personal development. Investing in others means building a sustainable environment of trusted stakeholders

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Technology Support Flourishes Amid Crisis

The technology support industry has truly been tested with the current pandemic, but I am happy to say that, in general, technology companies have been able to successfully move thousands of support employees to work from home and increase virtual engagement with customers. In fact, the data we are collecting shows that not only have the challenges of the last couple of months been successfully met, in many ways, support is flourishing amid the crisis. With all the gloom and doom in the news, I wanted to share some data showing how resilient this industry has proven itself to be.

I’m hearing amazing stories every day. One of my favorite is from CSS, a global service provider that successfully transitioned 7,000 call center employees across the globe, with a large population in India and the Philippines, to work from home within 48 hours with virtually no drop in service levels. And according to the data TSIA has collected as part of our Rapid Research Response initiative, this is the rule more than the exception, as evidenced by the following statistics:

A total of 61 percent of companies said that the impact of transitioning support employees to work remotely has been minimal; 34 percent said there was a slight impact. Only 4 percent reported a significant impact to service levels, and most of these impacts were short term as work-at-home tools and processes were formalized.
A total of 86 percent of companies report that their support teams have been briefed on how to communicate their companies’ responses to COVID-19 to customers. If you are in the remaining 14 percent, take some time TODAY to write up some FAQs for support employees to have at their fingertips in case customers are asking about impacts and guidelines.
A total of 79 percent of support organizations report they have recommunicated or renegotiated service level agreements (SLAs) on their ability to respond to customer requests. And in most cases, this was committing to even more challenging SLAs. Demonstrating to customers that you are there for them when times are tough is a critical way to build long-term profitable relationships.
All the hand-wringing by some firms at having employees working from home seems to have been misplaced anxiety. Having worked from home myself since 2003, I am always confused why executives are so fearful of remote employees, and these fears seem more often grounded in the desire to monitor and control employees rather than to enable their success. So what has been the impact of support suddenly moving to a work from home model?

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Cyber Security: Build Data Protection Strategy

As the technology grows in an organization, the risk to data security also rises.The organization needs to secure their data by using some protection.  Cyber intrusions and attacks have increased dramatically over the last decade – both in frequency and in sophistication – exposing sensitive personal and business information, disrupting critical operations, and imposing high costs on the economy. Over the next few years, cyber crime attacks are expected to cost as much as $3 trillion in lost economic value.

Recently, many data security breaches have impacted large corporations globally. It should be highlighted that enterprises of all sizes can be targets of data breaches; small and mid-size businesses are in the crosshairs as well and need to protect against data security threats. “To secure data, an important step that many miss out is to create an extensive data security plan in order to understand on what data could be at risk. Enterprise data must be secured through authorized and controlled access, and virtualization enables this security model as it allows one to have a secure architecture and orchestrate control throughout the infrastructure,” says Mahesh Nayak, the Chief Operating Officer, SAP Labs India.

According to Muthu Raja Sankar, Managing Director, Accenture Security, many enterprises do not have sufficient capabilities to proactively identify, understand and respond to incidents that threaten the security of their data. This includes threats and exposures that they may face within the enterprise as well.

At Accenture Security, they believe enterprises can be successful in addressing this by following a three-phased approach:

Build a data protection strategy: Every enterprise needs a strategic vision for data protection, and an actionable roadmap for implementation and a thorough assessment of compliance requirements. This will ensure a strong foundation to understand and identify critical information, current data protection capabilities, and identify potential opportunities and remediation areas.

Optimize and implement the solution: Once the strategy is in place, enterprises must embed security monitoring tools and processes into day-to-day security operations and decisions. This will ensure the enterprise can run scalable security data management and analysis, automate detection and prevent data loss.

Run integrated operations: And finally, the enterprise must partner closely within to be able to achieve the desired outcomes of the data protection strategy. It must orchestrate operations between IT, security and the business to enable ongoing discovery and protection of evolving critical business data, proactively identify and prevent risks, and ensure compliance adherence.

How to secure data from Ransomware

Ransomware is without doubt growing, becoming bolder and more targeted. While future outbreaks are potentially likely to be faster and stronger, and can inflict more damage to their targets, technically and tactically, there are a range of activities that together will help defend and respond more effectively to ransomware outbreaks.

Ransomware restricts access to data by encrypting files or locking computer screens. It then attempts to extort money from victims by asking for “ransom”, usually in form of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, in exchange for access to data. The trend towards increasingly sophisticated malware behavior, highlighted by the use of exploits and other attack vectors, makes older platforms so much more susceptible to ransomware attacks.

In this context, enterprises need proactive threat intelligence and mitigation to detect and resolve targeted advanced threats. “The ability to analyse volumes of data and enable intelligent and actionable cyber response should be a core part of the overall security strategy. Enterprises must focus on investing in contextual security solutions to mitigate advanced threats and ensure the health of data networks and connected assets,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, CIO, CSS Corp.

According to Microsoft spokesperson, in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, we released Windows Defender Exploit Guard which is a new set of intrusion prevention capabilities. One of its features, Controlled folder access, stops ransomware in its tracks by preventing unauthorized access to your important files. Controlled folder access locks down folders, allowing only authorized apps to access files. Unauthorized apps, including ransomware and other malicious executable files, DLLs, and scripts are denied access to folders.

On the other hand, “Accenture Security helps organizations build resilience from the inside out, so they can operate and grow confidently in a rapidly evolving threat landscape. They help businesses prepare, protect, detect, respond and recover along all points of the security lifecycle.

Particular to addressing ransomware threats, they also advise organizations to adopt a proactive prevention approach, elevate e-mail controls, insulate their infrastructure and most importantly, have a strong cyber resilience plan for recovery that is regularly reviewed and tested,” according to Sankar, Managing Director, Accenture Security.

SAP leverages email sanitation and has strict security patching processes in place, which prevents the WannaCry malware from infecting SAP managed machines. Cloud application security is a priority for every organization as cyber security attackers try to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. “At SAP, product security is part of the quality management process; we ensure that products that reach our customers have the complete product code and key security functions necessary to safeguard product use. Every business expects unalterable data security for the on-premise, cloud, and mobile infrastructure. SAP works continuously to strengthen and improve security features in all of our software and service offerings, while also ensuring our own company data and assets are protected,” added Nayak.

Part of responsibility for keeping files secure lie with online data storage providers and another part lies on the business and its employees. As the GDPR rolls out on May 25th, we embrace the European regulation as it sets a strong standard for privacy and data protection rights, which is at the core of many businesses.

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Amid paycuts and layoffs, some companies chose to shield staff during the Covid storm

India: In the midst of a storm of job losses, pay cuts and deferred increments, a bunch of companies have held firm. Hindustan UnileverNSE 0.59 %, Asian Paints, Johnson & Johnson, HCCB, Flipkart, Myntra, CSS Corp, BharatPe, BSH Home Appliances and Inflection Point Ventures are among those that have chosen to hike salaries, make variable payouts and promote employees even in these tough times.

Compensation experts said while companies across the board are taking decisions based on business realities, the concern they display during the Covid-19 crisis will have a lasting impact on employee goodwill.

“In these unprecedented times, it is a great opportunity for organisations to lead with empathy and take care of their employees’ interest. We believe that giving pay hikes will help add certainty in these uncertain times,” said Manish Tandon, CEO, CSS Corp. The IT services company has paid out increments and variable pay to its 7,000-strong workforce. At the lower bands, which constitute 70% of the workforce, the variable payout was 100%.

“It’s our job to keep the morale of employees high in these uncertain times and give them a sense of security,” says Neeraj Bahl, MD and CEO, BSH Home Appliances. While the firm cut marketing and travel costs and initiated a hiring freeze, staff were given increments and promotions went ahead.

‘Moves More Company-specific’
‘Paying scheduled salary increments and variable payouts is especially significant now, given the sheer number of companies that have gone in for salary cuts and layoffs in the past month or two. Many are struggling to retain jobs and current levels of remuneration.

“We took the decision of not cutting salaries or laying off people because, while the macro trends were looking weak starting March, we are a people-first organisation and believe that when we put people first, our people make things happen for the organization,” said Inflection Point Ventures CEO Vinay Bansal.

The likes of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Wipro, PwC India and Infosys have deferred hikes. Reliance Industries, Oyo Rooms and TVS Motors have cut salaries while Ola, Uber, Zomato and IBM are among those that have fired employees.

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How will AI change the HR operations landscape?

Organisations are investing significantly in AI and it will continue to happen with AI becoming more of a catalyst for businesses.

We live in very exciting times. The artificial intelligence debate is intensifying. There is constant commentary on it from some of the finest brains of our times. Some are for it with gusto and some seek caution.

One thing is certain, AI has accelerated like no other technology in the past few decades. It is clear that AI will become much more pervasive and intertwined in our day-to-day life. It will change the way we live in fundamental ways.

AI is the ultimate frontier in technology. Organisations are investing significantly in AI and it will continue to happen with AI becoming more of a catalyst for businesses. Experts predict that technologies that underpin the fourth industrial revolution are all set to bring out the best in people.

If you think job disruption by artificial intelligence (AI) is limited to the marketing, finance, sales and customer service, think again: The AI dust is being sprinkled on the human resources function, too.

Although the field is projected to grow 9 percent by 2024, as companies grow and need more robust structures for supporting and empowering employees, the hype and expectations of AI in the HR sector are getting astronomical.

That’s indeed good news for the HR folks – isn’t it?

Certainly, the HR department is one of the most complex, handcrafted and data-dependent business processes within an organisation. AI has the potential to transform employee engagement with relevant, quick and in- depth analysis of various functions within HR.

AI provides the teams with the necessary budget space to be more effective and efficient than ever.

Many HR leaders have already begun experimenting with varied facets of AI to deliver maximum value to their organizations. Organisations with large employee bases are turning to AI to reduce the cost involved in managing operations, to improve employee engagement to drive bias-free decisions in employee screening and recruitment.

AI can also help HR shared service organisations to focus on strategic business initiatives and can enable them to streamline and modernise HR operations, especially in the following areas:

Reimagining HR operations with AI and machine learning technologies

  • Conversational Interfaces: These interfaces automate regular HR tasks and provide employees with insights about policies, training schedules, payroll, and compensation. With speech recognition and NLP infused, conversational AI platforms addresses the growing needs of digitally empowered employees with 24*7 assistance and helps organizations in driving productivity improvements.

  • Machine Learning (ML): ML skims people-related data to detect patterns and transforms program actions accordingly. The insights drawn makes suitable data available for HR practitioners to motivate and engage existing employees and to also hire new ones. Also, ML-powered recommendations use historical records to suggest the optimum solutions to resolve conflicts.

  • Predictive models: These models help HR departments reduce employee turnover, boost business performance, quickly identify areas of risk and potential performance issues, and improve workforce diversity. Organizations are building predictive models that would identify the key reasons contributing to employee attrition by simply analyzing a structured data file fed into it and generating a score for every employee based on the calculated probability of them leaving their jobs.

AI and non-transactional segments of HR

AI has the potential to take HR experience to a higher level by automating most of the non-transactional HR tasks. Let’s have a closer look at some of these tasks.

Recruitment: Hiring in thousands leads to scale issues for HR professionals, who most often grapple with the problem of resume overload. Robots with AI software designed for recruitment are helping HRs in the screening process by identifying hard-to-find candidates at scale, collecting potential employees’ information and performing background checks. Such tools help candidates select the right job thereby freeing head hunters from the mundane task of candidate screening.

On-boarding: Smart AI tools focus on making on-boarding a self-service process since these can connect directly with onsite employees, and collaborate with the workforce management team.

Video interviews:

Organisations are increasingly leveraging video conferencing tools for interviewing and assessing candidates. According to a recent research by Polycom, by the year 2020, 50 percent of conference rooms will be video-enabled.  AI tools can analyse these videos to assess candidates’ language, skills, educational credentials, even honesty and mood.

Sentiment analysis: Telecom, technology banking, and healthcare sectors are hard pressed with the challenge of employee retention. Several companies have already started using AI and ML solutions to capture employee feedback to get a better understanding of their sentiments in real time. The key reason that organizations dig into sentiment technology lies in its data. AI, a big game changer here, can spot and analyse intelligent patterns in the sentiment of employees through their geographic locations, emails, conversations, etc.

Can AI replace human empathy and intuition?

Over the last few years, AI has gradually seeped into a domain which was considered solely to be driven by humans – HR department. From the screening process to enhancing employee engagement and sentiment analysis, AI has literally revolutionised this critical business function. Earlier confined to only big enterprises, AI is now spreading to MSMEs (Medium Small Medium Enterprises) as well.

However, the entry of AI has got many HR professionals fearing that they could be replaced by technology. Although the same fears should have cropped up in the minds of employees during the time of computer revolution as well.

“Human vs. intelligent machines” is probably the second-best bogey after ‘God vs Lucifer’, a timeless battle. Some commentators belong to that school of thought believing that ‘tech is going to replace humans’ and that AI will trigger a tsunami of redundancies throughout the workforce, while other experts believe that AI and human intuition go hand in hand.

So, where do we stand now? Has the transformation begun?

AI is not the future anymore; it is the present already and making waves in one function in 2018: Human Resources. Often, this function is perceived to lag in digital transformation, but with AI now has emerged as a game changer, there is a great opportunity awaiting the HR world.

AI allows huge amounts of data to be amassed and processed that would be far beyond human capabilities. However, this data-crunching and analytical aspect of AI can certainly validate the human gut feel. Instead of replacing HR professionals, ground-breaking AI tools are complementing human skills and managing role tasks to avoid multiple HR roles, thus freeing up the valuable human capital to focus on more strategic or critical aspects of their jobs.

Many experts feel AI can never replace human empathy and intuition. A company’s HR department is likely to always need a human at the helm to handle interpersonal conflicts using non-cognitive and reasoning skills. AI is unlocking and amplifying human potential, not replacing it. People will be able to focus much more on value-added work and less on rote tasks unleashing their creative potential better.

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Supercharged Technical Support: Augmented Reality with CSS Corp’s KYRA

In a new social distancing world, most traditional face-to-face customer service tasks have had to digitize quickly. This trend is not new, but for some processes, it required the adoption of emerging technology and different operational models. A prime example is customer premise visits by engineers for equipment installations, parts replacement, and technical support. For several years, CX services vendors have worked on visual support and remote diagnostics, and are now looking to Augmented Reality (AR) to lift technical support to the next level. CSS Corp has already developed its proprietary technology in the space and is now working on AR deployments.

KYRA: AR-enabled CX & enterprise support

CSS Corp sees AR-enabled CX and support across three use cases:

Visual self-service, where the AR provides visual guidance to users on product features and interactive how-to user manuals
AR integrated virtual assistant, which automates the user engagement with intelligent bots using AR projections and overlay
Remote agent assistance to resolve user issues from a distance with AR markers and overlays.
The company has a pilot of AR visual self-service for a U.S. multinational telecom equipment manufacturer with products in the fixed, wireless, and IP technology space. The AR has step-by-step visual user guides and in-depth installation manuals, component descriptions, component usage instructions, and remote visual troubleshooting. The implementation has an integrated virtual assistant.

The user or field engineer scans a QR code on the packaging leading to the AR support web page downloading an app on their smartphone. She or he then asks the bot for a virtual user guide. The customer focuses their mobile camera on the equipment or error message, and the AR support interface identifies the product model and downloads the correct user guides and knowledge articles. It displays the components and narrates within the AR environment. The virtual assistant explains how to set up and use the components using animations and AR markers. In addition to the spoken and written instructions, it allows image scrolling and freezing and control with voice. The bot then reads the device screen to determine if the installation is successful and guides the user to enter configuration commands.

If the initial installation fails, the computer vision identifies the error message, and the bot starts interacting with the user via chat or messenger to troubleshoot the issue and guide the self-service steps within the AR. If the issue still cannot be resolved, the bot escalates to a live agent who initiates a secure AR session on the support app by sending a link. The transfer displays to the agent the transcript and completed steps and auto-creates a ticket and case history in the client CRM.

For the client, the initial results of the pilot in 2020 show 23% faster issue resolutions for AR supported interactions and 38% AHT reduction with the automation. For 20% of the volumes, the realized end-to-end automation efficiencies reached 94%.

Challenges to the spread of AR

Historically, AR adoption for remote collaboration stumbled due to a lack of high network bandwidth and speed. The proliferation of fiber optic broadband and the rollout of 5G will eventually resolve this challenge. In the meantime, CSS Corp’s KYRA uses cloud-based lightweight AR technology.

Another common concern for all two-way video chat remains security and privacy protection. CSS Corp addresses this issue by masking to the live agent all sensitive user information such as passwords and blurring outside objects. It also ensures that the tools are PCI DSS compliant.

Lastly, customers are often reluctant to download another app, and its usage sharply decreases after the initial setup. Here, CSS Corp works with clients to offer additional incentives and features in the app to drive regular user engagement. It also provides the SMS/email links to user, to start the remote assistance with the agent.

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Workplace Excellence Season Three – Episode 1

“This season of Workplace Excellence is focussed on showcasing those companies that are leaving no stone unturned to achieve workplace excellence. Featuring in this episode are two companies – CSS Corp and Canara HSBC OBC Life Insurance.”

Broadcast 1 in association with Times Now brings forth Workplace Excellence Season 3 – an initiative aimed at giving an insight into the corporate cultures of successful companies that are leaving no stone unturned to keep innovating and progressing. In this episode, we showcase two companies – CSS Corp and Canara HSBC OBC Life Insurance. Both the companies are driven by one great idea and that is to build a great workplace culture for its employees. These companies are focused on training future leaders and engaging employees for social skills, in order to achieve workplace excellence.

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#HRDay: This is how HR role has evolved amid pandemic

International HR Day is an opportunity to recognise all the hardworking HR professionals and their efforts. If we talk about the contribution of the HR managers and their team during the pandemic is truly incredible. While the HR department of today is one of the most tech-savvy and agile teams, their role has undergone a massive transformation in the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. The pandemic has given us plenty of reasons to celebrate HR professionals and their efforts during the crisis.

Sharmila Khan, Director HR, Micron India
All playbooks went out the window with the ambiguity and uncertainty that came with the pandemic. I learnt to trust my instincts, and lead with empathy and kindness, while I validated day-to-day operational decisions with a trusted group of peers within the organisation and a larger HR fraternity.

Hence, this day, on May 20, we must celebrate International HR Day to praise them as a profession and their positive contribution to individuals and organisations. With most employees working from home, the HR team is catering to a new set of responsibilities. Let’s put the light on some of them:

HR people’ made a significant contribution during the COVID-19 crisis
2021 is no less tough than the previous year, and with the second wave of COVID-19, It has already been a tough year for HR professionals. Without their never-ending efforts and expertise from the HR department, continuous motivation to employees, and their respective organisations. Without their efforts, we wouldn’t be seeing productivity and team cohesion thriving in a virtual workplace and ambiguous job market.

Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, SVP, Head HR (Global) and Corporate Quality, CSS Corp
The pandemic has changed a lot in our day-to-day life, not least of which has been a seismic shift in work culture, as many of us have spent the past year working remotely. The primary thing that the HR function witnessed and learned is the liberation from the mindset that work can be accomplished when we are co-located (or physically in the office).

HR people have been quick responders
The early response from HR was really impressive, they were able to get a sense of employees’ worries and concerns even in the working from home environment. They put employees’ worries first, while also considering the various business impacts. It was their years of experience in doing this that enabled their responsiveness. HR professionals have demonstrated their strategic approach in the way they’ve responded to this crisis. Not only the HR community’s response to COVID-19 has been absolutely incredible, but they’ve kept their organisations working, they’ve focused on the mental health of employees and shone a light on that for the rest of the organisation.

Pavitra Singh, CHRO, PepsiCo India
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many valuable lessons and my biggest one has been to lead with compassion. I realised that softer skills of empathy, compassion and resilience are key differentiators in these challenging times. We, as leaders, need to be the torchbearers of hope and lead with our heart. We have to be more personal in our approach and find ways to connect in the new normal as there is no face to face interactions currently. Leaders should also ensure high-quality interactions and bring energy to every meeting.

 

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CSS Corp wins Best Use of Emerging Technologies award

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, recently bagged the SmartTech Award under the “Best Use of Emerging Technologies” category at IMC’s Digital Technology Awards.

The event was hosted by IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry at St. Regis Marriott Hotel in Mumbai. The company was recognised for its innovative adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Customer Service Management.

CSS Corp’s home-grown customer experience solution helps simplify complex business processes and streamlines customer life cycle management. By using artificial intelligence, the solution leverages real-time data to effectively deliver personalised and context driven customer engagement. Additionally, in a customer support ecosystem, CSS Corp’s platform uses AI and analytics to identify issues, analyse the best course of action and guide customers through specific solutions.

“It is an honour to be recognized for our innovation in digital capabilities and excellence. This accolade strongly reaffirms our expertise and nimbleness in understanding our customers’ needs and delivering fulfilling experiences through cutting edge technologies. We will continue to invest in using emerging and agile technologies to further innovate, and empower businesses to achieve their business outcomes while delivering unparalleled customer satisfaction”, said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer.

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What lessons did HR leaders learn from the pandemic?

On the occasion of International Human Resources Day, we spoke to many HR leaders about their learnings from the pandemic in the last 1.5 years. Here are some insights from the leading HR professionals of India Inc.

What is the one lesson you learnt as an HR leader in the last 1.5 years, since the pandemic struck?

 

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

“The primary thing that the HR function witnessed and learned is the liberation from the mindset that work can be accomplished when we are co-located (or physically in the office). Physical needs (Meeting rooms, logistics, time conflicts) have melted away with a positive acceptance of collaborative tools (Zoom, Teams, GoToMeeting, and many more). Also, the onslaught of the variants and waves have made even the most brave-hearted to be mentally fragile. An immense amount of support and efforts have to be made for positivity to flow continuously like oxygen.”

 

Akash Sangole, Head of Human Resource and General Administration, Panasonic Life Solutions India Pvt. Ltd.

“The pandemic has taught us many lessons. As organizations rallied to respond to the crisis, the biggest challenge for the HR function was how to keep the workforce safe, motivated & engaged. As an HR function, we could manage the situation by being authentic, empathetic, and resilient. The major takeaway for me was to be agile/quick and being resilient in every approach.”

 

Annoora Singh, Head – HR, Training and Admin, Organic India

“COVID-19 pandemic presented an unrivaled situation all over the world and there is no individual or organization that was not impacted in some or the other way. Employees who had never worked remotely found themselves working from home for the first time and this has urged HR function to re-think their strategy and plans.With WFH, the role of HR has become more critical than ever before as they now are essentially the bridge between the leadership teams and employees till the grass-roots level and ensure that all employees continue to work towards a common goal and move in the same direction.”

 

Arun Dinakar Rao, Chief People Officer, Birlasoft

“If there is one lesson I have learned in these 18 months, it is that “We should never forget our basics”. It has proven that empathy and care go a long way in dealing with challenges than what they were credited for. It has proven that adversity brings out the true character/resilience among people and that necessity is truly the mother of innovation. The pandemic has forced organizations to adopt and accelerate their digital journeys, dynamically altering the way organizations look at their technology roadmap and has shown a new way of building and engaging with ‘work-from-anywhere teams.”

 

Ashish Mittal, Head of People Function, Aviva India

“We witnessed a dramatic shift in the work culture and recognized early that we didn’t have all the answers. We realized that “learning as we go” was the best strategy of all. The one lesson that I have learned as a leader is to create a work culture that is humanitarian in approach. As leaders of a people-centric organization, we have built a strong foundation with empathy, humility, and strong bonds with our people.”

 

Bernard Martyris, Global Chief of Human Resources, VFS Global

“Forming deep and meaningful human connections with employees has become even more critical to companies and business leaders in these turbulent times. For me, the COVID-19 pandemic required working closely with remotely connected teams to ensure agility and address the 360-degree requirements of employees and equip them to work through such a crisis via an enhanced focus on Learning and Development. It was also imperative to care for mental and physical well-being through meaningful and empathetic two-way communication.”

 

Jayashubha K, Chief People Officer, TVS Credit Services Limited

“The pandemic has been a learning curve that has taught me to be adaptive and flexible in order to survive and succeed in this COVID era. As an HR leader for a large organization, the pandemic pushed us to break through all stereotypes. It encouraged us to move from traditional to remote working style, broaden our network, learn and relearn and find new ways to reconnect with people around us.”

 

Pavitra Singh, CHRO, PepsiCo India

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many valuable lessons and my biggest one has been to lead with compassion. I realized that softer skills of empathy, compassion, and resilience are key differentiators in these challenging times. We, as leaders, need to be the torchbearers of hope and lead with our hearts. We have to be more personal in our approach and find ways to connect in the new normal as there are no face-to-face interactions currently. Leaders should also ensure high-quality interactions and bring energy to every meeting.”

 

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