Expert Speak: Companies must invest in building a culture of inclusion and trust amid the COVID-19

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The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated several workplace changes related to work, workforce, and workplaces. From adopting a remote work culture to set up virtual workplaces to enablement of technology on a large scale – everything is happening together. The unprecedented times have disrupted the models of talent management and has forced HR leaders to become more innovative and agile in their approach.

TimesJobs spoke to Ruchi Bhalla, Country Head – India Delivery Centers & VP HR, Pitney Bowes, on managing talent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ques: Amid the COVID-19 crisis, how has the role of leaders transformed on the talent management front?
Leaders must be agile and empathetic. It is important now more than ever for organisations to show that they care for their employees. Reiterating trust in employees will go a long way to keep them engaged and motivated. By having open channels of communication where employees can express their concerns, helps leaders stay connected to the pulse of their organisation and adapt to their changing needs.

Ques: In these unprecedented times, what extra steps India Inc. can take to keep their workforce motivated?
The greatest challenge organisations are all facing today, is to keep employees motivated and inspired as they balance home and work responsibilities. Many people are working from home for the first time and are juggling children at home with schools closed or other family members also working from home. Employees and Managers need to be sensitive and patient as disruptions and background noise is higher during this time and they need to be more flexible with their colleagues. Organisations are also faced with logistics and IT challenges which can affect business continuity. It is important in a remote working environment to provide a sense of camaraderie and support, and this can be extended through Online Forums, Chats and regular virtual Manager-Team Connects.

Ques: How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the roots of the employee engagement mandate?

Ans: When a crisis hits, what stands the test of time is culture. Companies must invest in building a culture of inclusion and trust that transcends the four walls of office. A strong cultural ethos will ensure that employees feel engaged even with minimum physical interaction. Culture in conjunction with technology tools should embed mobility and flexibility into the employee experience. Investing in ‘Re-skilling’ and ‘Up-skilling’ programs that prepare the workforce for a post-pandemic world and provide avenues for engagement with teams and leaders is essential.

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