If organizations have to bounce back, thrive, and move forward, they have to support their employees during this period of crisis. Many leaders have already started rethinking and restructuring their policies and benefits to ensure the health and happiness of their employees.
In the fourth episode of the Parichay webinar series, four HR leaders shared valuable insights and best practices adopted by their respective organizations. Here’s a lowdown on what Ravi Mishra, Sr. Vice President (HR), Advanced Materials Business, Grasim Industries Ltd, had to say about his experience in ensuring employee well-being during this pandemic.
The well-being of employees is the first and foremost issue that challenges every company today. Leaders and HR managers need to look at it from multiple perspectives spanning emotional stress, financial support, medical support, and workplace challenges.
Employees in metro cities, like Mumbai, belong to various social and economic levels. Not everybody is fortunate to live in a large house or has access to essential facilities like a broadband connection. So, empathy and support are crucial for maintaining the morale of employees during these challenging times.
Ravi and his organization have been doing their best to provide comprehensive support to the employees. There was a focused effort to stand by them, with all the medical aid, when they were fighting the virus for themselves or their family members
There were situations when the employees and their families were running around, from hospital to hospital, in search of oxygen cylinders. The company came forward and imported oxygen, with a Government of India license, to provide emergency support to their people and their extended families in different cities.
Apart from providing the necessary medical help during this crisis, the company faced the challenge of sustaining performance at the workplace. But the leaders took a decision to allow maximum flexibility at work. They also urged all employees to take care of themselves first and not worry about their deliverables in the current situation.
The management and HR team members have done their bit at Ravi’s organization. They made policies and benefits flexible enough to address the immediate challenges of employees.
This pandemic also witnessed a lot of learning. What was noteworthy was that many employees came forward and extended their wholehearted support to their peers by taking up additional responsibilities.
At the lower level of the pyramid, insurance coverage was for INR 2-3 lakhs. But if one employee had two family members hospitalized simultaneously, the coverage would not have been sufficient to manage the financial burden. So, the management changed the policy and asked the insurance agency to increase the minimum coverage to five lakhs.
What about situations where the medical expenses were above the aforesaid amount? The employees could heave a sigh of relief! The organization arranged the money from a Benevolent Fund. This initiative helped the employees tide over the financial crisis and get rid of the emotional trauma related to it.
When it comes to dealing with direct reports or colleagues, we are not equal on the scale of empathy. Hence, we must inform all our managers to be empathetic towards others in these trying times. Ravi also reveals that they have asked their employees to slow down and take care of themselves without feeling insecure about their jobs.
The company provided tele-consultation to the employees of a manufacturing plant, at a remote location, where medical facilities were unavailable. They also extended their support to contractors and drivers stuck in villages with infected people. These are just two of the many examples of organizational empathy put into practice.
It is time to think ahead! The experience of handling challenges during the pandemic has to be leveraged for the benefit of all the employees and the workplace. The best way to accomplish this is by integrating the experience into the general HR policy.
When asked if technology can help HR execute these new policies and benefits, Ravi responded positively, saying the value of automation in the workplace will continue to increase in the coming days. He, his team, and his organization are always ready for the next normal by continuing to roll out newer policies and benefits for the well-being of all the employees.