In this Q&A, Vipin shares tips on tackling a crisis and managing workforce. He stresses on the importance of determining priorities and executing them in an orderly fashion; he also stresses on the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
As an HR leader, Vipin handles the HR agenda for VT Netzwelt’s India and International HCM. He is a strategic HR thinker with hands on expertise in managing internal HR MIS and reporting matrices, HR yields and matrices for the success of entire human capital management. He also consults HR leadership on how to approach and create strategies on all elements of talent acquisition, RPO, leadership development, and total rewards to enable achieving business and operational goals.
This interview has been edited for clarity and context.
DB: What is your advice to firms that do not have the necessary infrastructure to support remote work to go about setting up the same quickly?
VS: For firms struggling to stay afloat, they should leverage loans to setup infrastructure to make a win-win situation for all. This is the time to take third party support for providing the basic amenities. Ensure security practices are in place for everyone to access in such troubling times.
DB: What are some of the key factors organizations should consider while preparing and executing business continuity plans?
- Focus on the well-being of employees and clients.
- Stop thinking business and focus on actual needs: the core deliverables and the needs of your employees. Rest of things would fall in place automatically!
Once you understand your priorities, have an action plan, and have an able and productive workforce, it will be easier to drive your goals.
DB: Supporting health of staff should be a top priority for firms. How can HR teams aid in supporting the workforce and their organizations while enabling continuity?
VS: Educate the workforce—your staff needs to be aware of policies in place. Regular communication and updates amongst teams to promote wellness and collaboration is critical. Employees need to understand that even though they are no longer in office, companies are sympathetic to the new set of challenges that come with remote. So, creating an atmosphere that encourages such a culture is paramount. Ensure your employees have access to the necessary infrastructure to support remote work.
DB: In such uncertain times with numerous departments turning to HR for guidance on policies and other queries and with limited means at HR teams' disposal for motivating and engaging employees in person, what is your advice for our HR superheroes to stay sane and maintain their own well-being while balancing numerous other roles towards their own team, departments, organization at large, and their own families?
VS: Have a well-balanced life style! Unless and until they are super balanced in their life style, they won’t be able to cut through the challenge and bring the energy that is required. Forget about insecurities and be experimental, there is no right or wrong here, we’re operating with a new set of rules. So, experiment between tactics and go with the approaches that are working best for your organization.
DB: What are some of the steps your organization has taken to ensure a smooth transition to the Work From Home environment and what, in your opinion, are the steps to ensure a successful continuity plan?
VS: Fortunately, we approached it systematically and were prepared well in advance. As soon as the situation became grave, our contingency plan sprang into action. We ensured there was open and transparent communication across all levels, both organizational and individual. We have also invested considerably in capability upgradation meticulously, which, I’m sure, would continue to pay off.
DB: How do you envision the post-COVID era? What and how much do you think is going to change for the workforce, and what can HR teams do to ensure they're well-equipped for what's to come?
VS: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all response for this question; COVID will surely impact different businesses differently. Other than IT/ITES, I may not be the right person to. In IT/ITES, there would be huge adaptability towards ‘remote’ working, or ‘Work from Home’. This addresses few key cost components, like infrastructure cost, time cost, employee satisfaction, safety, etc.
DB: How much of an impact do you think digital transformation will have with COVID catalyzing the urgency for the same? From a people's perspective, what do you think employees can do to prepare for this next wave?
VS: A huge impact! If looked closely, people in this era need more digitization than ever. If digital transformation is done correctly, with total security and keeping the value systems intact, it will surely change the lifestyle of the current workforce and, in extension, the end consumer.
To prepare for the next wave, firms need to be self-efficient. Do not look at your employer to provide you all infrastructure. Gone are those days. New norm of employable is your qualification, your experience, your WFH infrastructure (power, internet, etc.), your value system. Employees need to upskill to stay relevant in this era of technological evolution.
DB: How do you feel upskilling can accelerate digital ambitions of organizations? How can HR teams champion this initiative?
VS: Upskilling is a crucial area for L&D teams, but how much of the focus a junior versus medium versus senior employee would like to put in, is the question. Amidst COVID-19, the challenges are different for the neophytes, experienced, and proficient employees due to varied lifestyles and responsibilities.
An HR professional can champion this by understanding the actual needs, tailoring customized solutions for different segments, being instrumental to communicate, and smoothly implementing these programs.