COVID 19: Employee first in the times of Crisis

Businesses can only be successful when they recognize the value of its human resource and give utmost priority to their overall well being – both professionally as well as on a personal level. A contended workforce goes a long way in contributing to an organization’s success. The recent COVID-19 crisis has proven this more than ever and it has created a need for organizations to rethink and reinvent people's practices very uniquely and differently. We at ICRA also subscribe to this philosophy and we have also swiftly adopted to ‘new normal’ people practices ensuring uninterrupted client deliveries and business outcomes. 


Reporting Physical Health & Safety 

As per NASSCOM, employee health and safety should be one of the top concerns for organizations attempting to make business happen every day. Physical safety and well being are the basis of “Employee First” philosophy and organizations need to put enough focus to ensure that employees are reported safe and secured in office or in remote working. In COVID-19 lockdown and remote working scenarios, ICRA has been conducting a fortnightly online survey to keep track of employee’s health, maintain a repository of employee’s well-being, neighborhood status, travel information. Real-time data enables our team to take any immediate action (if required). The good news is that all our employees are reported healthy and safe, fingers crossed. 

Author- Ms. Sheetal Sandhu, Group CHRO, ICRA Limited. 

Prioritizing Emotional Wellbeing 

Curating a well-designed corporate wellness program is the need of the hour and it is here to stay for times to come. Emotional wellness programs teach employees effective ways of dealing with everyday stress, for example, by taking regular breaks, meditating in the morning or at the end of the day, or practicing a daily stretching routine. Anyone of these strategies can help employees sustain a work-life balance;  minimize negative thoughts and calm stressed-out nerves. ICRA has recently launched an Employee Assistance Program (ICRA EAP) to enhance employee reach and virtual connectivity, to understand employee’s mental health and psychological issues. It is a 24 by 7 helpline which provides immediate virtual help and addresses to any kind of emotional and psychological concerns and issues. 


New Avatar - Employee Engagement

Today, employee engagement (that too in its new avatar) is important than ever before look at organizations taking all of the engagement virtually which is a sea change to understand and manage your workforce. Early adopters to this new normal will survive ahead and raise the bar!

We also created well engaging forums to ensure that our employees feel motivated and recognized. Turning employee engagement to family engagement will be the leading change in this new paradigm shift. For example, thanking employee’s families who are doctors, essential workers, and out in the field workers fighting COVID-19 to save lives. ICRA salutes ICRA COVID-19 WARRIORS!

Another initiative focusses on kid’s engagement (kid’s storytelling sessions) to engage young minds while our employees are working for business outcomes and results. Curating a need-based virtual employee engagement calendars focusing on mindfulness, yoga and exercises, riddles challenge, quizzes, sudoku challenge, digital art contest, and a special Chess League. 


Listening to Employee Voice

Effective communication is the new language of leadership. Listening and feeling for your employees is one of the key competencies of the remote leadership. In the COVID-19 crisis, ICRA didn’t stop listening to its employees rather reinvented communication practices to ensure aggressive employee outreach and enhanced two-way communication. Regular surveying of our employee’s pulse with open-ended questions like, how are they managing the current situation, setting up a home workspace, connecting with peers and managers, exploring learning opportunities or hobbies and asking to highlight any support required. There are various suggestions given by employees who are being considered and implemented on an immediate basis. By way of town halls, proactive business continuity advisories, one-to-one virtual chats, HR hour, periodic connect sessions by managers, virtual coffee sessions, virtual ‘thank you’ rooms, are some of the vital activities by our leadership team to better understand the employee pulse and proactively capture any concerns from our employees. The more we communicate, the more clarity we get!


Enhancing the Capability Program

Seeing opportunity in crisis – this theme is most relevant in COVID-19 times, especially from employee learning and development perspective. As an employee prerogative, it is imperative to remain relevant and ahead of times – revising your skills and learning new skills. From an organizational perspective, building capabilities for current performance and future success is the core objective of capability development. For times, capability building has remained a high strategic priority for most of the progressive organizations but the only difference for today is that is has gone digital!

To seize this opportunity, ICRA has also assigned online learning modules through its in-house learning management systems for all employees.  We have also partnered with talent partners like KNOLSCAPE as a learning platform to provide behavior related programs ‘Leading Self’ and ‘Leading Teams’ focusing on key competencies on enabling performance, driving business results, people management, critical thinking, etc. 


With such unprecedented times and new normal still evolving, organizations are maneuvering to keep up the business outcomes and client imperatives. ICRA is also committed to its client deliveries and engaged workforce by way of reinventing and innovating our people practices.  

Author- Ms. Sheetal Sandhu, Group CHRO, ICRA Limited. 

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