2020 was an unprecedented year in several ways. The world outside has changed, the furnishings at home have changed. The workplace was also in the midst of a transition as organizations adjusted to the “new normal” or “next normal”. Working remotely and working from home naturally brought new norms, expectations, challenges and concerns. Screen time increased while face time decreased significantly as work-life lines became blurred.
Corporate India has taken a few small steps to develop and apply best practices as the rules for engagement have changed. It was time for individuals, managers, and organizations to talk about health.
, Fitness and maintaining one’s own health.
In the Business hoursWe, too, understand that continuous dialogue with various stakeholders is necessary. We understand that India’s workforce is in a transition phase and just talking about it can help shape the way forward. We also knew that in the future, managers and companies would have to devote a large part of their mindshare (and budget) to the emotional well-being of their employees.
With this in mind, we decided to launch a series of informative discussions and webcasts with thought leaders, business leaders and wellness experts. The J&J presents Talk Your Heart Out series is an attempt to raise awareness of making the workplace a safe and happy place. A series of webinars / discussions / conversations will address the wellbeing and wellbeing of working professionals. The aim is to focus on issues relating to the physical, mental and emotional health, fitness and psychological well-being of the workforce.
Over time, we will continue the conversation as we delve into the various facets of working life. We will reach out to business leaders and HR professionals to decipher the key challenges that exist in a post-Covid workplace. At the same time, we’ll chat with health and wellness professionals to determine the resources and help needed to make an impact.
Speak your heart out
At the opening
Webinar “Talk Your Heart Out”, conducted by ETPanache Digital in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson and moderated by Lopamudra Ghatak, Lifestyle Editor, ET DigitalCorporate governance and mental health experts agreed that compassion and consideration can help businesses better meet mental health challenges during such troubled times.
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) in India employs more than 20,000 people. When the lockdown was announced,
, Executive Director of HUL, Human Resources, At first I thought “this isn’t that big of a deal, it’s going to go away soon.”
“Famous Last Words! When things were at their peak in early April, it was really going from a place of leadership where I knew my playing field and what I was doing to a complete breakdown where I had clarity had to give and guidance for people when I was feeling insecure and insecure, ”says Razdan as he looks back.
At HUL, she says, the biggest challenge, in addition to maintaining supplies of essential goods and operations, was making sure the frontline sales force and those in the factories felt safe enough to get to work and go back to production to record.
At the inaugural Talk Your Heart Out webinar, hosted by ETPanache Digital in partnership with Johnson & Johnson, corporate governance and mental health experts agreed that compassion and consideration can help businesses address mental health challenges during such troubled times better to master.
“In the early days, most of the employees told us that initially they really struggled with no physical presence and didn’t see each other because so much of our culture is about belonging. Then of course people juggled housework, homework and kitchen chores minus help and had to deal with their own fears, ”she adds.
At HUL, almost 54 percent of the workforce consists of the thousand-year lot, an average of less than 34 years. Razdan points out that many of them actually spoke about the challenge of living alone and experiencing isolation, being cut off from their colleagues and their families.
Choose M for Millennials!
Miles away from Mumbai in India’s technology city Bengaluru,
Nikhil Kamath, Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer of True Beacon, and Zerodha, had a different story to tell. Kamath, whose workforce is almost a thousand years old, recalls that they “were very carefree when the virus came about and we acted as if nothing had changed”.
“When the lockdown occurred, 5 percent of the employees were in the office and the remaining 95 percent were working from home. And while we expected it would be a difficult transition for someone used to working in a professional office environment to suddenly work from their hometown or from home, it was pretty seamless, ” says Kamath.
Kamath, 33, says “Millennials are (a little) more resilient, especially in the face of a pandemic.” And he made it very clear that WFH mode has no impact on productivity, something that many other companies have recognized and recognized as well.
Human capital is important, and social capital can help a company move forward. (Representative image)
“People moved back to their hometowns and started working from home. And the most important learning in the process was that people were more effective and productive working from home, ”says Kamath. In fact, he adds, “We are now at the point where if someone is able to do what they did in a home office setting and do it more effectively, we may not even ask them to ever come back . ”
Adaptation to a new order
After more than two decades in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries
Sarthak Ranade, Managing Director of Janssen Indiasays that while he was aware of the impact of the coronavirus, he needed to make sure the organization quickly adapted to the scenario that was playing out and allowed employees to transition seamlessly to a WFH model.
“As an organization, we adapted very quickly. Perhaps in just two or three days the entire IT team was up there helping people remotely adapt to working from home and giving them the support they needed. So I was particularly impressed by the agility that is evident in this changing environment, ”says Ranade.
When companies discovered agility, they also recognized the need to stay connected during the pandemic. Ranade agrees with Razdan, saying, “Even as leaders, each of us has gone through these different emotions – loss of control or uncertainty about when this will end.”
He added that almost every two weeks he ran several town halls – large gatherings of 400 to 500 people – to “calm the staff down, talk to them, and give them directions and directions”.
“Personally, I have benefited a lot from not only building large town halls, but also connecting individually to people in smaller groups. I think it’s very important to lead with compassion and empathy during this time and really listen to people what they are going through, ”says Ranade.
“All leaders at every level in Johnson and Johnson went out of their way to provide comfort and safety to employees, to listen to them and to help those in need. I would say there are many ways of holding hands that have helped us navigate this crisis, ”he adds.
At HUL, Razdan says that in addition to doing a pulse check to get a glimpse of how people really felt, they also circulated a 10-15 questionnaire asking if the person ate right and was in was able to draw work. Life limits etc.
“Be honest, stay connected”
Shekhar Saxena from Geneva, Professor of Global Mental Health at Harvard Chan School of Public Healthbelieves the Indian company was forced to acknowledge the “importance of mental health and wellbeing” that has now come to the fore due to the added stress of the pandemic.
“For a long time we have treated mental health as a binary divide between some people with a mental disorder and others who don’t. Reality is not that simple – and what we have now realized is important for all of us, ”he said of Zoom when he came from Geneva.
Saxena, who has long been associated with the mental health advocacy, says it is important to invest in our own mental health and that of our families and colleagues. He also believes that the right way of communicating plays a huge role in spreading awareness.
“Communication, whether from a government to its citizens or from a CEO to employees, is important. It should be timely, accurate, credible, and comprehensive. Whether it’s an email, a phone call, or some other method, leaders need to connect with people – this is the greatest preventive measure we can take to maintain good mental health and wellbeing for ourselves to reach for oneself and for others, “says the professor.
In this changed climate, managers also have to rewrite certain rules. If empathy and compassion have helped strike a chord, an honest and transparent dialogue also helps those in power in such turbulent times, he feels.
“Even if you are not sure what will come tomorrow, let’s be honest and connect. And that’s the best strategy for leaders. And I think a lot of them did that and with great profits. I think this is the time to learn and it is time to act to protect our sanity for now and for the future, ”says Saxena.
Upon deregistering, the message was clear: human capital is important, and social capital can help a company move forward. And good business leaders will be those who are able to combine empathy and compassion with agility and resilience in equal measure.
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