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#FightBackCorona: Be ready to take some tough decisions - Deepshikha Dharmaraj

These are extraordinary times and we all are in uncharted territory. There is a lot of fear and negativity in all spheres due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While the Corona Warriors are doing a tremendous job fighting from the frontlines, we at Adgully are embarking on an endeavour to highlight the positive developments during these challenging times.

Adgully is featuring a series of brief interactions with industry leaders in India and find out how they are keeping their spirits up as well as keeping their employees motivated, also how they are joining in the fight against the adverse impact of the global pandemic.

Deepshikha Dharmaraj, Chief Executive Officer, Genesis BCW, speaks at length about how her organisation is helping its workforce navigate the ‘new normal’ confidently, both in terms of their work as well as their overall outlook during the COVID-19 crisis period.

What steps are you and your organisation taking to help out the society at large or those engaged in the war against Covid-19?
In this war, our global BCW purpose is what guides us in everything we do: In a world of exponential change, we are a creative business that solves complex problems by Moving People. We deliver insights, ideas and impact to change what people think, feel and do.

Whether it is through our clients or in how we engage with our people or the larger community, we look at how we can move people. We have been supporting our clients in the work they are doing to support the community in many ways, for example, through creative campaigns for awareness, advocacy, helping those on the frontline, giving people an escape, and helping people navigate life from home. From creating videos demonstrating the best way to wear personal protective equipment to messaging for crisis communications and busting myths, to organising online concerts, our teams are standing should-to-shoulder with our clients as they ramp up their efforts during this crisis.

On our end at Genesis BCW, we are actively encouraging our people to contribute to support the community in individual capacities, both directly or through WPP India, as part of an employee contribution programme that has been rolled out to support migrant labour and frontline workers. Our community initiative, “Because, It Matters”, launched last year, gives our people one day annual leave each year to volunteer for a cause they support. This year, it is unsurprising that the programme is focused on the COVID-19 fight.

How are you keeping your employees motivated and are encouraging them to give their best, even as they are working from home?
We are equipping our people with the tools and training to help them navigate the ‘new normal’ confidently, both in terms of their work as well as their overall outlook during this period. At the global level, BCW runs the Smart Working initiative, which provides our people with insights, tools and resources to help themdo their best work from wherever they may be.

There are three aspects of Smart Working:

Tools and Resources: Including the technology, the training and the information to be able to manage remote working.

Best Practices for Collaboration: This includes tips and advice – from experts and colleagues who have already been working from a distance – to manage client relationships and engagement from where they are.

Mindset: Guidance on how to convert frustration and helplessness into possibility and potential by adopting a growth mindset, while managing oneself with a certain sense of balance between work and home responsibilities.

At the local level, we have been running our in-house training programmes as well as regular team huddles and informal meet-ups. Our closed Facebook group has also been active with internal campaigns, teams sharing their best work and just helping each other out. Our community initiative, ‘Because, It Matters’, has also given our people a sense of being able to actively help people instead of just worrying about the situation.

Technology, obviously, has been a huge enabler in all of this. Everyone in our organisation is on Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp groups, our intranet and other virtual collaborative platforms. Besides helping us manage work, these platforms have also given our people access to mental health support as well as opportunities to let their hair down. Recently, WPP India conducted a virtual concert for all its employees with the musician duo Sachin-Jigar performing popular Hindi film songs.

What is most needed in challenging times such as these:

(a)  From the general public

  • The first thing is, of course, stay at home. The lockdown may seem unending, but our behaviour change is the only way to deal with it.
  • Find ways to stay positive – read, work out, cook, listen to music, meditate, watch movies – whatever works for you. Stay connected with your friends and family.
  • Don’t fall for or spread rumours. There is a lot for everyone to deal with without adding unnecessary confusion or anxiety to the mix.
  • Support the frontline workers – essentials suppliers and healthcare workers – in whatever way you can.
  • Support the larger community, like migrant workers, domestic helpers, the elderly and many others to whom this crisis is especially trying.

(b)  From business leaders

  • This situation is a true test of leadership, but you have to start with yourself first. Staying positive, focused and upbeat yourself will ripple out the sentiment to everyone else.
  • Next, you have to focus on your own people first. How do you support them, help them not just meet this challenge but beat it, too. From their morale to their physical health and their productivity, you are responsible for all of it. Being transparent, open and compassionate in your decision-making will lead to a more loyal workforce, even when the decision isn’t pleasant.
  • Be ready to take some tough decisions even if they may not make you popular in the short term. While being open to change and discussions is crucial, this is not the time to be vague and confused, people expect clarity from their leaders.
  • Multi-stakeholder communications is the order of the day. From partners to customers, the industry to the community, as a leader you have to stay engaged with all of them to ensure stronger relationships. And relationships are the only way to help you tide over the crisis.
  • Last, but in no means the least, stay ahead of the curveand prepare for the recovery. Only if you are prepared will the recovery be smooth.

If you stay positive in a negative situation, you win.


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