#FightBackCorona: Businesses need to empathise & communicate clearly: Rohan Mehta

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. 

Rohan Mehta, CEO, Kinnect, humanitarian and firm strategy is the need of the hour as organisations are beginning to feel the real impact of the lockdown, the tremendous pressure on the economy, as well as the strains on the workforce confined to their homes and insecurities coming to the fore. 

What steps are you and your organisation taking to help out the society at large or those engaged in the war against COVID-19?

During a crisis like this, we understand that the health and safety of people – be it #Kinnectors or the country at large – is paramount. Hence, we implemented work from home starting on March 16, and have since adhered to the lockdown. At this point, as individuals, the best one could do to help out the society and the frontrunners at war against COVID-19 is by staying at home and only stepping out when extremely necessary. We adhered to social distancing well in advance and optimised our use of technology to communicate remotely.

On the community front, to mitigate the effects of the lockdown on daily-wage workers, we pledged to roll out a response with a focus on immediate humanitarian aid through our #KinnectorsGiveBack initiative. Having identified that daily-wage workers have lost their livelihood and are struggling to make ends meet, we encouraged each #Kinnector to extend immediate help to people around them. All they had to do was donate a certain amount, which will be reimbursed to them once we resume normal operations. 

How are you keeping your employees motivated and are encouraging them to give their best, even as they are working from home?

Luckily at Kinnect, it didn’t take a crisis for us to understand the importance of our employees’ well being. As part of our #GetALife program that encourages work-life balance, we facilitate one-on-one sessions with a mental health professional on a bi-weekly basis. An external professional conducts these sessions, and we ensure confidentiality. Keeping in mind the situation, in the last month and this month the sessions will be conducted on call/ video calls.

We also understand that during a crisis like this, it is common for everyone to experience increased levels of distress and anxiety, particularly as a result of social isolation. All leadership is mandated to do team catch-up calls every day, preferably starting the day with a video call. Thus, enabling them to stay connected and build better team relationships. We also have a designated team that reaches out to Kinnectors, and discusses at length about their health and work from home scenarios. I make sure to interact with the leadership on a weekly basis, and keep myself updated about each of their team members’ health.

We also do virtual engagement activities and trainings. We encourage our employees to take up activities or learn a new skill, to grow personally as well as professionally in a time where they might feel stagnant, to cultivate inclusive, connected digital teams that thrive through effective operations. #KinnectFridays are a mainstay as part of the #KinnectCulture. Keeping with our tradition of a monthly #KinnectFriday, we recently did a virtual #KinnectFriday BYOB version, where we had our team members across Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore offices play musical instruments and sing along to uplift spirits.  

What is most needed in challenging times such as these:

(a)  From the general public:

As the situation continues to aggravate, the foremost and the most personal need is to perform hygiene frequently, understand the implications of COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing. The Government is keeping a close watch on this situation, and our determination and patience will play a crucial role in containing its impact. People should also be careful about the information they are accessing and sharing. The Internet is simply a platform for sharing data and doesn’t have any mechanisms for vetting the accuracy or value of the information, hence it is absolutely crucial to think before reacting to or sharing information around the pandemic. The idea is to diffuse panic.

Amid a crisis, helping others can provide a sense of control and empowerment. Engaging in acts of service, and extending help and support to those who may be struggling. One needs to practice empathy to open their mind to what others are experiencing and extend social connectedness that can help combat feelings of isolation.

It is also imperative to follow guidelines suggested by WHO and the Government to minimise the reach of the virus. The current situation also requires an elevated level of humanitarian assistance to the frontline fighters of this war against the pandemic. 

(b) From the authorities:

The authorities are currently doing their best to deal with the pandemic, and I can only imagine how difficult it can get to be in their shoes. The fast-changing situation requires integrated quick response from officials, which means that it should focus on tracking developments on a 24x7 basis for analysing impacts, evaluating options, devising strategies, and review implementations.

We also need to exponentially ramp up the number of tests conducted in the country. While I agree that the lockdown has helped slow down the spread of the virus, we have not yet managed to flatten the curve. This also means that there is an urgent need to upgrade healthcare facilities in order to deal with this crisis better.

I also feel that the actions, precautions, and measures taken by the authorities should be in line with the risks stemming from the economic situation. 

(c)  From business leaders:

At a time like this, business leaders are more important than ever. Amidst growing health and economic concerns, a business leader’s prime responsibility is to assimilate information from multiple sources and decode it in a way that is relevant to his/ her organisation.

While most information that is widely available is generic in nature, it is important to apply the filter of the organisation’s current state and dynamics before building an action plan. Multiple outcome scenarios need to be projected with measures that need to be taken at each eventuality. Looking out for customer confidence signals and drivers is of prime importance, along with trusting gut instinct.

The importance of empathy and clear communication cannot be overstated. Employees’ mental states are more fragile than ever and a reassuring voice might be the best provider of comfort. It also goes a long way in bringing the team to work together in a single cohesive phalanx to battle through the adversity and ensure the best possible outcome within the constraints of the situation.


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