How companies braced for a reset in pandemic times
While the year 2020 was a washout due to the severe disruption brought about by the global pandemic, the year 2021 saw businesses fighting back to brush off the pandemic effects and redraw a new success graph. Amid challenges, we have seen the industry show remarkable resilience, and though the devastating effects of COVID-19 – the large number of deaths, jobs lost, salaries drastically cut, businesses shutting down, long periods of being confined to homes – stunned all, there have been greenshoots of optimism.
We saw people and businesses transition to digital, almost overnight. People are quickly adapting to the restrictions and learning to make do with what they got and leading their lives on digital – be it shopping, networking, content consumption, financial transactions, working, studying.
Adgully returned with another edition of its marquee Twitter Chat #GullyChat property. This edition of GullyChat that took place on December 29, 2021 focused on ‘Charting a fresh growth story amid the market resilience’. The esteemed panellists included:
Bhaskar Majumdar, Head - Corporate Affairs, Communication, CSR & Digital, Egis India
Esha Nagar, Managing Director, Nepa India
Sidharth Singh, Co-Founder, CupShup
Udit Verma, CMO & Co- Founder, Trackier
Vartika Verma, Global VP, Marketing, Yellow.ai
How are you fighting back the pandemic effects and thriving – both on the professional front and at a personal level?
Commencing the discussions, Bhaskar Majumdar said, “Concern for the #wellbeing of your workforce isn’t just about duty of care – it’s a #business #imperative. If humanity is to thrive, we must remember that we are one; lessons from the pandemic are the principles for tomorrow.”
He further said, “The current global health crisis also reminds us that what affects the human family has to be addressed by all of us. We need to take #mentalhealth seriously and learning is that we have the capacity for #resilience. #Flexibility has always been a #business #advantage, but it will now be critical to #survival. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how interdependent we are: what happens to one person can soon affect many others, even on the far side of our planet.”
Trackier’s Udit Verma remarked, “I have learned how to be empathetic and, at the same time, be highly engaged and fact-based in my actions. COVID-19 has been an epic test of character and determination and for business owners, the ultimate leadership test. It was particularly hard to show deliberate calm and bounded optimism, especially knowing that people were looking to me for direction.”
“On a personal level, I have learned that it is fine to admit when I feel powerless or unprepared and ask for help. I have a newfound sense of gratitude and have been working on being kinder to myself,” he added.
CupShup’s Sidharth Singh observed, “While the stories of resilience are plenty around us in these trying times, I think what we must talk about is the need to get down from the running wheel from time to time we detach ourselves and evaluate the situation as it is and not how we would like or predict it to be. As we knock on the doors of 2022, let’s pick up the lessons that the dark alley of this year has taught.”
Adding further, he explained, “We utilised and doubled down on our efforts on digital and integrated tech in the offline division for better RoI for our clients, which proved to be a game-changer for us and is our next growth frontier. At a personal level, you need to make peace with being a laggard.”
Yellow.ai’s Vartika Verma noted, “At @yellowdotai, we look at every decision from the lens of 3Cs winning – Customers, Colleagues and Company. This became even more powerful during WFH, where everyone was empowered to make decisions, move fast, keeping in mind all stakeholders.”
“It is only with decentralised decision-making, keeping the company values at the core, that we were able to create winning stories, against all odds, all through the pandemic, across 6 offices around the world and 60+ countries that our product serves,” she added.
Verma further said, “On a personal front, I’ve hired the best team members & empowered them to run the show. With authority, accountability & responsibility resting with each member, across seniority, the outcomes have surpassed what I’d have been able to achieve alone. I’ve also been more mindful of my screen-time and I’ve created short spans of ‘me time’ during the day and put it up on my official calendar. Some of the blocked hours are dog-walk, lunch, & reading time. This has helped me retain my enthusiasm!”
Nepa India’s Esha Nagar observed, “On the professional front, it has been adaptation agility and constant discussions around rethinking how we work and what we value. At a personal level, getting back in sync with nature has helped. By embracing the relationship with the ecosystem.”
What steps have you been taking on a sustained basis to keep your team motivated and keep their performance levels high amid all these struggles?
Yellow.ai’s Verma noted, “The motivation had to start from within – with a 360 degree change in working style to a change in the mindset. I remember @RaghuRavinutala giving an all-hands talk about how he has braced a reset like this before and the only thing that would matter is having a positive outlook.”
“As a company, we had to figure ways to imbibe the company culture where more than 50% of our workforce was new. In all of this, consistent and engaging communication was key. We constantly reassured all our teams about the various ways in which we would support them,” she added.
According to Udit Verma, “I have found out that being compassionate in every decision that you make is all you need to do. And finally, I am focussing on training my team for crisis leadership. The level of speed at which the situation for an individual can change has skyrocketed. Defining priorities has helped me make quick decisions with conviction. And employee safety and care have been on the top of the list since the start of the pandemic.”
He further said, “I figured that my team is going through more or less the same circumstances and distractions that I am going through so I mapped out things that motivate me and tried getting them on the same wavelength. I make sure to connect with individual team members on a personal level and have team calls where people can share their states of mind along with the week’s highlights and low points.”
Majumdar felt, “Post #Lockdown, the importance of #internalCommunication & #employeeengagement has increased multifold. A more ‘human-centred’ approach to workforce management is needed. #Communication is key #Positive but #realistic #messages...Be #Consistent...Be #Relevant... #Listen. Consistent #engagement on #socialmedia are basics of #engagement nowadays.”
Nagar advised, “Communicate a whole lot more. Be creative together and faster; breathe culture in everything. We created our first culture book in December 2020, so we all were chasing the same North Star in the virtual world at both individual & company level.”
Singh noted, “The core of any HR practice has to be empathy and compassion. Through trying times, we ensured that the management is always accessible and despite WFH, we encourage our team to keep a clear distinction between personal and professional commitments.”
“Performance remains a function of belongingness that an employee feels towards the organisation and we kept everyone aware of our vision to make them stakeholders to our future,” he added.
Follow the entire discussion here: