Ramesh Alluri Reddy is an industry veteran having held senior leadership roles with Wipro and Cognizant prior to joining Adecco. He comes with over 21 years of experience in Technology thought leadership, expertise in growing independent Business Units, running P&L, sales leadership, delivery management & operations management. His career is spread across multiple regions & geographies in various global roles held in the US, Japan, UK, European Union, Australia and UAE. He has led large teams of consulting and outsourcing professionals focused on providing technology transformation, infrastructure, and cloud services to deliver business value and drive productivity and digital improvements for many Indian clients.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, health and well-being have taken the center stage across all countries. The corporate world is no exception. There is now an increasing realization within the business world that ensuring employees’ happiness is also essential for achieving success. More importantly, a leader’s sense and purpose of achievement are fulfilled when employee well-being is taken care of. There are various strategies to achieve this goal, such as through formal learning and development programs or informal means like encouraging effective collaboration through team get-togethers. Today, we also have access to technology that can be leveraged to accelerate the process and ensure success. In this article, we will see the various tech use cases that can help HR leaders manage employee well-being.
1. Voice of the customer: For HR leaders, employees are akin to their customers. A periodic sense check is critical in tweaking existing policies, creating new ones, and improving the workplace. Technology can aid through various online surveys that not only help collect valuable information, but also in gaining insights and analytics across various employee segments in real-time. Immediate action can be taken by holding a management meeting on the suggested course of action. I can cite an example where there was location-specific feedback from a set of ladies aged between 23–26 who cited dis-satisfaction. This led to an investigation and action against that particular manager. The problem was unearthed due to the feedback received from the quarterly survey.
2. Acknowledging the feedback and measuring the change: Employees feel heard when an HR department welcomes feedback and takes the initiative to gather individual responses. But it is even better to know what changes or new processes have been brought in as a result of the feedback. A relatable example, during this pandemic is when we found ourselves struggling at home while working remotely. With multiple family members attending school or working from home, it became very difficult to manage personal space or access to devices/internet. Consequently, employees asked for some flexibility to accommodate the situation. I have known multiple ways the HR fraternity embraced this feedback and acted sensitively. Some of the innovative solutions that were deployed during this time included:
- Kids were invited to join parents during video calls and this was celebrated.
- Meeting timings were accommodated to meet individual commitments
- Quiet hours were mandated across organizations during certain hours of the day/week to ensure “My time” where others could not intrude.
- Videos of employees on calls during cooking or cleaning their homes were shared and the best video was awarded!
- These initiatives led to increased productivity. This was recognized and made public.
- It is now impossible to imagine what would have happened if we did not have the technology to ensure remote working, gather feedback, and record video calls! The whole economy could have come to a grinding halt.
3. Health is wealth: Employers have always recognized that employee health is of paramount importance. This recognition was further magnified during the last 2 years. The gargantuan advancements in the digital space, such as Big Data, cloud, and web-based technologies, have been instrumental in HR leadership leveraging apps to improve employee well-being. Some employers have started promoting apps where employees can log in their daily workout details. Competitions are set up and months are spent focusing on particular regimes. Some employers incentivized employees and teams by recognizing and rewarding maximum contribution or even donate to charity. There were instances when fitness bands, gym/yoga offline or online memberships, etc. are given across teams during induction. The digital world has transformed the way well-being is emphasized.
4. Mental wellness: In today’s world, there is increasing recognition of the need for mental wellness. Technology provides us access to online therapies for positive thinking, counseling, and dealing with stress. Companies can provide employees anonymous access to a bot buddy that can then suggest an appropriate course of action based on heuristics. There are subscriptions for an online doctor consultation, counseling, and other therapies that go a long way in terms of tackling this issue. Also, the transcripts can trigger immediate alerts to the right leaders, doctors, or even the safety authorities if there are any alarming situations like suicide.
5. Financial stress: When the pandemic started, many people reportedly felt immense financial stress. This is because of fear of loss of job, pay cuts, and rising healthcare costs. Even today when the market has morphed to a supply-led paradigm, the fear of healthcare costs still looms large. Additionally, insurance costs have also shot through the roof. Technology-led staffing has helped as the current applicant-tracking systems and career portals make all job postings transparent and available in real-time. This not only helps the employees view internal openings in real-time and even the society at large due to the security that comes with alternate available options. Apart from this, technology has also provided us with access to online financial counseling through apps with customized financial planning.
6. Community wellbeing: Today, companies encourage their employees to participate in many voluntary activities that help society at large. This includes disseminating education at remote places, holding heath camps, and blood donation initiatives. Health initiatives also can be rendered remotely through wearables and remote monitoring of health on the cloud. Such initiatives give employees a sense of gratification and purpose beyond just normal work-related activities
If we were to look a little ahead, I imagine my digital twin attending interviews, taking classes as part of community service, and providing feedback to the employers! In my opinion, Augmented and virtual reality will make these scenarios real in the near future. All said and done, employee well-being is the most important lever for success with technology acting as a tool in more ways than one could ever imagine.