In this crisis-like COVID situation, health must be a priority for everyone. How do you look at the importance of the health and fitness of employees in a company?
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are faced with an unprecedented situation and this is certainly a challenging time for the government and business leaders. Given the fact that we provide an essential service as per government directives, it was paramount for us to strike the right balance between employee safety and customer-centricity. Even though we had the necessary government permissions to keep our offices open, we decided against this, quite early on. A lot of our employees travel in public transport and the job requires physical interface; we did not want to have scenarios that encouraged or placed our employees in high-risk situations.
We have enabled 100% work from home through systems like Yammer and Microsoft Teams. So far, we have not seen any adverse impact on operations. We are encouraged by the support received from all our employees in transitioning to this completely remote style of working, despite our sector traditionally relying on personal interaction. We also decided on early salary disbursements to ensure employees have adequate monetary ammunition needed to overcome this situation.
A dedicated helpline has been set up for employees. This helpline connects them with a doctor who provides WHO/GOI verified information, quells myths about this disease and guides them during this outbreak. We have also arranged daily meditation sessions with qualified personnel for our employees to manage their mental health. These sessions are being delivered through digital platforms.
These measures have been taken in view of the wellbeing of our employees, their families, our distribution partners, and customers.
Feeling happy in doing your work is crucial. According to you, how important happiness is for employees?
Employee experience is as critical as a customer experience for us. I truly believe that employee satisfaction is directly related to business productivity. Very simply put, your happiness determines your participation in social situations and therefore impacts your productivity, be it personal or professional.
In any organisation, leaders have the onus of fostering happiness among employees and building workplace culture. We, at Edelweiss Tokio Life, believe that for an employee to be happy, he / she must believe that their work is meaningful. Only when one’s role is fulfilling, aligned with organisational goals, contribution being recognised at regular intervals, will employees feel engaged and happy.
For us as a life insurance company, we must create positive employee experiences, not only for the company but also for the sector. The life insurance sector has faced several challenges, in terms of seeing pride or nobility in the profession, and our employee experience is aimed at promoting a holistic positive aura around life insurance as a profession. Those associated with us take pride in impacting lives by virtue of their work for customers, society and building an entrepreneurial distribution network.
As an HR expert, what is that one message you would love to give to HR Leaders in the industry?
The one message I would give to my colleagues is to focus on culture-building initiatives which make employees feel as though they are part of a family. You will see your processes and practices pivot around care with a greater focus on goal alignment, employee well-being, and happiness. This will result in increased employee satisfaction and productivity, which in turn will positively impact business productivity. Most importantly, this will significantly change the way employees feel about working for the organization.
Now is the time to stay technologically ahead, what are the best practices taking place at Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance?
In the context of the current lockdown, Microsoft Teams and VPN connectivity, have really supported us in making a swift transition from offices to remote working across the hierarchy. This transition has been important in maintaining operational capability in a business-crucial quarter. We are witnessing regular cross-functional virtual meetings, with over 200 employees have participated in seamless video calls at one go and conducted business without disruption.
All HR processes during the employee life cycle, are completely digital – be it onboarding, performance evaluation, or off-boarding. Learning journeys have seen a shift from classroom to digital delivery. We are slowly looking at merging all available platforms for our sales and non-sales personnel to encourage easy collaboration and connectivity.
Technology has helped us achieve a critical objective – right selling practices. We have digitally enabled the customer on-boarding process, which includes ‘Vijaypath’ – a need-analysis tool that gives the customer, an overview of their needs and with recommendations that best address those needs.
Do you think will AI will be a disruption for employee engagement or relationship building at workplaces?
AI is already disrupting employee engagement at the workplace, especially globally. Several companies are trying to test waters in terms of AI’s impact on recruitment, employee engagement and more.
We too are experimenting with AI and have recently launched a chatbot for our employees. In the current times, mobility has become crucial and WhatsApp is the easiest form of communication. We are among the first companies to launch an AI chatbot named Risa, on WhatsApp, to serve as a one-stop solution for HR-related issues. This solution is especially important for our branch employees who are always on the move, providing them with easy accessibility and quick resolutions.
We will gradually look at using the chatbot as an employee engagement tool in addition to our current methods, to celebrate company and employee milestones, as well as to communicate important developments.
These tools will only supplement and not replace the basic human connect which is crucial to employee engagement and relationship building.