This article is a lightly-edited summary of the key takeaways from our speakers’ appearance on our podcast, “The Shape of Work.” If you haven’t listened to our show yet, be sure to check it out here. These speakers have an incredible stable of startup experiences to draw from, the kind of stories that are unbelievably helpful for HR/people managers to hear.
For today’s episode of “The Shape of Work”, we welcome Apeksha Atal, an HR professional in one of India’s leading fintech companies.
GUEST AT A GLANCE:
Name of the guest: Apeksha Atal
What she does: Strategic Advisor to CEO, Niyo Solutions Inc.
Find her on LinkedIn.
Get Smart: “I think the whole point of engagement is just to kind of create connections between employees and the entity that is the company making it feel like a community.”
In this summary, you will get valuable insights into:
- Significance of Inclusion and Diversity in a company
- Prospects India has over other countries and vice versa
- The biggest challenge HR had to face in the new normal
- Ways to make hybrid work models work effectively
- Performance of startups in the hybrid work model
Apeksha comes from a diverse background. From Science to Journalism to Human Resources, she has covered a wide range of subjects.
Apeksha explains how she had a keen interest in making an impact in the real world through the knowledge she received in the classroom. She made the best use of her school and college days, exploring different areas, working in clubs, and enhancing her creativity.
Significance of Inclusion and Diversity in a company:
Apeksha terms diversity as an idea. According to her, inclusion is the actual action. An organization invites diversity when they focus on inclusion. It is imperative for a business to meet its potential and to reach its goal. This concept is proven by plenty of companies around the world. Moreover, Apeksha explains that maintaining good relations with employees is as important as focusing on business performance. Designing Inclusion and Diversity policies is a difficult task as well. Industries that evolve quickly require creativity and innovations.
Realistic and practical is the key to a sustainable Inclusion and Diversity program. Considering the pandemic, Apeksha observed two opposite practices. A few companies started investing less in these programs to save them for more essential factors. On the other hand, some companies started investing in Inclusion and Diversity more.
And, finally, a few companies are more focused on working towards employee well-being. She highlights that due to working from home, interaction with peers is not limited to geographic locations anymore. However, companies need to focus on building relationships through proximity and frequency at meetings.
They need to develop different ways to engage. Apeksha finds that these tools are extremely powerful if used effectively.
The biggest challenge HR had to face in the new normal:
More than designing strategies, employee engagement has turned out to be a much bigger challenge during the pandemic. Engagement is essential to create a connection between the company and its employees. It is a much easier process when done in person. Currently, we are reliant on email, chats, and other online platforms. Many companies are trying regular surveys, team building competitions, guest speaking, and other ways to reach this target. However, most HR professionals are experimenting constantly.
Prospects India has over other countries and vice versa:
Apeksha described working in Thailand as working with a family. Her peers were extremely warm and supportive. They possess a good work-life balance.
In India, with the growing industries, there is an evolving work life. Thus there is a need to put special attention to employee burnout. Companies should look out for the stress and mental health of their employees.
In terms of human capital, HR has immense potential in all countries. HR is paving its way to being a dynamic business driver from a simple support function. It is possible through creativity and innovation. HR is helping employees grow as people, peers, and as professionals.
Ways to make hybrid work models work effectively:
Apeksha is a big fan of flexibility. It opens up opportunities for people who aren’t able to work in offices. It also offers a wider range of talent pool for companies. However, to maintain productivity, people need to be structured and organized. Companies should communicate effectively and frequently. It requires a lot more attention and creativity.
When the situation improves, a meaningful hybrid model would be a great way to achieve progress in the new normal.
How are startups performing in the hybrid model?
A lot of new startups have come up during the pandemic. They have managed to sustain themselves well. The work environment in these startups is generally proactive where everyone is taking up deep investments, ownership, and teamwork. In such a dynamic environment, one is used to problem-solving and adapting irrespective of the pandemic.
Working from home was a challenge when it started. But, now, it has turned out to be beneficial.
However, Apeksha suggests that excess exposure to technology makes employees prone to burnout. Thus focusing on the mental health of employees is very important. If topics like mental health and employee needs are given enough attention, sustainability is up for a good reach.