Sandeep Vaswani on The People Manager’s Role in Employee Well-Being

The People Manager's role in employee well-being

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.


In addition to being the Director and Leader of People & Organization Consulting in the business advisory behemoth PKC Advisory, Sandeep is a renowned wellness coach and mental health expert. 

With a background that extensive, it’s no surprise this episode covers a lot of ground:

  • Sandeep’s journey from doing B.Tech to doing Master’s in HR
  • The most challenging project in his career
  • Obstacles to Change Management in the Public Sector Units.
  • Working in Bhutan vs India
  • Humans as social animals
  • Finding your business’ future leaders

Listen to the full episode or read on for highlights from the episode.

GUEST AT A GLANCE

Name: Sandeep Vaswani

What he does: Director & Leader – People & Organization Consulting (Global Markets) at PKC advisory.
A mental health trainer associated voluntarily with the Art of Living for more than 18 years.

Find him on the web: LinkedIn

Get smart: If you learn to maintain your energy levels throughout the day, your productivity and the ability to take up more challenges increases. That’s what defines the professional roadside. Your professional growth is defined by, “ Are you ready to take on complexity? If yes, only then will your seniors or management invest in you.

TOP TAKEAWAY

Look after yourself so you can look after others

We generally don’t prioritize looking after ourselves over our professional commitments. But, in order to look after others in the long term, we definitely have to look out for ourselves in the short term.

Support your employees through crisis

As HR professionals, we need to be role models for the employees in the organisation. Especially during this difficult time, all of us have to be pillars of support for each other. Don’t let yourself solely be a resource for hiring and firing.  Employees are going through anxious times. Support them and become a strategic partner in decision making.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

Sandeep completed his Bachelor in Technology from the National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur. Soon after his graduation, he decided to pursue a Post Graduate Programme in Human Resources at Management Development Institute. This is how his journey in Human Resources began.

While studying, he was also volunteering with ‘the Art of Living’ foundation, where he guided people in meditation and kept their stress at bay. Sandeep shared that this journey personally helped him in dealing with people, complex situations, and taking up more challenges in life.

On the contrary, it all came down to be a nightmare in 2009 when the financial crisis struck. With the Lehman Brothers coming and crashing in, financial markets went in for a toss all over the world. This definitely took a toll on the campus hiring affecting their batch placements as well.

In his first-ever stint, Sandeep joined Trident Group, a manufacturing company in Ludhiana as a Deputy Manager. He found some great opportunities to learn about the manufacturing processes. Right after this short stint with Trident Group, he joined Essar Group as Manager.

After landing in PWC, he has been leading large-scale engagement practices across various functions and industries.

A client whose CEO didn’t show up

Sandeep shared the most challenging project of his career.

He went for a meeting with his client where he had to discuss their redesigned manpower planning. As soon as his team started the presentation, the CEO of the organization said that we need to check if the union leaders of the company are on board with this plan. For this, we had to present in front of the union leaders with the presence of the CEO.

The CEO had promised that he would join the meeting, however, he did not show up. Sandeep with his team was presented to about 80 union leaders without the CEO.

This overall was a tricky situation where resilience was required as the union leaders weren’t happy with the presentation as we were discussing downsizing the workforce.

My goal was to get myself and my team out of that meeting room because they were all over.

Success and potential obstacles to change management in the Public Sector units

Sandeep mentions the challenges of working in Public Sector Units. PSUs challenge their employees’ understanding regarding what they have learned so far. They will make sure that every penny they pay is delivered.

He further explains his experience while implementing large change management projects at a couple of PSUs. It was challenging to change the mindsets of people working there and implement whatever he learned in the theory of change management. However,  this opportunity allowed him to implement things on the ground.

Currently, the HR functions at PSU are evolving and adapting HR technologies best in class practices.

Work culture in Bhutan vs India

Sandeep worked in Bhutan for one of his clients.

The two very striking things that came across Bhutan as a country are:

  1. Happiness Index: Termed as the ‘happiest country in Asia, Bhutan is extremely particular about making sure the happiness index of the organizations is high too.  This, in turn, can be a significant reason behind their national happiness index. 
  2. Employee Engagement: In order to maintain their happiness index, they focus on employee engagement equally. 

Bhutan is one country where people have accepted spirituality as their way of life. They meditate, go to monasteries and have made this a part of their daily lives. 

Sandeep felt that having worked in India across sectors, it would be difficult for him to adjust to Bhutan. However, he was surprised to see the professionalism that the people of Bhutan possess.

Employees in Bhutan are given spaces to pray and separate times to visit temples or monasteries. Buddha’s quotes relevant to work-life are placed in the workplace to motivate the employees. They have created their work environment in a way best suitable for their employees without impacting productivity levels. 

Sandeep compares this kind of work culture with the same of India He feels that here, people are prejudiced against this concept and thinking that this is something which will make them old fashioned.

However, a lot of things have been changing since the onset of the pandemic. Organizations have started looking over their employees’ mental health and giving it enough importance.

Humans are designed as social animals

Sandeep agrees to the fact that remote work provides a lot more flexibility. However, doing it continuously gives room to fatigue. Humans need face to face interactions for maintaining their productivity. Working fully remote is not viable as a default solution. Thus, companies should opt for a hybrid model as the way for the future of work.

How to select leaders for your business

Different organisations have different ways of choosing their leaders. A lot of them use a combination of their performance management system and their identified potential.

For measuring the employees’ potential and competencies, there are various tools and exercises that organisations prefer. While hiring, organizations need to understand- ‘where does the person stand in the behavioural parameters we want to see in our leaders?’

Now, based on the assessments, organisations create a talent pool of leaders who are eligible to be leaders of the business in future. After identifying them, there are various initiatives that are put in.  Coaching is one such initiative where organizations have one to one sessions with the upcoming leaders. 

Priya Bhatt

I cover Employee stories at Springworks.

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