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5 Takeaways from HR Leaders on Agility,  Diversity & Inclusion, and Productivity in the 2020 Workplace

The 2020 workplace is as unique and unprecedented as it gets. Being caught without warning raised several logistical and procedural changes for employees and the HR alike, but also presented us with a unique opportunity to adapt, improvise, and evolve! We were proud to host Tanmaya Jain, CEO inFeedo, Sonia Fernandes, CHRO MediaCom, and Rajeev Bhardwaj, CHRO Sun Life Insurance for an HR power panel on the three key tenets of the 2020 Workplace: Innovation, Agility, and Productivity.


Here are our top 5 takeaways from this killer panel:


#1 Keep Reinventing Engagement with Technology to Innovate and Be Agile

Before COVID-19 there were already discussions about the future of the gig economy and remote workforces, but this drastic disruption has put these conversations on fast forward. Fortunately, Rajeev and Sonia have utilized Amber, our AI chatbot, and employee engagement platform, to keep up with an ever-changing world of work. New technologies can help bring the gap of remote work, as our leaders have proved with their success! “We are a 150-year-old insurance company and our process has always been centered on connecting with the client one on one. But that came to a total standstill in the last 3-4 months. So we came out with a virtual office where a client can reach out and ask questions without interacting in person!,” said Rajeev.

Organizations being driven by both external and internal stimuli should focus on both employees and customers to talk the language that resonates with them, and tech is the best way to drive this. Adding to the same narrative, Sonia shared her experience with Amber, ”We were faced with a crisis in terms of driving engagement at work and Amber solved that beautifully for us. Now we look forward to scaling the solution and driving more impact because it resonates with our people who have been very receptive towards it.”


#2 Harness a Crisis to Think Outside the Box and Shake Up Existing Processes

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Agile innovation while working remotely can only be driven from the ground up. Tanmaya shared this awesome reality-possibility matrix to help us understand the topic a bit better, listen to him explain in-depth in the full recording; you don’t want to miss it! In his own words, “A crisis actually forces you to do the unthinkable and realize there is a possibility out of that.” During BAU a large enterprise might have no way to drive agility and innovation in the whole unit. So having teams focused on experimentation and learning from failure can work wonders. “This team is okay with failure. Because ironically, it is the crisis of failure that forces you to innovate,” Tanmaya added.


#3 Practice Radical Candor to Foster Employee Growth with Constructive Feedback

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Radical Candor is the sweet spot between obnoxious aggression and ruinous empathy. So should we challenge our peers in the team directly or do we empathize with them? Well, by achieving a balance of the two a manager can both simulate their team members intellectually while understanding their emotions and practicing active empathy. It’s the best way to drive innovation and improve employee experience because empathy and agility are two key levers in establishing an employee-first organizational culture.


#4 Prioritize Teaching Empathy to Keep Mental Health Levels High during Crisis 


“Most of the employees have been thrust into a situation which is very unfamiliar. At any time, only 5-10% of people would work remotely while 90+% would be in the office, but the situation is very different today,” shared Rajeev. We didn’t volunteer to work from home, but it’s a reality of current circumstances and the socially responsible thing to do. A lot of employees don’t have conducive setups for success at home. A high stress, low control environment like this demands new and better coaching methods for the managers to develop the necessary hard and soft skills. Productivity is a direct outcome of both mental and physical aspects of an employee’s health, and a culture of organizational transparency. In times like this a renewed focus on employee wellbeing, cultural transparency, and cadence of regular communication is key. As Asia is a high touch, high context system, the engagement styles, and coping mechanisms found here are very different. “There can be nothing called over communication in a scenario like this because you never know when someone is picking it up,” Rajeev added.


#5 Hold Every Leader Accountable to Ensure Diversity and Inclusion



HR’s efforts to facilitate diversity and inclusion, employee wellbeing, and agile thinking are well documented, but they’re obviously difficult topics to crack. In Sonia’s eyes, “Structural issues like D&I, wellbeing, and equity, demand structural solutions.” When presented with a unique situation like this, we must remember to build on the work done on the D&I front so far. Every single person from the leadership to the last employee in the corporate hierarchy is responsible when it comes to facilitating inclusion at work. Diversity strategies aren’t just diversity strategies, they are business strategies. Zero tolerance to any kind of discrimination should permeate all hiring, training, and career progression initiatives. All of these efforts lead to higher retention in the organization and prevent talent loss by as much as 82% high flight risk people as observed in the case of MediaCom. “Amber’s innovation-driven services, along with our D&I framework have had a huge role to play” shared Sonia.

The raw passion and personal anecdotes about difficulties faced in the workplace shared by our panelists blew us away. Honesty and transparency are tenets all organizations should subscribe to, and it’s abundantly clear that Rajeev and Sonia have put them in place at their organizations. So cheers to our employee-first leaders of the future; the time to reinvent the modern workplace is here. 



Akanksha Tanwar
Akanksha Tanwar
Brand Marketing Intern at inFeedo.com

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