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4 Ways to Bridge the CFO & CHRO Gap to Survive in COVID-19

A TIME TO SURVIVE? NO! 

A TIME TO THRIVE? OF COURSE. WE ARE NOW FACED WITH AN EXCITING TIME OF UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITY AND INFINITE POSSIBILITIES.


We’ve heard this from the most preeminent minds in the business world.

More and more HR leaders are strategically investing their capital on tools and resources that can help them with actionable insights to tackle the effects of COVID-19 in their organizations. Why? Because your workforce is your most crucial asset to keep your ship afloat and brand your organization as here to stay.

We're lucky to connect with our customers both 1:1 and through our weekly virtual group discussions, to understand how as an organization we can come out on top of this pandemic.

Behram Sabawala, CFO & CHRO at Tata CLiQ, discussed this with us at inFeedo recently and touched on an important topic in the process.

Behram reminded us why not just the business verticals but all support functions as well must work together to navigate this COVID-19 storm smartly by:

  • Keeping employee mental health a priority by communicating meaningfully and regularly
  • Identifying what is critical and what may be cut
  • Continuing to use the tools you need, though cost optimization must come to the fore e.g. signing ironclad contracts that defer payments until the crisis has subsided
  • Ensuring business continuity and high employee morale through on-time performance reviews no matter what

When I asked him "How high of a priority is engagement at this time?" Behram laughed, and said "It was one of our highest priorities before COVID-19, is still one of our highest priorities now, and will continue to be one of our highest priorities moving forward." So, how can you learn from the best about how to keep engagement high during this critical time?

Let’s dive deeper.


Lesson #1

Essentials versus Luxuries: Identify Your Critical Resources

 

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Current SaaS tools in the market have been helping businesses worldwide optimize on costs and improve revenue. In this current economic climate we need to invest smarter by identifying our objectives first and then finding the tools that can help us achieve them. 

Here's how you can break it down...

Tool Type One: Crucial for Current Business Success

It goes without saying that there are tools we absolutely need for day-to-day business operations. Whether that’s your cloud computing servers, remote workforce management tools, or payroll software, they have to stay. How do you differentiate a tool in this bracket? Identify the key business levers this tool is deployed for. If it’s a key sales management tool and is needed to increase customer base for business survival, it has to stay. 

Tool Type Two: Crucial for Employee Wellbeing

Look at the tools from an organizational culture context. If it helps you keep your employees happy, safe, and engaged during the crisis it has to stay. Protecting your employees’ well being now will not only lead to a spike in productivity and company loyalty, but will reap benefits when you’re not scrambling to replace disgruntled employees who left as a result of a lack of perceived care from the company during the crisis. The cost to replace an employee is enormous, so spending smart and being sensible now may help optimize costs down the line. 

Tool Type Three: Used in Paused or Reduced Functions

When it comes to HR, hiring is on pause across global companies during this time. Spending heavily on recruiting tools is illogical at this point. Instead, encourage other department heads to review their functions and identify the ones that have been back-burnered by the crisis. There’s no point in optimizing a business activity that isn’t being focused on when costs are cut.

Tool Type Four: Used as a Luxury not an Absolute Necessity 

These are the vanity tools that in good times can streamline small processes that would otherwise be slightly more complicated. Take advantage of the bandwidth from paused activities and redirect your employees’ focus to doing tasks that these “luxury tools” would do when funds are flowing more regularly.

Check out some must-have tools in the time of COVID-19.

In terms of Behram's inputs, he stated that his team has Microsoft Teams for Tool Type One and Amber for Tool Type Two, and have no immediate plans to add any other services. Using these, Tata CLiQ has posted improved engagement numbers even through the lockdown, as well as boosted productivity scores.

 

Lesson #2

Renegotiate Contract Terms With a Clear Vision of the Future of Work 

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Once you’ve identified the tools you need, it’s important that you do what you can to reduce current overheads. Fortunately, many SaaS companies in this climate are willing to adjust contract terms and help their customers through this pandemic. After all, there would be no business without customers. 

Many firms are also rolling out new products to keep helping their customers. We at inFeedo, recognizing how important employee mental health is, have rolled out a new crisis management product to help track employee sentiment during the crisis with actionable metrics that can help you improve morale, productivity, and culture.

Check it out

 

Lesson #3

Keep Track of Employee Growth for Your Business to Thrive 

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Constant communication and achievable promises of continued growth in the future are key ways to keep employees engaged and maintain high sentiment.

As Behram told us, regular virtual town halls have ensured employee compassion levels are higher than ever. They also actively encouraged employees to return to their homes rather than continue staying alone, even just before the lockdown. Disseminating information from the top down consistently makes employees feel they have a stake in the company and that they have been involved in the decision making process.

Along with encouraging social distancing and WFH at the beginning, Behram told us that his team will continue working from home even after companies are legally allowed to return to office. Rather than rush back to office and in turn risk Tata CLiQ's employees' health and safety, they'd rather continue to build on gains already accrued through the WFH period.

Being recognized for your performance is a huge motivator alongside financial benefits, making performance reviews a key part of maintaining morale. It also shows that the company is expecting better days ahead, and displays confidence that this too shall pass.

At Tata CLiQ, employee performance reviews were conducted as usual. How did Behram and his team ensure transparency and fairness during the process? Simple: they relied on the data they'd gathered throughout the year and methodically reviewed performance as they usually do. Further, Behram encourages companies to be proactive in their reach outs and feedback throughout the year rather than waiting until mid-year / annual reviews to rake up issues. Amber has been that proactive tool for Tata CLiQ, and Behram calls it the "best thing that happened" to Tata CLiQ this year.

 

Lesson #4

Ride out the Storm Together and Emerge Stronger

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Making the right budgetary decisions as the CFO and CHRO now is key to ensure not only survival but future prosperity. Surviving this crisis the right way means making educated cuts to costs, not throwing employees overboard to try and make your budgets. As mentioned before, costs for employee churn are astronomical, so trying to rehire for positions down the line will cost valuable time and money.

At inFeedo, we’ve ensured no one is laid off because of the downturn even if that meant everyone taking pay cuts starting with the CEO. I challenge other leaders to follow their example and these tips on budgeting for necessities over luxuries. The rewards will make themselves readily apparent when the storm blows over, and your employees will stay safe and engaged in the short term.

We'd also like to thank Behram for being a mentor to us here at inFeedo, and bringing his years of experience to the table every time he works with us. 

Check out what leaders are discussing to navigate COVID-19 as a connected community. 


Behram Sabawala
Behram Sabawala
Chief Human Resources Officer at Tata CLiQ | Guest Author at inFeedo

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