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Engaging Employees Through New Experiences During the Pandemic.

5 min read

The Covid-19 pandemic not only brought about challenges that were complicated but also those which were unknown. There was no How-To-Guide to deal with this pandemic. Especially when it came to the employers and employees, everyone was thrown into a world of chaos. HR had to figure new ways to keep the organization up and running, all the while supporting the employees’ mental and physical health.

According to a recent survey, 43% of HR professionals believe the role of HR had changed because of the pandemic, with the majority saying it had become more challenging. As everyone was getting adjusted to the new normal, the role of HR had fundamentally changed.

We spoke to a few from the Tanla team who have been driving what is best for the organization. Here’s what they had to say:

Saravanan P

Saravanan has been in Tanla since 2019. Starting off as HRBP, he then moved into HR Operations and is currently managing the payroll for all Tanla entities. Saravanan says, “When the Covid-19 news hit in March 2020, nobody expected it to be here for such a prolonged period. Starting off with a 2-week work-from-home, the plan was extended due to the lockdown. Microsoft Teams was set up for all employees along with its training for the sudden switch to virtual communication. Although the entire process was difficult, each of the employees adapted to it quickly. Even after the offices have now opened, we have stuck to a few online activities like employee onboarding, vendor onboarding, attendance & leave management, filing employee details, etc. which we followed during the pandemic.”

This was just the operational side of getting on with the pandemic. He further adds, “Our main concern was to keep the employees motivated and not let them get affected with everything happening around them. The CHRO along with the entire HR team would regularly stay in touch with all the employees through phone calls and Teams meetings to ensure support. Our CEO and the CHRO would address the employees periodically with company updates. In fact, we had set up calls for the CHRO with around 20 employees each day to ensure all employees feel connected and involved with the organization. The WFH set-up & internet allowance was introduced to enable employees to set-up a conducive ergonomic workstation at home.”

“All this while, the HR team was learning on the go. From managing our teams across the Tanla entities to ensuring the smooth operation across the organization and revising multiple policies for the benefit of the employees, we have learned a great deal.”

Paul Daniel

Paul has been with Tanla for over a year now. Joining as the Head of Talent Acquisition, eventually, he started managing other HR projects primarily Performance Management, Employee Satisfaction Survey, and HRMS implementations. He says, “With a comparatively smaller team, I got an opportunity to cover a wide range of activities alongside Talent Acquisition. Having joined during the pandemic myself, I was sceptical as to how well would I settle in during my first 90 days and how much more effort would I need to put in for a virtual onboarding, but everything panned out well.”

Talking about recruitment, prior to the pandemic, Tanla would be calling a pool of around 300-350 freshers and conducting a test and interviews. Conducting a virtual fresher recruitment drive was a first of its kind for Tanla. The prospects had to be assessed virtually and the final 15 who were spread across the country were onboarded using new-age techniques.

During this last 1 year at Tanla, Paul has already recruited around 300 new employees taking the strength to almost double of what it was when he had joined. “It was challenging to enable the entire process without meeting the candidates in person. As a Talent Recruiter, meeting the prospects face-to-face is something I miss the most. Especially when it came to hiring senior leaders who would be taking Tanla to new heights.”

Uma Singh

Uma joined Tanla in April 2021 when the second wave had just started. She joined as the regional human resource business HR, majorly handling the CBO business for Mumbai and Gurgaon along with heading Learning and Development for the company.\

Uma says that an HR department usually has had a very difficult role to play, even prior to the pandemic. She says, “The first initiative I took as the head of the COVID Task Force team was introducing the COVID Fund which provided rupees two lakhs to those employees who required the amount for treatment. From coordinating with the finance teams for payment approvals to booking hospital beds for the employees, we have provided support throughout. Our Task Force members even flew down to different cities to deliver oxygen concentrators and certain drugs across all our office locations in record time. We conducted a vaccination drive for our employees and their dependents for both doses. 80% employees are now fully vaccinated and the remaining 20% would be fully vaccinated in the coming few months.”

“What I realized during the pandemic is that communication with the employees is the key. The weekly communication to employees – mainly Covid alerts, the WhatsApp Chatbot for Covid support helped us build trust amongst the employees who also started reaching out to us for support. With the purpose of engaging and connecting with the employees on a lighter note, especially the 300 new Tanlaites who joined during the pandemic, we introduced the Funtastic Fridays. A few other engagement programs that are underway are the L&D program and the R&R program ( already launched), which will benefit the employees and encourage them to perform.”

Suman Thatipamula

Suman joined Tanla in March 2021 as People’s HR and Business Enabler. He is a change manager, whose major role would be developing strategies for employee retention, and employee engagement.

“One of my major responsibilities during the pandemic was to effectively enable the processes as employees started working from home. We streamlined processes and workflows by reducing the number of designations from 235 to 104 and the number of department divisions from 78 to 44. Post this, the HRMS portal was introduced which would become the one-stop solution for all employees - be it their documentation, performance management, leave management, L&D or certifications. The HRMS aimed to transform colleague experiences by empowering them to communicate with ease of use. we also carried out an employee satisfaction survey during the pandemic, which had a participation of 92%. This was essential for us to introduce programs which would improve employee engagement.”

“Operational efficiency was another one of our priorities. But we had to ensure that there was employee readiness, manager readiness and overall organizational readiness before we implemented anything new. We wanted to simplify and at the same time digitize the processes which would otherwise be laborious. Other programs that were introduced during the pandemic were compensation management, ESG initiatives, and a global new employee onboarding program. Our intention was to support employees in their endeavour to not only work towards the organization’s growth but also their personal growth.”

For Tanla, employees have always been at the core of everything we do. That’s why we continue to improve and provide what is best for Tanlaites.

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