Health & Wellbeing

Aug 17, 2021 10 min read

CHETNA: Personal Connect during COVID 19

It was Monday morning but Rajat had no Monday blues, at once with the WhatsApp beep he got up, half asleep opened the door, with half eyes opened searched for the newspaper and milk packet, but found none to his avail. Rajat told himself These are lockdown blues, won't get any newspaper or fresh milk until this COVID situation ends'. Rajat made black tea and got ready for his work. He is the Location In-charge of Ajmer LPG Plant. The young vibrant Rajat who was known for his fun loving and jolly attitude had worn silence on his face, the empty roads and closed shops added to the hollowness that the COVID 19 pandemic has created. He looked at the Plant from his cabin's window and could not recognize from so far who was working in the shift as everyone was wearing a mask. Even the carousal's noise could be feebly felt.

The sun was at its full beam, when his mobile rang. It was Chanchal on the other side, the Zonal HR Head of North West Region. He was surprised to see Chanchal's call as she normally prefers to get work done through mails. Rajat got apprehensive while picking up the call. Chanchal requested Rajat if he can spare two minutes for talking. With Rajat's nod to go ahead, she first appreciated him for ensuring that the Plant was running at full capacity while the entire nation was under lockdown. Rajat very confidently shared the production statistics but his voice missed something. He was firm and committed yet not happy, the ecstasy with which he interacted was missing. So Chanchal asked him Are you worried about something, if something is bothering you, you may share with me' for which Rajat answered that his parents were alone in Lucknow. He was feeling intensely worried about them as their neighbors were tested Covid positive. Chanchal listened to him very patiently and tried boosting him by saying Request them to follow all the COVID protocols, they will be all fine, do you want me to talk to them?'

Rajat also shared that he feels for his workers, most of their families were staying in their native places; he was responsible for their health and wellbeing. Chanchal added that the organization is very supportive and that together they will ensure that they don't keep any stone unturned if the situation demands. Finally towards the closure of the call Chanchal felt that Rajat had a smile on his face and he did thank her for calling. Just before ending the call, he asked the reason for the call to which she said I called to know if you are doing fine or not'!!

Rajat would certainly be thinking that why would HR call without any purpose. But that was the fact. Chanchal realized that having an encouraging conversation really helps to pep up people around you and especially in COVID times when it feels that the world has disappeared below the ocean. These personal calls do make a difference.

This is the essence of Chetna", a unique initiative that the team HR of HPCL had implemented, as a part of which the team of 200 HR Officers called all the 9300 odd employees to understand their personal wellbeing. However, these conversations were not the regular ones; they had a different flavor of humanity.

The Wheel of Emotions

It is understood that human beings are a capable of experiencing over 34000 distinguishable emotions. The range of emotional upheaval that our people will encounter in the face of stress and threat is vast. The categorization of 8 basic emotions made by renowned Psychologist Robert Plutchik, also emphasized that the combination of various emotions at different degrees gives rise to further numerous emotions, much like the colors in a color wheel leading to numerous possibilities.

Fight Vs Flight: The fear unknown

The bigger problem was not Covid-19; each and every associated staff member was getting churned through various emotions from being anxious, stressed, fearful and remote. Everyone's Mind was hijacked by the fear of being infected and isolated. Who would want to risk their life? In this situation, how do we ensure that the required staff comes to work safely and goes back home safely? How do we ensure that the business happens in an uninterrupted manner? How do we enable our people to handle these overpowering emotions? How do we address the fears of our people that they will have to overcome and step out of their homes during the corona war? Without any physical connect, with social distancing norms, how do we engage them?

There is extreme sensitivity attached to conversations especially through HR. Specifically for organizations that fall in the category of Essential Services", where the employees, the contract workmen and the extended staff have to necessarily attend duties even in face of extremities, such conversations play a major role in boosting the morale of the employees and enforcing the belief that the organization will stand by them in their hours of need.

From Personnel to Personal

The program Chetna' meaning Consciousness was launched in June 2020 by HPCL HR as a part of its response strategy to challenges faced by the Employees and Corporation. Amongst its multiple meanings, Chetna' or Consciousness means a state of being aware of and being responsive to the surroundings.

The objective of Chetna is to enable the team HR to engage in proactive conversations with all employees to create awareness, show our genuine concern and empathy, and listen to the fears and apprehensions of the employees. In short, to help them express themselves. The conversation was envisaged as an informal, friendly and personal conversation with each individual employee of the Corporation.

Thus we mapped all the 200 HR Officers to our 9,300 workforce and ensured that a one on one call was personally made to every employee to understand their wellbeing and concerns if any. A proper structure was put to this conversation and HR Officers were educated on making this call effective. This conversation was captured on an online platform and cases that were identified as critical were shared for immediate action. Also cases where people were found mentally stressed were routed to Paramarsh, our platform for consulting with trained psychologists.

While the employees felt happy, surprised, delighted and being cared for, HR Officers themselves developed more ownership for their people. They were one point contact for all the concerns of their employees. A sense of togetherness was reinforced. The belief in HPCL as a family was strengthened. Team HR and all the employees felt empowered and special.


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