Aug 25, 2021 9 min read
Leading the Way: HR Initiatives during Pandemic
Gaurav Kumar, HPCL
Gaurav Kumar, HPCL
In these unprecedented times, organisations across the globe have been busy in taking initiatives towards the well-being of their employees, their most precious and irreplaceable assets. From organisation’s point of view, devotion towards its people and the community by extending a never tiring altruistic attitude not only provides satisfaction but also adds purpose and meaning to their efforts. As aptly quoted by Dalai Lama, “True compassion is not just an emotional response, but a firm commitment founded on reason.”
Given the uncertainty during this period of pandemic, businesses can’t be shut down and the show must go on but not at the risk of loss of human capital. This has been the greatest challenge for HR Function of any organisation in the current times. The article articulates how visionary leadership of HR at HPCL has been instrumental in innovating the solutions to not only address the above cited dilemma but also to create significant contributions. .
- The Initiatives
As the old proverb goes “Prevention is better than cure”. Based on this philosophy, the strategy of planning and rolling out of initiatives undertaken by HR had a major thrust on preventive measures. The bouquet of initiatives was studied in depth and can be clubbed into segment-wise grouping as shown in Exhibit 1.
Exhibit 1. Categorization of Employee Oriented Initiatives to combat Covid 19
2.1 Preventive initiatives
Multiple measures were adopted for employee well-being which could help in mitigating the perils of the pandemic. These can be broadly sub-classified into five major domains as illustrated in Exhibit 2.
Exhibit 2. Preventive Initiatives to combat Covid 19
In order to ensure Covid appropriate behaviour, measures were adopted to minimise the exposure duration for the employees. Work From Home (WFH) option was activated and department wise roaster was formulated based on rotational attendance to ensure smooth functioning despite restricted manpower.
Given the novelty of the pandemic, visionary leadership was required in the situation which was ably provided by Director-HR, HPCL. It was equally important to create immediate awareness amongst the employees on any new developments. ED-HR was instrumental in issuance of Covid advisories as and when required. This was supplemented by Dos’s and Don’t guidelines developed basis of inputs received from medical consultants, WHO and ICMR. Multiple webinars were also conducted to spread awareness that also included vital aspect of maintaining mental health. Further in case of exigencies when travel could not be avoided, safe operation guidelines for the employees helped in ensuring a safe and sound stay.
All infrastructural and material facilities to follow Covid appropriate behaviour were provided by the organisation.
Local HR made dynamic efforts to tie-up with both government and private facilities to initiate vaccination drives for employees, family members, TT Crew and contract workmen engaged with the Corporation. Standard Operating Procedures were adopted at the workplace that included temperature checks, restricted entry, scanning through Arogya Setu app, ensuring no-mask no-entry and regular sanitization at frequent intervals. The measures not only ensured safety at work place but also instilled confidence in the employees to enter the workplace without any hesitation.
2.2 Corrective initiatives
Witnessing the rapid surge in cases, especially in the second wave of Covid-19, initiative was taken to ensure timely RT-PCR tests for employees and their family members through empanelled laboratories and new tie-ups. The long-standing relations with the medical fraternity assisted in securing beds as well as oxygen support for the infected employees in times of acute crisis. Medical consultation on call was also arranged to provide utmost care and attention.
Provision of “Special Leave for COVID-19” was also approved for employees who test positive for COVID-19.
Exhibit 3. Corrective Initiatives to combat Covid 19
2.3 Supportive Initiatives
Man is mortal. Despite doing our best, sometimes situations go beyond what humans can actually control. Public Sector Units have been known to care for their employees in the best possible manner. Following the spirit, HPCL believes in connecting with not only with the employees, but also their family members in these challenging times. The Corporation sanctioned additional compensation in case of death of an employee arising out of Covid or complications developed due to Covid.
- Walking the Extra Mile
To keep the employees engaged and to help them learn something new constantly, the Capability Building department of HPCL organised courses round the year through virtual trainings and webinars. Learning experience was further enhanced by upgradation of online HP Academy, offerings on Great Learning Corporate Academy and courses from online platforms like EdX, Coursera and NPTEL.
The unselfish effort to help others can bring a sense of gratitude that no other action can accomplish. The Corporation was proactive in helping the society by The entire business network also extended wholehearted help for the noble cause. The Corporation also participated in fundraisers such as PM Cares Fund to extend contribution in nation building.
The most significant factor under the control of an organization is their relationship with each employee. The second-most important factor is work environment and organizational culture that fosters employee motivation and engagement. The multiple employee-oriented initiatives adopted at right course of time have indeed helped in morale boosting and well-being of the employees. Despite multiple adverse factors owing to the pandemic, HPCL has grown stronger than ever, with stupendous performance in all domains.
The strong focus on preventive strategies has helped in not only fighting the evil menace and delivering safe workplace environment, but also in and promise of trust.
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