How Aptech Keeps Team’s Morale High amidst the New Normal
COVID-19 hit the world like something which we have never seen in our lifetime. It has not only altered the landscape of the way we knew the world but has also changed paradigms – both in the business and personal environment. Companies would pride themselves in having a Work from Home Policy. The pandemic changed all that where WFH has become the accepted practice.
We always heard the word – New Normal. My belief is that there is no “Old Normal” or “New Normal”. It has always been a “Moving Normal”.
How we scale up to the Moving Normal depends on us. Human beings, by nature, are strong and resilient. But I daresay that the word “resilience” never found a place of prominence as it has now! Neither did we know that as humans, we can be so strong, juggling between different types of work – official and household! Today, none of us know how the future is going to be, but we do know that businesses the world over will opt for a “hybrid model”, i.e. a mix of WFH and WFO. Man is a social animal and socialization cannot happen digitally. We will need to meet and engage in person. However, during these testing times, it’ll be the companies that scale up quickly to the ever-changing paradigms that will be the bellwethers going ahead. What binds companies are their people, and what binds people is a sense of purpose, and how people align to a purpose is a reflection of the culture of the organization.
Aptech’s culture is defined by its ethos – SCUVA:
- Scalability: Think Different | Evolve | Deliver
- Complexity: Redefine Processes & Products
- Uncertainty: Immediate Action | Fast Mobilization
- Volatility: See, Internalize & Adapt to Changes
- Ambiguity: Accept & Appreciate Grey Areas
SCUVA has enabled us to traverse through this unknown and ambiguous territory with agility and transform the challenges into opportunities for growth. The leadership team, led by our MD & CEO, Dr. Anil Pant, was quick to respond to ensure business continuity.
Post evaluation of the available capability pool and leveraging technology, cross-functional teams were formed. These teams were empowered to build an agile and resilient ecosystem for the respective stakeholders -our students, business partners, customers, and employees. Dr. Anuj Kacker (ED & President) ensured that the Retail vertical maintained continuity in learning for our students. The cross-functional teams were given directions as also the freedom to experiment.
The efforts of the cross-functional teams led to an evolved digital strategy and productive training to all the stakeholders for updating their skills, uninterrupted digital delivery of Aptech’s all brand training sessions within record time, and continuous engagement with all the stakeholders. This kept the business momentum going. We have so far delivered over seventeen lakh online hours of training to our students during the lockdown period. Our Industry Connect, Alliance & Placement (ICAP) team ensured that those students who had completed their programs were placed in organizations that were hiring. We placed over 400 students despite the lockdown. 480 webinars have been organized across our brands for the students. Our faculty and student counsellors were provided online training for business and a digital counselling toolkit was given to enhance the process.
As an organization, we were in the process of going through the appraisal process of the People Capability Maturity Model. Our final appraisals were scheduled in the first half of April. When we realized that the lockdown is going to be a long-haul, the project team, led by the Head of Corporate HR, decided to go through this process digitally. Necessary approvals in place, the entire team was galvanized, and all stakeholders were personally spoken to. The entire ten-day process was completed digitally and Aptech was appraised by CMMI® Institute at Maturity Level 5 of People Capability Maturity Model. This demonstrated the seamless digital collaboration, alignment to purpose, and a sense of genuine ownership on our journey towards excellence.
These accomplishments of the cross-functional teams were possible because the leadership team was mindful about providing stability and building genuine trust in employees which inspired and motivated them to not only perform but excel. The leadership team also recognized the contributions on social media platforms.
In the first ten days of the lockdown, the HR team reached out to every employee individually over a phone call to enquire about their well-being, understand whether or not they had gone to their hometown and also to ensure that all of us stay connected. This helped to reinforce our caring culture where we were able to reiterate that we are there for each other. The respective managers were in constant touch with their teams as well. We leveraged the available digital platforms to stay connected frequently.
We kept our people informed on a regular basis with the latest updates and developments of the organization through our knowledge-sharing platform – SCUVAKNOWLEDGE. Periodic communication was done by the respective CXOs.Yes, there could have been over communication, but the intention was to minimize the effects of negative news, thereby ensuring that employees feel optimistic and confident despite the prevalent turbulent times.
The communications focused on guidelines and protocols to be followed while working from home, steps to be taken for emotional and physical well-being, and how to remain positive. Feedback was solicited from our people for generating innovative ideas that would positively impact the bottom line and define the future roadmap. The HR & Admin teams designed a Reboot Manual for determining the process of exiting from the lockdown. This laid down the protocols and processes and is being updated on a regular basis.
Realizing the effects of the lockdown, an online session on Mental Health Awareness with a reputed psychiatrist was organized for our students, employees, business partners which had massive participation and questions. We carried out some fun activities as well like Digital Tambola, WFH Selfies and introducing the teammate’s kids to the team.We were conscious of the fact that hours of work shouldn’t be regulated, so we focused on the work being done. The timings were actually flexible and not a 9 to 5 or a 10 to 6 kind. Our people were encouraged to take cooking, parenting, and grocery buying breaks. All these activities were aligned to the fact that though it’s a different environment, our culture has not changed.
Once we are on the other side of this pandemic, we would have a long list of lessons learned from our experiences and we would realize that every little thing that we did has helped to nurture a positive employee experience and kept our business in motion.