Rendezvous With Aditya Kohli, Chief Human Resources Officer, Clix Capital on Employee Wellbeing amidst COVID Pandemic
Aditya is the Chief Human Resources officer at Clix Capital and is responsible for building the culture and the human capital of a young and fast-growing Fin-Tech startup. He is passionate about leading the people agenda that ensures that we get the right people, in the right roles, with the right capabilities to drive differentiated performance and make a significant impact in our Industry.
He has over two decades of experience that spans across multiple facets of HR including Leadership, Culture, HR Transformation & Change Management. He is a results-driven leader, who has worked in Singapore, India and London, managing global teams in a highly matrixed global environment. In all of his roles, he has created space to drive change through a multi-discipline approach that leverages all aspects of Human Capital Management, Technology and Culture to drive productivity and performance.
Prior to Clix he has worked across sectors in marquee organisations like Airtel, Standard Chartered Bank and Hewitt Associates (Aon).
Q- What are the key challenges that you’re facing as CHRO when it comes to Employee wellbeing amid the current crisis?
As the saying goes, “Decades when nothing happens & weeks when decades happen”. Last year felt a bit like that from a CHRO’s perspective. Across companies, I believe there was a realization that you might have the best business model, highest productivity, most technology yet nothing can be achieved without healthy, engaged, and motivated employees. When the pandemic hit us, we were very clear that the safety and wellbeing of our employees was our number one priority. We were one of the first companies to shut our offices and work remotely. As I look back, I would divide this period into three distinct phases and the challenges faced were also unique to each phase.
The first phase was ‘React’ – we were all in a very ambiguous territory and significant effort was invested in making sure that we understood what we were dealing with. At this time, we established fresh guidelines, processes, and best practices. We extensively communicated with our employees, especially around how to keep themselves and their families safe. We established a network of “Flu Managers”, tied up with various hospitals, and put together an EAP program in case employees or their families wanted to speak to trained counsellors in confidence.
The second phase, ‘Respond’, was all about building capability, better managing costs, building strategic agility, and establishing a future operating model for the company. This was a challenging period for our employees as they balanced work, family and household-related responsibilities. We proactively set guardrails on work timings as employees were working incredibly hard and there was a need to provide balance and flexibility. I felt this phase also changed behaviours – over 75% of our employees felt that they would want this flexibility in the future once offices reopen. This made us rethink our real estate requirements for the future.
The third phase ‘Restart’ was all about getting the employees refocused to execute the new business model. Despite the pandemic, many of our employees were actively supporting our customers, and keeping them safe was a priority. During this period the resolve and agility of organizations were tested as there were several regulatory changes in our industry like moratorium, restructuring, etc.
In some ways, I feel that the 2nd wave hit home hard, with a number of our employees and their families being impacted. There has been a significant shortage of resources, beds, medicine, oxygen, etc. Via the flu manager network, we have tried to make sure that our employees and their family don’t need to run around, that they feel safe and supported at all times. As we start seeing recovery, the shift will be to aggressively vaccinate all employees. This time around I am expecting many employees to reassess their priorities, what is important, and why they work…it will be up to employers to re-establish and energize the relationship.
Q- How do you stay motivated and active during the 2nd wave of Coronavirus?
With so much terrible news coming from everywhere it’s easy to feel that one is losing control or feel like a victim. It’s a negative spiral and very easy to lose motivation. During this time I have started to value small things like a meaningful conversation, a nicely made cup of coffee, charting the next bike ride with friends, music. All of these cheer me up. I feel that a certain amount of structure and discipline helps keep one in the flow.
Q- How do you enable WFH and Stress Management in your organization?
All of our employees have the necessary infrastructure to work from anywhere and our policies support reimbursement of mobile and broadband charges. As the 2nd wave hit us, close to 70% of our employees were working from home and hence the transition wasn’t difficult. The biggest concern the employee has is “How can the organisation support me if I or my family members were to fall sick”. We have done some things like access to testing facilities, tie-ups with hospitals and doctors, quarantine setups, teams that are helping with access to medicines, oxygen, hospital beds, and access to trained counsellors if they need to speak with someone. In parallel, we have frequent connections with our employees, be it in the form of a town hall, email, or connecting on Telegram. Our EAP program is also helpful in case someone wants to talk to a trained counsellor.
Q- What are your employee vaccination and their health safety plans?
I feel the faster we can vaccinate most of our eligible population, the faster the country will return to normal. Unfortunately, due to a significant shortage of vaccines, there is a certain degree of uncertainty. We are tying up with a couple of health care providers to fast-track the vaccination drive at Clix. We are in no hurry to open our offices fully and will continue to operate with a model where 50-60% of our employees WFH at least soon. Our medical coverage is one of the best, and we cover employee’s family including parents, this has provided a big financial safety net.
Q- Any Concluding remarks?
These are unprecedented challenging times, with a lot of distress, uncertainty and hardship being faced by all sections of our society, including our employees. Despite such gloom, I see so many people coming together to help each other and make a difference in their way. I believe during the worst, we will see the best in our people and as they say about tough times…this too shall pass. The words of the poet Rumi resonate heavily with me “If everything around you seems dark, look again. You might be the light”. We will see a new crop of leaders emerge from this crisis who are antifragile, empathetic, and display genuine authenticity.
Thank You, Aditya!