In Conversation With V Krishnan Chief Human Resources Officer Havells India on Return to Office
V Krishnan is headlining the HR functions with Havells as Chief Human Resources Officer from the month of February this year. Earlier he served the longest stint of his career at Dabur India as Executive Director – HR (India & SAARC) for more than 16 years.
Krishnan has over 3-decades of experience in HR and having capabilities in Business Partnering across industries; with Indian multinationals and MNCs, covering Human Capital Management, Business Processes, Quality, Knowledge Management, and IT Enablement, with organizations like Dabur, Whirlpool, Xerox, and Eicher.
He is an engineering graduate from Aligarh Muslim University and holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Faculty of Management Studies – University of Delhi.
Q- What’re your top HR priories in current times at Havells India?
To thrive in the new normal, it is imperative to recalibrate business plans, strategies and, shift towards effective scenario-based planning in this pandemic world. In a situation where till recently commerce was continuing, though with varying intensity, we at Havells believe that the onus of protecting ‘health and business’ lies squarely with the organization. Havells has continuously taken various initiatives to ensure the health and wellness of its employees.
Through our vaccination programme, we ensured Covid-19 vaccination for all our employees in India above 18 years of age through a reimbursement process. Recently, Havells India also carried out a robust vaccination successfully vaccinated 95% of its direct and indirect employees above 45 years of age across 13 manufacturing plants, and aggressive work is on to cover the remaining employees. This was achieved through a combination of On-Site vaccination camps and tie-ups with various hospitals both government and private.
At the peak of the second wave, we were focused on protecting health and lives of our employees and trade partners. We imported oxygen concentrators and placed them across plants and branch offices, on a returnable basis so that any employee or their family member could use it with ease. Some of our employees and trade partners, who wanted to buy it, we organized imports at landed cost. Several guidelines around vaccination, health, hygiene, social distancing, WFH, etc were shared with employees to avoid the spread of infection.
The organization has a dedicated cross-functional team to ensure OC requirement, track status of vaccination, and health of employees for timely help and support. To ensure zero impact on work, our philosophy of ‘people at the core’ has extensively helped us to keep our employees safe and ensure positive outcomes for all our stakeholders.
We have been investing in technology for decades and that has been a differentiating point at Havells India. Be it technology for employees, or manufacturing, or R&D, Havells has always been ahead of its peers. At Havells India another priority is to augment the role of digitization for our business and other processes.
We have leveraged smart technologies in our manufacturing facilities. This has enabled us to reduce workload and help our employees to focus and build their expertise on critical tasks; thereby improving efficiencies and productivity of our workforce. Technology enablement coupled with empathy and human touch is key to maintaining the essential cultural ingredients of Havells, which is among the Great Places to Work.
Keeping the new hybrid nature of work, we have leveraged the collaborative technology platforms, to provide a lot of learning and development opportunities for our employees.
Q- What are your plans to bringing back employees safely to the office and shop floor?
At Havells India our priority is the health and wellness of our employees. Aligning with this philosophy, we were quick to adapt to the testing times when the pandemic hit us all. We not only digitalized most of our offline functions but also were cognizant of how we will need to ensure workforce safety and health guidelines once the lockdowns lift.
We created a feature on our Employee Self Service portal, where people could update their vaccination status in real-time. Once we were clear that a significant population has been vaccinated, we started opening our offices in a phased manner, using a roster system; to ensure at any given point of time a certain percentage of people only are in office and with social distancing. Vaccination is checked before entering through the Aarogya Setu App.
While our offices were closed we created acrylic partitions around all the open seats in our HO, so that social distancing is strengthened with a physical barrier without compromising on transparency.
With the resumption of the manufacturing process at our plants, Havells partnered with BLP, an enterprise AI and industrial IoT company to deploy “Trust AI”. The solution is a seamless integration of camera feeds, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing to manage social distancing and mask norms across the plants.
The product issues an alert to a factory administrator when anyone is less than the desired distance from a colleague. The solution comes with a Trust AI web App with different levels of authorization that acts as the administrative cockpit to manage social distancing. This cost-effective technology is also enabled to detect when people are not wearing masks, helmets, or safety gear.
Many of the processes within the factories have been altered to suit the changed norms of social distancing within the work environment. With the solution deployed, we are seeing a significant improvement with respect to the number of social distancing violation instances.
Witnessing the success of the solution, we have also installed the same solution to Havells’ corporate offices. In order to further prevent the spread of Covid-19 through surface contamination, we have replaced the Fingerprint Biometrics with Facial Recognition application at Havells. Using AI, the in-house developed app has been integrated with the ERP system which is much appreciated by the employees across.
We intend to continue our focus on investing considerable efforts towards ensuring our workforce is safe, healthy, and secure through several such initiatives.
Q- What do employees need to manage this change?
We have seen that our people are agile and adapting quickly to these unprecedented times. The way how people reinvented themselves is commendable. As soon as we hit the lockdown, employees were able to recalibrate to the new working style quite seamlessly.
Infact, we were pleasantly surprised, that even the team members whom we thought will find this new way of working a challenge, quickly unlearned and relearned. With a hybrid work model, we believe that the virtual collaborative platforms will be at the forefront. We at Havells also realized that the core of employee experience will be to ensure employees feel connected, informed, and involved in a virtual space similar to the physical space. We
Q- What is your hybrid work strategy? Who will stay remote, who will be back on-site full time/part-time?
Havells has taken various initiatives during the pandemic and lockdown to ensure the mental and physical well-being of its employees. To further prevent the spread of Covid-19 the company had taken various initiatives. To name a few, clear WFH guidelines, staggered return to workplace through hybrid system with 25% staff attendance, technology enablement for all employees for seamless WFH working etc.
Since we are present all over India and many states are in unlock phase. We are defining hybrid working strategy as per the government guidelines in the states. We are trying at Havells to keep a balance between the manufacturing and sales team presence in our offices and plants.
Q- Any concluding remarks?
As an organisation we have shown significant business resilience and performance against the backdrop of a challenging environment. The one big change that leaders at all levels have realised is empathy. There is a realization that we are operating in an evolving and dynamic scenario, where all answers may not be there and agility in deciding response is the new mantra.
The pandemic has reiterated the importance of building a level of trust with our stakeholders and has awakened us to the need for scenario-based planning. At the same time, investments in training, evolving channels like e-commerce, etc will gain in intensity in the future.
As the world deals with the effects of the pandemic, at Havells India our approach has been to be aware, anticipate and act with agility to respond to the unfolding challenges.
Thank You, V Krishnan!