In conversation with Ajay Ambewadikar Country HR Head, CNH Industrial India on New Normal
Ajay is handling the role of Head of HR of CNH Industrial India since June 2015. With over 24 years of strong manufacturing base, HR experience he is responsible for providing leadership and direction for the Human Resources function, including organizational development & change management, talent management, compensation and benefits, employee relations, and compliance and staffing in CNH Industrial India.
Prior to joining CNH Industrial India, Ajay has worked on the different leadership assignments with well-known international companies like Sandvik, Alfa Laval, and Knorr- Bremse.
Q- The Construction and Automobile Industry has been worse impacted by COVID-19. How well, you are prepared to deal with current people challenges?
Today is the time to demonstrate that we are people organization, in the times of uncertainty and insecurity around, employees are also looking at an organization to provide them stability if not growth. We believe that people retention is an action and not just a process. Employees do understand the challenges being faced by the company and they are trying level best to contribute to the highest to recover the losses. We are well prepared to engage them, motivate them, and at the same time encourage them to contribute the best at this uncertain time. This will rebuild their confidence very well.
“In the current scenario and for the near future, we do not see employee attrition as a challenge but to keep them engage and motivated would be a challenge.”
We have already created multiple platforms for employee engagements and on the continuous move for revising HR policies to keep employees motivated. Another challenge coming up is employee health and wellness, in the past employee priority was different and it was career and compensation. Today the first priority is health. Considering this changing priority, we have done extensive work towards health policy, awareness, and programs.
Q- What are the changes made in the workplace post-COVID-19?
C-19 has given us a good opportunity to review ways of workings, we have adopted Remote working as a fantastic measure to keep employee engage and still manage the real estate cost. We have modified our methodology toward managing our regular meetings. We manage through video nowadays effectively. In the last three months, we were able to connect 300 plus channel partner to know their feedback on our product and people.
The topmost priority we have made is employee health and safety. While maintaining social distancing and medical checks are new normal now, we ensured number of campaigns around health and safety. Every employee was given good confidence around health and safety. We have made an additional portion for coverage of C-19 medical treatment also as a part of the Mediclaim policy.
We have upgraded our IT system to support the technical requirement of people on laptops when they are remotely working. We have in a traduced number of HR policies to support employee needs such as the introduction of the Leave Donation policy, employee can donate their balanced leave to the needy employee. Since public transport was becoming unsafe due to social distancing, we introduced Car policy for operational level employees which has given us double benefits of reducing cost element and employee motivation.
Q- This Covid-19 Crisis has also caused economic slowdown. How do you see the role of HR in coping with a downturn?
HR is playing an important role in the current scenario to work on balancing the profitability of the company and at the same time protecting headcount numbers. We although feel that this is a temporary situation and business will improve by Q4. We have protected any headcount cut within India with the assumption that business will bounce back. However, we have taken some strong measures to cut the current employee cost.
The mutual decision is to incur only if any item/activity is an essential category. HR must work closely with the organization for the cultural shift model. HR needs to work on engagement and communication with employees. I would say a balanced act between SPEAKING and LISTENING. This is the best time for HR to bring changes in the way of working within the organization by showing benefits to the business leads.
Q- Most companies are adopting Hybrid Work Model, working from anywhere, at any time. How do you see its Pros and Cons?
We have done extensive work on the hybrid model and quite positive about it. What we see positive is flexibility, cost, work-life balance. The areas need attention would be how do you keep your employees engaged virtually, it is the probability that employee may find himself lonely. Secondly, how do we keep positive pressure and allow employees to balance work and life. The third and most important aspect is Manager needs to trust employee’s effectiveness while they are on remote working.
Q- What are the employee engagement challenges in this model and how to mitigate them?
We have been groomed to be a relationship-centric approach and with this methodology, we find it easier when we see people around us physically. While we are remotely working and in the world of dependability for performing, the challenge could be to handle priority clash of the supply chain.
What I experience and hear from most of the employees that life has become tougher while we are working from home with the reason that employees are unable to balance work and family due to higher work pressure. I can also see that employees are under stress to perform in this difficult time. The best way to mitigate would be to ask the manager to check in between employee wellness, be more caring.
Q- What the benefits and allowances should be offered to employees working on the above model?
I think the employees can be provided with IT-related allowance and of course when they operate from home, it is obvious to make an office set up includes table, chair, Ac etc. Organization can think of something like a package allowance which is balanced from the transport, fuel, canteen, real estate savings.
Q- Any concluding remarks?
C-19 situation is full of challenges and opportunities for all of us. We experience that lots of people, mainly labor class have migrated due to the situation, now this is the challenge but at the same time grooming your local and available labors would be an opportunity. If anyone is looking for the right time to come or a normal time to come, better we don’t do that and act today with addressing today’s scenario and build the future.
Lastly, please be open to any change voluntarily before it comes to you forceful. The best example is a remote working approach. Lots of people had their reservations for remote working, however, the situation has proved that remote working has been successful and effective.
Thank you, Ajay!