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A culture of care is emerging from the covid-19 crisis

The pandemic has forced the corporate world to pay attention to the well-being of employees, business partners, vendors and customers

During the difficult times we presently find ourselves in, care is the foundation on which new-age, new-look work cultures need to be built.
During the difficult times we presently find ourselves in, care is the foundation on which new-age, new-look work cultures need to be built. (Unsplash)

The most difficult times, often and unexpectedly, bring about the realisation of what matters the most. The ongoing pandemic has done exactly that for several organisations around the world. It has made them care, more deeply and in more ways than ever before, for their most valuable asset—their people.

Care is not about presenting a good image to the world. It is a culture that runs throughout the organisation and shows visibly in the levels of employee satisfaction and motivation, the productivity of the workforce, and ultimately the business outcomes. During the difficult times we presently find ourselves in, care is the foundation on which new-age, new-look work cultures need to be built. Many organisations have already started working in this direction. Trust, empathy and transparency have taken centrestage.

Business success is directly proportional to the success of its people. As organisations deal with various issues, it is important they show empathy and put themselves in the shoes of the people who are deeply connected to their business—employees, partners, customers and other stakeholders. As a means to this end, companies are encouraging regular communication between managers and teams to share day-to-day experiences and address any apprehensions the other might have. Companies are prioritising multiple programmes to manage stress and anxiety, allocating resources and bringing in experts to organise webinars on self-care, meditation and workplace ergonomics.

There is no doubt that allowing employees to work remotely with flexible work hours helps them balance their personal and professional priorities. To address any burnout issues during this period, many organisations are encouraging employees to consciously take breaks from work, spend quality time with their family and friends, and indulge in hobbies. Some are organising sessions for recreation, inspiration and meditation, not just for employees but for their family members as well. Such initiatives give employees the confidence that their organisation cares for them. This, in turn, deepens their sense of belonging and commitment.

A collective force for good

Most organisations and corporate entities are contributing to the covid-19 relief efforts in different ways. Many are making donations to the relief funds of governments and non-profits. Others are organising plasma and blood donation drives; some are partnering with grassroots-level agencies to mobilise or strengthen relief efforts for the underprivileged. The willingness with which employees across companies and industries are participating in such initiatives is truly heartening. Consumers, too, are contributing to the ecosystem of giving in their personal capacity. Millions of Flipkart customers, for instance, have donated their SuperCoins to contribute towards providing PPE kits, oxygen cylinders and ambulance services to people who need it.

In some organisations, employees are given their salary in advance in case they face unexpected expenses owing to a medical emergency. In view of the alarming number of medical emergencies, many firms have tied up with specialised agencies to provide employees free personal support services that can be used for purposes such as organising transportation, booking hospital beds, arranging oxygen and other medical equipment, and more. Several companies are offering employees new insurance policies or better coverage for them and their families against covid-19-related expenses. Some have gone a step further, offering insurance coverage to the company’s immediate business partners and vendors too. To make the vaccination process easier and safer, an increasing number of companies are exploring tie-ups with hospitals and authorised healthcare facilities to vaccinate employees and their family members either on the office premises or at exclusive camps.

People-centric organisations understand that when employees feel valued and cared for, they perform their work with a stronger sense of belonging and purpose. Leaders of such companies listen to employees, understand their needs and concerns, and include them in the process of creating solutions. It is always reassuring and motivating to know that one’s inputs are valued by the organisation. Learning and development (L&D) efforts continue to be essential for personal fulfilment and professional growth. A large percentage of the present and future workforce will comprise millennials and centennials, who are eager learners and are constantly seeking opportunities for personal and professional development. Caring, people-centric organisations know that business and employees grow best when they grow together.

In the coming years, developing a culture of care will be one of the top priorities for organisations across industries and countries. In recent years, we have seen that more people are choosing to work with companies whose values and work cultures match closely with their own worldviews and personalities.

In the wake of the pandemic, a culture of care could become another strong factor that determines the attractiveness and respectability of organisations in the eyes of their employees and jobseekers. It is something worth working towards.

Krishna Raghavan is chief people officer at Flipkart.

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