The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth a crucial shift towards digitisation across all sectors. However, how has this trend impacted talent acquisition? Melody Lopez, Chief of Staff – People, Process and Strategy at Crayon Software Experts India talks to Dataquest about that and more.
DQ: How has COVID impacted your hiring processes?
Melody Lopez: Crayon has always been focused on bringing in talented and skilled candidates and the pandemic was no different. We were able to hire the maximum and the highest number of candidates during the pandemic. Virtual recruitment was the go-to method. Our initial phone screenings remained the same, but the face-to-face interviews either moved to video conferencing or telephonic interviewing. In these uncertain times, when candidates were going through an online interview process, they needed trust and engagement to apply for and change jobs, so every single conversation was driven by compassion and empathy. Crayon being a people company, we ensured that every single interview was done with utmost care. We did have a selling point, as we did not have any trimming of the workforce, while many organizations had pay cuts, jobs cuts, and freeze in headcount – our hiring only doubled. Our core values worked for us, as we did not paint any pretty pictures. We were very honest in our approach as candidates were looking for job security and stability and that is what we offered them. In times like this, candidates also recognize that when organizations put safety protocols in place, they’re putting their employees first. Crayon did it with pride and we were always ahead of the race. The only thing that changed was the handshake, which is now become a thing of the past.
DQ: What strategy did the company adopt in order to manage business continuity as well as employee wellness during the lockdown?
Melody Lopez: Most businesses would have experienced a significant disruption to their business-as-usual operations because of the COVID-19 crisis. Irrespective of the pandemic, it was a busy time for Crayon. The pandemic could not stop us. We moved our office to our homes, 3 weeks before the country lockdown. Our existing infrastructure and systems were already in place for remote working conditions. We have strong security and access controls which enables us to secure our remote workforce’s working conditions. An existing work from home policy made the shift stress-free. Crayon India was certified as a”GreatPlace to Work”, all the audit process was managed while working from home. We were also named as one of the top 75 best workplaces.
Virtual recruitment and virtual induction was the new norm. Continuous improvement was an ongoing effort to improve our processes, tools and services. Many of these improvements were big and had a huge impact on our people and business. We invested time with our people in sharing knowledge and generating improvement ideas. We created a people-engagement program series called Crayon Dhaamal. This series covered employees bonding and employeewellness. Employees were allowed to bring their skills to the table. We brought in the industry experts to support the employees’ mental well-being. Fire-side chats and many other programs were also organized to help and keep the employees motivated.
A field readiness index path was created to help our employees learn,train, and certify. We successfully ran multiple training programs throughout the year like the escape room, sales transformation trainings and Learning Thursdays. People were recognized for their efforts, with multiple appreciations, spot awards, quarterly awards and annual awards. We introduced a new series of awards – Crayon Hero and Circle of Excellence. We reached out to every single employee and checked on their well-being.
Crayon Readiness Conclave 2021, an Annual Event of Employee recognition and entertainment was conducted virtually, where families were invited. The event was very well accepted and appreciated.
DQ: How did the company help or assist its employees during the brutal 2nd phase of the COVID?
Melody Lopez: The pandemic taught us to put caring into action. We doubled our medical insurance costs. A group term life insurance scheme was formalized for employee’s family in the event of an employee’s death. A 24/7 counselling cell was set up to take care of our employee’s mental well-being, COVID Vaccination Tool and a COVID Warrior group was set up to help employees in need. These were some of the additional benefits provided to our Employees. Crayon did not lay off even a single Employee during the Pandemic.We were infact opportunity providers. We brought in additional leave policies – 3 weeks of leave for COVID impacted employees and bereavement leave in case of a death.
DQ: What will be the role of HRs in the future of work, with Hybrid models coming to practice and AI taking front place in workplaces?
Melody Lopez: As the pandemic begins to ease, widespread remote working has been quickly adopted as the norm by organizations and employees. While home offices and co-working spaces are on the rise, we don’t see the traditional offices retiring anytime soon. There will still be a need for centralized company workspaces for employee engagement and to give the workforce its new identity. However, many companies are preparing a new combination of remote and on-site working, a hybrid virtual model in which some employees are on-premises, while others work from home.
The new model guarantees greater access to talent, enhanced productivity, more flexibility and improved employee experiences. AI has been adopted in workplaces much before the pandemic and HR is leading the way and is already a part of the bandwagon. Companies are leveraging AI to connect with both current and prospective employees on a personal level. Today, transfer of information from resumes onto smart digital forms and more efficiently done with AI. AI supports HR by analyzing performance data from previous referrals and recognizes the pattern of successful employees. AI chabot’s are often used to keep employee engagement active.
Learning and Development is an area, where AI is being used. Transitioning from age-old classroom model to agile learning models that supports the individual learning, provides broad-based solutions for the organization.