The HR domain, as we know it,  is forever evolving and developing. This domain has seen drastic changes especially in the last one to one and a half years with the scenario of Work from Home. Now, as we add Hybrid workspaces to the mix as well, the changes are quite a lot. For example, entire teams do not work under one roof, some are currently working from home while others are from the office. This often causes a hurdle in the communication aspect and more. 

The HR segment of companies is one of the most affected by the rise in the pandemic. It is a tedious task for HR professionals to interact with candidates while making sure the employees are engaged and content with their jobs as well. This proves difficult especially since all the employees are not under a single roof. 

Currently, with the rise in the rate of hiring in the industry, candidates have quite a few offers to choose from, thereby increasing the rate of drop-offs and reducing the rate of retention. This is one of the reasons we also wanted to have a better understanding of the changes that can be brought to the process of onboarding. 

To understand the current trends, hurdles, and tips to tackle this situation, we decided to discuss this with Srikanth Vachaspati. He has been in the HR domain for over 20 years in renowned organizations like Infosys, HP, IBM, etc., and is currently associated with Siemens Technology India as a General Manager and Head HR. With this vast experience in the HR world, he seemed like the ideal person to throw more light on the challenges faced, the changes in the near future, and more. From onboarding to drop-off rates, to candidate engagement and retention, we had an informative discussion with Mr. Srikanth that didn’t just help us understand the scenario better but aided in preparing us for the changes to come. 

Read on to know the questions we had for Mr. Srikanth and his input on the same. 

Q 1 – So, let’s begin with a little peek into the onboarding process. How has it impacted the Work from the Home scenario? Has the onboarding process changed? If so, how is it now?

The onboarding process for the Work from Home employees is mostly done online currently. This is often a tad difficult due to internet issues and more on the employee’s end. Recruiters still try and work around this to ensure all procedures and introductions are completed online. The positive effects of face-to-face interaction are definitely lacking with the Work from the Home scenario.  

Q 2 – We had cases where candidates have declined offers because they need to join virtually. In this case, they are often in a dilemma if they will be able to adjust to this new culture. With the current pandemic, has the drop-off rate increased?

Currently, in India, there are two types of drop-off. One is the offer rejected and the other is no show. Offer reduction is around 30% in the industry today which used to be about 5%-8%. Due to an increase in hiring, one candidate can have more than 3-4 offers. So, it is understandable that 4 out of 5 companies would experience no show or rejection of offers. This is a tremendous hike in the no-show and rejection rate. 

Q 3 – Is the company coming up with any type of mitigation to avoid such hurdles or is it okay?

A- It is not okay but I don’t think the companies are coming up with efforts to mitigate. What they are choosing to do instead is, if they need to hire 500 people, then they add a buffer of 20% and hire 600 people. This way even if there are outs or rejections, they have the number of people they need. 

Q 4 – Has the engagement activity for those joining virtually changed?

A- I don’t think it has gone through any major change. Normally, depending on the nature of the industry we assign a ‘buddy’ to them. This person would be helping them in the engagement and networking processes. I think we continue this system even if it is remote. This is commonly followed by companies but other than this, I don’t think we are doing anything additional when it comes to overall engagement with employees. We generally set up regular calls with no agenda to essentially connect with people. 

We have also organized more hackathons. Where we have also digitized the entire training portfolio. This has also helped us in training a huge number of people with ease.
Besides that, we have added another aspect recently. We make sure to have conversations once a fortnight, with somebody who had COVID.

We call this COVID survivors story. Here, we interview the person to understand what happened, what the doctors had said, and the like. We have also lost employees to COVID and we ensure we set up sessions with the mental wellness partner to talk and cope with the same. 

Q 5 – Has the pandemic changed performance management?

Obviously, due to the pandemic, there has been a change in the course of action for a lot of people and companies have tried to alter their ways to match the changing ways. As a salesperson, the targets have to be relooked as well as altered depending on scenarios. 

So, there have definitely been changes in calibrating the codebase due to COVID. This is the first thing that most organizations are focusing on. The second thing that most companies are focusing on is frequent check-ins with their employees. This is to make sure there is a connection in terms of the recalibrating.
The third change is that of performance management. To help employees better, companies can tackle this by firstly looking at the hard factor, which is the goal, and secondly, following up with the ways the employees can achieve their target. 

One integral change is the removal of rating systems. Especially with remote working, the rating has become quite difficult. Keeping this in mind, people have removed rating systems and come up with check-ins. 

These are ways performance management has changed with the scenario of Work from Home and the pandemic. 

Q 6 – One of the common complaints among employees is that there is too much micromanagement after work from home. Is it true?

During the initial days of Work from Home, the lockdown was pretty strict and people had no opportunity other than stay indoors and work and companies did not face any issues. But the changes were also drastic due to Work from Home. Firstly, the number of meetings increased. Once the managers and team formed an understanding of how to execute certain tasks and meet targets, we have reduced the number of meetings as well. But there are instances where managers feel that team-mates are unavailable at times and team-mates feel their managers are micromanaging. This is an issue that is raised on both ends. 

Q 7 – Has this changed the way employees’ performance is reviewed and has the reward system changed?

The number of rewards employees receive has increased. Initially, people did not have so many rewards to look up to but that has increased a lot.  We still provide monetary rewards to the employees along with adopting other digital modes of rewards like e-vouchers. 

A lot of the awards initially were experiential awards. Since with the current scenario of pandemics, employees wouldn’t be able to go out. Hence, we chose to give our rewards in the form of cash or something equivalent to the cash amount. 

Q 8 – There is a lot of resistance to virtual engagement activities? Is it true? What can be done to engage employees virtually?

Virtual activities began more like a ritual and seemed very forced and not as a means to engage employees. To make this more engaging for employees, activities must be designed in a way that is beneficial to the employees. We had once organized a virtual stand-up comedy session and the audience was not able to connect with it whereas a session on financial planning had a better impact and employees could relate to it better. Virtual activities have to be something employees relate to and find beneficial. 

With the rise in Hybrid workspaces, the importance of employee engagement is becoming more important with each passing day. Keeping this in mind, Bluelement Technologies gave rise to EngageLoop. The platform has impacted and created relevant engagement steps and options to ensure Employee Engagement despite the Work from Home scenario.=

We hope to know the views of an expert in the domain helps better understand the right steps to take.

The HR domain, as we know it,  is forever evolving and developing. This domain has seen drastic changes especially in the last one to one and a half years with the scenario of Work from Home. Now, as we add Hybrid workspaces to the mix as well, the changes are quite a lot. For example, entire teams do not work under one roof, some are currently working from home while others are from the office. This often causes a hurdle in the communication aspect and more. 

The HR segment of companies is one of the most affected by the rise in the pandemic. It is a tedious task for HR professionals to interact with candidates while making sure the employees are engaged and content with their jobs as well. This proves difficult especially since all the employees are not under a single roof. 

Currently, with the rise in the rate of hiring in the industry, candidates have quite a few offers to choose from, thereby increasing the rate of drop-offs and reducing the rate of retention. This is one of the reasons we also wanted to have a better understanding of the changes that can be brought to the process of onboarding. 

To understand the current trends, hurdles, and tips to tackle this situation, we decided to discuss this with Srikanth Vachaspati. He has been in the HR domain for over 20 years in renowned organizations like Infosys, HP, IBM, etc., and is currently associated with Siemens Technology India as a General Manager and Head HR. With this vast experience in the HR world, he seemed like the ideal person to throw more light on the challenges faced, the changes in the near future, and more. From onboarding to drop-off rates, to candidate engagement and retention, we had an informative discussion with Mr. Srikanth that didn’t just help us understand the scenario better but aided in preparing us for the changes to come. 

Read on to know the questions we had for Mr. Srikanth and his input on the same. 

Q 1 – So, let’s begin with a little peek into the onboarding process. How has it impacted the Work from the Home scenario? Has the onboarding process changed? If so, how is it now?

The onboarding process for the Work from Home employees is mostly done online currently. This is often a tad difficult due to internet issues and more on the employee’s end. Recruiters still try and work around this to ensure all procedures and introductions are completed online. The positive effects of face-to-face interaction are definitely lacking with the Work from the Home scenario.  

Q 2 – We had cases where candidates have declined offers because they need to join virtually. In this case, they are often in a dilemma if they will be able to adjust to this new culture. With the current pandemic, has the drop-off rate increased?

Currently, in India, there are two types of drop-off. One is the offer rejected and the other is no show. Offer reduction is around 30% in the industry today which used to be about 5%-8%. Due to an increase in hiring, one candidate can have more than 3-4 offers. So, it is understandable that 4 out of 5 companies would experience no show or rejection of offers. This is a tremendous hike in the no-show and rejection rate. 

Q 3 – Is the company coming up with any type of mitigation to avoid such hurdles or is it okay?

A- It is not okay but I don’t think the companies are coming up with efforts to mitigate. What they are choosing to do instead is, if they need to hire 500 people, then they add a buffer of 20% and hire 600 people. This way even if there are outs or rejections, they have the number of people they need. 

Q 4 – Has the engagement activity for those joining virtually changed?

A- I don’t think it has gone through any major change. Normally, depending on the nature of the industry we assign a ‘buddy’ to them. This person would be helping them in the engagement and networking processes. I think we continue this system even if it is remote. This is commonly followed by companies but other than this, I don’t think we are doing anything additional when it comes to overall engagement with employees. We generally set up regular calls with no agenda to essentially connect with people. 

We have also organized more hackathons. Where we have also digitized the entire training portfolio. This has also helped us in training a huge number of people with ease.
Besides that, we have added another aspect recently. We make sure to have conversations once a fortnight, with somebody who had COVID.

We call this COVID survivors story. Here, we interview the person to understand what happened, what the doctors had said, and the like. We have also lost employees to COVID and we ensure we set up sessions with the mental wellness partner to talk and cope with the same. 

Q 5 – Has the pandemic changed performance management?

Obviously, due to the pandemic, there has been a change in the course of action for a lot of people and companies have tried to alter their ways to match the changing ways. As a salesperson, the targets have to be relooked as well as altered depending on scenarios. 

So, there have definitely been changes in calibrating the codebase due to COVID. This is the first thing that most organizations are focusing on. The second thing that most companies are focusing on is frequent check-ins with their employees. This is to make sure there is a connection in terms of the recalibrating.
The third change is that of performance management. To help employees better, companies can tackle this by firstly looking at the hard factor, which is the goal, and secondly, following up with the ways the employees can achieve their target. 

One integral change is the removal of rating systems. Especially with remote working, the rating has become quite difficult. Keeping this in mind, people have removed rating systems and come up with check-ins. 

These are ways performance management has changed with the scenario of Work from Home and the pandemic. 

Q 6 – One of the common complaints among employees is that there is too much micromanagement after work from home. Is it true?

During the initial days of Work from Home, the lockdown was pretty strict and people had no opportunity other than stay indoors and work and companies did not face any issues. But the changes were also drastic due to Work from Home. Firstly, the number of meetings increased. Once the managers and team formed an understanding of how to execute certain tasks and meet targets, we have reduced the number of meetings as well. But there are instances where managers feel that team-mates are unavailable at times and team-mates feel their managers are micromanaging. This is an issue that is raised on both ends. 

Q 7 – Has this changed the way employees’ performance is reviewed and has the reward system changed?

The number of rewards employees receive has increased. Initially, people did not have so many rewards to look up to but that has increased a lot.  We still provide monetary rewards to the employees along with adopting other digital modes of rewards like e-vouchers. 

A lot of the awards initially were experiential awards. Since with the current scenario of pandemics, employees wouldn’t be able to go out. Hence, we chose to give our rewards in the form of cash or something equivalent to the cash amount. 

Q 8 – There is a lot of resistance to virtual engagement activities? Is it true? What can be done to engage employees virtually?

Virtual activities began more like a ritual and seemed very forced and not as a means to engage employees. To make this more engaging for employees, activities must be designed in a way that is beneficial to the employees. We had once organized a virtual stand-up comedy session and the audience was not able to connect with it whereas a session on financial planning had a better impact and employees could relate to it better. Virtual activities have to be something employees relate to and find beneficial. 

With the rise in Hybrid workspaces, the importance of employee engagement is becoming more important with each passing day. Keeping this in mind, Bluelement Technologies gave rise to EngageLoop. The platform has impacted and created relevant engagement steps and options to ensure Employee Engagement despite the Work from the Home scenario.

We hope to know the views of an expert in the domain helps better understand the right steps to take.