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How ABP News Network helps employees cope with Covid2019 paranoia

The company has announced several engagement activities.

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MUMBAI: Working in an office during a pandemic is not only stressful for employees but also for leaders. They are continuously committed towards emergency preparedness and at the same time looking at business continuity. Especially in a news organisation, when people are on their toes throughout the day, it is challenging to keep the workforce as healthy as possible. To create a better environment and more consistent systems in which employees can flourish are the topmost priorities of HR officials. In this interaction with indiantelevision.com, ABP News Network (ANN) spokesperson highlighted different initiatives taken by the management to safeguard the lives of its employees.

Excerpts:

What measures have you been taking so far to relieve your employees from mental stress?

At ANN, we are trying to meet the challenges of this situation with compassion, heart, and kindness. We extend ceaseless support to all our employees via routine one-on-one communication to address their grievances and uplift their spirits during these challenging times. In terms of ensuring physical health and well-being, doctor-on-call service has been made available to all and in case of an employee testing positive for Covid2019, company mediclaim will cover the expenses.

With an effort to help navigate their experiences in the new normal, all employees have been provided with a ‘Path Forward’ handbook. Additionally, the HR department will soon be launching a few special ‘Remote Employee Engagement Initiatives’ to cultivate a positive culture and help everyone unwind from the monotony.

How are you planning to take care of employees’ psychological state as psychological safety will be more important than ever as they get back to work?

Active measures to build psychological safety at the workplace will be taken up by establishing an ‘EAP Programme’.

In order to build healthy coping skills, we will also be promoting practices of mindfulness and yoga among all our employees through dedicated efforts. Other programmes to reduce stigma around mental wellness will be initiated as often the fear of stigma prevents some people from getting the help they need.

What will the world of HR look like after the lockdown is lifted?

Much like other operating procedures that have witnessed disruptions, various HR practices will also remain fundamentally altered post-lockdown. The new normal will be defined by remote engagement mechanisms, revamping of existing skill sets, employing digital capabilities across all roles and identifying efficient automation practices. All of this would play a decisive role in long-term survival. Innovation and agility, coupled with compassion and empathy, will be instilled as essential organisational values.

In fact, this new era will not only redefine our practices with regard to remote work but various additional roles such as ‘Crisis Management’ will have to be addressed.

How are you preparing to bring back your workforce once the lockdown is lifted?

The current situation is still volatile with no signs of when it plans to dissipate. So, better clarity will be established only as we proceed and as the government announces further regulations. Nonetheless, in any case, we will ensure a phased increase of manpower in our organisation.

Any new practices being taken up for the betterment of employees by the HR?

During a time of upheaval and isolation, it is pertinent to cultivate a positive culture. In this light, we have initiated a unique ‘RnR drive’ (Rewards and Recognitions Drive) to acknowledge special efforts of our employees in order to keep them motivated and engaged.

What sanitization measures are in place in your company?

We are taking an abundance of caution to ensure workplace safety including contactless hand washing mechanisms at the premise gate, thermal screening, and mandatory hand sanitization at office entry.

Video conferencing in lieu of in-person gatherings are being carried out to ensure work goes on seamlessly. Reimbursements are also in place with regard to official travel.

Are there changes to the timings/work structure to ease people’s psychological fear? Will there be any changes in the workspace considering the social distancing factor?

‘Flexi Working Hours’ have been already constituted in the organisation, which we will continue to follow as we proceed.

Mechanisms of shift-working are also in place. However, space management will be a new area for us to explore. Moving forward, it is going to be essential to adhere to social distancing norms even as things get better, so our focus shall remain on reviewing existing office layout for reconfiguration.

What segment of your workforce consists of elderly people? Will there be any extra measures to ensure their health and safety is well taken care of?

Elderly staff (55-60 years) constitutes less than five per cent of our organisation. However, we extend our heartfelt support to all our employees with elderly parents, at all times.

When in the future do you expect this fear receding and the entire workforce will be back?

As we find ourselves muddled in the uncertainty of this health threat, change is going to be more of a process, which occurs gradually and takes its own course. Unanticipated twists and turns continue to emerge and we shall only have a complete outlook in retrospect. Having said that, this is undeniably an unprecedented setback and we do not foresee a complete reinstitution before the next financial year.

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