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Here comes the sun: Building resilience during a global crisis

Piyush Mehta

Chief Human Resources Officer



If The Beatles – whom some call the most influential band of all time – were still around, they'd agree that the past few weeks have felt like a hard day's night, many times over! Their biggest hits in the age of COVID-19 would probably be 'All You Need Is Soap,' or, 'I Want to Wash Your Hand.'

Wherever you are physically, you have now been living with – and adapting to – a drastically altered world for almost two months. It isn't news for any of us that the Coronavirus crisis has led to hundreds of countries closing national borders and announcing lockdowns. It has disrupted global supply chains and tourism flows. According to research on the 'Psychological Aspects of COVID-19 Pandemic in the General Population', the impact on individuals can include a fear of the virus itself, collective grief, prolonged physical distancing, and social isolation, along with financial insecurity and uncertainty.

But as it impacts countries, communities, and individuals, it is also teaching us lessons in humanity, prediction, action, and collaboration. When we feel like all our 'troubles seemed so far away, yesterday', it would be wise to also remember to 'let it be.' Disruption and ambiguity are part of life. What matters is: do we have enough resilience? And if we don't, how can we build it?

Here are my key takeaways, inspired by the Fab Four, to drive resilience in this time of uncertainty:

We can work it out

Remote working does not allow for a work-life balance. In the post-COVID world, it's all about work-life integration. Today, as we adapt to working from home while sharing space with children and pets, we have also taken on the additional roles of teachers, day-care coordinators, and chefs. It's now routine to have a colleague's child needing attention in the middle of a conference call, or someone's pet deciding to jump onto their lap during a team video call.

As we all begin to acclimate to this new virtual reality, it is essential to remember that events like these are simply going to happen, because a routine workday now includes our families. At Genpact, we now have teams organizing bring-your-child-to-work days. We've learned that embracing these spontaneous moments can offer critical opportunities to discover new dimensions of our co-workers and clients. Even in times of social distancing, these can ultimately help us build deeper relationships with each other.

With a little help from my friends

During this unprecedented time, when new ways of working are becoming the norm, social isolation is also making it difficult for employees to stay focused and maintain productivity. It is, thus, essential for organizations to find new ways to keep their teams engaged. What we all need now is compassion, stability, hope, and a renewed sense of purpose. At Genpact, we're taking the following steps to make sure each of us gets by with a little help from our friends:

  • Regular town halls and a weekly video from our CEO help renew feelings of trust during these uncertain times
  • Friday happy hours and bingo sessions foster collaboration and help our teams end the week on a happy note
  • Our new intranet page, accessible by our 90K+ workforce globally, is creating a movement that celebrates Everyday Heroes from among our employees

We took these steps not just to highlight positive sentiment across the organization, but also to generate a sense of belonging and pride in the work we do and celebrate our culture. And, as our people share their stories and shine a spotlight on their colleagues, our social handles and internal newsletters have featured some wonderful anecdotes about amazing people across our businesses. We've seen so many stories of hope, resilience, and pride, such as the employee who arranged for special permission to drive a colleague's family back to their hometown. Or another who has been making sure that stray animals don't go hungry, and also distributing food supplies to the local communities that need it the most. Our people are making masks, raising funds, and encouraging each other to carry on carrying on.

Say you want a revolution

During the lockdown in India, one of our employees had to take her dad to the hospital for dialysis. But even through this time of personal challenge, she took the time to clear a certification exam offered by APMP (Association of Proposal Management Professionals), which made her more productive in her current role.

Even as the Coronavirus changes our lives – maybe forever – the need to adapt and reskill still remains a constant. The half-life of skills will be 3–5 years, and continuous reskilling will be imperative for surviving in the new world.

Even as it becomes critical for individuals to be curious, humble, and able to learn new tricks, organizations will also need to re-look at their model of reskilling. Online learning will be even more relevant than ever before. And customized learning paths will need to be chosen over the one-size-fits-all policy. Genpact's Genome proposition was always based on being virtual, and there couldn't be a better time for our people to delve into it.

Let me end by revealing a way in which I've personally upskilled – I learned how to give myself a haircut while in lockdown!

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