Purpose-enabled progress: worker well-being can help Indian companies recover

It has been a difficult year and a half for everybody. Employees, managers and business leaders have all been faced with challenges that have taken their toll. The impact on business, individuals and families has been immense. Working together with purpose and continuing to enable our employees can help us find a way forward out of the disruption and give us goals to drive towards.

Workers in India have had a challenging time during COVID-19. Nearly 95% of them have had concerns about their jobs or financial security throughout the pandemic. However, a similar number of Indian workers told the same survey that they feel optimistic about the next five years in the workplace. This is heartening and perhaps a testament to the resilience of Indian citizens.

That said, it looks inevitable that remote working will continue. By July 2020, as the pandemic really hit home, Google searches for “remote work” in India skyrocketed, growing by over 440%. Flexibility has long been a priority for Indian job seekers, particularly millennials, who now comprise more than half of India’s workforce. I have written previously about enabling flexible work and the likelihood of the “work from anywhere” (WFA) trend becoming the norm. This looks set to become reality in the shape of the hybrid working model, where some workers attend the office, while others continue to work from home or elsewhere.

But while we’ve made some progress, and the digital technology-enabled remote work use case has been very much proven, there is more to do. We need to enable our workers to keep them safe and productive, while also pursuing other initiatives that can help them. Having the tools to be able to work is one thing. Being mentally prepared and comfortable to do so is another.

Trying times testing everybody

I’ve seen my own teams in India work very hard in recent times and in such difficult circumstances. Back when India first went into lockdown, we made sure we could keep our people safe and able to do their jobs from home. We needed to be able to give customers the high level of service they expected, and between our digital tools and our workers’ commitment, we achieved that.

Beyond that, we wanted to make sure that our employees stay safe and as healthy as possible. With that in mind, we introduced an awareness campaign around preventive measures and distributed face masks and sanitizer gel. In addition to physical well-being, mental well-being is an essential focus for us. We want to look after our people, and we want them to feel looked after: to that end, we have arranged skills development programs for employees and their family members, with courses on effective remote working, health and wellness, yoga and some other fun events.

Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) gives employees 24x7 access to counseling services that can assist them with their personal health and wellness. We’ve offered remote medical consultations for employees over their smartphones or laptops, and they can also order medicines and diagnostic services through it. All of this is about helping our people stay healthy, safe and able to go about their day and perform their jobs.

The point of purpose

On top of our programs designed to assist Orange employees through the pandemic, I believe that a collective purpose can help further. My Orange India teams have worked incredibly hard, and I think that being part of a collaborative whole is important. At Orange, we aim to be “the trusted partner who gives everyone the keys to a responsible digital world.” As part of that, I think it’s vital that all our employees feel actively involved in the company’s growth and that being part of that purpose can support mental well-being.

An organization’s purpose builds on what you do and how you do it and focuses on the “why” you do something. At Orange India, I find that purpose can be defined as helping our teams recognize the value that they bring to the organization and, also, where they can add even more value. Having a mission to keep giving our customers great service drives performance, which I believe in turn drives more empowered, happier teams. When your customers are happy and tell you that you’re doing a great job, it enhances satisfaction and supports mental well-being in your work.

Working together powers a better future

We have always had a strong focus on collaboration at Orange, both in how we work and in the solutions that we provide to our customers. Collaboration is a great way to encourage purpose, and teams working together to drive successful results make the whole stronger than the sum of its parts.

I see purpose going hand-in-hand with employee enablement and mental well-being programs as the foundations that will power us forward out of this crisis and onto recovery. A shared goal is a keystone of business resilience. And, in addition to being the right thing to do for our workers, a clear purpose brings knock-on business benefits. As our teams work more effectively with a shared purpose, they serve our customers better and deliver an even better customer experience (CX).

According to PwC, 79% of business leaders now think that purpose is central to business success. In my view, it’s also central to looking after your workers’ well-being, inspiring them, and motivating them on to new heights – which itself leads to improved business benefits. Make purpose a priority.

If you would like to talk further about the issues discussed in this blog, or any digital transformation issues in India, please contact me.

Bala Mahadevan
Bala Mahadevan is CEO, India, at Orange Business. His role incorporates leading Global Communications Solutions and Global Services in India, and he is responsible for designing and executing business strategy to drive business growth in India.
Bala holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India. He is an accomplished leader with a track record of key contributions in various leadership roles, encompassing business transformation, leading global businesses having multi-location, multi-faceted technology environments, setting up off-on shore development & support centers and more. His intense and varied experience in the IT services industry has cut across various service lines, verticals and local-global geographies for over 30 years.