Thanks to earlier experiences with crises, such as the recessions of the 2000s, Newgen Software found itself crisis-proof when the pandemic hit this year. “The whole credit goes to our crisis-responsive culture,” says SJ Raj, SVP – HR & operations, Newgen Software Technologies. “Though the intensity and suddenness were very different from the earlier recessions and slowdowns we’ve faced,” he adds. “It hit us with a lot of uncertainty and we were not sure of what will happen to the business and people. Challenges were coming every day but Newgen, as a company, is very good at handling evolving situations.” A collective response, ample communication and a pyramid structure of reporting are the three pillars that kept the business process management company steady in 2020.
The immediate response was for everybody to huddle together, informs Dr Raj. “We created a team that was orchestrating all the interaction, guiding on protocols to be followed and ensuring supplies. There was a logistics operation that ensured a smooth transition to the cloud with no disruption to the business of our customers.” Thanks to these core teams, the infrastructure for remote work was set up within a matter of days, which helped the Company stay up and running throughout the lockdown.
In a remote work environment, especially at the time of crisis, communication is key. “People have to be fed with lots of information about what is happening around and what people are doing,” says Raj. The organisation’s internal employee-communication platform was abuzz with chatter. “We were publishing a lot of information just to keep the engagement, morale and motivation high.”
“The immediate bosses give individual attention to the schedules of people, enabling their teams to balance both personal and professional responsibilities effectively.”
It is also a time when leaders must go the extra mile to be in touch with their workforce. “There was lots of communication from the leadership, which is continuing even today,” informs Raj. “In fact, immediate bosses are playing a much bigger role. For instance, every morning, they have a review meeting with their teams in which they not only talk about work but also try to get a holistic understanding of the person’s family.”
Pyramid at work
Newgen Software’s pyramid structure of reporting coupled with increased communication from immediate leadership helped the organisation address issues that would have otherwise perhaps not seen light of day. “Our reporting structures are so defined that at the most one person has a maximum of 10 to 15 people reporting to them,” explains Raj. “We call it the pyramid structure, which helps us ensure that every boss or team lead has a true picture of their colleague’s life beyond work.”
The pandemic situation is even grimmer now, says Raj. “It’s not only the individual but even the families that need support, from arranging medicines to shifting hospitals.” The organisation’s various departments, such as operations, HR and infrastructure used their networks to assist people and their families. “Our support was not limited just to the metros where we are present. We made sure that our help reached people even in far-off places,” adds Raj.
This year of working remotely and virtually also provided some new learnings that the Company has added to its crisis-responsive culture. “Output has transitioned from the boss to the individual,” points out Raj, “so now, there’s a lot more focus on people’s schedules.” Besides, considering the Company services clients located all over the world, schedules also had to be adjusted for time zones.
“There are mothers who have small babies to support, some employees have elderly parents to take care of. We realised we had to align to these schedules as well,” says Raj. “The immediate bosses gave a lot of individual attention to the schedules of people, enabling their teams to balance both personal and professional responsibilities effectively.”
All of these factors put together not only helped the company respond to the year’s challenges but also led to some positive developments. “I can happily tell you that productivity and engagement have gone up and our attrition is lower compared to normal times,” states Raj.