Pandemic bonding at workplace

Many professionals have come forward to help and assist their colleagues and co-workers in these times, leading to creation of stronger bonds and friendships

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Now that we are into the second year of the pandemic, we can only hope for things to go well in the coming year. With remote working becoming the norm since March 2020, many of the HR folk worried about how they would foster stronger bonds and encourage camaraderie within the workforce. With all the social distancing and COVID protocols in place, some thought people would end up feeling lonely and fostering new relationships would be a challenge. However, every crisis teaches us something, and sometimes these lessons are very surprising and unexpected!

“The pandemic has been treating everyone equally, irrespective of who they are or which economic strata they belong to. It is affecting one and all, which is why people are coming out to help each other, and in doing so, establishing bonds at the workplaces.”

Reetu Raina, CHRO, Quick Heal

While the general impression was that people would feel left out and the bond-building exercises conducted remotely would lose their real essence, the second wave of the pandemic actually proved otherwise. Yes, people have suffered, families have lost their loved ones and companies have had to struggle to stay afloat. However, on the other hand, there is no denying the fact that this global crisis has also brought human beings closer to each other. In fact, while making professional calls, irrespective of who the other person is, I personally have developed the habit of enquiring after their and their family’s health. I can sense, it means a lot to those at the other end of the line. Many organisations have focused on developing these habits within their teams — of checking on each other regularly.

Examples abound, of employees stepping up and coming forward to help each other in these gloomy and challenging times. Irrespective of the rank of the people or the department or location they belong to, co-workers and colleagues have gone out of their way to lend support to each other. This has truly facilitated the creation of new bonds and friendships at work.

           “One of my national heads in Europe arranged for necessary kits — comprising essential items such as bed sheets, food, groceries — which may be required for someone working in a different location and admitted to one of the COVID Care centres arranged by the Company. There are many such stories at Essar.”

Tanaya Mishra, global CHRO, Essar Projects

Interestingly, building of bonds has not just been limited to the office, but has gone much beyond the workplace. Reetu Raina, CHRO, Quick Heal, shares one such example where one of her ex- colleague’s friend’s husband was battling COVID. Raina’s ex-colleague reached out to her seeking help. Raina put them in touch with her brother, who is a doctor, and now her brother is in constant touch with the patient’s wife and family, guiding them through the crisis. The point to be noted is that, Raina does not even know that lady personally and neither does her brother. Yet, they went all out to support her. This has laid the foundation for a new relationship between them.

Likewise, Raina shares that many colleagues have reached out to her, whom she may never have met or heard of before, but whom she has helped in her full capacity. In fact, she shares that amongst her own employees, she has observed people coming together and assisting each other. She can see that new bonds and friendships are being built all around her.

“Whenever there is a crisis, I believe that it is human tendency to come together and stand firm for each other. I have seen many of my employees helping each other to organise beds, food supplies, medicines or injections, creating stronger bonds between them.”

Ranjith Menon, SVP-HR, Hinduja Solutions

“The pandemic has been treating everyone equally, irrespective of who they are or which economic strata they belong to. It is affecting one and all, which is why people are coming out to help each other, and in doing so, establishing bonds at the workplaces,” mentions Raina.

Tanaya Mishra, global CHRO, Essar Projects, tells HRKatha that there are many instances of employees at Essar Projects — working in different countries and belonging to different nationalities — reaching out and coming forward to help each other.

“One of my national heads in Europe arranged for necessary kits — comprising essential items such as bed sheets, food, groceries — which may be required for someone working in a different location and admitted to one of the COVID Care centres arranged by the Company. There are many such stories at Essar,” shares Mishra.

“Why just the workplaces, even within our society people are making new relations by extending a helping hand to one another”

Ravi Mishra, SVP-HR, Global epoxy business, Aditya Birla Group

“I truly see an environment where new bonds and relationships are being developed as people are connecting with each other from across locations, to offer help and support,” adds Mishra.

Ranjith Menon, SVP-HR, Hinduja Solutions, talks of one of his colleagues who has helped over 20 people in her office procure beds and medicines. Having helped each one who reached out to her, little wonder that many are grateful to her and cherish the fruitful bonds that these interactions with her have been converted into.

“Whenever there is a crisis, I believe that it is human tendency to come together and stand firm for each other. I have seen many of my employees helping each other to organise beds, food supplies, medicines or injections, creating stronger bonds between them,” tells Menon.

At Aditya Birla Group, employees made contributions to provide financial assistance to some of the contract workers who were not on the rolls of the Company. Almost 99 per cent of the workforce came forward to donate towards the cause. In this case, even though there may not have been a direct physical contact, any contract worker who may have benefited from the fund, would have developed deeper and stronger feelings for the Company and its employees.

“Why just the workplaces, even within our society people are making new relations by extending a helping hand to one another,” points out Ravi Mishra, SVP-HR, Global epoxy business, Aditya Birla Group.

If we give it some thought, we may be able to come up with innumerable incidents in our professional lives, where we have witnessed the development of such bonds. These may be short-lived, but at times they may last a lifetime. However, irrespective of how long they last, helpful gestures from colleagues and fellow workers in times of crisis are rarely forgotten.

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