Traditionally, employee-engagement activities have enabled organisations to nurture common interests among employees, while familiarising them with the organisational culture. These engagement activities not only boost employee morale but also pave the way for better communication, higher productivity and positive mental health.
During these COVID times, when remote working has drastically reduced the face time between employees, the role of employee-engagement initiatives has become all the more vital now, in ensuring that employees remain connected in a positive spirit as they adjust to the new normal.
Understanding the importance of engaging employees through fun activities during the work- from-home period, e-commerce platform, Flipkart, has prioritised and reimagined its employee-engagement initiatives. It has customised them virtually to reinforce the camaraderie among employees.
Krishna Raghavan, chief people officer, Flipkart, says, “Engagement activities have always served as a medium for employees to connect with one another through common hobbies they are passionate about and foster greater bonds among them.”
For the employees of Flipkart, fondly called ‘Flipsters’, the Company has undertaken some initiatives that indeed bridge the gap between them.
“We have a ‘people first’ culture, and our employees are at the heart of all our initiatives. As we’ve built our teams over the years, we’ve deepened our understanding of the role that employee-engagement activities play in boosting morale and improving mental well-being, among employees.”
Quarantine Creativity: For the shutterbugs in the group, a one-hour photography workshop was conducted, by Bengaluru’s ace photographer, Rohit Sarcar. The workshop introduced Flipsters to the art of taking great pictures on their phones and DSLR cameras, even when they are at home.
This was followed by a contest, where Flipsters had to submit the best picture they had clicked using the ‘Rule of Thirds’. At the end of the round, four lucky winners were rewarded.
Bake with Joonie Tan: Baking can be a destressor for many, and the leadership at Flipkart tends to believe in this mantra. A 60-minute baking workshop was organised for those who love to bake and for beginners looking to learn the science of baking. Flipsters and their families joined an informative session with celebrity chef and Bengaluru’s favourite, Joonie Tan, from Lavonne Academy of Baking Science & Pastry Arts.
Dance Flipkart Dance: Better cardio fitness and heaps of fun are just some of the benefits of a good dance workout. A month-long dance workshop was organised for Flipsters, where they learned choreographed routines from fellow Flipsters, in four different genres – Bollywood, Western Bollywood, Punjabi and Salsa. Around 1070 Flipsters have participated in the programme till date. A bonus dance workshop was also organised for junior Flipsters, that is, the children of Flipkart employees.
Chef Diaries: The lockdown period saw many people try their hand at cooking for the first time. In order to make home cooking easier for Flipsters, a four-week programme was organised in collaboration with Slurp Studio’s Chef Sarabjeet and Chef Faseeulla. These chefs taught Flipsters to make nine fun and easy food items with the help of written recipes and video tutorials.
Organic farming classes: For the aspiring horticulturists and sustainability enthusiasts, a workshop on the benefits and importance of organic farming, including a Do it Yourself (DIY) session on growing microgreens at home was organised. Another workshop covered the basics of setting up a terrace or balcony garden for growing veggies, from scraps, which are traditionally discarded. Both sessions were conducted live online, with instructors and Flipsters joining from across India.
“The well-being of our employees is important to us, and we are equipping them with resources that will help them take care of their physical and mental health, as they continue to work remotely,” Raghavan adds.
Further, to foster a sense of togetherness, Flipkart has been encouraging employees to continue engaging with each other over ‘Digital Chai Breaks’, online communities and even give each other virtual tours of their workspaces. These initiatives have strengthened the bond between Flipsters, enabling them to stay connected and remain positive.
Family Comes First: Recognising the importance of spending time with one’s family, Flipkart has also curated several inclusive engagement programmes to involve the families of Flipsters.
Raghavan of Flipkart believes that even while adjusting to new ways of working, it is important to spend time with the people we love – our families and friends.
Below are the several programmes designed according to the various age groups involved.
Digital Pet Party: Pets play an important role in relieving stress and providing companionship. To introduce Flipsters’ furry friends to one another, a digital pet party was organised, where people joined in with their pets and conducted a short ‘show and tell’. Over 200 Flipsters and their family members, especially children, enjoyed the session thoroughly.
Big Online Family Quiz: Nothing brings the family together like a big fun quiz night. This activity saw Flipsters along with their family members, friends and flatmates competing in a virtual quiz that covered various topics, such as music, movies, books, comics and general knowledge, to win exciting prizes. This activity has received an overwhelming response from the participants. So far, three rounds of family quiz have been organised.
Mix & Mash: To enable Flipsters to unwind and enjoy soul-soothing melodies, a homestyle music gig was conducted virtually. Flipsters from across the country, along with their families, tuned in for the session.
Arty Crafty Time: For the young ones in the family, an hour-long fun art & craft workshop was organised, where junior Flipsters, along with their parents, learned how to create art. The activity allowed children to explore their creative instincts as well as spend time with their parents.
“Each of these activities has been curated with care to enhance the work-from-home experience for Flipsters and involve the whole family,” the CPO adds.
Culture of inclusivity
As India’s homegrown e-commerce entity, Flipkart has been at the forefront of building an inclusive and diverse workforce.
In Raghavan’s words, “We believe in creating equal opportunities at the workplace that enable every single employee to feel empowered. We have a ‘people first’ culture, and our employees are at the heart of all our initiatives. As we’ve built our teams over the years, we’ve deepened our understanding of the role that employee-engagement activities play in boosting morale and improving mental wellbeing, among employees.”
The e-commerce firm has established a community called ‘Sters’, which includes groups for rap and poetry lovers, puzzle aficionados, doodlers, actors and theatre enthusiasts, calligraphers and more.
“During the current period, when most of us are working from home, we have focused our efforts on reimagining and customising engagement activities so that they can be pursued online with as much zeal and excitement as before,” Raghavan explains.
Culture of care
When asked about the comeback plan, Raghavan says, “The most important thing for us is the safety and well-being of our employees. We are taking a calibrated, phased approach to resuming work at our office campus in Bengaluru. As a start, we are beginning with teams that are currently unable to work optimally from home, owing to limited infrastructure.”
The online firm has advised expectant mothers; employees with young children, or with elderly parents at home, or with underlying medical conditions; differently-abled employees and those outstation or residing in containment zones to continue working remotely.
“We have made the required seating arrangements on campus to ensure social distancing in cafeterias and other common areas. We have enabled an online seat-booking system for those who plan to come to the office, which ensures that planning is done efficiently as we continue to remain ‘safety-first’,” shares the CPO.
For its 1.2 lakh supply-chain employees, the Company has organised over 4000 awareness sessions and has equipped them with the necessary tools to ensure safety, as they continue to deliver products to consumers.
“This is a reflection of our ‘Culture of Care’ where we have undertaken various measures for the benefit and safety of our supply-chain employees and delivery partners,” he adds.
Moreover, the Company has revisited the current coverage of insurance schemes and has added additional benefits to shield its employees and delivery partners from the impact of the ongoing pandemic.