Article (July-2021)


Organisations need to focus on physical, emotional and social well being

Uma Rao

Designation : -   VP and Head HR- Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicles

Organization : -  Ashok Leyland, Chennai


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Is work life balance still deemed as a misnomer in the culture of productivity or pandemic has changed this thought process?

UR Productivity is commonly defined as a ratio between the output volume and the volume of inputs. In other words, it measures how efficiently production inputs, such as labour and capital, are being used in an economy to produce a given level of output. In recent times this topic of productivity has undergone vast research especially with regard to employee productivity. Employee productivity is a key to business performance. The higher the productivity, the better are the business results by and large. A lagging productivity figure calls for a diagnostic exercise and almost always indicates low employee morale and engagement. Among the various aspects that positively impact employee productivity like an inspiring boss, tools of productivity to avoid waste of effort and time and the like, the most valuable aspect is physiology, which is taking care of one' body, both by what one eats, the exercise one gets, and the time one spends in nature to feel refreshed mentally and physically. This aspect was gaining a lot of importance in recent years and companies have paid attention to it in various ways like unique employee engagement initiatives, compensation and benefits restructuring towards employee care, modified leave policies, etc. Hence, work life balance ceased to be a misnomer in the last decade but the realization has heightened during the pandemic. The pandemic has made many organisations realize the value of their human capital and how fragile businesses could be if they did not manage it well.

How do you underline the importance of work-life balance in present pandemic period?

UR A pandemic is a life changing event and has significantly altered our lives as one could never imagine. This is a very traumatic event and can bring great deal of fear due to the uncertainty in the environment, the brutal impact of the virus and simply not being able to do all the regular things a person has been used to for years. People are social animals and can be stressed when asked to practice social distancing. To adjust to this change and also work productively is the biggest challenge people are facing since more than a year now. This being the scenario, and given that work from home was not a norm in India in most organisations, there are several challenges for the employees to work as normal. Some of the challenges are that organisations may not have been ready to enable so many employees to work remotely and having a dedicated workplace in a home where are all family members work remotely is next to impossible in most homes. Further, transition times from work to home and home to work got blurred due to no physical demarcation of workplace and home. This has created challenges like extended work timings, digital fatigue, inability to speak and emote with colleagues physically as also inappropriate behaviour with women employees at times. All of these challenges can stress employees and make them unproductive. Therefore, it is very important to maintain work life balance to allow for space and time for employees to come to terms with a changed life - both personal life and professional life.

What new challenges have been posed by pandemic induced Remote working or WFH as it has become living at work?

UR Our lives have changed completely due to the pandemic as stated earlier. Extended work hours, lack of consciousness of personal time of employees by managers, digital fatigue, mental wellness issues, lack of personal workplace in the house leading to disturbance while working are some of the challenges which many people are facing. Work from home was not practiced as a regular way of working in many organisations and perhaps this has also lead many managers to go on an over drive to prove they are at work and highly productive too which has also been a contributing factor to extended work hours.

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