The manufacturing sector suffered a debilitating blow, with disruptions in production processes and supply chains, forcing the industry to take up a hybrid (part onsite and part remote work) model and a plethora of new worker welfare steps and reaching healthcare services to employees. The covid-19 pandemic has brought a tidal shift across the industries in terms of organisational transformation and the way companies operate.
Unlike the IT firms that were familiar with and worked remotely even before the pandemic, manufacturing units like this Pune-based Garware Technical Fibres had to train some of its employees to work from home. “Since the company belongs to the manufacturing & production sector, it is not possible to implement the work from home model as a blanket policy. But we have provided laptops and data cards to the employees engaged in roles that are not related to operations & plants,” said Ravendra Mishra , Head - Human Resources, Garware Technical Fibres.
Mishra said a major challenge the company faced was to maintain the manufacturing operations during the pandemic that witnessed lockdowns, labour crisis owing to workers’ migration to villages, and supply side disruptions. To overcome these, the company set up a Task Force to roll out SOPs, enforce the Covid-19 guidelines, and keep the work environment safe. The Task Force also reached medical help to all virus-infected employees and helped them with medicines, food supplies and any other assistance they needed.
Adopting a compassionate stand, Garware Technical Fibres also assumed the responsibility for the financial and psychological wellbeing of the family, in case of an unfortunate death of an employee.
Elaborating on the employee assistance initiatives, Mishra, said, “We had held sessions with psychologists for employees who were facing anxiety and other mental health issues during the pandemic. There were also sessions chaired by CMD, mainly to talk about each other’s emotions and provide psychological safety.”
The HR department also organised various bonding activities like quizzes, virtual team lunches and virtual festival celebrations as well to keep the employees engaged.
On the recruitment front, the company continued with its hiring priorities to get the top talent in the market that was aligned to the company culture and with the relevant knowledge about the role, product & territory, Mishra said. In view of health safety concerns, all onboarding, induction and training sessions for new recruits from all over India were held virtually.
“We have been highly active in engaging with our new recruits so that they can connect with the company and the people here in a better manner since many of them might be working from home initially. Also, all support in terms of product training and handholding for initial few weeks are provided by the managers and team members,” Mishra said.
Garware Technical Fibres hired about 100 employees and 30 trainees during the last one and a half years, from March 2020 to December 2021, taking its employee strength across locations in India to 1105.
Preparations for the third wave
The company, like others in the industry, has readied itself to face the surge in Covid cases in the third wave. Sharing the preparatory measures taken at Garware Technical Fibres, Mishra said, “We have started tightening the safety measures across the organisation with the help of Covid Task Force and we have restricted movement of people and visitors in the factory premises.”
“Special attention, regular one-on-one calls are done by GTFL Leadership Team and Task Force members with the Covid-affected employees to understand their and their family members’ wellbeing and also to extend the required support,” Mishra added.
The company has also moved back to a hybrid-working model for the employees in the corporate office and onboarded additional doctors for help as and when required.
Besides that, for easier contact tracing, it has been made compulsory for the employees to fill in the self-declaration forms, and declare health information about themselves, and their family members, and also give information on the places they visited. The company has also formed department-wise WhatsApp groups, in which the employees are needed to update their own health status and that of their family members every day.