Employers Extend Help to Fight Smog

20January, 2018by Aradhana

United Airlines canceled its flights to India’s capital because of poor air quality.

Ruhit Sharma works in an audit firm in Gurugram and travels from Noida to work on daily basis. These days he uses an expensive mask to guard himself against the capital’s smog hazard. He confesses he is not a health freak but his daily run to office in smog was making him feel ‘very unhealthy. I felt like I am inhaling in a gas chamber, he says. 

Sharma is one of many commuters in the Delhi – NCR area who struggle to continue the same routine as the city fights with the dirty air. 

Amidst the crisis, some companies came to the rescue of their employees by implementing employee friendly policies. From installing air purifiers at workplace to offering work from home options to employees, new age companies are doing their bit to protect their employees from deadly smog. 

HR Experts say that such practices help companies attract millennial and satisfy their employees.

Schneider Electric India CHRO Rachna Mukherjee said, “The flexibility in working hours and work from home options help our employees continue to deliver best results and work efficiently, without risking their health and undergoing unnecessary stress.” 

Companies are taking the wellness of their employees very seriously… It works not just as a wellness initiative, but also as a very effective team building and engagement tool that helps organisations bring more close to its people. 

Leading toilet seat sanitizer spray brand, PeeSafe, is taking care of their employees by allowing them to leave early by 5:30pm. Apart from distributing anti-pollution masks in office to employees, PeeSafe has announced no fieldwork for sales team during this health emergency in Delhi. 

Travel Company, MakeMyTrip has reinforced its work from-home facility for its employees. Companies have sent out health advisories to all employees with dos and don’ts. Some have distributed anti- pollution masks and enlisted services of a doctor for the well-being of their employees, among other initiatives. Samsung Electronics has installed over 100 air purifiers in its Gurgaon office. 

India’s largest mobile payment & commerce platform, Paytm is offering employees the flexibility to work from home and in particular, expectant mothers within the workforce are being strongly advised to do so. 

Gurgaon based company; Droom is taking required measures to combat the SMOG situation in Delhi/NCR for its employees by distributing high quality N95 antipollution masks to all their employees. The company has also installed air purifiers on all the office floors. Additionally, Droom is conducting training programmes for employee awareness and have rolled out a guide to educate their employees on how to stay safe in such conditions. 

Several companies are also highlighting the initiatives they are taking to reduce pollution. For Instance: Both the facilities at, co-working company, Go Work are a LEED certified- Platinum rated Green Buildings. This certification ensures that the buildings are compliant in all aspects to the environmen. The company is additionally encouraging its employees to wear masks and have a healthy diet to avoid repercussions of the polluted air. 

As the cliche say it’s better late than never, the employers are taking care of health of employees and are now moving beyond gymnasiums. Companies are increasingly recognising that a healthy, less-stressed workforce, benefits both employees’ well-being as well as the company’s bottom line. 

According to a study, Staying@Work, conducted by a global advisory firm Towers Watson, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity, are the three most pressing lifestyle risk factors in the Asia Pacific region, which includes India. However, country is fighting increased risk of air pollution, of late which impacts respiratory and cardiac health apart from inviting host of deadly diseases. 

To take care of employees’ heart , companies are also investing over pedometer-based, mass participation events. For instance: Stepathlon, a virtual platform that urges participants to walk 10,000 steps, has partnered with over 400 companies in India, including Tata Steel, Tata Power, Vedanta and Aditya Birla Group companies, in the last four years. A pedometer is a device, usually portable, which counts each step a person takes by detecting the motion of the person’s hands or hips. 

Taking care of employees’ health is a win-win proposition for both the employers as well as employees. 

In the recent months, Delhi has earned the unenviable distinction of becoming the most polluted city on Earth this month, as air quality has reached epically bad proportions. Specifically on November 8, pollution surged so high that some monitoring stations reported an Air Quality Index of 999, way above the upper limit of the worst category, Hazardous. 

The impact is not just local. United Airlines canceled its flights to India’s capital because of poor air quality. The Lancet Commission on pollution and health reported 9 million premature deaths stemming from air pollution in 2015. More than 2.5 million of these deaths were in India, the most in any single country. 

The airborne particles and toxic chemicals that make up the smog have choked the 19 million residents of the metropolitan area, where merely breathing the air was, at its worst, like smoking 50 cigarettes in a day. Hospitals reported a 20 percent surge in patients with pollution-related illnesses, and doctors have declared a public health emergency. 

New-age ways of mentoring and upskilling women employees after maternity


By Rachna Mukherjee 

From managing family alone to an ambitious career woman with family responsibilities, the role of Indian women has undergone a significant transformation. Juggling between several responsibilities, women today are not just making it to the top across sectors but also making a splash in hitherto unchartered territories. However, post-motherhood, serious disruptions may emerge in their work-life balance. 

A large segment of new mothers today are found struggling between responsibilities of motherhood and that of a workplace. They have to deal with the guilt of leaving their children behind in order to sustain their careers and have a stable support system at home. This sometimes forces them to drop out from regular work. 

While most of women are trying to find their way to deal with it, it is extremely encouraging to see that organisations have realised the importance of this talent pool and hence of supporting the working mothers. Companies today have specific policies crafted to make the workplace conducive for new mothers. It is imperative to have flexible work arrangement policy, maternity as well as paternity policy; training programs etc. to enable working mothers in attaining the right work-life balance. 

More and more organisations today have policies in place that support women employees, especially mothers, to ensure not only continuity of their career but also nurture high career ambitions and facilitate their goals. This approach can go a long way in retaining this valued talent pool. 

As a responsible player, Schneider Electric focuses on empowering women and providing the right environment for their inclusive growth. Work-life balance as a well-being priority is supported by our policies such as enhanced maternity leave Policy, sabbatical policy and family leave policy. Starting from hiring to creating a strong women base in the leadership team, we strive to support women 

Organisation should focus on making exclusive polices for the working mothers like enhanced maternity leave, crèche facility day care facility, global family leave policy, her second innings to hire women from career break especially after maternity. Companies should run special programmeto impart learning and give emotional and psychological assistance to all the employees including working mothers. 

To combat the challenges of maternity discrimination and loss of women in workforce, the government came up with the new Maternity Act, a.k.a the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, 2016. It mandates an expansion in the paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, a leave of up to 12 weeks for a woman adopting a child below the age of three months, and provision of crèche facilities by employers with more than 50 employees. These women-friendly policies will allow the new mothers to take care of their infants further reducing the drop-out rates of organisations. 

The author is the CHRO, Schneider Electric India 

Understanding and nurturing the millennial workforce for an overall organisational growth

TIMESJOBS  AUG 18, 2018, 10.00 AM 

Rachna Mukherjee

Millennials are among the most important segment of the overall workforce of any organisation today. Given the demographic skew of our country, millennials will remain the key component of the workforce in the future as well. Our world is getting shaped by digitisation, connectivity and rapid communication. Organisations across industries are aligning in a way in which they can adopt the technological advancements to bring-in efficiency, improve productivity and stay at par with the standards. Millennials are the new age workforce that believes in rapidity of communication, decision making, innovation and growth while contributing to a higher social purpose. Most importantly, they are the digital natives born in a ‘Digital Era’. We believe, nurturing the millennial workforce in the right way should be considered as a key business strategy, and specific initiatives should be designed to harness the ‘generational diversity’ while ensuring a healthy collaborative workforce. 

Millennials largely seek three strategic elements in employers- a meaningful/ higher purpose career growth, flexibility, and work-life balance. The vast opportunities available in the overall ecosystem, infuses the sense of enthusiasm to learn and adapt more. So, a routine profile without good learning opportunities leads to monotony, low performance or even greater attrition risk among millennials. Hence, the task at hand for organisations is to align organisation’s roles and processes to cater to this millennial orientation, rework a bit on their strategies to create and maintain an engaged workforce. 

Developing a strong millennial workforce: A strong millennial workforce that blends well with the organisational culture and goals and at the same time brings in new perspectives, creativity and innovation can be developed with a few basic strategies that works as a win-win for both employees and employers. Some of them include: 

  1. Meaningful purpose – Along with regular business, involving the millennials for a social cause that aligns with their role or even independent of their roles, is a good way to engage with them. Organisations have started thinking in this direction and are empowering employees with voluntary leaves that gives them the flexibility to take up meaningful activities outside of their regular work.
  2. Learning and growth opportunities – It can be a business initiative where the millennials of the organisation are given an opportunity to independently work on a key project with a mentor from within the organisation. This not only gives millennials a chance to constantly learn but also allows them the required exposure with the seniors. They also get to demonstrate leadership skills. These projects could be then presented to a larger management team that provides recognition and a sense of achievement among the young deserving employees. 
  3. Flexibility of work and well-being – Studies have proven that millennials of today look for organisations that ensure their well-being and believe in flexibility of work hours. At Schneider Electric, our flexible work policies ensure employees can manage their work-life balance. We believe well-being boosts performance and performance boosts well-being, and hence our programs are designed in a way that ensures employee well-being throughout their journey with us. Flexibility at work also allows millennials to pursue their passion with ease.
  4. Creative engagement- In today’s competitive world, the ability of an organisation or an employee to weave in innovation and creativity in what it does is the only mantra that can set it apart from the clutter. It is important to understand that creativity needs fostering and encouragement. It is the outcome of various aspects, especially the freedom to innovate and be unique in their thought process. Other critical factors that enhance creativity includes, the overall culture of an organisation such as trust and openness with its employees, ability to take up risks and challenges, developing interactive employee engagement programs which are fun, inclusive and help in generating ideas. And most importantly accept and learn from failures. In a nutshell, Generational Diversity needs to be built in as a business strategy. From campus hiring to instilling organisational values among the millennials, and finally nurturing their strengths in the journey with the company, organisational programmes must focus on empowering and creating a cohesive work environment. This generation is likely to want leadership to share their concern about the social values embodied by the business and help create fulfilling jobs to get the best pick of the talent pool; making sure that the emphasis is on purpose as well as on profit. 

    The author is CHRO, Schneider Electric India 

More time off for new mothers

HT ShineJobs Correspondent yourviews@ shine.com 

Schneider Electric (SE) India has introduced a slew of benefits for women, including 40% women in the workforce from this year. 

Maternity benefits have been revised from three to six months with full pay with the option of six months extra for part-time work. Flexi work timings and sixmonth sabbaticals for childrens studies and elderly care will also help the organisation focus on diversity at all levels

The initiatives are aimed at 

attracting more women talent to the organisation and to ensure an inclusive environment that provides security as well as flexibility at work, to retain the existing women workforce. SE India is also looking at 50% of all campus recruitments being women

Preference will also be given to women returning to work after breaks and leaders will be nurtured by the organisation. To this end, Urja, a womens leadership programme has been launched

Rachna Mukherjee, chief HR officer, SE India, says, We advocate gender diversity as a key metric for business success. It is one of our core internal values and our vision is to foster a culture of inclusion where all forms of diversity are seen as adding real value for the company.” 

As a part of the diversity agenda, the organisation encourages equal opportunities for women within the larger ecosystem of Indian society. It has institutionalised the Prerna Awards (Schneider Electric Women Awards) under which women entrepreneurs are recognised and motivated for their achievements in male-dominated sectors

Schneider Electric India to ensure 40% of total workforce recruited in 2015 are women

Schneider Electric India to ensure 40% of the total workforce recruited in 2015 are women

Schneider Electric India aims to achieve gender parity in 2015 across all locations. It is focusing on womenfriendly benefits and policies to attract more women talent to the organisation, and is working on an inclusive environment 

that provides security as well as flexibility at work to retain existing women workforce. Schneider targets at hiring 40% women recruits across all levels and is looking at 50% of all campus recruitments being women. Rachna Mukherjee, chief HR officer, Schneider Electric India, said, We advocate gender diversity as a key metric for business success. We believe our success depends on our collective ability to leverage that diversity to create innovative solutions to solve the worlds energy and automation problems.” 

Holistic engagement and Development for the Multi-generational Workforce

Organisations willing to go the extra mile to attract, retain talent 

Talent acquisition and management is the most crucial task for any organisation since these are the powerhouses that propel the organisation forward. Today’s workforce is generationally diverse with entities hiring individuals from different generations. For many years, the Baby Boomers held the reins and front-ended as leaders in various organisations along with being mentors for the Gen X employees. With an ever-increasing number of Baby Boomers now exiting the workspace, it is time for next generations to step into their shoes and take up leadership roles. 

Every generation has an equal contribution to the holistic growth of an organisation. With the technologically advanced younger generations- Millennials & Generation Z now stepping onto the stage –it is important for previous generations to bridge the gap and ensure seamless flow of communication and exchange of knowledge. 

Each group has its own distinct characteristics, values, and attitudes toward work, based on its generation’s life experiences. To effectively incorporate these diverse generations into the work environment, it is essential for organisations to introduce multiple programmes to build awareness and acceptance, and support employees to lead the change and the digital advancements. There is a need to establish a corporate culture that actively demonstrates respect and inclusion for its multigenerational workforce. 

Further, the process of recruitment has also become complex as organisations harness technology to ensure all facets of hiring are covered, the person fits the profile and there are no gaps. Given the digital boom in all spheres, organisations prefer candidates who are not only digitally proficient, but also have hands-on experience of working with latest technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics. 

To ensure holistic development of these young thriving minds, it is critical to formulate innovative programmes wherein the Gen Z and millennials can work effectively with the leadership, mostly coming from older generations. It will facilitate trading of ideas between the existing leadership and the trainees enriching them with valuable experience and insights. To ensure this, many organisations have extensively adopted the concept of ‘Reverse Mentoring’ and are implementing it aggressively. In this initiative, more seasoned officials are guided by the young people on current and emerging themes like digital innovation, effective use of social media etc. This is an excellent way to ensure that everyone in the organisation is aligned with the current trends leading to better synergies among employees across the spectrum and overall collaboration and communication improves significantly. 

Needless to say, while technological changes have swept across organisations rather quickly, even then, it did not happen overnight. Corporates that had foreseen such changes long back were well-prepared 

to deal with the technology led disruption and its implications on the organisation, their employees and future hiring strategies. 

Many organisations now have clear and well-defined training programs and policies in place to help their baby boomers or Gen X employees to cope with the influx of digitisation at workplaces. There are programs that train them on new software, social media, new devices and how all of this can be utilised in the best possible ways to ensure higher productivity and efficiency. 

An important aspect of hiring today is to ensure the right mix of generalist and specialist employees in an organisation. The future organisations are more likely to be characterised by a dynamic T-shaped employee skill set which implies a right amalgamation of generalist and specialists. While the top line representing the generalist is expected to have a good basic knowledge and understanding of all operations, the vertical line beneath represents the skill sets of specialists who are expected to be masters in their domain and respective work area. 

A conducive environment to grow as a professional that ensures work-life balance is the new ask of the young workplace. To ensure this, many employee friendly programs and policies have been introduced so that the employees stay engaged and motivated. Supportive policies like family leave policies, longer maternity and paternity leaves are being introduced. Special training programmes are being conducted for women employees so that they can easily acclimatise at the workplace post a career break. Further, there are dedicated people and programmes to keep them updated about all developments that take place in the organisation during their absence. 

Many organisations now have clear and well-defined training programs and policies in place to help their baby boomers or Gen X employees to cope with the influx of digitisation at workplaces. There are programs that train them on new software, social media, new devices and how all of this can be utilised in the best possible ways to ensure higher productivity and efficiency. 

Organisations are driving well-defined leadership interventions catering to all generations’ in- order-to nurture and provide the best development for future leaders. These leadership interventions are strategically developing and creating leaders of tomorrow. By nurturing the future leaders and imparting the right development focused on education/experience/ exposure; succession planning is supported that guides career paths, thereby increasing retention of employees. In addition to nurturing and retaining the employees, leadership programs help in developing required leadership styles, better decision-making capabilities and higher productivity. The success of leadership interventions depends on leaders building leaders across levels, as an efficient leadership engine is driven. 

Undoubtedly, an employee’s expectations from their organisation are changing dramatically and companies are ushering in innovative programmes and stepping up their engagement to attract and retain talent. While adapting to digital approach is critical, holistic development is an absolute must!

About the Author Rachna Mukherjee, Chief Human Resources Officer, Schneider Electric, India. She has worked extensively in the areas of Talent Management, Career/ Succession Planning, Organisation Capability, Change Management, Leadership Development, Employee Engagement, Compensation and Organisation Design. Prior to joining Schneider Electric, she was Vice President HR at Aircel Ltd. She has managed HR for the organisation through its exponential growth phase. Rachna has also played key strategic roles in organizations such as Microsoft, IBM, Escotel Mobile Communications, NIC and Blue Star – Hewlett Packard. Rachna is a recipient of the Business World Woman HR Leader of the Year Award, 2016. She carries a diverse experience of over 25 years. She is a certified Executive and Life Coach from International Coach Federation and certified to conduct a series of leadership and employee development interventions by organisations like Hay, Gallup, DDI, Covey Institute etc. and is an achievement motivation trainer. Rachna is an Electronics & Electrical Engineer from BITS – Pilani and after an initial contribution to Engineering roles, she moved to Human Resources.