The following blog has been written by Shikha Singhal, Axtria’s People Practices leader. Shikha is passionate about building positive workplaces that exude success, happiness, and pride. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has endeavored to ensure Axtrians remain productive, motivated, engaged, and connected.
There is no denying that these are unprecedented times, times of high stress, and uncertainty across the globe. Unemployment rates are at an all-time high. There is vast distress resulting from delayed or deferred decisions and processes – be it in hiring or onboarding or performance appraisals. The pandemic is forcing businesses across the globe to slow down with the consequent impact on employee morale and overall workplace culture.
At Axtria, our employees’ well-being and success have always been the number one priority. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, that priority holds even more weight. So, how has Axtria achieved employee centricity, and how do we continue to maintain it? The answer lies in keeping employees at the center of our decisions, especially during transformative moments, and by upholding a culture of caring.
We are fortunate and proud to be working in the life sciences industry. If anything, the current coronavirus crisis has made us even more passionate and determined towards making a positive impact on patient lives through pharma commercial transformation. We continue to respect and recognize the needs of our employees so that they can, in turn, put our customers first, as optimal customer experiences are directly related to Axtria’s environment and culture. This positive employee-centric workplace model makes it a great place to work for our employees, as well as a great company to work with for our customers!
Our relentless growth is a by-product of a carefully and consciously designed cultural ecosystem that rests on the strong foundation of our values. These values include always doing the “RIGHT” thing for our employees and customers – even when no one is watching. It is these values that are our guiding compass in every situation, including the current crisis, which helps us take a higher path of compassion and courage. Thanks to our robust and secure IT infrastructure, as well as extensive collaboration capabilities, every Axtrian is working from the safety of their homes.
Measures to accelerate the culture of growth, learning, pride, and excellence.
Kate McGahan has said – “Deep within every crisis is an opportunity for something beautiful.” How we interpret, respond, and bounce back from this crisis will define how we survive and thrive. Right from recruitment to retirement, there are several measures that Axtria is taking, not only to ensure business-as-usual for our employees and customers, but more importantly, to accelerate the culture of growth, learning, pride, and excellence. These include:
Axtria continues to hire aggressively at all levels in various geographies across the globe. Our employees are our greatest asset, and we are looking for dynamic professionals who are passionate about data & analytics, cloud software, and operations. Every year, Axtria rolls out several job offers to the various campuses that we hire from in India and the US. We eagerly look forward to welcoming our campus recruits as we prepare for their six-week-long robust and rigorous induction program.
ONBOARD NEW HIRES
We continue to onboard new hires every week, integrating them into our India, US, and EU offices with the same warmth and enthusiasm. The lack of handshakes and in-person touch is more than made up for by the frequent and structured video connects – not just with individuals, but quite often and to our delight (given the current lockdown), with their entire family! The induction kits have been fleshed out to the “T” to allow for quick ramp-up and settling in. The legacy “Bright Beginners” sessions (sessions with Axtria’s leaders to understand the company’s vision, journey, and values) as well as the 543 HR connects (5th day, 4th week, and 3rd month connects) are seamlessly happening over Microsoft Teams. In short, we invest in our employees’ success by providing an excellent environment for them to flourish.
At a time when the pandemic is forcing companies across the globe to either delay their appraisal cycle or cut back the pay-outs or lay-off completely, we are fortunate to be able to keep our promise to our employees. We closed our annual appraisal cycle in April with even better promotions and heftier increments than previous years, despite the tough economy and looming recession. The numbers, in most cases, have been too good to be true!
UPSKILL & RESKILL
While every organization is doing its best to provide a variety of learning and development (L&D) opportunities, very few manage to make it an organizational fabric or imbibe a learning culture as their DNA. When we started with the Axtria Institute (our L&D organization) in 2013, we understood little about this difference. Today, the Axtria Institute is synonymous with one of the best training programs in the analytics industry. Besides all the usual Axtria Institute programs, we recently rolled out the “Learn & Earn” initiative – a one-of-its-kind opportunity for our associates to complete Coursera specializations in big data, analytics, and AI/ML. In this initiative, employees can not only get reimbursed for the course fee but also earn unbelievable cash rewards! Unsurprisingly, the action is a massive hit among young Axtrians, and we have hundreds of enrolments coming in every week.
In the spirit of complete transparency, our CEO, Jassi Chadha, addressed the global Axtria family through a virtual townhall. It was quite a sight to see hundreds of Axtrians logged in from different parts of the globe, feeling united as we watched a video that captured glimpses into our virtual meetings and pow-wows. Jassi leveraged the opportunity to share all facts as they relate to our business, balance sheets, achievements, people, culture, processes, investments, and priorities. It was real, it was inclusive, and it was promising! The leadership team wrapped up the event with several virtual messages that reinforced Jassi’s promising address to the employees and provided clarity on the way forward.
EMPLOYEE WELLNESS PROGRAMS
Our employee wellness programs and benefits have been enhanced across the globe. For example, in the US - confidential counseling services to help any Axtrian with challenges relating to work/family/stress/finances, etc. and in India - an on-call doctor to cater to any emergencies and free physiotherapy sessions through a certified practitioner. Additionally, we are working towards rolling out virtual meditation sessions and a stepathlon (whereby the business units will be competing with each other for maximum steps during the week).
I feel proud to see that the lockdown in various geographies has not been able to lock down the spirit of Axtrians! Employees have been participating whole-heartedly in several company initiatives:
- An “Isolated but United” campaign (encouraging Axtrians to turn on their cameras and take screenshots of their team meetings).
- A hilarious “You ‘Meme” the World to Us” contest (meme-ing their new colleagues – their pets and kids –while working from home).
- Insightful “Virtual Diaries” (sharing tips and tricks for working from home, wellness practices, their favorite recipes, and information of the like).
- The “Take Your Child to Virtual Work Day” initiative (including “Shark Tank” for kids, online STEM games & educational resources, and home-delivered pizzas).
- A virtual chess competition and weekly online quizzes.
Like every other group in the organization, Axtria Club and Life at Axtria (teams of passionate Axtrians who shape the fun quotient at Axtria) have many more virtual celebrations and spirited contests planned for the coming months.
In our relentless pursuit of continued excellence, it is our people who have made us a great place to work year after year. As an organization, we are always committed to investing in our people. Our Crisis Management Team continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation. In turn, they are working diligently on processes, infrastructure, and policies to ensure our people’s safety and well-being while also minimizing any impact on our customers. Amidst all of the speculation around the governments’ future course of action, we are prepared to do the “RIGHT” thing in all possible scenarios.
At Axtria, we are clear on our priorities, are passionate about our purpose, determined to make an impact, and empowered by an entrepreneurial culture. We are doing well today and moving towards a better tomorrow. It is an exciting time to be at Axtria!
We wish that everyone stays safe, healthy, and positive. This, too, shall pass!