Mr. Prashant P. Salgaonkar
Institute of Management Technology, Nagpur had the privilege to host Mr. Prashant P. Salgaonkar- Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)- Shapoorji Pallonji- Engineering and Construction. Mr. Salgaonkar has an experience of over 24 years in the field of Human Resources Management.
The following is an excerpt from the interview with him-
Q1) How have the HR managers been able to keep the employees motivated to work from home?
Ans. After the first phase of lockdown, everyone was so excited that now they can work from home, but after some time everybody got bored sitting at home and they wanted to come back to the office and it was really difficult to convince them to sit at home and continue to work. What we are doing to keep people motivated is we keep them sending regular communication. All the regional heads and departmental heads have regular meetings with their teams on online platforms. After few months we even started with 30 percent in-person attendance so people can start coming to the office. But one of the key things was that we kept communicating with the people, we gave them an SOP, we always showed them that we care for them. All that has created goodwill among the employees and that created a positive wave for us. So that’s how we are taking care of it on various platforms.
Q2) An unprecedented event such as this pandemic, caused a lot of disruptions in the working culture, work from home emerged as a way to tackle this situation, now, as the economy reopens and everything goes back to normal, do you see a need for a new working environment, if yes, then what kind of changes will this new working environment see?
Ans. Interestingly, nowadays the discussion is going on in HR platforms that do we need big offices? Like when I went to Panasonic Japan we had open offices where we just picked our desks and started working. Not only talking about my own company, overall all the HRs are discussing these changes at a senior level. At the same time, people are also discussing the negative part of it like, when you come to the office exchange of ideas happens, the brainstorming that happens in person is at a different level compared to that of online mode. So, I am an HR manager who always looks at both the pros and cons because I’ve also seen one of the big five companies has reverted to the office working scenario because they felt that ideation is a big challenge sitting at home and they’re not progressively looking at the work from the home working scenario as a very big advantage to the organization.
Q3) As COVID-19 force-launched the biggest ever work-from-home experiment globally, putting a question mark on the relevance of workspaces in a post-Coronavirus world, how has it affected an organization like yours who are such a big player in the commercial real estate segment?
Ans. Shapoorji Pallonji is a big company with its field of operations in multiple sectors. In the initial phase of COVID-19, there were difficulties like scarcity of workforce, no work for almost 3 months, relaxation of lockdown also backfired as people headed back to their homes and considering construction industry, which is labor-intensive industry, it had affected the financial health of the company. Even though offices had opened up, but they only provided workspace for just 30% workforce, it had a major impact on revenues, there’ll be a negative impact if compared to last year’s work, but the good thing is we’re bouncing back and we’re hoping to grow back soon and we’re almost there sooner than expected.
Q4) With the possibility of having AI in the workforce turning into a reality, how do you see the future of HR managers considering the changes that’ll come along?
Ans. HR managers have to be more technology-oriented compared to earlier times. When I used to be a guest faculty, our focus used to be on developing relationships with the employees, understanding them, keeping a hold of the good employees by motivating them. This facet remains and what changes is nothing but the mode of it. Earlier it was done face to face, but now with technological advancements, it is being done online. However, this doesn’t change human behaviour and their emotions and they are going to remain. The new challenge for HR Managers will be finding a combination of technology and emotions, utilising them for tasks like recruitment and training along with motivating existing employees.
Q5. Since everything has moved online these days, so has this process. So, how was your experience at IMT Nagpur?
Ans. It was a very good experience; the students are good but unfortunately, with the current limitations we had, I did not get a chance to interact with every student. Had it been an offline lecture it would have been a much more enjoyable experience. But I look forward to visiting your Institute in the future where I would be able to speak more on the topic but from my experience, I can tell that it’s a very good institute.