This should be top priority in any return-to-work strategy

A CHRO at a bank shares their business continuity plans

This should be top priority in any return-to-work strategy

Employee safety was always a top priority and will continue to be amidst the COVID-19 crisis, said Srirang Thirumalai Kumara, Group CHRO and Head - Infrastructure Management and Services Group at ICICI Bank.

As banks are considered an essential service in most regions and may remain open throughout lockdown periods, Kumara shared how the leadership team prioritised employee safety, especially for staffers who need to go to work.

In a recent panel discussion at a Skillsoft virtual event, Kumara also spoke about how the company prepped for employees to work remotely.

READ MORE: Study to reveal concerns about the 'new normal'

He outlined several priorities when managing the workforce during the crisis. His leadership team frequently asked questions like:

  • How is the situation evolving?
  • What are the business parameters you need to serve customers daily?
  • Can the work be done at home/remotely?
  • If not, what protocols are needed for the office?

He said the team typically meet twice a day – once in the morning and again in the evening – with the most discussed issue being employee safety.

“The business continuity planning (BCP) team’s focus was to establish a basic working model that would serve the customer and [pandemic] requirements at the point of time,” he said. “Safety certainly will be the first question that we asked every day in the morning.”

Much earlier on in the crisis, like many employers, the company cancelled all business trips and conferences to ensure employees remained safe.

Additionally, they took extra precautions to monitor employees and track their travels since January. Upon return, the bank requested employees monitor their health not just for themselves, but also for the safety of their co-workers.

READ MORE: Working from home to continue for 'foreseeable future'

The next thing discussed as part of business continuity plans was to ensure that only employees who needed to be at work went in.

When figuring out whether staff need to return to work, always ask if they’re required to be in office to carry out their duties. And if they are, Kumara said the team would discuss about the sanitisation standard needed to keep workplaces clean and safe staffers going in.

“The first thing was to ensure was [safety],” he said. “Second, was to ensure that we had a business process running and functioning and ensuring that it was evolving to serve the public. These were the large areas of focus for us.”

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