Virtual Onboarding – a different perspective to include

The face of how we work has shifted dramatically in the last few months due to the ever-evolving COVID-19 global pandemic. With timelines remaining indefinite and an undoubtedly “new normal” settled, we are in a space where we need to adopt new tools and strategies to make remote working environments feasible and effective. The pandemic has upended many of our traditional business processes — including employee on-boarding.

The COVID pandemic has pushed many companies to choose remote working as a norm. IT infrastructure is in fact allowing employees to work from home indefinitely. Hence it will be very important for companies to create a structured on-boarding plan specifically for the remote employees to seamlessly integrate them into the organisation.

The first day at a job is overwhelming for most employees with new workspace, new team, new technology and systems. The feeling is more conspicuous in case of a new employee in a virtual work scenario.

As the saying goes, “first impression is the last impression”; what the employee experiences during the first few months plays a big role on the employee’s success and the first tryst with inclusion in the organisation. Here are some of the approaches to an effective on-boarding programme for your remote workforce.

1.    Celebrate new beginnings – While the logistical elements of on-boarding like Laptop, ID card, Email Id, Login ID & passwords are what every company provides, it’s key to start by welcoming new joinees to the team. Kick off a successful remote on-boarding experience by sending a virtual introduction about your new team member to the company, sharing a little bit about who they are, and how they will be contributing. This will help your new employees feel connected to the company and empowered to create effective working relationships with their peers.

2.    Get some Face Time – During remote on-boarding, all meetings with your new employee should be done over video call to establish a face-to-face personal connection. It’s pretty impossible to completely replace in person connections, but it’s worth a shot until your new hires are back in the office again. Do remote team building activities like trivia or a happy hour where everyone joins with their own beverage from home and or just be in their own skin.

3.    Set Clear Expectations – Once you’ve established an interpersonal connection with your new employee and the team, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of remote on-boarding. Create a new-hire checklist that details everything your employee needs to know to be successful within their role. A training schedule should be developed along with time to check-in with your remote team member to see how they’re progressing and answer any questions they might have. It can be tough to know what makes a new boss happy in general, even more so when starting remotely. Clear expectations will help your new hires start off on the right foot. That’s kind of the whole point of on-boarding in the first place, right?

4.    Set 30/60/90 days’ Goals – When on-boarding remote employees, the main difference is that you may have to create a more detailed list of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there, so nothing gets missed. Bear in mind that not being in the same physical space, or even the same time zone, might make new hires feel uncomfortable about asking questions via email or instant messaging. Attempt to be proactive and share a plan in advance with respect to the 30, 60 and 90 days goals.

5.    Virtual Buddy – The main challenges faced by a remote workforce is apart from feeling a sense of isolation & not knowing their team members, they don’t know whom to approach when they have questions. While the manager – employee relationship is still building, they may want to have someone from their peer group who can help them. Have a team buddy to pair up with the new joinee whom they can approach in the first few months for questions regarding the company culture, values, policies, or any other query they might have for which they may be hesitant to approach their manager. This helps immensely in team building and motivating the new hires to work as a part of the team towards common goals.

6.    Feedback – Feedback is very crucial to the entire process. Work out a detailed feedback form that can be filled by the new employees after 1, 3 and 12 months describing their experience with the company and the teams. The feedback received from the new employees provides a fresh perspective and helps you better your on-boarding programme for the future employees.

7.    Manager’s Role in building Psychological safety of the new joinee- The role of the Manager in ensuring that the new joinee settles down in the company, in the team, is comfortable with his deliverables, can approach him/her with concerns is critical. Ensuring all Managers are trained and enabled to build Psychological safety in teams would be key to not only successful new joinee induction but overall team productivity.

According to a study by BCG, companies with an effective on-boarding process for new hires showed 2.5 times more revenue growth and 1.9 times more profit margin. On-boarding cultivates new hires to be “part of the team.” Done well, it can also supercharge new employee productivity by boosting motivation and job satisfaction from day one. Inclusion begins from the first day of Employee Lifecycle; when everyone is included, everyone wins.

Read more

What does it take to reshape the rules, for ourselves, and those around us?

As we explore possibilities while planning our way forward when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion, we often forget the people who put their entire life in making the dream of a diverse and inclusive world a reality in their own ways. In this article, let’s celebrate wins of each and every woman who chose to challenge status quo, chose to speak up, chose to change to rules of the game, and unflinchingly went after what she aspired for and made us all proud.

We have lots of examples- From Indra Nooyi, to Phogat girls, to Mary Kom, to Mithali Raj, to Kiran bedi, Kiran Mzumdar Shaw, Arundhati Roy, and not to forget all the strong successful women who came on our International women’s day Choose to challenge interview series, Riya Dalvi, Kaushiki Srivastava, Pooja Jauhari, Ira Singhal, Megha Mukhija, Bina Pillai, Shauravi Mallik, Tina Vinod, Ruchi Jain and Apoorva Purohit.

Each one of them chose to Challenge and reshaped the rules, and carved a space for themselves, a space they aspired for, a space they dreamt of. Each one of them had a story, faced their own challenges and overcame them. None of them had success served on a platter. They worked for it, even fought for it, struggled for it.

So what does it take to reshape the rules, for ourselves, and those around us? Sharing some insights from the conversation with Apurva Purohit.

It all starts with having the courage to listen to your heart. For each one of us, success can mean different things, and there are no right or wrong answers, but we have the right to choose our own path, unencumbered by societal pressures or expectations.

Next is the perseverance required to stay the course. As we navigate through life, well, life happens. Marriage, children, balancing two careers, elderly care, menopause…and all of these pit stops come up as obstacles. Many women fall off the course at one of these pit stops. Those who are able to navigate have Grit, laser focus on the dream they started with, and the will to ask for help when needed.

Another pertinent question often asked is- can women have it all? Well, the answer is yes, women can have it all. They simply have to define their all and not aim to be perfectionists at everything. Also remember, they will achieve success in different things at different phases in life and that is ok. No one’s life is a straight upward trajectory- whether personal or professional, there are always peaks and troughs.

For women at leadership levels, caught between a wall and a hard rock- on one side if they are tough they are seen as too aggressive and bossy, and if they are empathetic, they are too soft and not leadership material. A simple way to beat this conundrum is to remove the element of gender from leadership and approach each situation on it merit and deal with it the way it deserves. Be tough where it is needed, be empathetic and nurturing where needed, and don’t pay heed to perceptions.

An extremely structured and insightful conversation.

Let’s also look at the journeys of a few women who began to challenge the norms and led to reshaping the rules for not just themselves but for a number of people who shared the same dream. Here I would like to share the names four women whose journeys have inspired other women to pursue their dreams and continue to work towards it (this list isn’t exhaustive as there are many more):

1.      Dr Vina Mazumdar – Dr. Vina Mazumdar was one of the first women to be involved in the ‘twin movements’ of Women’s Studies and Women’s Activism. She spent most of her time understanding the diverse experiences of women in the patriarchal system across India. Through her research, she and her colleagues realized that there wasn’t any widespread knowledge about lived experiences of underprivileged women, thus leading to the advent of the Centre For Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), in 1980. In 1982, Dr Vina Mazumdar became a founding member of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies (IAWS), which conducts national conferences to promote Women’s Studies, even to this day. (R, 2019)


2.      Ela Bhatt – One of the prominent women working for the empowerment of the gender, Ela Bhatt founded SEWA – Self-Employed Women’s Association of India in the year 1972. Not only this, she painstakingly works towards causes of international labor and is a part of several cooperative, women, and micro-finance movements. She is particularly known for her involvement with The Elders’ Initiative which is all about the equality for girls and women. Due to her efforts, she was also honored with the Global Fairness Initiative Award in 2010 and awarded the Radcliffe Medal and the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 2011. (De, 2018)


3.      Pooja Goel – Pooja is the founder of Pink Collar Professionals, she has worked at corporates like Infosys and Edgeverve Systems for three years before pursuing an MBA in Sales & Marketing in 2018. During her time at IMT Ghaziabad, she developed an interest in startups and devoted time to understanding and learning about the processes involved in becoming an entrepreneur. Exploring the startup ecosystem and attending multiple women-oriented summits, it became evident to Pooja that women in the startup ecosystem played a very small part in the larger picture. This gap in ideal numbers led her to come with the idea of Pink Collar Professionals – a platform to help women entrepreneurs. Through PCP, Pooja helps women entrepreneurs chart plans for their success, transform their businesses to go digital and scale successfully. In a span of just three months, Pooja has assisted 34 women entrepreneurs to understand their businesses better and has successfully helped 12 women to work on digital transformation. She is currently providing a three-month mentorship to four businesses. She has been working with entrepreneurs from various sectors including edtech, online healthcare, gifting, clothing, and handmade jewelry. (Gowthaman, 2020)


4.      Ragini Das – Ragini Das along with Anand Sinha, both ex-Zomato executives, have launched Leap, a platform helps mid-career women climb the ladder and reach leadership positions. Initially, available to members in the Delhi-NCR region, the powerful private network will later be open to women from all over India. Leap’s target audience is women in the 30-35 age group who are at the mid-career level. While they have currently chosen 30 founding members, there are 2,000 people on its waitlist, from companies like Google, Netflix, McKinsey & Co., Amazon, Uber, Zomato, BCG, and Teach for India. Apart from one-on-one offline connect meets, the membership also offers therapy sessions and the opportunity to be part of a 15-member peer group that meets every two months. It will have a Speaker Series, where it will bring in industry icons for smaller, intimate sessions. (Gowthaman, 2020)

Taking the examples of the lived realities of the above-mentioned women we also learn how women who have stood up for themselves have also become a powerful force in not just reshaping the rules but also have become strong allies and sponsors for many women just like themselves.

Would love to hear more stories from the readers who are reading this, on how the journey and work of a few individuals have helped them in reshaping their ways of thinking about inclusion and diversity.

Read more

Are we willing to truly bite the bullet ?

Is it too difficult to accept that its absolutely fine if “women cannot have it all”? Every individual lives in a unique context within which they operate and make their decisions and choices. Individuals should be able to exercise their agency to choose with dignity and reasonable responsibility. Respecting and understanding their context is a basic sign of humaneness and humanity. When we talk about humans it includes every individual no matter what label or category one may be put in, be it women, men, LGBTQIA+, persons with disability, belonging to a particular ethnic or social background etc. We must not forget a person is a human first.

There is a need to relax, slow down and reflect on where have we reached with our utopian ideas of perfection, idealism and aggression – with the concept of “having it all”?

Is it for the progress of all or is it for the benefit of an agenda or is it just for the gain of a handful of people? Is our fight systemic and sustainable? When it comes to women we often question – How could anyone voluntarily leave the circles of power for the responsibilities of parenthood or elder care or self-care?

Our perception of creating an equal playing field for all is a dream that still needs a lot of on groundwork to be done. There are often major discussions on policies for period leaves and maternity and paternity leaves. The next area we are talking about now is menopause, but are we aware menopause happens for both men and women with varying degrees.

We talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion at workplaces. Protests for equal rights and equal wages for women were started long back and still going on. Men and women are not equal in terms of biological aspects. Women and men face biological challenges in different degrees and levels of their life stages.

Having said this, we often question – do organizations have policies to take care of their women employees? How far the organizations and workplaces are willing to take time to understand the life stages that can impact balancing professional and personal life for women? This is not a matter of generalization but requires a deep understanding when it comes to decision making on policies and career progression for employees, especially for women.

Keeping the above view in mind, there is also a question on whether policies are really accessible to every woman in a fair, just and equitable manner? Or do they have to work forcefully to protect their jobs during these challenging life stages? Every woman faces monthly menstruation cycles and at later stage menopause around the age of 40 to 50 years. During this life stage woman face a series of severe health complications at the physical, mental, emotional and social level, these changes impact self-esteem, energy levels, mental wellbeing for women which can interfere with their productive work. Can a woman take a leave or get some flexible working conditions to manage these situations?

Organisations in countries like the United Kingdom have started making menopause policy then why organisation in India are still skirting around such pertinent issues. For organizations that have not dedicated themselves to the benefit of women in these aspects of their lives such as menstruation, maternity, and menopause etc., then the inclusion of women employees in such organizations will continue to be a challenge. Such organisations will be dealing with the issue of the leaking bucket at a symptomatic level and not at the root level.

Data says:

  • As per research the age at which menopause naturally occurs may reflect nutritional and environmental circumstances as well as genetic factors.
  • There is evidence that a proportion of women also experienced or are experiencing early menopause which may represent an overall indicator of women’s health.
  • In general, natural menopause occurs between 45 and 55 years of age.
  • Concerns have been expressed that rates of premature menopause (before age 40 yrs.) are high in India and maybe increasing in certain sections of the population. For example, the Indian National Family Health Survey (NFHS-2) showed that 3.1 per cent of women in the age group of 30-34 yrs. and 8.0 per cent among 35-39 yrs. age groups were hitting the menopausal stage. (Pallikadavath, 2016)

Every year we celebrate World Menopause Day on 18th October. Yet a number of us fail to understand the need for women to pay attention to their health at this stage of life. This is crucial as its impact is not only on their physical health but also their emotional and mental health.

It is at this age where women are often left with the dilemma to choose between their personal, family and professional responsibilities. At this stage, a number of women are also beginning or preparing themselves for the leadership journey. Such instances are indicators that the challenges for men and women are very different during their different life stages and this must be taken into consideration before judging an individual’s personal and professional choices.

Let’s choose to challenge our judgments when it comes to women taking a stand for their need to pay attention to their health or the need to choose their personal life over professional progress. If we look in deep, the reasons for these choices do not need to be questioned as the answers lie right in front of us.

Read more

Choose to challenge- Stereotypes at work

Stereotypes manifest as micro behaviors in our day-to-day interactions and communications with people around us. At work, women repeatedly battle these stereotypes, which hinder their performance, productivity and impact the contribution they make at the workplace.
Allowing women to work, without barriers, will improve outcomes for everyone. The question that falls on us is how we mould these stereotypes such that we can move past them and build an inclusive ecosystem for women to grow. Here is an article with some key insights on this topic.
Happy to hear your views on the same.

Read more

Choose to challenge- Body shaming and the need to fit in

A number of people today have either experienced body shaming or are grappling with the impact of body shaming influenced by the media or through socialization. However, the bigger question is do we really focus on the impact body shaming has, not just for adults but also for young children? It also has a huge impact on the mental health of people who have witnessed or experienced body shaming. As a society and as humans we need to be sensitive to the kind of behaviours and communication we have with people around us. With the freedom of speech also comes right to live a dignified life!

Read more

Choose to Challenge: Guilt, Self Imposed Constraints and Emotional Stress

Even today decisions concerning the career of women, their marriageable age etc are influenced by the cultural norms of the society we live in and this often culminates in the form of self imposed constraints, emotional stress and guilt amongst women .

This emotional baggage which women carry often becomes a stumbling block preventing them from realizing their dreams and true potential.

Here is an article on this pertinent topic helping women understand the need to challenge these self imposed constraints and work towards their goals.

Read more

Professional and personal success can go hand in hand, why do women have to choose?

We live in society which is strife with stereotypes and biases. And consciously or unconsciously, these get ingrained into our belief systems so strongly, that it takes a lot of deliberate effort and intent to overcome them. And, the most common bias and stereotype is between a man and a woman. Created as equal partners but seen and understood as the stronger and weaker sex, it is about time that we challenge the rules of the society and break these stereotypes. Here is an article by our Delhi Operations Head – Nandita Krishan on “Why do women have to choose between their personal and professional aspirations?” The question was never Can Women have it all? It is why should women not have it all!

Do like, comment and share your thoughts on this heartfelt note.

Read more

Women and leadership- Why do they need to prove themselves more?

Today, we see women excelling and reaching the top across professions whether it is sports, politics or the corporate world. Despite this progress, we all would agree that it hasn’t been easy. Leadership is not differentiated by gender but women still struggle to represent themselves in leadership positions. Whether it is societal barriers, stereotypes or self imposed expectations, women have had to prove themselves harder to succeed.

Sharing some thoughts and significant facts on the journey women take to become leaders. Happy to hear your thoughts and views on the same.

Read more

How to deal with toxic managers

Having influence is not about elevating self, but about lifting others- Sheri Dew

Toxic managers can have long lasting and a wide impact on the organization culture and reputation resulting in attrition, reduced information sharing, discouraging cooperation and collaboration, organizational politics and increased absenteeism.

Please share your views in the comment box. Happy reading !

Read more