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By Anshoo Kapoor, Leadership, Strategic & Graduate Hiring UK&I at Tata Consultancy Services
By Anshoo Kapoor, Leadership, Strategic & Graduate Hiring UK&I at Tata Consultancy Services

Tata Consultancy Services’ response to COVID-19 and plans for the future

We interviewed Anshoo Kapoor from Top Employer Tata Consultancy Services to find out how they responded to the COVID-19 crisis, their HR priorities, and plans for the future.

Telecommuting

What guidelines do you have in place for working remotely?

The current circumstances have of course presented challenges to all businesses and individuals – with millions of people suddenly transitioning to remote working. It is vital for employees at companies of all sizes to feel they are being supported and for leaders to communicate to them and provide guidance as best they can.

To smooth the adjustment of working from home, TCS has produced a series of guidelines which are designed to ensure employees understand the context of this period of home-working and to provide them with practical tips to make it work for them.

This guide includes:

  • An explanation of the need to be fully functional whilst working remotely – in order to best support clients and colleagues
  • Encouragement for employees to ensure they have the adequate equipment and technology to work from home – and to let us know if there’s anything they need
  • Help on how to set up robust communication channels – both internally and externally
  • Advice on creating a dedicated working space at home and following a normal working hours schedule to best maintain a healthy work/life balance

To facilitate the transition to working remotely we also set up webinars and informal internal networks to share useful tips, offer mutual support and help alleviate stress. 

Employee wellbeing

How are you dealing with mental health issues resulting from the pandemic?

We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone; some employees will have trouble adjusting to remote working and others may have additional responsibilities like caring for children or vulnerable relatives. Protecting our staff’s mental and physical health is a real priority for TCS – and is of course particularly important now.

We have developed specific guidelines addressing wellbeing, mental health and isolation issues which are shared with all employees, including:

  • Promoting daily physical exercise
  • Advice on nutrition and hydration
  • Recommendations on app-based courses that are available to help deal with anxiety or any negative thoughts
  • Advice on the benefits of limiting social media use.

Other guidance has included help with managing childcare whilst working remotely. We also regularly run virtual events for children to tune into, such as art and fitness sessions.

We have put private medical healthcare services in place – providing access to an employee assistance programme with 24/7 counselling to help with lifestyle, family or financial issues. This gives all staff the ability to arrange virtual appointments with all manner of professionals – including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lawyers, accountants and debt advisors.

The HR department also created a virtual engagement team, providing weekly live webinars on various topics to promote wellbeing and keep the TCS community connected.

We also have several Employee Networks which we use as a support system for TCS associates, providing activities, challenges and online content. Amidst the current situation we launched the UNO parenting club to support single parents. The virtual coffee connects with the network is an amazing opportunity for our employees to share stories of hope and resilience.

TCS’ charity partner, the Wildlife Trust, is also supporting our staff by providing activities, webinars and online content. The aim is to encourage us all to safely enjoy the natural environment and make the most of any green spaces we can access from home.

Fundamentally, it is important to ensure staff have an awareness of and access to the appropriate channels to seek the support they need. Pastoral care and support must, and does, continue in our remote working model.

Leadership

What steps has your leadership team taken to motivate and engage employees during this time of remote working?

In addition to the steps and guidance I have already explained, I would say the key steps for leadership teams should revolve around the following points:

  • Communicate

Regularly reach out to all staff with consistent and clear messaging. It is important to ensure that everyone feels they are being listened to, valued and kept up to date with plans and procedures whilst working remotely. It is also a key role of leadership teams to promote and maintain open and regular contact amongst teams and between staff and their line managers.

  • Embrace flexibility

TCS employs 448,000 people worldwide. As a result, we understand that people are living in different circumstances with various responsibilities. This change has come very suddenly, so we want to promote flexibility as much as possible. Without the need to commute, staff can better adapt their working hours to suit their current situations. We want to empower our staff to feel they can make their remote working practice work best for them.

We are finding that productivity and the quality of client service has been maintained throughout this period – and we are even seeing an uptick in productivity and output in some cases. We want to best use this period to learn and adapt to work as a more resilient and flexible organisation.

  • Collaborate

We have put a host of networks and guidance in place to encourage staff to come together (albeit virtually) as much as possible. OneTCS is the main channel for everyone – getting employees together to share content, best practice and tools as well as supporting and staying in touch with one another.

HR priorities

What are your HR priorities during this time?

Our HR priorities are much the same as those in normal circumstances – we want to ensure we maintain our core TCS values and look after our staff.

Safety and motivated workforce

First and foremost, we want to ensure staff feel safe and motivated to work. The safety of our employees worldwide is our number one priority.

Business continuity

Secondly, it is vital that we continue to support our clients to help promote sustainability and growth. We want to ensure all possible practices are in place to enable us to maintain our excellent level of service to our clients.

Communication

A key role of HR is to act as a conduit between all staff. We want to ensure everyone has access to the appropriate channels to seek support remotely and are able to maintain regular contact with their colleagues and line managers.

Support and wellbeing

The provision of 24/7 counselling and private healthcare are core to helping with staff wellbeing. Mental health care is always a priority at TCS, and we are working hard to ensure employees still feel supported and able to access resources that can help them navigate these uncertain times.

CSR initiatives

Is your organisation providing assistance or donations to society at large?

Global Level

Over the past weeks and months, the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as a significant and global challenge that is creating widespread disruption. We strongly believe that all global challenges need global solutions. We are engaged with our employees, clients, partners, public institutions, and community organizations to rise to the occasion.

As a strategic partner to the World Economic Forum, our group is also part of their COVID-19 action platform, which is galvanizing the business community in support of multilateral organizations like the WHO (World Health Organization) that are leading the charge.

One of the challenges of the lockdowns is school and university closures. UNESCO estimates that 1.37 billion children risk having their education interrupted. We are applying technology to provide a solution here and have made our proprietary distance learning software platform available for free to educational institutions. The TCS iON Digital Glass Room is a mobile and web education platform for schools and colleges, which empowers educators to engage with students in real time by sharing lessons, videos, worksheets, assignments, and assessments. 

UK & Ireland

In addition to what is being done by TCS on a global level regarding education, the UK TCS Digital Explorers programme is being transformed into a virtual event. TCS Digital Explorers is a unique one-week work experience programme that reaches hundreds of young people across the UK and provides an insight into the work of STEM and the opportunities available to young people here in the UK.

One of the ways that TCS employees are encouraged to get involved in both the UK and in Ireland, is by donating to the UK’s National Emergencies Trust and Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE), with TCS match funding all donations.

Employee engagement

Do you have a strategy to increase collaboration and productivity?

As well as the various tools and networks we are using – including OneTCS – Knome is our internal social collaboration platform that is used across the company. Employees can use it to stay in touch and feel connected during these strange times.

From a work collaboration perspective, we use messaging and video technology to help foster a sense of collaboration and connectedness. Being able to see one another on camera and speak freely helps us work more closely and effectively – rather than having to communicate solely through email, for example.

Reintegration

Do you have a plan in place for allowing employees to return to the workplace?

We are learning a great deal during this period about how best we work as an organisation to support both our staff and our clients to succeed. The pandemic has provided a test of our practices and infrastructures that has proven successful in many ways. Clients are comfortable and want us to take on more work that others are unable to handle; associates are happy that they have flexible operating hours and are saving one to two hours of daily commuting time that can now be spent working, learning, keeping fit and pursuing hobbies.

This is prompting us to reassess what it is that TCS needs in order to keep staff and clients happy and we are likely to work far more flexibly in the future.

In the short-term, we are making plans to facilitate, where appropriate, returns to the workplace. Before these plans are put into place we must of course ensure:

  • Any action taken by TCS adheres to local government guidelines
  • Employees feel safe and supported in this transition – and understand how and to whom they can raise any concerns.
  • Client service continues without unnecessary disruption