Dr. Oetker Stories

“It was incredible to see what we can achieve when we come together”

The Covid-19 pandemic has tested businesses and people worldwide. Hemangini Jayant, Vice President of People and Culture India, reveals in an interview how the pandemic has influenced companies and discusses the lessons we can learn.

“It was incredible to see what we can achieve when we come together”

28.3.2022 Company and Culture

Dr. Oetker Indien Produktionsmitarbeiterin

Do you feel that business leaders and HR's focus are back on people? 

Hemangini Jayant: Yes, the coronavirus pandemic made us pause, reflect and rethink our approach towards people. It brought home the need for agile ways of working, flexibility, and diversity more than ever. Many Businesses in India recognize employees' vital role in ensuring business continuity and creative solutions. 

Which challenges did the pandemic bring to Dr. Oetker? 

Hemangini Jayant: Our working methods needed to pivot overnight in line with ever-changing global regulations. Work from home threw up new challenges to deal with, such as the lack of infrastructure in people's homes, be it Wi-Fi or a private space to work. Additionally, there were employee fears about their own well-being and the health and safety of their loved ones, especially those going out in the market or working on the shop floor daily. People and Culture, therefore, needed to play a critical role in sensitizing managers, ensuring a continuous flow of communication to teams with safety measures, reassurances of emotional and financial support, and medical assistance if required. 

What initiatives have you taken to support employees and their families during the pandemic? 

Hemangini Jayant: The health and safety of our employees and their families have taken precedence as we fight COVID-19. After the first wave in March 2020, the pandemic hit India severely in April 2021 when cases spiraled out of control. In response to a lack of public services and shortages of oxygen, hospital beds, and vaccine, organizations as well as individuals helped where they could. As a people-first organization, we have put in place all possible measures to ensure the well-being of our people in line with our purpose, "Creating a Taste of Home." We created a Task Force to organize and support employees and their family members. They worked round the clock to ease the stress on the corona-afflicted employees and their family members – with medications,
hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, ambulances, doctor consults, etc. It was incredible to see what we can achieve when we come together. 

What is the key quality that helped leaders navigate the pandemic?

Hemangini Jayant: I think empathetic leadership has been the game changer. 

What lessons from the pandemic do you hope we keep?  

Hemangini Jayant: The pandemic has shown us the importance of solidarity and human relationships. The virus has helped connect us around the globe through shared lived experiences. It has shown us that we can shift and quickly pivot our thinking when the situation demands it, to achieve business and societal objectives. It made us think out-of-the-box to find creative solutions, to keep employees safe while still ensuring business continuity. For instance, non-sales team members became local salespeople in their neighborhood to support sales or non-production team members such as IT, Accounts, and HR were on the shop floor to help production. Forced to work remotely, many of us have learned we could be just as productive at home, thanks to modern technology like videoconferencing and internet. It has also meant a growing demand and wish for flexible and mobile work, which will continue long after the pandemic.