Project Josh: Ensuring The Well-Being of Our Employees

By — Sana Nayyar, VP People Operations These are unprecedented times and the world around us has changed drastically. This includes workplaces as well. In fact, organizations across geographies are ...

3 min read

By — Sana Nayyar, VP People Operations

These are unprecedented times and the world around us has changed drastically. This includes workplaces as well. In fact, organizations across geographies are rushing to build business continuity plans, while keeping in mind what’s best for their people.

At Urban Company, we have always stood by our people – our partners, our customers and our employees. And at such a critical juncture, we wanted to make decisions that were right for our employees:

1. Work from home

As we had more time to prepare and understand the possible impact that the virus could have on normal business functioning, the first call we made was to move our 1,300-strong workforce overnight to a work-from-home practice.

We ensured that even our sizeable customer success team had the right infrastructure in place, with a home office set-up, including laptops and WiFi, to move away from office desk roles to a work-from-home arrangement.

2. No layoffs

Job security is another concern we knew would be on top of the mind for most employees. Hence, we have committed to not let go of anyone during this time. While these are testing times, as a company, we have decided not to hand out any pink slips. We stand by our people.

3. Honoring new hire commitments

Even though we have put in place a hiring freeze, we have not rolled back any job offer issued in the last few months. In fact, we on-boarded 100+ new hires since March.

4. New sick leave policy

If, God forbid, someone falls sick, we want them to focus on recovery and not worry about their leave balance. Thus, we have introduced a new sick leave policy, effective immediately across geographies. In our revised policy, we have removed any cap on sick leave.

For us – the People Team – it was time to further double down on investing in our employees and ensure that they are engaged and are learning and growing throughout this period.

Finding Our Josh!

Project Josh, as the name suggests, is aimed at instilling excitement among employees and keeping them motivated. Here are the four key things we are doing under this project:

1. People Care

A lockdown, in which there is minimal direct human and social interaction due to social distancing, is toughest for those living alone. Given that we have a large distributed team across 20 cities in India with many people living alone, and away from their families, their mental health and overall well-being was important to us.

So, we ensured that one of the senior members in the leadership team was reaching out to them proactively. The UC leaders would make sure they were doing well and were in touch with other people in the organization or engaging over different activities instituted for the lockdown period, whether it was through Slack, Zoom, Whatsapp or phone calls.

2. Urban Academy

As part of the new set-up, we needed people to be able to still pick up skills and learn new things while being away from the office. We quickly launched Urban Academy as our learning and development platform. We relied on internal experts on a multitude of topics from Excel Skills (Basic, Intermediate, Expert), SQL, Leadership 101, Problem Solving, to how to give feedback & many others. We were able to add 25 new instructors to the programme as we saw more interest from the internal teams.

3. Josh Talks

Another wonderful initiative we implemented during this time was Josh Talks – weekly talks held for 2 hours where we host key leaders from across the industry, who take out time to speak to our team on a multitude of topics.

We were lucky to host Lt. General Madhuri Kanitkar who is only the 3rd woman in the Indian Armed Forces to hold this post; Kunal Shah who is the founder of CRED; Mukesh Bansal – founder Myntra &; and  Dr. Ajay Swaroop (HOD, ENT at the prestigious Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi). They spoke about Covid-19, what we should do to keep our immunity up and dispelled common myths around the disease.

4. People Safety

As we look at the future, it is understood that the old ways of working do not suffice anymore. Things will continue to be uncertain for a while and as offices will restart and teams will return to the workplace, we need to make sure we are creating a safe and hygienic environment for all.

To enable this, our Engineering team has created an app that nudges our employees daily to check in on their health, body temperature, their travel and even reminds them to wash their hands.

We have also put in place a thorough screening in all our office buildings where employees will be constantly debriefed on hygiene protocols to follow. Employees will be required to sanitise their hands, wear masks and will be thermal-screened. This will help us, the People Team, stay ahead of the curve and ensure that we enable a safe zone for our employees.

We have been able to keep people employed, engaged and raring to go. As we look to the other side and to come back to work full time, we have an army of people who are ready to do amazing things and take Urban Company to new heights!

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