Effectively Managing Human Resources at Abhibus

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INTERVIEW with Divya Reddy Kattam, Vice President of Human Resource, Abhibus.com

Amazing Workplaces spoke to Ms. Divya Reddy Kattam, Vice President of Human Resource, Abhibus.com to understand her career journey, her role as an HR at Abhibus as well as the key initiatives the company took for the benefit of employees during the crucial time of the pandemic. Here is an excerpt from our conversation.

With which job role/ position did you start your career?

My career started 20 years ago with Jet Airways and then I moved on to making a progressive career arc in HR & Human Capital Operations management with notable success in managing complex multi-site, multi-national and multi dollar revenue and cost-centre budgets. I have international HRM experience. I have led organisations through significant change utilizing effective change management techniques and processes.

How long have you been working with your current organization and what are your major contributions?

I have been with the organisation for 6 years as a Vice President HR and have been helping the organisation select, retain, and groom the cadre of rising stars, it has been a challenging, rewarding and fun job so far.

Some of my key contributions being;

  • I have optimised hiring cost by 80% by implementing alternative methods of reaching out to prospective employees.
  •  I have instituted a formal performance management process that built performance accountability into all levels of the process.
  • Maintained less than 4% voluntary turnover in an environment with intense job opportunities.
  • Designed and implemented employee engagement strategies that improved morale, retained talent and business continuity through multiple changes.
  • Guided the executive team through organizational restructuring which created a more flexible, cost-efficient workforce.
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How the online ticket aggregator sector has been coping with the impact of the pandemic? How is the general mood of the employees now?

 Coming off the worst year in travel history, there is a sense of optimism, the ticketing sector is recovering faster than expected. AbhiBus has seen the fastest recovery across all kinds of Travel portals with our Jan and Feb’21 numbers been better than Pre COVID levels, making us once again, the Fastest Growing OTA in the country.

AbhiBus has adopted a more sustainable, hygienic and a responsible form of travel promising health, safety, hygiene, quality and value for money.

AbhiBus has built reservoir of trust, responsiveness and openness with our employees. We have always been flexible , honest  and transparent in our communication. We have also adhered to best practices that helped with the transition as employees adapted to the “new norm” back at the office before we could realize, with renewed energy, commitment and enthusiasm.

What work structure – remote or hybrid – will your company follow now?

 Our employees have been given the flexibility to choose when, where and for how long do they want to come into the office. 90% of the employees preferred to work from office 3 days a week and chose to work remotely 2 days a week. They have been equipped with resources to balance home and office working successfully.

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What is the hiring strategy at the organization for this year? How many people were recruited in 2020?

 Our team stayed connected through 2020 with top-tier talent from Premier Institutions, this was a strategy to help prepare a talent funnel for 2021 hiring, this ensured that the conversations were kicked off and connections were made.

Fewer positions were generated at our end and persisted with a total active job counts at a low of 28%, down by the earlier high of 51% in February 2020.

What are some of the initiatives abhibus.com took to ensure its employees’ physical and mental wellbeing? How have the results been?

We took a number of steps to address these challenges and to assist employees with the home confinement and full-time telework;

  • Stayed connected by utilizing current technology to connect with employees in real time over the phone and through video for regular scheduled check-ins. This can include something less formal with a group of colleagues to catch up.
  • Trained managers and supervisors to ensure that they are proactively identifying signs of employee distress, such as erratic work hours, lack of availability or responsiveness etc.
  • Encouraged employees to take time for self-care both mental and physical and to be open with their supervisor or managers about what challenges they are facing.
  • In order to improve physical working conditions, we have increased cleaning efforts, especially pertaining to commonly used touch points.
  • Safety precautions such as masks and hand sanitizers have been distributed.
  • We have taken measures by adding 30 percent additional seats to rearrange workspaces to account for social distancing.
  • Company has implemented protocols regarding employees who show COVID-19 symptoms while at work and a nurse is on duty to check temperature and other screenings.
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