With Covid-19 landing employees in a dilemma regarding their jobs and careers, many companies are closely monitoring the situation and engaging with the government and medical authorities to ensure a safe working environment. Taiwanese PC maker Acer considers employee experience as a top priority, especially in these trying times. The company is continuously working on strategies to manage and retain its people and has come up with a slew of measures to enhance its employee experience. In an exclusive interaction with CXOToday, Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and Consumer Business Head, Acer India, explains how the company is using technology to ensure that employees are engaged and can emerge stronger, smarter and more agile, post this global pandemic.
CXOToday: How is Acer utilizing this time to introspect and upskill employees?
Chandrahas Panigrahi: As a global technology brand, we are navigating the ongoing situation by being prognostic and practical in our planning to reform our business strategies and plan for recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the decline of day to day activity which we believe also provides our employees an opportunity to use that extra time to upskill and make them future-ready. We have introduced initiatives to keep our employees productive and thoughtful in this lockdown period which will help them to come out stronger than ever. We have formed an online training routine across teams to enhance their knowhow on the products and we are taking proactive measures to help everyone better understand consumer demands with a motive of understanding how to do business and marketing in this new world. They are also being taken through a Leadership series by our management team, which is also helping them upskill and stay connected with us.
In the past few weeks, we have also observed an uptick in demand for online education courses on leading business transformation through digital marketing and artificial intelligence. There has never been a better time to invest in the development of your talent so that they can lead your company into the future.
CXOToday: How to maintain employee engagement and productivity during COVID-19?
Chandrahas Panigrahi: At Acer, we’re working hard to preserve our company culture and replicate an environment that fosters relationships, embrace technology to encourage collaboration, and ensure all innovations reflect our values. For this, maintaining good communication with employees is the first and most important thing that we consider. Allowing employees some flexibility to focus on their personal life too isn’t a bad idea; it helps them get back to work with a free mind. Therefore, we must take appropriate measures to ensure flexibility for motivating our employees and strengthen their commitment towards the organization. Finally, as technology powers our internal operations, we have also created multiple internal tools that have been in place for various functionalities within the organization and this has helped us align everyone.
CXOToday: How is the work life balance at Acer?
Chandrahas Panigrahi: In order to maintain a healthy work-life balance, it is pivotal to separate your personal and professional lives without allowing one to encroach upon the other. The mantra to do this is to primarily focus on health! I know, it’s easier said than done. The promotion of healthy habits in the workplace is more significant than one can imagine. At Acer, we stand on four pillars of H – Health, Happiness, Honour, and Help – and believe in a healthy lifestyle. For the benefit of our employees, Acer India provides Stationed gym to ensure that employees should get fitness breaks, Physiotherapists at the workplace, General physician at the workplace and regular health/dietician talk or sessions, Medical check-up for employees. A healthy lifestyle is said to be one of the factors that have a direct influence on the worker’s standard of living and the overall sustainability of working life. We also encourage employees to participate in the promotion of safety and health at the workplace through discussion to reduce their stress level.
CXOToday: Are you planning any online event this year? What are the opportunities and challenges in conducting online meetings or events?
Chandrahas Panigrahi: Internally, we are doing a lot of online activities that include meetings, team building activities, networking events with our partners, etc. Since COVID-19 has hit the country, the world has gone digital and companies are being forced to reconsider how to stay connected with teammates and customers. At Acer, most of our employees are accustomed to powerful tools, data, and applications. Through regular Webinars, we are connected with all our trainees and employees so there is continued learning and no gaps in terms of work. We are training them on several topics that are further enhancing their development. This is a real opportunity for companies to embrace this change and experiment with a different way of doing things. Through Digital events, we can deliver in a personal way and can bring people together online but still manage to feel warm and close.
Besides this, I’ve been intrigued by advising our partners on the business of digital transformation for a long time and I can’t think of a time where the ability to digitally transform to keep “business as usual” has been more important than it is right now. I believe that digital is a great medium that has helped us stay in constant touch and communicate with all our employees as well as stakeholders.
CXOToday: What role does rewards and recognition play at Acer?
Chandrahas Panigrahi: At Acer, we believe that gratifying is very important and if an employee has made a significant value addition, then they should be rewarded. As mentioned earlier, we emphasize on 4 H principles, and Honour is another important aspect. I truly believe that ‘Actions speak louder than words.’ We have branded our rewards and recognition programs under 2 categories – The BRAVO awards and The Acer Annual Sales Award. To that disposition, we have created an unbiased, time-tested, and robust evaluation framework. Honour is certainly an essential human need that should never be discounted, as employees will respond positively to any sort of honor or appreciation that comes their way. We believe that when an employee’s work is valued by others, it means their satisfaction rises and productivity increases too. To create a thriving workplace, praise and recognition are going to be fundamental elements, and we abide by it.
CXOToday: What are your general business plans for the next one year?
Chandrahas Panigrahi: We always believe in innovating ourselves at every step. We are certain that FY 2020 is going to be a big year for us. Having established India as a market for gaming, we are venturing out and have identified the next big market for creators through our Concept D series which is made for Designers, engineers, developers, and artists; who are often trapped within imposed limits by the lack of tools needed to breakthrough. All of this along with our continued dominance in the Gaming and Thin & Light series will certainly help us achieve our business objectives. We are establishing the bar high and projecting a slew of innovations in our product line this year. Amidst that, our main focus is to further strengthen our gaming vertical since the current Indian gaming industry is growing rapidly and has become an essential growth driver for us. Having said that, we also intend to ride this demand wave and grow unit sales with our Predator series of PCs for professional gamers, Nitro series of PCs for everyday gamers and Aspire series of PCs for casual gamers. We will be continuing to launch products that are unique to the market. Acer has always been a technology player that has introduced the world to newer technology and continuing the same.
Also, we are looking at adding more partners across India who can help and support us in our journey to become the top technology brand. We have always relied deeply on our channel partners for engaging with our potential and already existing customers.