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We need to raise our digital game and explore all tech-enabled solutions: Nitin Mantri

Mantri, Group CEO at Avian WE, spoke about upcoming trends and changes in communications industry as now life is gradually coming back to normalcy after Covid-19 pandemic

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Nov 9, 2021 12:04 PM  | 8 min read
nitin mantri

The agencies and firms have spent most of the time mixing up to adapt to extraordinary circumstances from past few months. Trends like Digital acceleration, creativity, importance of company culture and increased integration of data and creativity are some of the few upcoming in the communications industry. To talk about the above mentioned changes in the industry, e4m spoke to Nitin Mantri, Group CEO at Avian WE where he describes how the agencies are coming up with extraordinary creatives for their further initiatives.

 

Professionals have now adapted to the hybrid working model. Do you think it will be easy to go back to the same routine as offices are now reopening?

It will not be easy to go back to the same routine and the hybrid model will stay for some time. When the pandemic-induced lockdowns forced people to work from home, they took some time to settle into that routine. While most disliked the sudden transition and missed in-person contact with their colleagues, they realized over time that they can be equally if not more productive. In addition, the flexibility gave them time with their families. So, returning to office will again take some time and will be a transition.


During the pandemic, the agencies and corporates have recruited many young talents to their organizations. Do you think they are prepared for joining physically?

All talent needs flexibility at this stage. The younger talent hasn’t seen an office yet and I feel many are divided over coming to work. Therefore, a hybrid model is here to stay for some time.

 

How have businesses and firms adapted to the changed norms due to the pandemic?

Businesses and firms fast-tracked their tech competence to meet the demands of their stakeholders. As soon as the national lockdown was announced in March 2020, they adopted future-forward technologies that enabled digital agility among team members. The use of tech helped to optimise client time, energy, and budgets and implement interactive, hyper-responsive campaigns suited to the new reality of our times. From September 2021, most firms have started opening their offices with a hybrid work model in place.

 

Post-pandemic, what are the employees’ demands? What perks are you able to provide them?

A Gallup poll of US workers found that 44% would like to continue working remotely because they prefer it, while 39% favor returning to work in an office. It’s the same story everywhere in the world.  Employees are in two minds about going back to work. According to WE’s 2021 Brands in Motion report, The Bravery Mandate, the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way employees view their jobs and “many are opting not to return to jobs where they felt overworked, underpaid or disrespected”.

They want flexibility, better pay, work-life balance and respect. They want their feedback to be heard, they want to be seen and they want to work in a company that plays an active role in creating a sustainable world. So, leading today requires listening without judgment. Employee engagement must be a two-way dialogue between employees and leaders. Leaders must hear what their people are telling them, internalise the feedback and act on it. The Brands in Motion survey respondents rated employees as the group executives need to communicate with the most (over customers, shareholders and the media). Seventy-four percent said executives should communicate with their employees about their personal position on issues at least every six months.

We are providing perks like:

  • Flexibility to come to office twice a week.
  • Employees with kids under the age of 10 (who have their online school classes) have the flexibility to come to office on their day of choice or at timings convenient for them.
  • Since the pandemic is not over yet, we are sanitising the office every day and following all safety and social distancing protocols.
  • We have organised two vaccaination camps in our offices across India. We are allowing only vaccinated employees to come to office.
  • Medical aid:
    • Tied up with an app-based employee wellness service provider. Coverage and benefits extended to each employee plus four immediate family members.
    • Ensured employee medical insurance policy covers cost of COVID-19 treatment; increased cover by 66%.
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): This initiative aims to tackle the mental health fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and serve as a mental well-being support helpline for COVID-related issues. This has been done in partnership with 1to1help.
  • Workshops to help people ease into the physical office culture: recently held an online session with eminent psychiatrist Dr Samir Parikh.

 

 

How will you take care of the employees who recovered from covid-19 disease?

 

  1. We have tied up with an app-based employee wellness service provider known as Truworth Wellness. The coverage and benefits have been extended to each employee plus their four immediate family members – spouse, children, and parents. It’s a year-long subscription that will be borne by us.
  • The benefits:Employees can book COVID-19 tests (home sample collection) for themselves and their registered family members in 17 cities, including our office locations. They can also book pathology tests for home collection on the app across the cities, and book appointments and free e-consultation with their team of doctors (voice & chat mode).
  • The programme also includes discounted health benefit for services like health checks, online medicine delivery, health product store, pharmacy, home healthcare services, dental services, fitness sessions, personalised health coach. Wellness Trackers like food, exercise, water intake, mood, weight, steps, etc., and access to ongoing wellness programs are also available.
  1. Employee Assistance Program (EAP): This initiative aims to tackle the mental health fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and serve as a mental well-being support helpline for COVID-related issues. This has been done in partnership with 1to1help.

 

What It Offers:

 

  • Mental Well-Being Support Helpline for COVID-19for getting in touch with psychological counselling professionals to seek help for issues such as anxiety, or stress, related to COVID-19.
  • Free access to professionally crafted resourcessuch as open webinars, reading material, and infographics dealing with issues such as social distancing, coping strategies for individuals in isolation, etc.
  • Enhanced insurance cover

 

What do you think are some of the changes that communication industry will undergo in the times to come? 

Digital acceleration is here to stay. We have already seen accelerated digital transformation and that is here todayStarting with encouraging a digitally agile workforce within our own organisations to adopting and implementing new technologies to meet client needs, we are a future-forward industry. For our clients, we need to raise our digital game and explore all manner of tech-enabled solutions. Campaigns we create must be more interactive, hyper-responsive and capable of connecting, both literally and emotionally, with consumers across digital platforms.

Creativity will become more important. While technology is going to become bigger and take on a greater role in communication strategies, it is our creativity that will ensure virtual viability of brand narratives. Without human vision it would be impossible to move forward in any meaningful way. If the last 18 months have given us anything, it is the opportunity to radically rethink how we connect with one another, how we share ideas, and how we creatively collaborate. Our industry has reached the stage where divergent thinking and creative reshaping of PR strategies will become the hallmark of communications.

Increased integration of data and creativity. Another critical driver that communicators should consider in 2021 and beyond is data. Even before the pandemic, big data was a necessary input of successful communication and marketing efforts. The dependence on data will increase as economies inch their way to revival, and consumer sentiment remains largely unfathomable. We should adopt technologies like predictive analysis that can translate these data points into actionable information. With the power of research and data and our own creativity, we can get better insights about our audiences’ behaviors, remove biases, and create highly targeted messaging. In doing so, we will create more effective business outcomes and move purpose records in the right direction.

Growing importance of purpose in company culture. 2020 saw companies effectively adapt to the disruption of the pandemic by transitioning to remote work. In 2021, communicators must begin to look inward instead. In a recent WE-Quartz report, only 20% of business leaders said they prioritized employee engagement and workplace culture. That needs to change. This is an opportunity for communicators to reflect on our organisations’ values and beliefs, discard outdated practices and rebuild a company culture with employee engagement, growth, and welfare at its core. Taking an inclusive approach and allowing employee insights to drive action, is indispensable in today’s fragmented world.

 

The content in this section is curated by the PR and Communications team. For any feedback kindly write to karan.bhatia@exchanhge4media.com.

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