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HR Head turns “Delivery Boy”


HR Head turns delivery boy with surprise gift and personalized letters

Who doesn’t like gifts? And who doesn’t like surprises? Especially in a lockdown, a gift is the last thing someone would expect that too, wrapped with love and affection. Here is a love story from ECGroup, and on how it delivered happiness to its employees during this still world.

In a short period of time, COVID-19 has overwhelmed lives and livelihoods across the world. Subsequently, the unprecedented lockdown has led to significant economic challenges and disruptions all over the world. But let’s skip Covid for a while as there are so many other things to be explored and unlocked.

“Think differently. Act differently.” is what we believe in to keep us energetic.

As we all know, “Change is permanent”, and so, we planned to make a change in the lives of our employees by making a surprise.

Our HR Team quickly jumped into the adventure of sending gifts along with a personalised handwritten letter to each employee from the COO down to the Support Staff. The twist lay on how it reached our friends leaving them awestruck!!!

Wow! What a joyful moment it was to see the faces of our employees lit with mixed emotions and reactions.  Finally, it was LOVE, that won.

Stay with us as we unfold how it all came together.

Something that helped us to overcome all challenges of sudden remote working was the sense of togetherness. Our team supported and stood with each other to make it possible so we named this initiative “Strong alone, Unstoppable together”

With the lockdown in effect our company transitioned to a full WFH model. The main challenge of WFH is to ensure  business continuity without lowering performance, productivity and quality. There being no precedence to this in the corporate world was unsettling. Our employees though exhibited great flexibility in adapting to the new situation quickly and seamlessly.

WFH was challenging for everyone. Handling both family and work at the same place without a proper work environment was a huge challenge. Potential job loss was a big stress factor. Infrastructure, absence of household help, both spouses on WFH, online classes for children, personal care for the elderly in the family were new issues everyone faced. Being a 20-year old company, one of our key strengths is the strong corporate culture that we have built and nurtured meticulously. Many organisations face difficulty in maintaining company culture and we definitely felt WFH could affect ours too unless we addressed it quickly and effectively.

Stakeholders have a fundamental impact on an organisation’s performance. Typically, in every organisation the stakeholders are the owners, investors, management, and employees. But with WFH, that began to include the employee’s spouse, children and family as well. When a lot of stakeholders are involved, maintaining a healthy culture is not an easy task, So, we thought of doing various activities to ensure employees were primed and recharged physically, mentally and emotionally.

As WFH became the new normal, we started initiatives to connect and engage with employees along with their families with activities for children as well. These initiatives helped  improve connections and relationships with all our employees and their families. Many employees showed their gratitude and appreciation for our efforts.

Despite relaxation of the lockdown by the government, our company decided to continue WFH for all our employees through till the end of the year. Considering erosion of work culture in this situation, we thought of a way to woo and value our employees.

To build a strong employee relationship, we touched base with all our employees with a weekly phone call. Speaking to the employees was easy; the challenge though was in trying to identify real problems they faced during this situation. Longer and more frequent calls enabled us to gain better insight on how they were feeling, the challenges they faced in family and household duties etc. and that certainly helped us understand them better and build a strong bond. This was a very successful initiative, as we were able to address many issues quickly thus helping improve employee satisfaction. These initiatives encouraged us to think of more plans to improve employee delight.

Normally, with people in the office we would greet all our employees regularly on their birthdays and wedding anniversaries with gifts. But the lockdown put paid to this regular program. So, in discussion with the management we planned to surprise them with a gift, as this was missing in the WFH routine since March 2020.

We finalised our gift to be a useful heavy bottom multipurpose cookware along with a personalised handwritten letter. This letter carried a personal touch by mentioning names of family members and enquiring about their well-being.

Our regular employee touchbase enabled us to do this task soulfully, as we knew each one better. We were hoping to excite them with this initiative as people certainly appreciate personal recognition.

And to top it all was our plan for the gift delivery. Our employee-base consisted of 70% working in Chennai and 30% from their hometowns. Though there were many options for sending gifts through courier, Amazon, Flipkart, etc. we felt there could be nothing better than a personal delivery, especially by someone who is close to us. That one person whom we thought could cause a lot of excitement and who could really add a lot of value to this initiative was Mr. Daniel Jacob, our Vice President of HR himself. We were just imagining how it would be for our employees to receive their VP at their doorstep without any notice at all, with a gift in his hand. Yes, we felt, Daniel was just that perfect person for this task.

Although it is unsafe to travel during this pandemic, we felt employee joy and the memories it would create would far outweigh the risks of these tough times. We created a plan to make these deliveries without entering any of our employees’ homes but registering the happy faces of our employees and their families. With great expectations we executed the plan as a team, with Daniel on the road and us, “The HR Team”, backing him up with route maps and logistical support.

The plan was to give the letter to the employees and the gift to their families. Before Daniel arrived, the HR team will inform the employees that the courier person would be coming to make a delivery.

One of the most interesting visits was to the home of our gorgeous Geraldine Pinto, who at her doorstep was expecting a courier boy, but was stunned to see Daniel and took time to recognize him. The feedback she gave us after seeing Daniel and the gift was a great motivation and encouragement to us.

Tough times bring out the best in us. “Challenge during good times is ordinary; Challenge during tough times is Extraordinary”

One of the employees on seeing Daniel, said he was shocked as well as surprised. He exclaimed, “Ohhhh my GOD!!! It was a great surprise for us, and we didn’t expect that Daniel Sir would visit our home” and he thanked us for our effort and for the gift. No words to express our happiness while getting such wonderful feedback.

Each day was an adventure, meeting a lot of people with varied cultures. Seeing our team after a long time is definitely a delightful moment for each one of us. When Daniel met Kannan, “he was really stunned to see him in the morning in front of his house. He thanked ECGroup as a whole for taking such an initiative during this pandemic. The handwritten note made him happy and he said he was left with no words to express his gratitude”.

According to Daniel the big eye opener for him, was meeting employees in their homes and observing the varied cultures they come from. In order to work with people from different cultural backgrounds, we need to build strong and caring relationships. It was a great bonding exercise for him and more importantly to create a common corporate culture.

This initiative helped us to gain more visibility, especially when we receive feedback from our employees about how they were taken care of during these tough times. This keeps us moving forward. The journey was definitely filled with a lot of  happiness and thrilling moments.

Change is constant and every organisation adapts to newer ways of working. This year, however, has been remarkably dramatic and different; to observe how quickly our teams had adapted to WFH to maintain business continuity.

The best things in life are the people we LOVE, the places we’ve been to and the memories we’ve made along the way.