Reimagining the Organization for the New Normal – Role of HR

Our whitepaper in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) shares real life stories of how organizations pivoted, digitized, worked remotely and are reimagining the new normal.

Executive Summary

The whitepaper, “Reimagining the organization for the New Normal - Role of HR", was initiated by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). Talentonic HR Solutions was delighted to be a part of this study.

In this whitepaper, we have combined survey responses from a select group of companies, in-depth interviews with business leaders from different industry segments, and secondary research to pull together a report covering two fundamental questions:

1. What are the significant changes in action and thought in this new normal?

2. In “the year of the CHRO”, what imperatives are emerging for the HR function, and what can we take away?


The initial months after the lockdown created two objectives in the face of unprecedented challenges. 1. Ensure the health of employees and 2. Ensure the sustainability of business. The compassion and community outreach influenced by HR became the cornerstone of how businesses pivoted to ensure health as well as sustainability of operations - large people operations in the old economy with a strong community footprint (Maruti Suzuki, Tata Steel, Ashok Leyland, Larsen & Toubro, Amara Raja & Uno Minda) certainly stood out. Across the spectrum, employees responded with an unprecedented level of commitment and alignment to the business, in fact the “command and control” structure gave way to “distributed leadership” as firm after firm discovered that empowerment was the only way to produce the agility and the rapid response to the crises as it played out in different locations. Further, despite the fact that 66% of the respondents reported serious revenue issues, the approach to job cuts and compensation was refreshingly considerate and directed towards sustainability of operations and people centricity.

87% of our survey respondents felt that they handled the crises well, we saw some great examples of how participating organizations planned business operations. Today most of them have been successful in kick-starting business operations while ensuring employee safety.


This was perhaps the biggest and most rapidly implemented, technology enabled, workplace innovation of all time. Our research showed that Employee and customer connect increased, efficiency improved, travel came down. For IT/ ITES organizations like Microsoft, Dream11 this was an easier change. For old economy companies such as Mylan Laboratories & Uno Minda this was a significant learning curve where traditional biases had to be overcome. Majority of the respondents reported higher engagement levels. However, as the months went by, some signs of stress have surfaced: 10-12-hour days, too much screen time, intermingling of work-family time, lack of social connections and behaviors have produced stress and mental health issues.

As the new workplace takes shape, everyone agrees that a hybrid model is the way forward, one which leverages the efficiencies of remote working and at the same time addresses the social and cultural nuances. This is a meal still in the making and of significant concern.


One of those areas, which asks the question: ‘Were we really waiting for a crisis?’ The 2-3-year road maps have collapsed to weeks and 95% of the survey respondents have put in place plans for digital transformation. Learning and development, performance management and employee engagement have been the top three areas of adoption. Further, collaborative and productivity tools have remained the same, but adoption levels have gone up. Some experiments like virtual product launches, technology enabled team engagement initiatives and virtual customer connects have also created a new excitement.

So far, a great story, but the challenges of internal alignment, change management and particularly leadership mindset in legacy organizations are still being dealt with.


Leadership is under unprecedented pressure and stress. 67% of the survey respondents reported this as the number one challenge, which COVID-19 created. Nothing in their experience or development process had quite prepared leadership teams for the last 6 months. There has been a rapid change in leadership styles, and the future is still opaque - the pivot phase saw leadership cohesion, a willingness to let go of certain beliefs and collaboration.

But the “reimagine” phase is still ahead of us, and the question is how quickly can we acquire Growth Energy – Ambition & Opportunity. Survival Energy – Agility & Resilience. Human Energy – Humility & Empathy. Digital Energy- Digital Literacy & Change.


There is so much, which has been achieved. Indian businesses have put in place safety protocols and ensured business continuity. Work from home has become normal. Employee engagement has been protected and learning and development has received a new impetus. Organizations have become more empowered. There has been unprecedented absorption of digital solutions. Leadership is getting a new energy and a new purpose for tomorrow. That's a whole lot done, but the battle is not won.

Organizations are now moving to the ‘reimagine’ phase, where changes in organization design, work design, hybrid models, role of offices, digitization driving the business and new employment models are unleashing creative juices, which significantly break with the past. 49% of our respondents believe that the changes are so significant that they cannot be dealt with incrementally, in fact some of the participating companies have already started on this journey and taking a more comprehensive view about what is possible.


At the end of the day, this is a people crisis, and only smart people strategies will pull us out of it. In the Pivot phase, HR leaders have been agile, thinking on their feet and at the epicenter of this crisis. They have influenced their organizations to become compassionate and more people-centric.

The collective wisdom of our respondents and the industry leaders now point towards the following task ahead. (1) HR Consumerism. Building flexibility in policy and process to deal with different constituents. (2) HR Architecture. Bringing design thinking into organization initiatives. (3) Balance. Between outcome and compassion. (4) Curate the Culture. New leadership, new work design & new processes to be culturally knit together.

Press Releases

Covid job cuts, salary adjustments not very drastic, says report

Job cuts, salary adjustments have not been as widespread as originally apprehended despite the severe impact on the revenue of companies in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic, a study has revealed read more

Job cuts, salary adjustments in Covid-19 aftermath not as widespread as expected: Report

Despite the severe impact on revenue and cash, very surprisingly, the display of compassion and community outreach have produced a spontaneous level of commitment and loyalty from employees and job cuts and salary adjustments have not been as widespread an occurrence as originally apprehended read more

Job cuts, salary adjustments amid Covid-19 not as widespread, says study

Job cuts and salary adjustments have not been as widespread as originally apprehended despite the severe impact on the revenue of companies in the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic, a study has revealed read more

Job cuts, salary adjustments in COVID-19 aftermath not as widespread as expected

The CII-Talentonic HR Solutions joint research report on 'Reimagining the Organization for the New Normal: Role of HR' has thrown up several insights read more

The role of HR in the new normal: CII, Talentonic’s research on reimagining organisations

Deepak Dhawan, founder CEO of Talentonic, said, “The way the HR community in India has dealt with the crisis has been remarkable. They have been on ground zero of the great reset and the role of HR and future challenges have emerged read more

Indian Army
Escorts Kubota
L&t finance
Sasken Technologies
PNB Housing Finance
Adani Ports and Logistics
The Great Eastern Shipping Company Ltd.
SEIL Energy India Limited
Adani Green Energy
Nelco Ltd
Eclerx Services Ltd
Adani Total Gas Ltd
Ambuja Cements
ACC Limited
Sanghi Cement
Tata Teleservices
Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India
Lohia Group
CK Birla Group
Shahi Exports Pvt Ltd
Ashiana Housing
EXL Service
Max Life Insurance
Jones Lang LaSalle
Bharti Airtel
Zee Media Corporation
Maruti Suzuki
Sonalika Tractors
Tata Sky Tata Play
Hero Housing Finance Limited
Tata Power Company Limited
UAE Exchange
Larsen & Toubro
Uno Minda
BCH Electric Limited
Natural Remedies
VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd
Le Méridien
Skh Metals Limited
Sony Pictures Networks
Jindal Steel and Power
Maini Group
Morneau Shepell
Orient Electric
Jet Airways
GEMS Education
L&T Technology Services
Tarun Tahiliani
MYND Solutions
Clifford Chance Business Services
Creative Hitech
Glocal Healthcare
RGF International

Follow us on Social

Thank you for your interest, please click here to view the downloaded report.