Interview with P K Singh

Interview with P K Singh

The power sector, already reeling under severe losses owing to non-payment of dues by the Discoms, has been impacted further by the lockdown due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In the wake of such a crisis, how will it impact the job market in the power sector in the coming days?


The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the global economy across sectors, including power. Though the demand for power was hit during the initial phase of the lockdown, it is expected to normalise during the phase-wise unlocking of the economy. The unparalleled dependence on power will increase in order to ensure the continuity of business for industries across sectors. While the outstanding dues of the Discoms towards power generation companies have been indicating financial stress, the relief measures announced by the government in the form of Rupees 90,000 Crore liquidity infusion for Discoms, is expected to ease out the pressure, and address the issue of nonpayment. As such, this will have a positive impact in the job market, especially in the Power sector, as the new package offered by the government will further boost the sector, and will offer employment opportunities to young electrical engineering graduates. Further, the demand for competent manpower will by and large increase, and will change the landscape of the job market in the sector.


The breadth, depth, and scale of the novel challenges being experienced by HR Managers owing to the COVID-19 Pandemic are indeed astounding. According to you, what are the biggest pain points for the power sector? How do the same need to be tackled by an HR Manager?


The uncertainties brought in by COVID-19 have emboldened the need for a wellcrafted human resource strategy for capacity addition in generation, transmission and distribution sectors, and also to ensure consumer satisfaction. It is time for traditional HR Leaders to rethink their philosophy.


While it involves a huge investment in financial and material resources, it also calls for developing human resource competencies. The need for skilled manpower is becoming increasingly essential. The technologically upgraded human resource will play a major role in organisations, and more so in the Power sector. There is no doubting the Universities and colleges in terms of providing competent manpower. However, the challenge posed by the new environment warrants people to take a proactive approach, and to be intuitive, keeping in view the longterm impact of the situation. In this context, the Human Resource Department needs to constantly work on innovation, aligning HR with the business strategy, enhancing online learning ability, besides developing a culture of oneness and bonding with employees by the top-level management. This is more so when Work From Home (WFH) has become the order of the day despite the challenges. Interpersonal relationship, especially by those at the helm of affairs is the topmost requirement and is the greatest challenge today. HR needs to chart out procedure and streamline processes, so that they can provide continuous input to the top management. In a nutshell, HR has become most inevitable linking pin between management and employees. This will enable organisations to move beyond employee satisfaction and focus on the culture of personal care.


The COVID-19 pandemic has been instrumental for the rapid transformation and/or extinction of certain job roles and the emergence of newer job roles in almost every sector. In terms of job roles, what changes do you foresee for the power sector in the days to come?


It is a fact that the future demands that everyone transform themselves rapidly, and adapt to a technology driven world, whereby the manpower has to be well versed with IT enabled infrastructure. But organisations in general and HR in particular needs to focus on the engagement of employees, even if it comes at the cost of redefining the job role. Yes, it could be possible to redefine the job role of some of the functions such as IT, HR, Public Relations, Finance, and Accounts to enable them to be more WFH friendly and need to be more sensitive towards employees and external stakeholders who mostly interact with them through the virtual mode. At PFC, through our integrated processes, we are ensuring that our workforce is quickly adapting to the new norms, and the results in the last quarter of FY 2019-20 bear testimony to this aspect.


The roadmap for the power sector announced by the Indian Finance Minister to revise the existing policies must come as some respite for the power sector. How do you advocate HR Managers to utilise such a fillip for boosting employee morale?


In unprecedented times, the role of HR managers in the organisation becomes all the more crucial, such as tackling immediate issues of keeping employees safe with seamless work transition and ensuring optimal utilisation of staff. HR managers need to ensure that the organisations adopt the best practices from across the globe for its employees. Our employees have risen to the occasion and made exceptional contribution during the last few days of FY 2019-20 after the lockdown was announced.


Considering the WFH model, this can well be the new norm in the coming days. Also, a flexible working system can be introduced, which includes WFH and flexi-working hours. Such steps could create a new work culture and environment. This may promote enhanced productivity and greater motivation.


What according to you are the biggest opportunities that the COVID-19 has brought forth for the energy sector?


Volumes have been written over how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted cities, countries, and continents worldwide, while causing high rates of morbidity and mortality. Nonetheless, every dark cloud has a silver lining. Increased technology adoption by corporations alike has been one of the biggest opportunities for companies to ensure business continuity. This has also led to universal acceptance of the WorkFromHome culture. In PFC, we see every challenge as an opportunity for growth and development. More specifically, I foresee a great opportunity for learning and development for employees through the virtual mode of learning. It is also offering newer avenues to employees to think differently in terms of their time utilisation and enhanced relationship with family. In the coming days, we may need to explore the possibilities of performing more with lesser resources. I am confident that human resources will come out with flying colours despite the challenges, and the performance of PFC and its team comes forth as a testimony for the same.


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