Human Resources: In conversation with Anchal Kakkar and Mridhula Sridharan of Arthan

Arthan is a technology-driven human capital company that aims to prepare young people to realise their true potential. Their mission is to equip students with the right knowledge, tools and resources to enable them to make informed decisions about their future. Arthan works in partnership with Government, businesses, schools and civil society organizations to deliver high quality, affordable career planning and skills training to youth across the country. In addition to this, they also have an employment portal dedicated to the impact sector that serves as a platform to link job seekers with impact-driven organizations. 


The COVIDActionCollab (CAC) spoke with Anchal Kakkar (VP, Strategy & Partnerships) and Mridhula Sridharan (AVP, Technology and Organizational Development Consulting) to discuss Arthan’s COVID-19 response. 


What have been your key actions and initiatives around the COVID-19 response?


Our immediate priority in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak was ensuring that our team at Arthan was okay. The Senior Leadership took it upon themselves to ensure that all employee concerns were addressed and the entire team was apprised about working from home, salaries, etc. We also did an internal, anonymous Employee Pulse Survey to gauge team morale, concerns and apprehensions. 


Externally, we reached out to our clients to provide crisis management support and help them with talent acquisition in these unforeseen and uncertain times. Lack of funding is a serious concern which many of our development sector clients are bracing themselves for, since it will impact talent acquisition, retention, and growth. We are assisting our clients in navigating these issues and also conducted a webinar on the topic to share learnings and discuss ideas. We want to expand our services to help organizations with management of front line workers, funders and fundraisers, as we foresee a critical need for NGOs to reposition their current programs in the context of COVID-19. 


Additionally, to support organizations and job seekers more effectively, we have launched a series of online learning sessions to provide a safe space for sharing and learning. We have conducted 6 webinars so far (2 independently, 4 with partners), reaching approximately 450 people on topics such as Resilience and Excellence in times of crises, Financial Management and Talent Management. We have also provided pro bono consulting support to 3 organizations and mentorship support (with a partner) to 4 organizations. 


We strongly believe in the power of collaboration and have, therefore, partnered with ATMA and conducted a workshop on Crisis Management with them. We are also in the process of determining the nature and scope of our partnership with the COVIDActionCollab and hope to roll out initiatives to support NGOs, job seekers and volunteers through the CAC platform soon.


Would you like to share any stories of impact that have emerged from the field?


A prominent Indian NGO with a staff strength of close to 8000 reacted to the COVID-19 situation with immense compassion and concern for their employees. Instead of sending a generic email to everyone in the organization, they took the time to call every single one of their people – an amazing gesture from the leadership. One of the senior management team members we spoke to said she had personally been on close to 500 calls! What made it even better was that the calls were not limited to work conversations but also asked employees how they were feeling, if they needed any support, etc. 


To us they are a great example of how an organization can take that extra step in times of crises to show their employees they care. 


What are some of the learnings and insights you would like to share?


Stay Agile! From what we are seeing on the ground it is extremely important for organizations to adapt and evolve – internally and externally – and accept the reality that these uncertainties are not going away any time soon. We also strongly believe that the spirit of collaboration is crucial to multiply impact on the ground. Organizations – now more than ever before – need to work together to provide relief, access and support to vulnerable communities and individuals. 


Lastly, organizations need to plan for and build resilience into the way they are funded. The fact of the matter is that funding will get diluted and redirected to COVID-19 work for a long time. In light of this, organizations will have to redesign budgets and programs to ensure that they can continue to be functional. We advise medium-sized NGO’s to diversify their funder pool and deepen engagement with existing funders. To identify new funders, spend adequate time doing research and find those whose vision and philosophy align with your own.  


Resources from Arthan: 

Managing recruitment and talent during covid 19

Non Profit financial planning for covid 19


About the Author: 

Jaya Raizada is a senior fundraising and partnerships specialist currently working with an Anti Human Trafficking organization in India. 


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