Wednesday, July 09, 2008

HR Bytes - It feels like a real big family

IIPM is A World of Career

Beauty can be skin deep, but HR has to touch the heart. Emami is out to do just that by making all employees feel like they are a part of one big family

Legend has it that Cleopatra used to take hours to get ready and in order to enhance her beauty, she bathed with the best of wines and milk to get that perfectly glowing skin. The age of Cleopatra may well have become a thing of the past, but looking good has certainly not. As a matter of fact, with the passage of time, looking good is no longer confined only to the fairer sex; the metrosexual man have shed their ‘rough and tough’ looks and have become much more image conscious. They are all out to ensure that they look akin to Venus de Milo. No wonder that suddenly the men’s personal care market is witnessing a hitherto never seen before action. The market for the male grooming products in India, at present, is worth Rs.400 crore, but is expected to grow in double digits in the coming few years. Such figures are luring beauty care companies to take head-long plunge in to the male grooming sector. Leading the pack is the Rs.1500 crore personal care company – Emami.

The beauty care company was the first to enter the men’s fairness cream segment through its brand Fair and Handsome. Aggressive marketing and signing on Shah Rukh Khan as brand ambassador did wonders for their male fairness cream. In the health care segment too, Emami has in its kitty, some poplar brand names like Boroplus antiseptic cream, Navratna oil, Boroplus prickly heat powder, Sona Chandi Chyawanprash and Mentho Plus pain balm, and of course, a wide range of other Ayurvedic and hair care products. With such varied products in its kitty, a lot of emphasis is laid on the sales and distribution network. The salesperson has a key role to play in the organisation. However, hiring the best talent is foremost on the minds of the HR. In a tête-à-tête with 4Ps B&M, Ratna Sinha, Head-HR, Emami. said that, “Emami, a major FMCG player, is on the wish list of many candidates just out of the B-schools. However, with Emami based out of Kolkata, it is not so easy to get talent on board. As most of the FMCG companies are based out of Mumbai, so Emami faces a big challenge to get people to come to Kolkata.”

So, this is an area where the HR has a special role to play in convincing prospective candidates to shift base to Kolkata. Adds Sinha, “Although one needs to talk them into moving, but at the same time, one needs to be factually correct and draw a realistic picture, as raising the bar of expectations and then not delivering would lead to an expectation gap that could result in people leaving the organisation.”

The entire FMCG sector is in the grip of attrition problem. Emami too has been besieged by the attrition phenomenon. Although when asked to comment about the attrition figures at Emami, Sinha diplomatically states that it is not very high, neither very low. “It’s same for all sectors again! Young blood – they just want to change jobs frequently. Some companies have in fact altogether stopped taking management trainees,” avers Sinha. An important task cut out for the HR department is to instill a family bonding between the owners and the professionals working at Emami. Sinha elaborates, “We started as a promoter driven company, but now that we are listed, promoters work closely with other professionals in the company, like a close knit family.” Also, there are no strict hierarchical methods that are followed at Emami. For instance, you do not need permission before entering a senior’s room; of course the availability is checked out over the phone. Everybody is very approachable and it’s an open-door policy, where everything thing is kept transparent, and there is no rigidness in the system.

Well, there is little doubt in our minds that Emami is striving hard to become the employer of choice. Sinha further adds, “We are working on various studies to benchmark on salaries and benefits. Initiatives on employee benefit schemes and employee friendly activities and social competitions keep us going.” Also the drive in Emami is to build an atmosphere, which is friendly, informal and cheerful.

All this does not imply that Emami is an all fun and no work company. At Emami, a whole lot of emphasis is given to training and development (T&D). Emami conducts in-house programmes at regular intervals, apart from sending some of their workforce to the reputed institutes for MDP (management development programmes) and other long duration programmes. They also organise a number of outdoor camps for experiential workforce.

Apart from the T&D sessions, rewards and recognition also play a big role in motivating the employees. Sinha points out, “We do recognise our people by letters, gifts or even promotions to take up higher responsibility.” Other friendly practices, like awards for ‘Mr. Elegant’ and ‘Ms. Elegant’ on the Emami Family Day, go a long way in motivating the employees.

For a company that makes a living out of making its customers look good and feel good, the above award in fact works as a strong driver to groom their personnel and be well presentable all the time. But one thing is pretty sure that the feel-good factor for the staff working at Emami also makes them feel like a Cleopatra, or a Venus de Milo, in case of the men folk that is ;-)
Surbhi Chawla

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2008

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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