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An Employee-Centered Approach

Priya Pillai, Head, HR, Retail Corporate Functions of Titan Industries feels that the future of retail manpower management lies in employee engagement based on segment they belong

An Employee-Centered Approach
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Over the years, HR technology has evolved from merely automating processes to leveraging digitization that can manage talent end-to-end. Leading retailers, like Titan Industries, use top-notch tech solutions to create agile and productive workforces. They are leveraging it to manage HR aspects like hiring, assessment, payroll, learning, performance appraisals, compensation, etc.

However, Priya Pillai, Head, HR, Retail Corporate Functions, of Titan Industries feels that the retail domain often has to deal with varied HR systems, which can be overwhelming. The answer to this challenge is a unified HR tech solution that manages all these tools, while improving manpower productivity.

Talking about this, Priya says, Today, everything is about getting wholesome technology. We use ‘Success Factor’ as a technology platform to manage our talent management. I would prefer one tech solution that would help in all HR practices rather than different ones for recruitment, retention, employee engagement, or talent management.”

Towards this end, retailers are looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to change the recruiting, retraining and retention processes, which is still dependent on traditional paper-and-pencil systems. Titan Industries is currently using AI for HR Helpdesk and Support. While these technologies help retailers manage employee data efficiently, while giving retailers more actionable information, Pillai believes that it is unlikely to replace the human facet. “I still feel the human touch of getting to know people where you connect through conversations will be an important aspect,” she pointed out.

TECH AS AN ENABLER

The rise in technological innovations and a demanding consumer base has acted as enablers in the retail business. Now, there are more opportunities for technology to enable faster decision making. A case in point is the evolved POS terminal with more information fed into it, so employees can engage with customers to upsell and cross-sell inventory.

“Technology helps in making targeted communication to consumers. Retailers can customize their communication towards buyers and even curate offers depending on a customer’s buying proclivity as well as their lifestyle,” Priya added.

This is inducing retail companies to take a hard look at their workforce while planning how they sustain and grow their market share. And what is emerging is that different employee segments would like to be engaged with differently, which is why HR heads are viewing how this employee engagement occurs.

“We have an entire generation of staffers who entered the workforce recently and like variety in their work, versus people who have been in the system for 10 to 15 years and seek deep domain expertise. One area where the HR team can provide opportunities to these different workforce segments is by engaging with them differently,” Priya states.

According to her, retailers can use data analytics to understand their employee’s lifecycles. Similarly, just like they create targeted communication for their customers, it is beneficial to craft customized communication for employees. This makes the company appear more people-friendly and boosts morale, besides creating an avenue for two-way communication.

CHANGING WITH THE TIMES

Another aspect that bears some thought is the evolving employee model, keeping in mind the high attrition rates. Hence, Titan Industries is considering how to look at talent by build-by-borrow. “You need talent that comes in, trains your workforce and then exits. Then your existing workforce actually takes those skills forward. You can have talent that is hot-skilled on contextual things for few years because that particular skill is only relevant for that period. We have seen this happen in technology companies and are exploring these areas,” Priya reveals.

To create an agile organization, retailers need to become more team-centric, which is possible only if they can ignite loyalty amongst their workforce. However, the very definition of loyalty as it was few years ago is different from what it is currently and is likely to be different from how it is viewed five years down the line. Retailers need to be in sync with these changing descriptions.

“New-age employees with define loyalty on the basis of how much I can provide them with different types of engagements. At Titan Industries, we are able to offer them curated experiences effectively, since we have six to seven businesses under one roof,” says Priya.  

For the company, every touch point is employee engagement, which includes building the strategy on how to engage with employees. “When you have opportunities how do you create CFTs that actually come together and leverage that opportunity for the organisation is another touch point. The engagements that HR runs has to do with onboarding, to performance management to talent management to leadership development,” she adds, which underlines that employee engagement is the strategic core for the company rather than a part of the operational human resources department.

Technology gives HR heads more in talent management and building stronger communication between employees and the management. But the most important function is leveraging them to improve employee interactions and thereby enhance their efficiency.

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