Shalini Vohra, Chief Human Resource Officer at Infiniti Retail (Croma) believes a direct correlation exists between employee engagement and productivity in a retail environment. The higher the engagement level, the better the employee’s productivity.
Any performance-driven organization should, therefore, introduce innovative ways to motivate employees. After all, people are the most important asset in helping a retail company achieve its business objectives and profitability. Recognising and incentivising employees for their knowledge, behaviour and performance helps lead to better productivity and engagement.
While talk about employee engagement levels is good, it is pertinent to monitor it. Shalini explains that to Vinita Bhatia that Croma does this through quarterly Employee Promoter Scores (eNPS). This is then compared with other business metrics like Sales, Incentives earned and Customer Net Promoter Score, which helps gauge the impact of engagement on productivity.
How does employee engagement impact business operations in your organization?
Shalini Vohra: Employee engagement at the workplace is impacted by a combination of initiatives undertaken by the company, such as learning and development, rewards and recognition, capacity building and job enrichment. It is also affected by organisational values and culture – any organisation that is performance-driven and has a culture entailing elements of transparency, fairness, care and concern will have a highly engaged lot of employees, thus positively impacting productivity and retention. Other aspects impacting engagement levels include alignment of competency v/s job role, job clarity, job satisfaction, career development and growth opportunities.
How can track and evaluate employee engagement and productivity on a regular basis?
Shalini Vohra: There are various mechanisms to do this.
The eNPS is a quarterly survey that asks questions related to the organisation with ranking that bifurcates the score into promoters, detractors and passives. Based on the results, we can identify areas of improvement for the company.
Then there is the Employee Satisfaction Survey (ESS), which is conducted annually across all grades, units and locations, including stores, zonal and support offices. The main purpose of this survey is to understand the employees’ perception of the work environment and culture and to identify job satisfaction levels, loyalty index and determine areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. The employee feedback helps the company make meaningful changes in its policies and processes.
What are some tools that you use to enable and sustain various HR initiatives?
Shalini Vohra: We have introduced a quarterly survey wherein all Store Managers and Managerial cadre employees from support and zonal offices evaluate the HR function’s services. This enables us to understand our efficiency and impact as a department and the kind of support we are providing to other functions. Based on the feedback, we make an action plan for further improvement.
Can you share some insights on how you gather this information?
Shalini Vohra: We have various platforms.
Open House is a monthly activity organised by the HR team for the store staff to come together and discuss any issues or grievances and give suggestions and ideas. Let’s Catch Up is an open house conducted once in six months for the support staff, including the support office and zonal office.
Then there is the 30 – 60 – 90 Review that the HR team conducts with new recruits on completion of 30, 60 and 90 days in the system. The objective is to understand how the new joinee is adjusting in the company, and to provide any necessary intervention or support.
Additionally, in the Learning Management System we have provided a tab called My Training Request (MTR) to all employees, right down to the store associates. They can send in their training request or ask for any information. With the introduction of many products daily, this becomes a faster and easier platform, especially for the store teams to voice their needs or concerns, which are then duly addressed and closed by the training team.
What employee engagement initiatives have you leveraged to lower employee attrition rates and increase customer satisfaction scores?
Shalini Vohra: Self-development on the professional and personal front is a key objective for employees across all grades. An employee joins the organization with an objective to move up the learning curve through self-learning. Hence, we have initiated various interventions such as inductions, trainings, certifications, coaching and mentoring programs across the employee life cycle.
Training and Career Progression Initiatives: Training goals are based on overall organizational strategy and primarily aim to deliver on the customer promise. Developmental plans and projects are assigned to help bridge the performance gaps and also help individuals to be more productive and effective in their existing role. A mentor or coach is assigned to them who can guide, motivate and help bridge any identified gaps. We also have specific programs wherein individuals are groomed and developed to take up higher responsibilities and eventually move up in their career path.
Monthly and Quarterly Assessments: The on-going monthly and quarterly assessments are done for the front-end employees to check their understanding on the system, processes, products, etc. This inculcates a habit of continuous learning. Employees are also incentivised quarterly on the overall score achieved in the assessments. It motivates them to upgrade their knowledge, helps them achieve their target, which in turn enables the organisation to achieve its business objectives.
Trainings and Certifications: Training sessions on enhancing skills and abilities like managing self, work and others, team building, conflict management, communication skills, managing change and time management are undertaken. Certification for the front end customer facing staff is rolled out to certify staff on the Croma’s sales process.
Coaching, Succession Planning and Mentoring: The program identifies high-potential managers and develops a talent pipeline with the right mentorship from leaders. This platform enables employees to gain knowledge, skills and develop themselves in order to take on higher leadership roles in their career going forward.
Learning Management System (LMS): Digital learning was introduced to have an ease and convenience of learning at a user’s pace. Its direct impact can be seen in the overall certification of individuals in the assigned modules, increase in the customer NPS scores, increase in the Mystery Audit scores, low attrition and increase in the sales of the individuals and stores.
Rewards and Recognition: The Croma Happy Employees Engagement & Recognition System (CHEERS) is a platform that recognizes and rewards employees on performance and behavioural parameters. Under this monthly and quarterly program, store employees are awarded based on certain pre-defined performance and behavioural parameters. Awardees are given certificates and allocated cheers points, which can be redeemed against various products available on the online portal – gift vouchers of other retailers, movie tickets, dinner vouchers, items like watches, bags, perfumes etc.
Engagement: These activities are theme-based and calendarised centrally and the execution happens across regions. The broad outline and theme is chalked out based on inputs and suggestions received from our employees about activities which they enjoy participating in.
There are special days which are celebrated such as Store Anniversaries, Independence Day, Retail Employee’s Day, Women’s Day etc. Also there are Festival celebrations across stores – e.g. traditional day, rangoli competition, potluck organized during Diwali. Other than this, we organize sports matches, talent hunt and picnics, in addition to birthday celebrations.
Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives: We create local level volunteering opportunities by engaging with deprived sections thus providing a platform for our employees to participate and contribute. In order to create a more inclusive workplace, we are currently in the process of recruiting people with disabilities (orthopedically challenged) and mapping them to the respective stores (mostly upcoming stores) basis factors such as their ease of mobility and accessibility within the store, considering the store structure and proximity to the store location. Other initiatives include skilling through National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), funds generation for social causes and E-waste awareness and management
Maintaining a Work-life Balance: We have introduced a 5 ½ days week for our frontline employees where they are supposed to take their 1 ½ days off at a stretch, so that it gives them enough time to unwind, spend time with their family and come back to work refreshed. Also, our Zonal Office employees get a holiday on 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month.
Internal Job Postings: We create opportunities for the existing talent pool by ensuring lateral movement to other verticals within the organisation. This helps in multi-skilling, as employees learn new skills while working in a new function.