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Retail CHROs deliberated on the vision for workplace reinvention

Mumbai, October 30, 2020: The Manning Modern Retail (MMR) 2020 by Retailers Association of India (RAI) was hosted in its digital avatar this year on October 28 & 29, 2020. The 14th edition of the conclave brings together CEOs, CPOs/CHROs, academia and thought leaders from the retail industry to deliberate on the theme ‘Retail Reset: Building Resilient and Adaptable Organizations’ to reimagine their business and lead their teams into the ‘New Normal’. 


During the second day special address BS Nagesh, Founder TRRAIN and Chairman, Shoppers Stop Ltd. said, "Leaders need to think about the shape of their organisation in the new digital world. So, the first priority should be skilling for the future. Now is the time to identify the roles that will emerge where many employees may have to transform themselves from their current role to a new one. Prepare your organisations for the future by re-skilling them otherwise some of them will or you will not exist. 50% of the business will likely happen digitally in 10 years. Your company has to be ready to manage that."


The conclave progressed into panel discussions with top retail CHROs deliberating on various aspects of human resources that are relevant today. Discussion topics included ‘A CHRO’s Vision for Workplace Reinvention’; ‘Apprenticeship: Compliance leading to workforce optimisation in the new normal’; and ‘Making Virtual Learning Click’ among other sessions.


Retail HR leadership speaking at the conclave included Harshvendra Soin - Tech Mahindra Ltd.; Adhir Mane - Raymond Ltd.; Chandrashekar Chavan - Aditya Birla Fashion Retail; R. Rajnarayan - Titan Company Ltd.; Nirav Jagad - Nykaa; Venkatesh Raja - Shoppers Stop; Venkataramana B - Former President - Group HR at Landmark Group India; Joe Chacko - Infiniti Retail Limited; Prabhakar Patil - Reliance Retail; Vivek Tripathi, CHRO - BIBA Apparels; Dhruv Dubey- Spencer's Retail; Bidisha Banerjee - Welspun Group; Dr. Sanjeev K Chauhan - Pepe Jeans India; Jeeva Balakrishnan - Reliance Retail; Nandini Mehta - Lifestyle International; Sutanu Chowdhury - Spencer's Retail; among others.


Speaking about the objective of ‘Manning Modern Retail Online 2020’, Kumar Rajagopalan, Chief Executive Officer, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said, “There are retail businesses that have survived over 100 years, enduring the Great Depression, the World Wars, Recession and almost every massive world crisis and shifts in technology. Behind every successful business that has lasted so long are two inherent qualities: Resilience and Adaptability. The pandemic has put both the qualities to test like never before. It’s retail’s biggest reset. We have to respond by rethinking everything from people, policies, processes and resources so that they can survive this and all future catastrophes and even thrive.


Sharing the initiatives at his organisation during the panel discussion on A CHRO’s Vision for Workplace Reinvention, Adhir Mane - CHRO - Lifestyle Business, Raymond Ltd., said, “We have been working around changing mindsets and looking at how to embrace the new ways of working. We have launched an EAP program for our employees that has a one-on-one counselling mechanism, which has counsellors on financial counselling, mental counselling, relationships and also on how to effectively work from home.”


Chandrashekar Chavan - CHRO, Aditya Birla Fashion Retail Ltd., added, Hybrid working has created the need to look at enhancing collaboration between multiple teams. We have been working on ways to build the collaborative fabric within them through work, reinforcements, incentive mechanisms and rearchitecting teams.”


R. Rajnarayan - Executive Vice President & CHRO, Titan Company Ltd. expressed, “There is a lot of work happening on training and capability building within our organisation. We need skilled people to connect with customers, in using technology and analytics. The day isn't far when there is a lot more technology happening in stores and especially in categories like ours where the interaction with the salesperson is much higher than that in a supermarket.”


During the discussion, Nirav Jagad - Chief People Officer, Nykaa, said, “As an organisation a few things really come upfront. The grit and the resilience of the staff. For Nykaa, we have looked at that being displayed at across levels. We conducted 2,300 sessions of training in this period. Thankfully, since July onwards, we have been able to do a remarkable turnaround and our stores are also coming back to pre-covid numbers.”


Speaking about steps taken towards work-life balance while working from home, Venkatesh Raja - CHRO, Shoppers Stop Ltd., said, “We did a work from a home survey in the entire organisation, which revealed that most people want to work from home. Also, we found that there are some people who think that work from home is stressful due to lack of boundaries and discipline. Based on the survey we decided to streamline how we are going to have meetings and a scheduled discipline. So that people can have some personal time instead of continuously sitting and attending call after call.”


Speaking about the tech innovations at workplace, Harshvendra Soin - Global Chief People Officer & Head Marketing, Tech Mahindra Ltd. “We have a ‘BookMySeat’ app which automatically ensures social distancing while allocating seats. Similarly, everything that we have is technology gamified and there is no touch that an employee has to do. At the end, what we have to believe is that through technology, which has gone generations forward during this pandemic, we have been able to press upon what we called human relations and experiences.


While moderating the CHRO panel on Workplace Reinvention, Venkataramana B - Former President, Group HR, Landmark Group India, suggested, “I think the gig economy has also picked up. Today there are a lot of people available who can work from anywhere for a shorter period of time. Over the last 6 months we have reinvented not just as organisations but also as an industry.”


Retail is the country’s biggest employer after agriculture. Being a service-driven industry, people are its biggest asset. RAI member establishments, which include large and small establishments, provide direct and Indirect employment to 43 million Indians. MMR is where retail leaders deliberate on macro-level people strategies. This is especially important in the current scenario which has compelled organisations to reinvent their work structures and rethink practices to keep employees safe, engaged, motivated and gainfully employed.


Manning Modern Retail (MMR), Retail HR Conclave is focused on developing ideas and resource capabilities to understand the retail industry’s most pressing issues around people practices. Over the years, this conclave has become an essential annual gathering for the retail HR fraternity to explore, engage and exchange ideas on moving towards sustainable growth.