According to a report by Ernest & Young , organised retailing in India is expected to grow over 35% from the negligible 3% at present in the next 3 years. With India Inc attracting global giants through local partnerships, the doors will be open for over 2 million employment opportunities across the country by 2010.
Role of HR
India’s retail sector has opened up on a huge scale. The retail boom which in turn is likely to accelerate the growth of other sectors such as manufacturing, merchandising, finance, IT, logistics and real estate etc… To substantiate that boom we need skilled people. HR companies are gearing up to expand their portfolio of services to meet the demand.
Traditionally the Indian retail sector is dominated by sole proprietorship which is run on old values and principles of business. Most of the established businesses are governed by people who inherit these businesses. Now that perception is changing, albeit for good. As the business transition takes place the intense competition has forced the proprietors to realise the need for effective management. The big wigs have already started thinking making big . Not only they have commenced the head hunt they are also not hesitant to rope in overseas talent to beef up its management capabilities on par with the western companies.
In India approximately 19 million students are enrolled in high schools and 10 million students in pre-graduate degree courses every year. Moreover, 2.1 million graduates and 0.3 million post-graduates pass out of India’s non-engineering colleges.
As per the industry estimate nearly 2.5-3 percent of them find jobs in other fields or pursue further studies abroad, the rest opt for employment in the IT industry. If the flow from high schools to graduate courses increases even marginally, there will be a massive increase in the number of skilled workers available to the industry. With high level of English proficiency the retail industry with its boom, is poised to follow the IT industry route by generating more jobs.
The new challenges of the retail boom has forced the HR managers to reassess their roles in the organizations and chalk out new plans in order to enable the an organisation fit to take on the ruthless challenges of hectic competition. Since the knowledge and experience of employees would be the core assets of organisations, the search for people with the proper experience would be the primary focus of HR people.
With the international participation the movement of people across nations the cultural differences in matters like language and etiquette are a cause of concern for the HR organization. This is an area where the expertise of an HR organisation comes in handy as they have to enhance their services with a focused delivery. They must build strategies and adopt practices that are aimed at creating an ambience that enhances that attracts people and make them stay with the organisation.
Another key area that needs the focus of HR is proper training. In today’s context even the training methods have evolved. The training needs of the modern days revolve around not only to learn the job perfectly but to identifying the needs of organization and grow along with it. The training and development activities should empower the employees to understand the business philosophy of the organization and empowered to handle the challenges ahead.
HR talent and attrition
The role of an HR organization does not end with a mere recruiting process. HR people must adopt a balancing approach between talent and performance. Identifying the right talent alone will not serve the purpose. The key lies in the abilities of HR to manage the performances of the employees to optimum.
Riding on the retail boom a number of ancillary sectors are emerging fast to support the retail boom. Training is one such industry. Non-availability of trained manpower is definitely a barrier towards growth of the sector. But a number of institutes, recognising the needs of the retailers, have begun offering specialised courses in the various aspects of retailing. Several business schools have embarked on retail management to suit the future needs of this sector.
The boom has also opened the gates of employment opportunities for thousands of unskilled labourers. While skill enhancements are happening at the potential employee level, especially in the middle and senior level, the same can not be said about the unskilled labour calss. Traditionally the employment opportunities for the unskilled work force remains unorganized, especially in the retail sector it is very apparent. Factors like low wages and lack of proper training have always ended in high turnover.
But with the boon in full swing and competition heating up for all corners the retail companies can not afford to remain complacent for the simple reason that these factors have ultimately led to customer dissatisfaction and loss of sales. Further It has been proved that service to the customers is the single most crucial factor that determines the success of a retailer.
It is time that both the HR organisations as well as the retail companies concentrate on specific service requirements of the consumers and empower these unskilled employees to stay alive in the race. By stressing on the need personalised attention to customers, the retailer can be assured of customer satisfaction and thereby building long-term relationship with them.
According to the sources from Retailers Association of India attrition level is as high as 80% among the front-end executives and gradually drops as the hierarchy goes up. The sources points out that the attrition level is only 10-12 % among the managers. So, it clearly emphasises the need for proper orientation at the entry level. The retailers should also start focusing on the welfare activities as a whole. They will have to devise various incentive schemes linked with performance to control the growing attrition.
Some of them have already chalked out their plans. One of the most common reasons for quitting is boredom or monotonous job handling, some of the big retailers shuffle their staff to work in different group companies. Lifestyle, even recommends its top employees for transfers to its parent organisation, the Dubai-based Landmark group to keep their level motivation to work high. Some even pay 20-25% higher salaries and some groups are motivating their front-end staffs to pursue their studies and sponsor for certificate courses in retail selling to keep the attrition level to the minimum.
All these growth oriented initiatives are adding up to the HR tasks. To cope up with the current boom, HR people must develop a credible knowledge base on various issues governing both the industry as well as the organisation.
- M D Sridharan