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The Shop finds fresh dimensions to the battle in modern Indian retail

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Human resource issues in retail were delved upon with some introspection and critical analysis at the session “Winning the battle for retail talent”, on the concluding day of The Shop, Delhi. Speakers were Prof. Raju Vir; Dr K Raju, SK University; Debanjan Ray, McDonald’s; Group Captain Rajesh Sobti, Government of India; and Major NK Panday, India Retail School.

Stating that it is not a “battle” but a “challenge”, Raju Vir disseminated the challenges in a global context by citing a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The findings, garnered from a survey of over 200 countries, squarely laid out the challenges that face the human resource vertical in the retail industry. Thus, the top six challenges are: change management (for 48 per cent companies); leadership development (35 per cent); HR effectiveness management (35 per cent); compensation (24 per cent); staffing, recruitment and availability of skilled local labour (24 per cent); and staffing retention (16 per cent). Changing the management or the mindset of an employee is the most difficult task, Raju Vir said. The other challenges that follow include a development of leadership qualities, deciding compensations, recreation and retention of an employee. Raju Vir insisted on building of strategies and a common plan for motivation of employees.

Debanjan Ray shared details of HR development and retention practice in his organisation. At McDonald’s, the adoption of employee value proposition (EVP) has helped in the evolution of a high-performance culture. As Ray said, performance management entails setting out of clear expectations, performance objectives, values and behaviours, and result accountability.

The panellists showed models of their respective companies and discussed the hampering factors as also the lessons learnt and the mantras of success. An idea of training manpower from the rural areas and involving them in retailing in their specific areas was quite impressively discussed.

Thus, while retail HR in India is struggling to find its level ground, there is the entertainment and leisure industry that has crossed the first hurdles and is on way to consolidation. The latter was taken up for discussion by Jai Subramanian, Landmark; Monish Gujral, Moti Mahal Delux; and Ajay Bansal, Satyam.

Referring to the EEMI (educated English-speaking middle-class Indians) group that Landmark considers its consumer core, Subramanian spoke about how his company has successfully created a relevantly “wow” ambience that is de rigueur today. While it remains vital to create events around topical affairs and news as well as do a fair share of global trendspotting, it is also strategically imperative to have “ahead of market” merchandising and be empowered with new-age media like blogs.

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