No matter what retail format you choose to operate in, the level of customer service expected is always the same. Nothing less but always more! When it is value format, it is understood that the overheads have to be kept at minimum to maintain the ROI. But having said that, there can be no cost cutting when it comes to motivating the employees since they are the ones who would be running the final show for you. Let’s find out the HR excellence policies being followed at Promart, which make it a “great” place to work at.
A value format concept in lifestyle retailing targeting smaller towns across India which have limited access to fashion, Promart was re-launched in November 2011. Unlike other retailers, Promart has smaller store formats (average size of 1,500–2,000 sq.ft.) spread across only tier II to VI cities. From a brand that was almost ready to shut down, Promart is now successfully running with more than 85 stores at over 73 locations in India and with a vision to open 300 more stores by the end of 2015. The average count of employees is four per store.
Punit Agarwal, CEO, Promart Retail India, shares: “Over the period of time, our employee strength has grown from 5 to more than 400. We have seen an exponential growth in a short frame of time and the growth in floor personnel would be visible as the numbers of stores increases every month on month.”
On the Floor
Staff at any retail store is most vulnerable to customer fury, and keeping her motivated and enthusiastic always has been a subject of discussion and deliberation at majority of the retail and HR meets. Agarwal says: “Working as a part of the ground staff means being the backbone of the company. We understand this and make sure that we get the best out of every team member by listening, coaching, supporting and developing them. We have a clearly defined career progression programme in our organisation, specifically for floor staff. Any employee can join us as a customer sales executive and depending upon his caliber, target achievement and retail knowledge, he can grow up to the level of store manager or even visual merchandiser.”
“To help them climb the ladder of success, we design and conduct training and development programmes to improve individual and organisational performance, which includes product training, trainings on communication and selling skills and grooming. Designing, planning, organising and direct orientation and training the employees, how to create amazing retail experiences and how to react in critical times are a few standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the company. We not only concentrate on the career growth of an employee but also try to help him multi-task and grow as a person by organising soft skill workshops,” he explains.
Promart is looking at generating employment since it has decided to adopt an aggressive expansion strategy within India. The company is looking to increase the number of stores by opening 65 more outlets by March 2014. Talking about the attrition rate witnessed so far, Agarwal says: “Taking the retail industry into consideration, the attrition rates are always very high at the store level. In our company, the attrition rate would vary from 15 to 20 percent which is comparatively low. Retaining our employees is one of our main focusses.”
Agarwal on Motivation
According to Agarwal, motivation is not a programme; it is a personal approach to deal with individuals. Each person is motivated differently and in varying degrees. Ultimately, if intrinsic motivation is present, everything else is a temporary fix. “We, at Promart Retail, try to build self-interest to succeed. We conduct various employee engagement activities, training session on selling and communication skills, grooming, customer relationship management to keep our employees motivated and engaged. We take the right steps to create an incentive programme that rewards the correct behaviours and create a high morale at the work place. Our incentive programmes are chalked out on the performance of an employee; for example, a store ‘A’ has the target of 10 lakh in a month and the achievement was 15 lakh. Hence, the achievement is 150 percent so the incentive amount for that month turns out to be Rs 4,000 per head. The reward system is customized as per the city where the store is located, the staff strength for activities that will benefit the organisation and the individual. These are the various ways of investing in employee development and motivation. We evaluate the results of each of our programmes and then accordingly amend it to deliver better results,” he informs.
A Day at Promart
Managing employee performance every day is the key to an effective performance management system. Setting goals, making sure your expectations are clear, and providing frequent feedback help people perform most effectively. Agarwal elaborates: “Every manager ideally sets targets for his team each week so as to update his senior on the same by drafting a weekly report. It is very important to assign work/targets to the team members on a daily basis to attain the weekly target. At the start of the day, the manager maps out the tasks for the day and accordingly assigns work to the employees wherein subordinates need to report to the manager at the end of the day. The daily activity report clearly defines targets for the day, activities achieved, pending items and reason for the same. This helps in evaluating employee’s performance and planning for the next day. Further, action items are chalked down to manage client/vendor expectations on a regular basis. The final report is then presented to the head of the department, who will then liaise with the senior management and the promoters of the company to plan, strategise and execute the next phase for the company. Clear performance expectations are a critical factor in teamwork success. Whether the goal is to develop a project team, departmental team, clear performance expectations support teamwork success.”
On an ongoing basis, Agarwal and his HR team go ahead to conduct various employee engagement activities such as Diwali celebration, Women’s Day celebration, Christmas celebration, and birthday celebrations. Moving further, they are also planning to conduct activities on making their employees health conscious on important days like World Heart Day, World Kidney Day and World Diabetes Day. Agarwal adds: “We encourage traditional dressing on occasions, which involves the stores to participate in competitions. These competitions take place amongst all our stores across the country, wherein the participants mail their entries to the corporate office and the corporate office takes a call on the winner. These competitions include rangoli making, bay competition – best decorated reception, visual merchandising competition, etc.”
Elaborating on the importance of an open door policy, Agarwal states: “We believe that the barrier between employee and success are the troubles that they faces at work or in personal life. It is imperative to help the employee eliminate those difficulties to concentrate and put up their best to deliver the requirements of the company. Addressing their fears and communicating the benefits of change openly have resulted in a team of highly motivated, productive, co-operative and happy employees. To attain the same, we have an open door policy wherein any of the staff members can come up and discuss his problems and issues with his respective ASM/ RSM or with HR. We are also planning to launch a common id – get2HR@promartretail.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com for the same. This is also done through personal store visits.”
Employee Journey at Promart
Talking about an employee in particular, Agarwal mentions: “We have Santosh Kumar Joshi, a customer sales executive, who joined us at the Bikaner outlet on September 28th, 2012. Due to uncertain reasons, the Bikaner store was lacking a praiseworthy store manager. During the hunt for the same post, we noticed that Kumar could handle and direct the entire team in the absence of a store manager. He was able to deliver the targets set for the store and had a command over the team due to which all the store activities were carried out very efficiently and the staff was also content under his statute leadership. Seeing his performance and driven sales from the store, the area sales manager and regional sales manager had recommended him as assistant store manager of the outlet, which is one level higher to his current level. We do have these kind of growth prospects in our organisation were we promote our staff on the basis of performance within no time.”
Rewards and Punishments
Promart has Spot incentives and weekly, quarterly and annual incentives, which are being disbursed regularly to the respective staff, whosoever has achieved the targets. Spot incentives involve achievement of a particular target/KRA launched for a particular time frame. Hence, if the employee on the floor manages to keep up to the expectations of the company or achieves his goal in that stipulated time frame, he is then rewarded in accordance to that. Weekly, quarterly and annual incentives are allotted on the basis of their performance.
On the other hand, talking about the punishments, Agarwal shares: “We have clear guidelines and policies governing discipline, zero tolerance to integrity issue, wherein we issues admonition letters and notices in extreme cases.”