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How the retail sector is reimagining talent transformation for the future

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The pandemic has reshaped the way Learning & Development, and training are being valued and delivered in organisations. As businesses continue to grapple with the ripple effects of last year, Leadership & Organization Development (L&OD) teams have to work fast and partner with all stakeholders to help achieve new organisational goals and align the workforce as per the new strategies. L&OD as a function has assumed a critical role in the past few months in helping organisations adapt to the changes.

Putting the spotlight on this critical change in business dynamics, the Retailers Association of India (RAI) recently concluded the first edition of the Retail Learning & Development Summit 2021 that was held virtually over March 9 & 10, 2021. The Summit was designed around the theme Reimagining Talent Transformation for the future of Retail.

Speaking about the summit, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI) said, “It is in our continuous effort to bring the industry together to bring about collective learning capabilities. Among the many lessons taught by the pandemic is Reimagining Talent Transformation to make the organisation more resilient and be ready for any uncertainty in the future. L&OD professionals will now have to work in areas such as change management, adapting new methods of training and undertaking required interventions to address the changes in organisational competencies and expand the leadership talent pool.”

Over two days, four riveting panel discussions had retail CEOs, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHROs) and Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) deliberating on the many aspects of Learning & Development in the context of the New Normal. As seen during the pandemic, it was learning that helped talent adapt to the drastic changes and survive. Learning will now continue to remain at the heart of talent management as a business strategy.

Speaking on the panel ‘Learning Without Boundaries: Redefining the Role of a CLO’, Rajiv Nair, CEO, Kaya Limited, spoke about building a definite culture, a common set of values and a strong vision to succeed in a difficult environment such as today. “First and foremost requirement for any retail professional is to contribute to the business success. The learning initiatives must be designed to fulfil measurable business objectives,” he explained.

Speaking on the same panel, Manish Kapoor, CEO, Pepe Jeans, added “Learning structures have always been attuned to deliver incremental results and never exponential results. This is the biggest change that needs to come across. Learning structures now have to evolve to the capability of defining the capability and skill gap of tomorrow.”

Speaking about the duties of a CLO, Sadashiv Nayak, CEO, Big Bazaar, said, “How does the CLO maintain the Curiosity in the organisation, which is Adhbudh Rassa, and bring the ‘wholesomeness’ together in customer experience?”

Himanshu Chakrawarti, CEO – Unlimited, Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited, added, “With the markets opening up, attrition will happen. It is our duty to slow it down and increase business efficiency by making sure employees are happy.”

The recent experiences have taught organisations the value of financial prudence and the need to ensure return on investments (ROI) on every rupee invested. The second panel on the first day had panellists talking about the ‘Virtual benefits: Measuring the impact and ROI of virtual learning’, is it helping meet the organisational goals?

On translating learning into value out of the learning function Eva Lorge, Country Talent Development Head, IKEA India, said that at the time of recruitment, it is important to understand the passion and what does the talent wants to do within the company. Mukta Nakra, HR Head, Marks & Spencer – Reliance India Pvt. Ltd. added that value from the learning function can be derived out of how we drive organisations culture and integrated it in the way people build their careers within your organisation. Kriti Jain, Associate Director – Human Capital, Myntra, added that it is important to have a buy in from the business stakeholders to drive in the real change.

  • 78% of HR leaders view employee wellbeing as a critical component of their business strategy.
  • 97% agree that ‘wellbeing positively influences engagement’, only a quarter of companies treat wellbeing as a priority.
  • Deliberating on role of L&D in ensuring holistic employee wellbeing, Diya Suri, Director – People Resources, Hardcastle Restaurants, said that the organisation has to believe that a person can make a difference and add value, no person comes to work with the intent of doing a bad job. Aniruddha Mahajan, Customer Care Associate & AVP – HR, Shoppers Stop, added that when the employee comes to work it brings along many aspects of wellbeing from emotional to its social and financial wellbeing aspects, and all these have to be taken care of to make a holistic transformation.

Fostering a Learning Culture for Performance, Creativity and Resilience

In today’s VUCA world organisations need to be more adaptive and agile so they are able to better manage crises. Discussing ‘Fostering a Learning Culture for Performance, Creativity and Resilience’, Bidisha Banerjee, Group VP Learning, Culture & Employer Branding, Welspun Group, said that what worked for Welspun is to keep learning relevant, impart learning digitally but at the same time, keep it democratic. While, Alex Mathew, Head – Human Resources, Max & Easybuy, said that they have kept the momentum of informal learning going, by being able to give feedback in real time.

The summit concluded with recognising retail organisations that demonstrated  enterprise wide success as a result of employee talent development through L&OD interventions. The award for ‘Best Learning & Development Strategy’ was given to Tanishq, Titan Company Ltd. While, Reliance Digital was recognised as the First Runner-up, and Hennes & Mauritz Retail Pvt. Ltd. as the Second Runner Up in the award category.

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