Karta Ceremony, a unique community-based HR tool used by Reliance Retail to welcome store leaders

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Under the karta ceremony, before joining a store, an executive is blindfolded and placed on a special chair in front of all store employees, vendors and even his relatives

New Delhi: The country’s leading retailer Reliance Retail, which is on an expansion spree, has adopted a unique community-based HR tool to onboard new leaders/executives at its stores.

Internally called “karta ceremony”, Reliance Retail uses this HR initiative to welcome hundreds of its executives who are taking charge of new stores that the Mumbai-headquartered retailer is opening at a breakneck speed across the country.

Under the karta ceremony, before joining a store, an executive is blindfolded and placed on a special chair in front of all store employees, vendors and even his relatives.

After this ceremony, which lasts for hours, the store plans and keys are handed over to him or her.

As per its latest quarterly results, Reliance Retail, which is part of billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd, operates a network of 17,225 stores.

When contacted, Reliance Retail CHRO G R Venkatesh told PTI, “Retail is globally one of the most manpower-intensive sectors. In that regard, we take pride in the fact that the aspirations of our huge workforce numbering in lakhs, drive our HR policy.”

The ceremony mirrors the tradition and culture of the area the store is located in. For instance, if the store is in Assam, then the local customs are followed for the Karta ceremony.

“Karta is a special ceremony that is deeply rooted in Indian culture and ethos where the leader is regarded as the head of the family. Once that happens, he or she does not take her responsibility as just part of the job. The leader starts treating his staff as members of his family. This keeps the staff in the store happy and results in happy customers,” said Venkatesh.

Reliance Retail recently announced the acquisition of the German retailer Metro’s wholesale business in India by absorbing over 3,500 employees. It had also offered jobs to more than 30,000 Future Group employees.

Reliance Retail’s total workforce base has increased to over 4.18 lakh employees, said the latest quarterly report of RIL.

According to Venkatesh, Reliance Retail’s HR Policy takes three factors into consideration, including “how do we keep the workforce happy from the point of view of materialistic comfort to augment their standard of living including perks and incentives” and give them challenging roles and opportunities to become better professionals.

“And third, to build a culture that fosters respect, affection and basic human regard for their peers and fellow Indians,” he added.

In his Annual General Meeting speech in June 2021, Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said Reliance Retail aims to create employment for over 10 lakh people in the next three years.

In FY22, Reliance Retail’s consolidated turnover stood at Rs 1.99 lakh crore.

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