MG Motor India started work at its manufacturing plant in Gujarat on April 21, post the second leg of the lockdown. However, the Company had its own share of challenges, both business as well as operational.
At first, there were certain business challenges. When MG Motor India had decided to restore its manufacturing capacity, there were issues of opening a countrywide distribution network and ensuring supply chain continuity between the designated red, orange and green zones.
“As we had opened early and in a phased manner, there was a situation when our suppliers hadn’t got timely approvals, which delayed production. Besides, there were supply-chain issues which were and are still being faced at the country level,” explains Yeshwinder Patial, HR director, MG Motor India.
In the COVID-19 era, most companies are facing operational challenges, and it is no different for MG Motor India.
For obvious reasons, car manufacturing cannot be done from home, and to restart the production pipeline, the Company had to ensure that employees started returning to the manufacturing plant. MG Motor India has around 1450 employees — across production, operations, IT and engineering — working from the plant, while there are about 150-200 employees at its corporate office in Gurugram.
We cannot compromise on any of the processes. Each and every vehicle goes through the same process, including sanitisation
Now, to bring the workforce back to the plant, the Company had to reassure the employees, especially about their safety issues and provide them the necessary confidence. Not to forget, MG Motor also has 33 per cent women working on the shop floor.
Having started early and even during the first phase of lockdown, it engaged with the employees, trained them, and also made them aware of the importance of health and hygiene. Online classes were organised for the same, which were attended even by the blue-collared employees.
Apart from the awareness programme, the Company also laid down some strict guidelines and a well-defined standard operating procedure (SOP) for the workers.
Employees at all levels were asked to either use their own vehicle to commute to the office or the plant, or use company buses. These buses were sanitised every day and ran with only 50 per cent occupancy.
In addition, the Company also practised staggered lunch timings. In cafeterias, 50 per cent of the chairs were removed or kept upside down, so that people maintained social distancing. Even if someone wanted to pull a chair and sit close to somebody, it wasn’t possible. Besides, the Company had in place a pre-defined seating arrangement, where chairs were kept at a distance.
MG Motors India also introduced a daily employee-monitoring mechanism, wherein all employees were required to mark their own and their family members’ wellbeing. If anybody from the family of an employee showed symptoms — even a normal cold — the concerned employee was asked to stay at home. Sanitisation chambers were also created inside the office premises.
The Company has replaced biometrics attendance with the face-recognition system. Even now, creches are suspended and conference rooms are closed. “All meetings, including the daily production meetings, are held virtually,” shares Patial.
When the plant became operational during lockdown 2.0, a unique problem was brought to their attention. Employees raised a concern that by the time they left the workplace, all shops were shut, which made it impossible for them to arrange food for themselves. Patial reveals, “As soon as we learnt about this problem, we took immediate action. From the very next day itself, all three meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — were served in the Company for all employees.”
Maintaining social distancing on the shop floor presents its own set of challenges, especially when production is on in full swing. That is why, employees are mandated to wear masks and gloves.
Safety and hygiene are maintained during production. As an automobile industry, Patial asserts, “We cannot compromise on any of the processes. Each and every vehicle goes through the same process, including sanitisation.”
In addition to the existing employees, MG Motor India took care of the well-being of the new joinees and interns as well, by ensuring a safe and smooth landing.
As internships play a huge role in starting an individual’s career, Patial shares, “We initiated the ‘MG Nurture Programme’, to provide internship opportunities. Undoubtedly, there are challenges, and we may not be able to call people physically and give them opportunities. However, with our customers being spread far and wide, and appropriate technology in place, we have been able to provide internships to many brilliant minds.”
MG Motor partnered with CollegeDekho to call upon interested applicants for the internship programme. There were close to 19000 applicants, out of which 5000 were weeded out post screening, as they did not meet the requirements.
For the Student Nurture Programme, the Company had hired the EvueMe Selection Robot to simplify the entire talent-identification and assessment process. The ‘Robot Interviewer on Demand’ enabled students and professionals to take interviews from the comfort of their homes, using their own devices and at their convenient time. This redefines the HRM process, making it simpler, user-friendly and utilitarian, while maintaining professional distancing.
Patial believes that the unique AI-powered robotic solution has revolutionised the selection process as well as the recruitment and assessment domains.
Finally, with all the efforts paying off, the Company embarked on its internship programme with 200 interns, starting June 1, 2020.
MG Motor has also launched the ‘Shield+’ programme as a precaution against coronavirus. This involves sanitisation and doorstep-delivery of vehicles, adopting various measures to minimise contact between dealerships and customers.