Redefining HR processes is one of the many measures an organisation takes to better its workplace diversity and culture. Godrej decided to bring all its HR processes under one wing, called the People Experience Centre. It includes Godrej Consumer Products, Godrej Properties, Godrej Agrovet, Godrej Housing Finance and Godrej Investment Advisors. Sumit Mitra, head, group HR and corporate services, Godrej, elaborates on why such a move helps Godrej as an organisation to better help its employees.
Godrej’s HR strategy project wanted to understand what the Company wanted in the next three years and how the same could be achieved. Their HR outlook is centred on three core areas — HR business partners to deliver solutions, HR COE experts to create product processes and any other interventions to handle day-to-day matters. Therefore, centralising the processes became important for a few key reasons. “The first is that it takes away a lot of bandwidth from the HR business partners and the COEs, because while these processes are important, they don’t require high-level expertise. Second, as an organisation with multiple footprints in the same area, it may not be at the same level of quality as the other. That is the variation of experience we look at. Third, there’s obviously the cost. If one has more centralisation and technology, the model becomes more scalable. Lastly, if there is a central data hub, analytics becomes easier to drive people decisions. We wanted to operate HR as a function going ahead,” Mitra reasons.
We do realise that a complete digital interface takes away from personal relationships and connect. However, digital will significantly become a larger format this year than before.
The shift to the People Experience Centre is made on three broadly defined aspects — experience, efficiency and effectiveness.
The idea was to leverage HR technology to have better people experience and sharper decisions. Explaining further, Mitra elaborates, “First, irrespective of where the measures are taken, we wanted a consistency of experience. If it’s handled by one team, the likelihood of a more consistent experience is higher. Second, we wanted to be able to leverage technology, analytics, and so on, to push experience further. For every candidate we interview, we have a measure to assess how the person feels about the entire process. Obviously, if data comes centrally, the decision and the ability to make some of those changes to delight the candidate becomes easier. Finally, we wanted to use technology far more than just as an investment in getting people on-board.”
Efficiency and effectiveness
Mitra believes that having a central team at one spot rather than at different locations leads to efficiency of scale. There are dedicated people for the same and there is a synergy of scale in terms of manpower. “As for effectiveness, it’s about the ease of doing business. We are looking for business metrics for each of our processes. For instance, in terms of recruitment, just like we are keying in candidate experience, we are also measuring the metrics to know the quality of the hire. We hire over a 1000 people over the course of a year. If that data can be centralised, the processes can become easier and more effective,” describes Mitra.
Godrej is looking at broadly three phases of implementation. Right now, it has launched all recruitment, on-boarding and exit software. Everything is digital now, even in case of resignations, the whole process has migrated to the digital platform. “We will go back to some people interface because we do realise that a complete digital interface takes away from personal relationships and connect. However, digital will significantly become a larger format this year than before,” informs Mitra.
In case of employee services — such as experience letter, letter for visa, apply for loan — everything has been moved to a digital format. Employees can download an experience letter without authorisation. They can track the various applications on the platform as well. Mitra also reveals that there will be consolidation of roles. “Earlier, recruitments were done across all businesses, but now we have a central team doing the same for all the businesses. I think the only role we may look to add will be something around analytics. We do not have a full-time resource for that yet, but going ahead, we want to build a people analytics teams in the experience centre,” Mitra says.
Centralising the entire system will also lead to a lot of data accumulation and Godrej has a few ways to monitor it. “A certain degree of audit and SOPs have been defined because every action or decision is clearly based on decision metrics which are decentralised. In an FMCG business, the approval gateway is from the same business. Therefore, while the technology is the same, the decision making is decentralised. Wherever we have automated decision making, it is SOP-based. We are fairly certain that decisions will be faster this way and will not compromise quality. Hence, we highly doubt anybody can take advantage of decentralisation,” asserts Mitra.
Every business at Godrej has its own recruitment team. So when they tried to put them under one roof, they realised they have a lot of resources. “Now we can dedicate even more time to data mining. I do believe our dependence on consultancies will reduce and there will be a shift towards online tools. Often, if recruitment is decentralised, recruitment of similar profiles is done separately. For instance, if I need an HR manager for the real estate and FMCG business, I would hire separately even though the talent pool is the same. So, we can now organise business teams by their functions, avoiding any form of duplication. We can even push the employer brand digitally. Our presence on platforms, such as LinkedIn will also get a boost,” Mitra explains.
This move by the Company has already brought in positive feedback from the employees. In the first week of implementation, it saw some 50-60 requests for experience letters. A couple of thousands of profiles have been added to the system. Mitra finds it all very encouraging. “The importance of digital has been highlighted extensively over the last one year. We have accelerated a lot of learning into the experience centre. Initially, we hadn’t thought about centralising medical schemes, mental health schemes, maternity plans, crèche and others. Now, however, we are keen to include them as well. So, a lot of wellbeing practices need to be part of the core experience,” Mitra reveals.
Diversity and inclusion
In terms of diversity and inclusion, while the overall strategy will remain the same, with the People Experience Centre, Mitra believes Godrej will be in a better position to deliver on its policies of inclusion and diversity.
Mitra asserts that Godrej believes that work and delivery are more important than facetime. “The pandemic has shown that it is an absolute truth. Clearly, we are looking at work flexibility in a few roles. Health and mental wellbeing have also become important. We already had a few programmes in place earlier, but during the pandemic, we saw an uptake of some of these products. Therefore, we must need more support systems. The very nature of work has transformed,” says a confident Mitra. He firmly believes that people are happy engaging digitally if the right channels are made available.