How The Body Shop India empowers employees for better engagement & productivity

The cosmetics company is committed to ensuring 360-degree well-being of its employees


With a strength of over 1000 employees, The Body Shop is committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for all its employees. The company believes in creating a happy and engaging environment for all members of its workforce, to bring out the best in them. Satabdee Borah, AVP HR & administration, The Body Shop India, tells us how she makes this happen.

Backed by over two decades of experience, Borah leads the people agenda for the company India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal markets. Her expertise being talent management and acquisition, performance management, employee engagement, total rewards, training and development, and employee relations,  she strongly believes in collaborating to create business turnaround stories that demonstrate the transformation of an organisation’s design, talent, structure and culture.

Recently, as part of The Body Shop’s 360-degree well-being programme, the company introduced a menstruation leave policy for the women in its workforce. A survey conducted in 2017 by Women’s Fertility and Health Tracker found that almost 50 per cent of women in India experience irregular menstrual cycles and almost 68 per cent of them suffer from severe period-related symptoms. This can indirectly impact the productivity and well-being of women during their menstrual cycle. Therefore, to support the physical and mental health of its women, as well as their morale, the company encourages them to take on their responsibilities with confidence.

The Body Shop India’s menstruation policy aims to provide women in the organisation with the opportunity to rest and recover from the monthly pain they go through.

“We implemented this policy to improve the working conditions for women. We believe that with menstrual leave, women can take the necessary time off every month to recover and maintain their physical and mental well-being,” says Borah. She explains that employees can apply for an additional leave based on their menstrual cycle, which will be recorded through the HRMS software. Once the leave is approved, it will be added to their leave calendar as an additional leave.

The company has announced two more policies as a part of the 360 well-being policy for women.

Childcare Policy: This is meant for the female employees who may need financial assistance or a support system to ensure they do not quit their job due to motherhood. “We offer an additional financial support of Rs. 5000 per month for child care until the child is one year old. Special counselling sessions on parenting are also arranged through our partner, Mansamitra. Flexible working hours are offered to women staff to maintain work-life balance post motherhood,” shares Borah.

“We believe that by providing a positive work environment and investing in our employees, we can create a culture of excellence and deliver the best possible service to our customers.”

Satabdee Borah, AVP HR & administration, The Body Shop India

Abortion care policy: The aim of this policy is to provide support to women staff members who undergo medical treatment related to their pregnancy. “We understand that an abortion can be emotionally challenging and we want to provide a break to our employees during this time. Therefore, we offer seven days of leave for any kind of abortion. Post-abortion care and support are our top priorities in this policy,” adds Borah.

The company implements various policies and initiatives over time to improve its HR practices, designing employee-engagement programmes based on core values such as integrity, communication, diversity, collaboration, change and responsibility. Recently, Body Shop has introduced an initiative focusing on human leadership, which emphasises creating a work environment where leaders are authentic, empathetic and adaptive. The goal is to establish a work culture where human leadership is at the forefront.

In the last fiscal year, the company decided to promote change management by supporting and guiding employees for their vertical and horizontal growth.

Career growth: For instance, the company provides career-growth opportunities to employees at all levels. Whenever there is a vacancy within the organisation, it is always treated as an Internal Job Posting (IJP) to encourage employees to apply. Even at the ‘beauty advisor’ level, an employee can grow within the company with the help of career-growth opportunities and a smart development plan. “In five to six years, a beauty advisor can become a store manager, which demonstrates the kind of vertical and horizontal growth we provide to our employees. This is one of the initiatives we have taken to nurture our internal talent,” shares Borah. She also adds that the company hardly faces any attrition over 18 per cent, even when the generic rate in the retail industry can go as high as 40 per cent.

Internal mobility: The company is very much focused on easing internal mobility and creating opportunities for the internal talent first. To achieve this, it offers training and development programmes to develop internal talent, including ‘Creating Next Us’, where potential employees are identified through feedback and assessments. There are also employee-engagement and RnR programmes, with agencies working with HRBPs to motivate and engage employees through fun activities on a regular basis. The company also promotes a culture of recognition through various RnR programmes that include both monetary and non-monetary benefits.

“Our work culture is unique and includes elements of fun, dedication and entrepreneurship. We encourage our employees to thrive and reach their full potential, and we strongly believe in giving back to society,”

Satabdee Borah, AVP-HR & administration, The Body Shop India

Wow experience: Another initiative taken by the company is to provide a ‘wow’ experience to the employees. The benefits offered under this include, flexible working hours, personalised development plans, as well as employee-recognition programmes. “We believe that by providing a positive work environment and investing in our employees, we can create a culture of excellence and deliver the best possible service to our customers,” asserts Borah. Additionally, the company takes staff offsite once a year to spend time together, do fun activities, brainstorm and rejuvenate.

Since Body Shop is a beauty brand, it has a higher percentage  of women employees in the organisation, but this doesn’t stop male participation in any way. The women to men ratio in the company is 51 to 49 per cent. However, the company is committed to providing equal employment opportunities without any discrimination.

The company believes diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace are essential for growth and value and celebrates the uniqueness of every individual. “We have two initiatives under our DEI policy — the ‘This Ability’ programme to increase the hiring of candidates with special abilities in both head office and stores, and an initiative to increase diversity across genders, including LGBTQ representation. We are already in discussions with organisations to expand our LGBTQ candidate pool,” reveals Borah.

The Body Shop is building a common approach to working across all verticals, with the help of Borah. The firm is highly committed to employee happiness and prioritises an employee-first approach. Talking about the company culture, Borah says, “Our work culture is unique and includes elements of fun, dedication and entrepreneurship. We encourage our employees to thrive and reach their full potential, and we strongly believe in giving back to society. Our customer-centric approach requires commercially-minded individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit who are experts in their field and enthusiastic about their work.”

 As the regional manager for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, Borah is aware of all the unique challenges that employees face in all the regions. However, the company has solutions for everything. For instance, in Sri Lanka, it supports its employees financially and emotionally during challenging times. All employees receive their salaries on time and are provided any  form of support they need, including for family emergencies. In Bangladesh, the HR policies are tailored to meet market needs, and when the need for support arises, there is immediate intervention by the organisation. “Our approach has created a strong emotional attachment between our employees and The Body Shop brand, making them our brand ambassadors in these countries,” concludes Borah.

Body Shop plans to increase its workforce by 25 to 30 per cent in the current financial year, to support its expansion in tier II and III markets. The company sources talent through internal references, the Naukri portal and agencies such as Periphery Vivida and Solidarity Foundations of Equality. It also hires specially abled candidates. For front-end staff, the company looks for people from beauty institutes, such as VLCC, Lapa by Priya Suresh , and Masters Academy of Makeup. The back-end staff possess expertise in omni-channel operations for retail and e-commerce.

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