Negative publicity for Zomato: Is the Company at fault?

Let’s look at what the HR leaders think about the incident.

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While the employee is being crucified for eating from a meal pack meant for a customer, there are people who feel the staff alone cannot be blamed in such cases.

In a recent incident, a delivery boy of Zomato was caught on video eating food meant to be delivered to a customer. The video went viral and created a buzz on social media, with people reacting strongly to the incident. Is it right to just look at one side of the story, and ridicule the Zomato associate for the act? What about the other side? Should the organisation be held equally responsible for the incident? After all, delivery boys have been known to have come out in the media expressing their grievances and dissatisfaction in the past. Does an incident such as this, question the culture, system and processes of the organisation?

HR heads in the industry have very mixed perspectives on the incident.

Nihar Ghosh, president-human resources, Emami questions the hiring process of the Company. From his past experience, Ghosh recalls that customer-service online apps usually ask people to apply online, and then on the basis of their credentials they are sent videos and links related to the job function. “Today, if the Company is scaling up and bringing in large numbers of workers, such incidents are bound to happen. If you hire every person travelling on a two wheeler and willing to join your company, things will go wrong,” says Ghosh.

Prem Singh, president-global human resources, Wockhardt also agrees that the problem lies in the hiring process, as well as on the culture of the organisation.

Nihar Ghosh

““Today, if the Company is scaling up and bringing in large numbers of workers, such incidents are bound to happen. If you hire every person travelling on a two wheeler and willing to join your company, things will go wrong,” says Ghosh.

Prem Singh, president-global human resources, Wockhardt also agrees that the problem lies in the hiring process, as well as on the culture of the organisation.

HR leaders also question the vigilance and the review process of the Company. Experts are of the opinion that such incidents generally take place because of the inadequate monitoring and review system of the organisation. “When you deploy a team for the vigilance and review process, the employee is under pressure to perform well and behave, but when nobody is monitoring , there is a high chance of slip ups happening,” states Singh.

Ghosh also feels that the weak review and monitoring system of the Company is the problem area. “When there is constant vigilance, the person may think twice before performing any such action, but if nobody is watching things will be at a risk of going wrong,” mentions Ghosh.

Singh blames the training as well as on-boarding processes of the people in the organisation. “You may hire the right person for the job but unless you to take care of the employees and mentor them properly they will not be ready to face the customers and the job function,” says Singh.

When it comes to the ownership of the whole incident, Ghosh believes the organisation is also at fault. “I will not hold the associate solely responsible for the incident,” says Ghosh.

Chandrashekhar Mukherjee, group CPO, Srei Infrastructure Finance and Group Companies of Kanoria Foundation, designated KMP believes that while the organisation is definitely at fault, the larger share of the responsibility lies with the worker.

“The worker was not a child who was tempted to act the way he did. He should have known better and been aware of the huge responsibility that he carries on his shoulders,” says Mukherjee.

 

Prem Singh

“You may hire the right person for the job but companies need to take care of their employees and mentor them properly before they face the customers and the job function.”

Adil Malia, CEO, The Firm strongly believes that the act of the Zomato delivery boy cannot be justified under any circumstance. “The Zomato problem is a more complex one than what it appears to be on the surface. Most hospitality and food-based service staff faces professional challenges similar to what the Zomato employees seem to be experiencing,” says Malia. “The social justification for the behaviour of such employees (as seen in the Zomato employee video) cannot be the difficult working conditions of the crew alone; the employee could not have been so famished to have been compelled to eat from the food packet, which was to be delivered to the customer,” he adds.

Malia cites the examples of pilots sleeping in their cockpits during night flights and a watchmen dozing during duty because their body cycles do not allow them to stay awake at that particular hour of the day. Can these acts be justified in the same way?

According to Malia, the company can make interventions at four levels –

(a) Human/people level: The right kind of people should be hired and inducted for the role with specific inputs in service-quality standards. The company should invest in proper training of the associates. It should modify its reward systems and make its workforce aware of the expectations of its clients. People working in unusual shift timings, should be provided free snacks by the employers to ensure they are not hungry.

(b) Process level: The right kind of policies should be introduced by a company to deal with difficult and stressful working hours, with the focus on improving service and quality standards. Managers can design ongoing communication interventions with all their delivery employees along with feedback from customers. Unique and contextually appealing gamification-based reward systems can also be introduced.

(c) System level: In the age of digitisation and AI, apps can ensure that the customer receives a sealed package at the point of delivery.

(d) Packaging level: Design thinking process should be introduced engaging the design team. Innovative ideas should be introduced in the area of tamper-proof packaging.

“Justifying such behaviour means laying the ground, as customers, for unsatisfactory deliveries in the form of half-drunk soups, partially eaten vegetables, dug-in ‘level adjusted’ rice bowls, partly tasted desserts, and so on,” states Malia.
Looking at the mixed responses from the HR leaders it can be concluded that in this case, the fault lies with both parties. Therefore, adjustments will need to be made by the employers as well as the employees.

Chandrasekhar Mukherjee

“The worker was not a child who was tempted to do such a thing, he should know the responsibility that he carries on his shoulders.”

Adil Malia, CEO, The Firm strongly believes that the act of the Zomato delivery boy cannot be justified under any circumstances. “The Zomato problem is a more complex one than what may appear on the surface. Most hospitality and food-based service staff faces professional challenges similar to what the Zomato employees seem to be experiencing,” says Malia. “The social justification for behaviour of such employees (as seen in the Zomato employee video) cannot be the difficult working conditions of the crew; that the employee was so hungry, that he was compelled to eat from the food packet, which was to be delivered to the customer,” he adds.

Malia differs by giving examples of pilots sleeping in their cockpits during night flights and a watchman dozing during on duty because his body cycle does not allow him to stay awake at that particular hour of the day. Can these acts be justified in the same way?

Adil Malia

“If we try to justify such behaviour, be ready as customers to get half drunk soups, eaten vegetables, dug-in ‘level adjusted’ rice bowls, partially tasted desserts, and so on.”

According to Malia, the company can make interventions at four levels –

(a) Human/people level: The right kind of people should be hired and inducted for the role with specific inputs in service-quality standards. The company should invest in proper training of the associates. Reward systems need to be modified. People need to be made aware of the critical expectations of their clients. People working in unusual shift timings, could be provided free snacks by their employers to ensure they are not hungry.

(b) Process level: The right kind of policies should be introduced by a company that deals with difficult and stressful working hours, and has to focus on improving service and quality standards. Managers can design ongoing communication interventions with all their delivery employees along with feedback from customers. Unique and contextually appealing gamification-based reward systems can also be used.

(c) System level: In the age of digitisation and AI, apps can ensure that the customer receives a sealed package at the point of delivery.

(d) Packaging level: Design thinking process should be introduced engaging the design team. Innovative ideas should be introduced in the area of tamper-proof packaging.

“If we try to justify such behaviour, be ready as customers to get half drunk soups, eaten vegetables, dug-in ‘level adjusted’ rice bowls, partially tasted desserts, and so on,” mentions Malia.
Looking at the mixed responses from the HR leaders it can be concluded that in this case the fault lies with both parties, and some adjustments will need to be made at both ends.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Honesty , integrity should be upmost for all levels.

    Attitude matters.

    Then comes skills – can be developed over a period of time

    Hire for attitude , train to skill , train the good and retain the best.

  2. I am sure that the HR Gurus understand that the Delivery boys of Zomato or Swiggy or the drivers of Uber or Ola are not. Employees of the respective companies. Quality control if any is absent by definition. The workers come and go as per their will. Many of them Work for more than one outfit. To blame the management or the employee is unfair. What a Zomato or Swigy can provide is a meal free at the start of the day so that the employee has no need for such temptations.

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