With an alarming financial burden, jobs/employment is going to become a tricky and grim topic in times to come. In such a scenario, natural resources conglomerate, Vedanta, is pursuing a vision to increase its production in the coming years. Hence, it is planning to hire more operations and technical experts, as well as young and diverse talent.
Even with its operations spread across four continents and 10 businesses, the Company manages to function with just about 14,000 executives and a total workforce of about 1,00,000, including its blue-collared and contractual workforce!
Madhu Srivastava, group CHRO, Vedanta, says, “We see technological advancements and digitisation as key levers for us, and with a focus on expansion of projects, more jobs will be created in times to come.”
Technological innovation, according to Srivastava, will be the mainstay in driving this transformation, as it will create demand for qualified professionals as well as workers who possess the necessary skills to operate. “We are also hiring global expert talent to strengthen our technical bench strength further,” she adds.
Along with doubling its production in the next two to three years, the Company is also marching forward with a planned Capex investment of eight to nine billion dolars in expansion projects across businesses.
“Our production with a lean staff had a negligible impact on our production output and we are quickly getting back to 100 per cent production. In the coming days, with the commissioning of our expansion projects, we can look at higher production in line with our vision and targets,” states Srivastava, confidently.
Vedanta’s business continuity plan has ensured that it can operate with the lean ground staff to meet its daily production. The Company is positive about continuing to thrive even during these unprecedented times due to its healthy, flexible and agile organisation.
Being an essential-commodity business in the oil & gas, as well as steel sectors, and with operations in resources of national importance (zinc, aluminium, power, copper and iron), the Company needs to carry out production to ensure the energy security of the country and supply critical resources.
Initially, however, when the lockdown was announced, apart from ensuring the well-being and safety of the workforce, the Company did face some logistical challenges. This was mainly due to constraints on the movement of raw material and technical equipment.
To ensure the safety of the workforce, Srivastava shares, “We had to make special interventions — in terms of workplace remodelling, awareness sessions, availability of medical facilities, adequate supply of sanitisers and masks — not just for the employees and contractors but also for the larger communities, where we operate.”
“Our teams successfully overcame the logistical challenges in terms of movement of raw material and technical equipment, and we haven’t seen any significant dent in our production despite the leaner teams on the shop floor.”
Vedanta’s operations contribute more than one per cent to the national GDP directly and indirectly.
In addition, the Company has ensured continuous and safe operations, as well as supply of essential commodities to the country. “Our teams successfully overcame the logistical challenges in terms of movement of raw material and technical equipment, and we haven’t seen any significant dent in our production despite the leaner teams on the shopfloor,” claims Srivastava.
This pandemic is a reminder of the importance of sustainable workplaces and having a robust business continuity plan in place.
Regarding the business continuity plan to deal with this crisis, Srivastava says, “We have done extensive scenario planning exercises and are monitoring the situation across the Group on a day-to-day basis. Currently, we are operating with a lean staff on the ground, but we are positive about getting up to full scale and continuing our expansion plans, in the coming weeks, while following all the safety norms of social distancing and best hygiene practices.”
“Technology and innovation are the key levers of managing such challenges. We are trying to look at the grassroots level to reduce our production costs, further eliminate the inefficiencies and unlock the potential of our resources,” reveals Srivastava.
At Vedanta, the foremost focus has been the health, safety and wellbeing of its people. Interestingly, the Company had taken this lockdown as an opportunity to reflect and proactively adapt to the new normal.
“For us, people’s wellbeing and safety are priority, and we have proactively taken initiatives across our businesses to ensure the same. For instance, we have partnered with leading specialty hospitals in the country to provide an exclusive 24 x 7 support line for employees and their families for any medical consultation. Additionally, we continue to hold COVID awareness sessions for our employees to share the best practices to stay safe,” explains Srivastava.
Regular and clear communication has been the key ingredient in keeping the employees motivated throughout. Virtual connects and town halls with the chairman and the leadership team ensure regular engagement with the employees.
In the last couple of months, Vedanta had a series of chairman connects with its top talent, diversity leaders and young talent. Also, its rewards & recognition sessions recognised the special efforts at the business and group levels.
For employee development, the Company is leveraging e-learning platforms and has launched a special initiative, V-Ignite, where employees can enroll for domain-specific and cross-functional certifications and courses at zero cost. “We have seen a tremendous interest in the employees to adapt to e-learning, especially in these times,” claims Srivastava.
As already mentioned, safety, health and wellbeing of its workforce are of utmost importance for Vedanta. Therefore, the Group has proactively reconfigured the physical workplaces across its operations. The remodelling of the workplace while adhering to norms of social distancing, employee gatherings and hygiene practices will be its key prerogative.
Thermal screening, temperature checks, as well as rigorous cleaning and sanitising schedules have been mandated across its facilities, along with adequate seating arrangements in shared spaces, such as cafeterias.
“We will carry on our endeavours to maintain continuous two-way communication with our employees, to capture workplace sentiment and have a finger on the pulse of the employees,” announces Srivastava.
However, with unlock 1.0, the Company is seeing activities steadily returning to normal. “We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a safe and successful transition back to work, with focused interventions to ensure the health, wellbeing, and safety of our employees. We are positive about getting back to 100 per cent production in the coming days, with higher production in line with our vision and targets,” asserts Srivastava.
With eminent leaders, such as Srivastava, at the helm, Vedanta has risen to the occasion and overcome the challenges that have been thrown its way by the pandemic situation. It has successfully ensured continuity of its operations, despite the lockdown.