With the outbreak of COVID, many companies have changed their existing policies and organisational structures. The new normal at work has provided companies a framework to opt for required changes, which had been pending for ages.
“It was time to add some freshness to the age-old hierarchy and job roles. Hence, we initiated this process of job bands.”
Likewise, JK Cement, that has existed for over 100 years in a very traditional sector and has been a market leader in the cement industry, saw it as a great opportunity to streamline its existing policies and embed some new structures. Clearly, it believes that ‘change’ is the only constant.
Here are the five new employee policies introduced by the Company in the new normal.
Unlike the past, the traditional cement sector has evolved, with cement becoming a licensed product, creating a vast pool of competition.
Therefore, the management at JK Cement initiated a revamping process, where a person identified as a manager or president, keeps the value of his role intact, even while he is allotted a band. This means, an employee, irrespective of his designation, is alloted a job band, which makes him eligible for perks of his position, only according to his job.
“The hierarchy and job roles have been the same for ages now. It was time to add some freshness. Hence, we initiated this process of job bands,” says Andleeb Jain, chief people officer, JK Cement.
The introduction of job bands is actually a long-term structuring of the title system where employees are not just fascinated with fancy titles, but are inclined towards new and upgraded roles.
Having said that, this process aims to bring to an end the title system. Employees will be able to understand that acquiring higher titles or designations will be of little importance unless their bands are upgraded, and they are entitled to differentiating policies and higher levels of perks.
Although the Company had initiated the process prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the concept of ‘job bands’ was finally implemented with the collaborative effort of all leaders across verticals.
Jain further claims that the process has further brought about constructive changes in the employees’ promotions. Now, with the change in designation, the employees will not be entitled to new roles and responsibilities, unless their band changes.
Travel and sales incentive policies
Generally, a company’s travel policy either provides transport facilities to its senior-level employees, or requires them to use their own vehicle, the costs for which are later reimbursed.
However, wishing to stick to its motto of ‘People First’, the management of JK Cement has mandated that every employee of the Company, irrespective of designation, will travel to office via personal transport or cab and get the amount reimbursed from office.
“Although we are aware that spending close to Rs 50 lakhs a month can cost us a copious amount, at least the employees’ health will not be at risk. In fact, we believe that this way the employees will put in additional effort and help streamline those amounts back to the Company in the form of profits,” believes Jain.
Further talking about the incentive policies, Jain shed light on the fact that the management has brought about robust changes not only for the Company’s designated employees, but also for those enrolled as third-party vendors.
“It is not unknown that selling has a new definition after COVID. Thus, we have discovered a very effective and structured sales-incentive policy, where all the sales employees are paid an extra amount, apart from their usual salaries, and where they have a bandwidth to earn 50-60 per cent above their basic salaries each month,” explains Jain.
Each of the sales employees were sent properly-drafted mails, explaining their overhead work, apart from their respective KRAs.
“In addition to their respective KRAs, the sales employees will be given other responsibilities as well. Achieving their monthly targets will make them liable for additional pay-outs, and in this manner, they will have the urge to go the extra mile, to earn more,” points out Jain.
When it comes to onboarding new employees, this incentivised programme has solved JK Cement’s hiring issues. It has created a zeal within the existing force to put in that extra effort and earn this additional amount over and above their salaries, instead of the Company trying to hire new sales professionals.
Until last year, when everything was running perfectly, the management of JK Cement never tried to gauge the cost incurred per person, or the output delivered by each employee.
Jain shares with HRKatha, “The thought originated when we had to abide by Government norms of allowing only 33 per cent of our employees to come to office. It turns out, only 70 per cent were coming to work. It made us think that if we can work productively with a minimum percentage of our employees, then maybe we don’t require the entire workforce to work in those segments.”
Thus began the scrutiny, following which the Company started focussing on moving the remaining employees to other departments. “This helped us maintain our actual workforce and kept us from hiring new employees or firing the existing ones who weren’t required in a specific department,” elucidates Jain.
This process, Jain feels, has helped them find out exactly how many people are required for a particular function. It has also helped the management reduce the per project cost.
Upgrading to full digitalisation
Earlier, JK Cement had adopted a very high-end technology in the HR domain, called SAP SuccessFactor. Since then, the management has mandated to upload all Company-related HR documents and details pertaining to appraisals, recruitment, performance management, and so on, to the cloud platform.
Initially, the employees were finding it difficult to get used to the process but with the onset of COVID, the effective use of the ERP portal has gained momentum. The smallest detail, such as leave application, is updated automatically now, as employees are unable to communicate with the respective authorities physically.
“This has helped us put everything on the cloud and in the proper format too, so that the authorities need not be bothered for minute details. Also, it is now easy to find out who is involved in training modules, who is on leave, who is ready for appraisals, and who is close to retirement, and so on,” shares Jain.
Additionally, this process has also led to another initiative at JK Cement called ’Paperless JK.’
Evolution of training and development model
Earlier, a nomination for a training programme was considered a waste of time. However, with the new model in place, employees are gaining access to effective online training modules of short duration, where their productivity does not get hampered either.
With absolutely no travel cost, no time wastage and flexibility, employees are actually learn and growing at the same time.
Highlighting the advantage of the model, Jain states, “Through our ERP portal, we get to know how long the training modules will last. In comparison to the physical training modules, the number of attendees has increased to around 8 per cent in the virtual training mode.”