Mirchi goes digital, upskills creative workforce in 3 steps

Existing talent now have an opportunity to explore new areas and formats within the ambit of Mirchi’s expansion


Mirchi, India’s leading radio station, has been one of the top employers in the field of entertainment in the country. Formerly Radio Mirchi, the Company has now dropped ‘Radio’ from its name as it now work towards building a significant presence on other platforms.

In addition to the already well-established radio presence, the Company is moving in the direction of establishing the brand over digital platforms.

While restructuring business, it has been a major challenge for the Company to retain the existing workforce even while attracting talent for new businesses, reveals Vivek Kulkarni, senior vice president (HR), Mirchi, to HRKatha.

Kulkarni admits that in the restructuring of the organisation, a large portion of creative and revenue-generation talent was retained from the older business.

However, for digital tech, product and platform, people are being sourced externally, since the roles simply weren’t as significant in the company prior to the change in business.

One of the key retention strategies employed by the Company’s HR was to maintain clarity with the existing workforce about the opportunities that the expansion would generate for them.

“We initiated conversations with our people about our intentions and plans. The dialogue basically reassured them that they would be able to explore the digital space here at Mirchi and informed them of the expansion into new lines of businesses,” Kulkarni shares.

The content development team accounts for a significant percentage of the overall workforce. This segment is the one that drives revenue for the Company through content generation — radio, original content, online videos, podcasts and so on.

Kulkarni says that giving room to creative people to explore whatever aspect of the entertainment business they want to pursue is the key to better retention.

“If RJs want to go ahead and improve their social-media presence; if writers wish to delve into longer formats and not restrict themselves to shorter stories, they now have an opportunity to explore within the ambit of Mirchi’s expansion,” he enunciates.

“We initiated conversations with our people about our intentions and plans. The dialogue basically reassured them that they would be able to explore the digital space here at Mirchi and informed them of the expansion into new lines of businesses”

Vivek Kulkarni, senior vice president (HR), Mirchi

With Mirchi now targeting digital platforms, investment in upskilling of the existing workforce has also intensified.

“We are investing in our people via a series of learning interventions and working with them to understand their career road maps. More frequent conversations with the existing workforce to gauge where they want to head in terms of their career is also a practice that has intensified with work-from-home becoming the new norm,” Kulkarni reveals.

Mirchi had set digital key responsibiliy areas (KRAs) for content-creation roles four years ago. Earlier, the professional performance of employees was evaluated through radio-based KRAs, which included their performance on air, interaction with the listeners and how the shows performed on air, in general.

“From 2017, we have implemented digital KRAs in our jobs. Our people were anyway present on social media and it was another avenue for talent to attract viewership,” Kulkarni explains.

With this, Mirchi decided to have social-media presence as a key responsibility area, urging the creative workforce to go aggressive on social media and target garnering better audience engagement at all times.

“These KRAs have become increasingly important over the years. They were given a weightage of 15 per cent in employee evaluation initially, in 2017. Now, the weightage stands at around 40-50 per cent,” Kulkarni shares.

These digital KRAs are not limited to social-media followers, but are also implemented on digital products.

Kulkarni further informs that the revenue team now also has a target of ensuring that a certain share of the revenue comes from new products, digital products, innovations, solutions and so on.To ensure that the workforce successfully transitions online, Mirchi is implementing a three-part upskilling plan.

“First, we engage our employees with experts working on platforms such as YouTube, Google, Facebook and Instagram. These experts — who are either employees, ex-employees or business partners for these platforms — come in and talk about the workings of the platforms or shed light on new trends in content consumption for their respective platforms,” reveals Kulkarni.

Second, Mirchi gets in-house subject-matter experts — employees who have done exceptional work within their departments for the company — to interact with fresh talent. Through these sessions, Mirchi wants its new talent to understand what worked and what didn’t for people who have been successful in whatever they are doing at Mirchi.

Further, Kulkarni shares that the Company has partnered with many online platforms, which provide specific courses for upskilling. However, the onus of identifying the programme they must undertake to further themselves in their careers lies entirely with the employees themselves. The focus is on helping employees obtain learning competencies via these courses.

Discussing their hiring plan for FY22, Kulkarni doesn’t divulge the exact number of positions that they are going to fill but said that the Company will continue to aggressively hire new talent.

However, he indicates that the mix of the workforce will change significantly. The percentage of new talent from non-radio will go up significantly. Tech talent, for platform and product, will be of key importance for Mirchi, as it continues to expand its digital presence.

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