They are hardly appreciated or recognised by their employers and organisations for their hard work. We are talking of employees who are at the lowest rung of the hierarchy. Take the case of delivery boys in an online retail company or a food delivery service.
However, they are ones who not only ensure smooth service, but are the only customer-facing squad in an online company.
Big Basket, the online grocery retailing company, has made efforts to engage with these employees toiling at the grassroot level. The Company began a new initiative this year called the ‘BB Rockstars’, which aims to recognise its best performers from all regions. The Company has always ensured that the delivery squad, referred to as ‘associates’ internally, have a better life. It provides accommodation as well as clean drinking water to these employees – small yet impactful effort to bring in a difference in their lives.
Tanuja Tewari, General manager- HR, Big Basket shares how it started in April 2018, at the annual day of the company, where it decided to call all its best-performing associates and recognised their achievements and work. After this, the management decided to organise a separate event at the regional level for its associates.
“This event was piloted as a part of the Big Basket Annual Day celebrations, where the identified associates were flown from their respective regions to the corporate office in Bangalore. We wanted to recognise the work of our associates and that is how this concept came into the minds of our management team and we decided to build on it,” Tewari says.
The Company has created a cluster of different cities into nine different regions. This October, it celebrated the work of its associates in each region, where the best performers were called and honoured for their work, in the presence of their families and friends. The event started with a video message — translated into regional languages— from Hari Menon, CEO, Big Basket, who addressed the audience. The associates were then called upon the stage and given an opportunity to speak their heart out, share their journey in the organisation and talk about their experiences.
“This event was piloted as a part of the Big Basket Annual Day celebrations, where the identified associates were flown from their respective regions to the corporate office in Bangalore. We wanted to recognise the work of our associates and that is how this concept came into the minds of our management team and we decided to build on it.”
The Company ensures that at least one person from the management team is present at the event as chief guest. The event also includes cultural performances, lunch and dinner. The Company’s associates are given a chance to sit with their regional business heads, HR heads, the chief guest as well as the the line managers to have dinner together. Honouring workers on such a large scale is a big thing and means a lot.
Tewari also shares some other initiatives taken by the organisation, which aim to better the experience of its workers with the Company, and make them feel a part of its family. The Company has established a ‘BB Trust for Associates’ which focuses on educating the workers and their family members too. A programme called ‘Neev’ has also been initiated, wherein they aim to train newly-recruited pickers and unloaders for a month to equip them with the skills of using the technology, which is very new to them. “Mostly, these people come from rural areas with little education. We provide education to them and their family members, such as their spouses, kids and siblings. We support them to a certain level for whichever skill-building course they want to take up,” adds Tewari. The Trust also focuses on offering a safe environment for women employees and providing insurance cover for personal accidents.
Celebrating the journey of the staff members and recognising their talent will certainly produce good results for the company in the coming years and will enhance productivity. “As this initiative recognises top performers across all regions, the event drives productivity and customer centricity. It fosters healthy competition in the associates, with the winners being crowned as ‘rockstars’ for their regions. This, in turn, enhances customer satisfaction and delivery efficiency,” opines Tewari.
“The new war for talent is at the bottom of the pyramid. Respect, fair wages and recognition are the key drivers of retention at this level. Respect and recognition need to be built into a culture and paying a fair wage is a matter of being competitive. Our leadership teams in the regions understand this and are deeply committed to doing the right things.”
It becomes a daunting task for the HR to retain employees at the lowest level of the organisational pyramid, as there are so many competitors waiting to lure them out there. For these workers, even an increment of Rs 500 in the salary makes a lot of difference. Therefore, it is very important for the employers to give these workers something extra apart from monetary rewards and salary increments. “In order to be the ‘Most preferred employer for associates’ it becomes essential for BB to continue rewarding and recognising top performers. This motivates associates to enhance their productivity and drives them to work harder and receive recognition. This also serves as a retention tool for the Company,” mentions Tewari.
Hari T.N, head-HR and strategic advisor fundamentum, Big Basket, adds, “The new war for talent is at the bottom of the pyramid. Respect, fair wages and recognition are the key drivers of retention at this level. Respect and recognition need to be built into a culture and paying a fair wage is a matter of being competitive. Our leadership teams in the regions understand this and are deeply committed to doing the right things.”
Working at the grassroot level feels amazing when organisations felicitate you in such a manner. Also, for most employees on the lower rungs who were flow down to the corporate office for the annual event, the flight itself would have been a first-time experience, and a truly memorable one. Cheers to the company that cares!