This Landmark Group company has achieved 30 per cent reduction in attrition while the industry average remains 60–70 per cent. Here’s how…
The retail industry has been known for its heavy attrition rates. On the ground level, in particular, the frontline job demands long standing hours and yet, an ever smiling and friendly customer interaction through the day. Therefore, it is even more difficult to have a happy and engaged workforce. However, one group has been able to significantly reduce its attrition levels, bringing it down to less than half the industry average.
In the retail industry, where talent is scarce and expensive, the apparel category is even more demanding. However, the Landmark Group’s Lifestyle International has been able to pull down its attrition to about 30 per cent, while the industry average remains 60–70 per cent. B. Venkataramana, group president-HR, Landmark Group, shares that the first three months are most critical in terms of exits from the company. This is because, although the frontline job looks glamourous from the outside, people realise the challenges after joining, and begin retreating.
Thus, Venkataramana says “It is important to hire for long term, which is why we focus on longevity of careers for people employed with us. Retention depends on how you look at talent acquisition in the first place.” At the same time, being cognizant of the growth and development expectations of talent in the present time, Lifestyle International ensures that for any new store, it fills 20 per cent of the positions internally.
It has an internal job posting programme — Launchpad—through which the employees at Lifestyle avail opportunities for internal job rotation allowing them exposure through verticals, ranks and locations. Benefitting from the programme, there have been success stories wherein those who started as frontline staff moved up the grids to become store heads.
Another programme that helps accelerate growth for the employees at Lifestyle is called LEAP or Landmark Education Assistance Programme, under which the organisation provides higher education to its staff. It is not just a talent-development initiative but a great retention drive, as it is designed to support people more, depending on how long they have been with the organisation.
For those who have been with the organisation for a year, 50 per cent of the cost of the educational course is borne by the company; after having completed two years, the remaining cost is also reimbursed to the employee. For those who have spent over three years, the organisation covers the entire cost. Venkataramana shares that “Over 1000 employees have graduated in the last six to seven years, and those who have spent more than three years with the firm are even rewarded a monetary sum of 10,000 on completion of their higher education.”
Following its belief that the talent of the day is ambitious and seeks constant growth and learning, Lifestyle International has a unique 18-month talent development programme called LIFE – wherein ‘L’ stands for ‘learn’ module, which is a four-month drive offering knowledge on frontline basics, followed by ‘I’, which stands for ‘implement’ module, offering a higher level of training to staff; ‘F’ stands for ‘fast track’, which accelerates the training further, offering advanced details; and ‘E’ stands for ‘expert’, which is where one gets trained to reach the supervisory levels.
The company also conducts periodic quiz competitions —Lifestyle ka Genius — at the local, regional and national levels. In addition, it organises interesting meetings every Saturday, wherein employees are engaged in yoga and some small activity followed by a briefing session. “We also celebrate occasions and festivals, such as Retail Employees Day (RED) and Diwali in a grand fashion. It’s not just all work and no play for people at Lifestyle. We also arrange a cricket event— the Landmark Premier League,” Venkataramana adds.
Venkataramana explains why the first 30–90 days of an employee are most crucial in any organisation, as that is the time frame within which most people tend to leave. “To cut down on this corporate infant mortality rate, at Lifestyle, we have a strong employee connect programme for new joiners. The store managers and other seniors connect with the new joiners on a regular basis in the first three months ensuring they have a smooth beginning,” he says.
Lifestyle is not only focussed on engaging, retaining and developing its frontline people, but is truly caring towards them. This is evident from the fact that it has ensured that people who work hard all day long feel comfortable at the workplace. All stores are, therefore, equipped with a fun zone for employees, wherein they can rewind a bit taking quick breaks for some indoor games. In addition, the company has revamped its stores providing better lunch rooms for the staff, taking care of infrastructural hygiene.
Under a unique drive, ‘Swabhimaan’, the company also employs people with disabilities. Lifestyle has partnered with a few NGOs that help them train and hire people with hearing and speech disabilities. Lifestyle also takes utmost care to ensure the specially-abled employees feel comfortable in the workplace, for which it conducts sensitisation training for the rest of the staff. Although two per cent of Lifestyle’s current workforce consists of people with disabilities, it plans to increase this figure to three–four per cent in the coming year.
While that was for the frontline staff, Lifestyle has a strong focus on employer branding and culture at the corporate level as well. The company has gracefully adapted its work environment with the changing times, and is now open to new-age practices, such as allowing business casuals, flexi work hours, open-door policy, skip level meetings and more. “We have a strong rewards and recognition mechanism, under which we organise a gala event where people are awarded for various categories. It is called ‘Lifestyle People Oscar Awards’ and people look forward to it with great enthusiasm every year,” Venkataramana concludes.
With that, Lifestyle International makes it evident that it takes immense dedication, honest efforts, a strong connect and a bouquet of programmes to ensure that people stay with the company, despite challenges at work. Every industry has its own challenges. However, what makes a difference is how an organisation supports its people in their own struggles and helps them tread towards growth, while they contribute to the organisation’s success.