How redBus curbed attrition among CRM staff

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Replacing talent in big numbers every other month was a daunting fight for the Company till it became part of NEESA.

Attrition is a haunting issue for most organisations. Irrespective of the levels at which it occurs or the size of workforce it affects, attrition certainly is like the blood-sucking leech that may not hurt immediately but may cause some blood loss along with a weird feeling. In the workplace especially, for industries or organisations that employ junior low-skilled staff in bulk, attrition may be a big struggle to manage.

redBus, the online bus ticketing platform, faced a similar challenge with its customer relationship management (CRM) staff. Vinesh Nair, head-HR, redBus, tells HRKatha that the attrition in the CRM team was very high and replacing that talent in big numbers every other month was a daunting task. It stood at a staggering 80 per cent, and it was in 2015 that the Company decided to do something about it.

“We decided to get to the root cause of the issue and then find appropriate solutions to curb it,” Nair says. On looking closer at the backgrounds, qualifications, challenges and lifestyles of the junior- level staff in the CRM team, that forms an important arm of the organisation, Nair realised that there was one very strong reason owing to which most people were leaving in the first one or two months.

“I observed that these are people with a salary of 1–1.2 lakh per annum, and after the statutory deductions, they were receiving a meagre 7,500 per month as the take-home salary, which made it difficult for them to sustain. Most people came from tier II and III cities, from financially backward families and hence, found it extremely difficult to sustain city life with the meagre salary they received,” Nair says, explaining the reason.

Thus, most people would switch within the first three months as they would easily find opportunities that offered them just a few hundred or a couple of thousands extra salary in hand. Knowing this, Nair had the option to raise the salaries. However, that did not look like a permanent or feasible solution at all and it would also raise the cost to company, which was unnecessary too.

With that in mind, Nair looked for a middle path, and the National Employability Enhancement Mission (NEEM), a take-off from the Apprentices Act, turned out to be an effective solution to the challenge here. It was then, in October 2015, that redBus finally tied up with this Government of India initiative that looks to develop a competent workforce capable of taking the country ahead in the industrial world.

Vinesh Nair

Most people would switch within the first three months as they would easily find opportunities that offered them just a few hundred or a couple of thousands extra salary in hand. Knowing this, Nair had the option to raise the salaries. However, that did not look like a permanent or feasible solution at all and it would also raise the cost to company, which was unnecessary too.

The world-popular concept of ‘on-the-job practical training’ is the basis of this programme targeting the enhancement of employability among individuals, who are pursuing graduation or have discontinued or completed a diploma or graduation in any technical or non-technical field.

Under the National Employability Enhancement Scheme through Apprenticeship, popularly known as NEESA, apprentices accredited by NEEM get an opportunity to undergo ‘on-the-job’ training and are exposed to real working conditions, situations and challenges. They get a chance to work on advanced machines and equipment facilitating the acquisition of knowledge, skills, experience and desirable attitude, which help them get a remunerative job or explore opportunities of self-employment.

Interestingly, the scheme also allows employers to offer a consolidated stipend to trainees at par with applicable statutory minimum wages of the unskilled category in respective states without any statutory deductions. Nair says, “This came as the perfect solution that addressed the root cause of attrition in our CRM team as we could then offer our trainees a salary of full 10,000 in hand, without having to make any deductions.”

Nair shares with us that after becoming a part of NEESA, attrition reduced to 35–40 per cent and without the organisation having to invest extra efforts or cost into achieving the same. Only a minimal fee was paid to the NEESA partners for allocating trained resources.

The NEESA trainees are at times even offered permanent positions within organisations after their internships. The training programmes range from three months to three years and the trainees can even choose to work elsewhere post the training. It binds neither the employer nor the trainee but offers them both an opportunity for sustainable growth and learning.

“A win-win solution for the company and the trainees who join with great aspirations, this not only helped us curtail attrition significantly but also retain valuable talent, while offering growth opportunities to the youth,” Nair claims.

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