Business Today

Godrej Consumer Products: Loving the learning

Combining a hoary lineage with modern practices is helping the company attract the best talent who stay back to learn.

Anusha Subramanian        Print Edition: January 25, 2009

Preeti Vangani, 22, DID not think twice about accepting the offer from Godrej Consumer Products after she completed her MBA from MICA Ahmedabad: having tasted life at the company as a summer intern, she spurned offers from media and market research companies to opt for Godrej.

Adi Godrej (forefront): Consumer and people orientation are key
Adi Godrej (forefront)
“I had always wanted to be in an FMCG company... I took up GCPL because I liked the working atmosphere here... extremely cordial and friendly and not overtly aggressive,” she says.

Vangani also figured she would get brand exposure, media experience and exposure to rural markets and may be even an international stint. Currently with the brand team, in six months, Vangani has already gone through her rural and international stints and looks forward to a new learning experience each day.

The 79-year-old soap maker has taken rapid strides in the eight years since it went public; one of India’s best employers for the second consecutive year, it has moved up eight notches to #6 from #14 last year.

As Adi Godrej, Chairman, Godrej Group, says: “Consumer and people orientation are key at Godrej... we are able to attract good talent who are keen to work for an Indian company that is contemporary and globalising.”

Hoshedar K. Press, Executive Director & President
Hoshedar K. Press
Godrej points out that GCPL is an old business but a new company. “This growth is an indicator to both current employees and potential employees that we are a successful company of which we would like them to be a part,” he says.

Hoshedar K. Press, Executive Director and President, who joined way back in 1972 as a trainee right out of the IIM Ahmedabad, swears by the firm’s cocoon of continuous learning and improvement. “We have always maintained high levels of intellectual style whether in learning new techniques, or new management tools,” he says.

Adi Godrej has succeeded in bringing about a significant transformation in the company, part of a 110-year-old group, including a rebranding and a focus on being a performance-driven company.

Within the company, the rebranding on the employee sphere, as Visty Banaji, Executive Director & President (Group Corporate Affairs), explains, goes under the aegis of “Brighter Working”. Every employee is connected to a PC, offices and factories are being brightened up, exchange of ideas encouraged and the company is also helping to make office breaks more relaxing.

Brighter Working re-engineers jobs so that people are empowered to deal with customers and convert them into “delighted” customers, says Banaji.

Godrej also aims to become the employer of choice for women. Following a study done by the Young Executive Board that the group has formed, Godrej has started a daycare centre for women employees who generally have to leave their jobs when they become mothers.

 
  • Number of people laid off in 2008-09 (Till Dec. 31, ’08)....9

  • Number of people hired in 2008-09 (Till Dec. 31, ’08).....176

  • Headcount in Dec. 2008 vis-à-vis Dec. 2007.....1,500 & 1,382

  • Headcount post-March 2009....Same

  • Pay-cuts resorted to/ planned....Not planned

  • Innovative HR practice....VOTE or Voice of the Employee

Source: Mercer, Company


Despite all this, the managerial attrition rate is near 14 per cent. “Attrition levels have been changing rapidly in the world... it’s more important to see it relevant to your industry. We are better than industry levels,” explains Banaji.

“This attrition is still below the industry norm,” says Sumit Mitra, Executive Vice President (Human Resources), GCPL, adding: “... we have a 30 per cent variable component as a part of the compensation packet. This may be the highest in the industry, but makes the job more challenging.”

The tough times have not forced Godrej to retrench. “Instead, we will continue to recruit,” says Mitra.

GCPL clearly believes that employee growth and company growth go hand-in-hand. Managers are encouraged to come up with longer term strategic game plans that can propel the company to the next level.

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