For Indians employed in the private sector, the system of applying for sick leaves and casual leaves is all too familiar – a set number of days that keeps decreasing with every leave you avail. However, leaders from India Inc. are now championing a new approach to a company’s leave policy – trusting the employee.
At a panel discussion held as part of the Ascent Foundation Summit held in Mumbai on Thursday, industry leaders discussed the need to attract and retain the right talent for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and stressed on the need to build a relationship of faith between the employer and employees.
Speaking exclusively to Fortune India on the sidelines of the event, Harsh Mariwala, founder of Ascent Foundation and chairman, Marico said nurturing faith in the employees is crucial for any entrepreneur. He added that Marico demonstrated this by doing away with sick leave and casual leave several years ago. “If you’re sick, you’re sick; we trust you. Even if you’re sick for 20 days it’s okay,” Mariwala said. He added that culture building for an organisation has to start at the top, and policies and practices must reinforce the company’s values.
Lavanya Nalli, vice chairperson, Nalli Group of Companies, said she believed that employees feel a stronger sense of responsibility and ownership when they are trusted with autonomy. Nalli recounts that when her company removed the caps on allowances and accommodation expenses for travelling employees, they actually became more judicious with their choices.
She said that a company’s core values must be displayed in the processes. “Your frontline is the face of the organisation. We have empowered them; we have an apprentice model instead of just manuals and training programmes. They have a very strong induction program where they shadow a senior person,” Nalli said. The Nalli Group rarely hires laterally for mid-level positions as selections are usually made from within the company, she added.
Whereas Prabir Jha, president and global chief people officer, Cipla said he believes that companies must avoid falling into the trap of finding a ‘culture fit’ as a company’s culture cannot be static. “In these turbulent and disruptive times, we must be looking at ‘culture plus plus’, because the more plural your organisation is and the more diverse the perspectives and experiences are, your culture is likely to get more genetic strength,” he said.
Another mistake that entrepreneurs must avoid, according to Sunit Sinha, managing director, Accenture Strategy, Talent and Organisation, is believing the myth that what works in large global companies will not work in small organisations. “Human beings have the same needs whether they work in a global conglomerate, a small startup or a midsize company,” he said.
Commenting on the outlook for India’s startup space, Mariwala maintained that the trend for entrepreneurship in India is positive. “More youngsters want to start their own business. There is high degree of risk taking. There is a stronger support system, with a different set of financiers, HR services and consultants,” he said, adding that the ecosystem is developing at a better rate today than a few years ago.
For Bengaluru startups, it’s raining money
Despite the global headwinds in terms of trade war concerns, volatile crude oil prices and currency fluctuations coupled with domestic uncertainties given the current market condition and the upcoming elections, Mariwala said entrepreneurs should focus on the opportunities and not worry about the macros.
“When each entrepreneur is starting something, it’s just a drop in the ocean. Entrepreneurs should identify the opportunities and not get dissuaded by the macros. As long as there is stability and law and order, don’t worry about the macros,” he said.
He also went on to say that the current liquidity crunch especially in the financials space post the IL&FS debacle is a temporary setback. “Obtaining credit also depends on how strong the business model is. If you have a strong business proposition I don’t see funds as a barrier.”
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