Employees recommendations, job sites are our standard recruitment process. For attaining new talent, we face (i) Professional skills enhancement: In the garments industry, education level is not very high except staff having educational background from NIFT/Engg, etc. Employees with professional education degree are also limited to marketing/ merchandising job profile. There is a tremendous skill shortage in operations departments like sewing, sampling, planning, particularly laundry etc. Therefore, first major challenge is professional skill enhancements especially in operations. (ii) Imparting communication skills: Due to low educational background in the garment industry at middle and lower levels, ability of comprehension and communication is poor, which needs constant guidance and skill mentoring. (iii) Client orientation: Often lower and middle level staff will have orientation for external customers/buyers. They however, lack customer orientation for internal customers. Hence, interdepartmental and intra-department client orientation is a shortcoming noticed often. Hence, HR's challenge is to harmonise the orientation through constant counselling, soft skills trainings and persuading for better inter-personal working relationships. (iv) Preparing for managerial and leadership roles: This is HR's biggest responsibility i.e. to keep preparing the second rung of managerial and leadership roles. It would ensure career progression and help in managing consequential exit transition. (v) Aligning rewards/ incentives to performance, motivation and retention: This is also a primary challenge to constantly meet the livelihood aspirations of employees at all levels so they feel that they are constantly growing in financial terms, work-life balance and career growth. Hence, there is a constant need to keep updating and aligning financial and non-financial benefits for the employees at all level.
Communicating and arranging inhouse informal sessions of periodical topic presentations and by assigning task on the current trends, are the steps that we follow to stay in tune with current trends and practices. They are debated in an open forum regardless of hierarchy, employees throw up new ideas and debate dormant practices. We constantly communicate with the employees at all levels and keep the information surveillance on all the time to feel the pulse, specially tapping discussion topics in cafeterias, living accommodations and recreational activities. You get to know what's bothering employees, what are their concerns, what is the corridor whispers and keep addressing through systemic channels to give them a caring working and living environment.
We also have a multi-skilling policy and encourage it at all levels despite having the workforce of 3,500. However, it may not go well with all workers because this policy cannot have an approach of one-sizefits-all. About 20 per cent of employees are self-motivated and they need only a nudging to adapt to multi-skilling or willing to go extra mile. More than 50 per cent employees would be fence sitters and they would not be freely willing to take extra efforts, but will do if they perceive it is organisational policy. In this scenario, the motivational level of employees for adapting multi-skilling is not self-charged. Hence, HR needs to take a cautious approach in approach and policy on multi-skilling. Notwithstanding, we do have an institutionalised policy on multiskilling specially in sewing, finishing, packing, quality, laundry etc. to constantly enhance skill levels which also gives employees better financial rewards.
The employer shall always be friendly, fair and firm for developing the employer value preposition. Besides the professional competence of the job profile, I look for five character elements in the prospective employees during an interview to check level of the person's: motivation, innovativeness and insight, determination, common sense, industrious and entrepreneurship.
Fashion institutes are able to meet our talent requirement. However, they need to focus more on operations like sampling, costing, sewing, laundry, fabric & trims, most importantly planning and industrial engineering. They must keep aligning their curriculum with industry environments on regular interval. Planning and costing are the most difficult fields in the textile- value chain to find the right personnel due to lack of sufficient training and skills.