Sushma Rana, Talent Director, MSLGROUP India:
Last week, I had an opportunity to speak at the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI), which supports and promotes French companies in India. Hanmer MSL has a long-standing association with IFCCI, with the agency having provided communications support for their ‘Bonjour India’ event in the past.
Starting this year, IFCCI has initiated regular panel meetings in which they invite human resource (HR) experts across industries to share their views, discuss and debate issues.
So, when I was invited to make a presentation, I was understandably excited. I chose to speak on ‘Employee Engagement at MSLGROUP India’. I also thought it would be relevant to talk about actual practices rather than theoretical aspects that involve abstract concepts.
My enterprise did not have an auspicious start. Nothing could have prepared me for the drama that preceded the event.
I landed at Mumbai airport the previous night, when it was pouring heavily. To my horror, there were no taxis. After half an hour of waiting amid the mob of desperate passengers, I ventured out, wading through ankle-deep water, hoping to hail down a rickshaw. Luckily, I found one after a while.
Once on the main road, I realised the situation was even more chaotic. The road was chock-a-bloc, the persistent rain affecting visibility. We made slow progress and, after a struggle of 45 minutes, I reached my destination. I was grateful for the chance to sleep off the exertion.
An exchange of ideas, a meeting of minds
Next morning, at the event, I found myself amid HR and talent directors from organisations such as Capgemini, Mahindra, Lafarge, Adecco, DSV and Grindwell Norton India. Laura Prasad, IFCCI secretary-general, made a brief address, after which she invited me to present.
I began by introducing MSLGROUP and MSLGROUP India before moving on to my presentation, detailing our employee engagement model and the key measures that drive our employee management. I spoke about the basic model at three levels: Individual, Manager (line manager/team leader) and Senior, emphasizing that an engaged workforce is a shared responsibility involving partnerships between individuals, managers and senior leadership.
I then spoke about the key drivers, the most vital being a company culture that enables and encourages people to find meaning in their work. This happens by ensuring that they understand the brand, vision and behavioural expectations. I sought to drive home the point that all employee engagement initiatives should be clearly integrated with the organizational vision and leaders ‘walking the talk’. It must be understood that employees are assets.
I concluded by showing a video of employees’ reactions when they received a mini replica of the Campaign Asia Pacific PR Agency Network of the Year trophy that the group had recently won. The personalized replica was accompanied by a thank you note from Glenn Osaki, president, MSLGROUP Asia.
This was followed by a Q&A session, the sharing of insights and discussions. Some of the issues raised were talent retention, a challenge that most organizations are grappling with; acceptable levels of attrition; effective feedback mechanisms, including ‘pulse checks’ that involve in-depth discussions with employees to understand the rationale behind their feedback in employee surveys; building confidence and trust among employees by instituting an action plan and motivational measures after the surveys.
The delegates’ enthusiasm was encouraging. For me, the insightful conversations and exchange of ideas made for a fulfilling experience. I look forward to being a part of similar events in the future.