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Employment Culture - Handle with Care!
Employees are one of the biggest investments and should bring the greatest reward. Yet even today, in many organisations, employees are viewed as an asset to be managed rather than as individuals who can create the next innovation for success. Long-term engagement starts with good communication between employer and employees as well as among co-workers and fostering a positive working environment. Kunjal Karaniya explores employee culture and policies of the Indian diamond industry.
By: Diamond World News Service
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Oct 21 2013 5:41PM
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Reference: 8405  

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What makes one company more successful than another? Better products, services, strategies, technologies or, perhaps, a better-cost structure? Certainly, all of these contribute to superior performance, but all of them can be copied over time. The one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage – and therefore ROI, company value and long-term strength – is the workforce, the people who are the company. Other factors that motivate are that employees are treated with respect, that their personal values are reflected and that the organisation cares about how they feel. For creating positive working environment employment policies have to be in place. Suraj Shantakumar, Director, Kirtilals said, “We have got employment policies from recruitment till retirement. There are policies on health and safety, annual health checkup, emergency financial support, etc. for the benefit of all employees. Apart from the above we are a fair employer and have adopted ‘Best Practice Principles (BPP)’ evolved by Diamond Trading Corporation (DTC) which set out various objective standards of conduct within three main areas – business responsibilities; social responsibilities; environmental responsibilities.”

Laljibhai Patel, Chairman, Dharmanandan Diamonds Pvt Ltd. Said, “We at Dharmanandan have a simple policy of wellness and balance for our employees. We work hard to make sure our efforts reflect the changing needs and wants of our employees, and it is why we provide many industry-leading benefits to our employees who can rely on them.”

“ Recruitment is an ongoing process at our organisation as we are constantly on the lookout for fresh talent. Proper manpower planning is done. We hire efficient and competent people within our organisation. We emphasise more on recruiting people through employee referrals, as we are aware of the positive result an employee referral programme generates. It helps us in getting quality-driven candidates, saves cost and fastens the recruitment cycle. It also fosters cultural bonding. People who plan to be with the company for a longer duration / tenure are given preference. Age is not a bar to recruitment but we prefer younger people below 25 years of age. With more than 6,000 employees, we managed less than one per cent attrition rate which is an achievement in itself,” said Ghanshyam D. Dholakia, Managing Director, Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd.

Shreyans Dholakia, Director, SRK said, “We do not require workers to work for more than the national limit of hours in a week on a regular basis, with overtime hours not to exceed the national permitted limit per week on a regular basis unless there are legal opt-outs. The group ensures that wages and benefits for a standard working week meets at least national minimum standards and is sufficient to meet the basic needs of workers and provide some discretionary income. When required, due recognition is given to the existence, membership and lawful activities of worker representative bodies, and worker representatives are given access to carry out their responsibilities/functions. We believe, the procedures detailed in the Employee Manual should be followed for dismissal of employees, in case the need for the same arises and arbitrary dismissal procedures should be avoided. Information regarding applicable employment policies and working practices should be communicated in a transparent manner to all employees.”

Highlighting few unique steps taken by the companies towards betterment of their employees, Suraj Shantakumar shares, “At Kirtilals it is mandatory for all the employees to understand the company’s vision, mission and values to ensure each employee feels that he/she is an integral part of the company. We encourage communication between employees and management through suggestion schemes, in-house magazine, etc. Through the channel we are allowing employees to feel comfortable to voice their opinions and make suggestions to improve all aspects of the company. The employees’ suggestions are fairly evaluated for implementation.” “We are successful and proud in creating the culture of knowledge sharing and equality where we find the enthusiasm and involvement of our employees. We work along to create a benchmark as one of the best employer in the industry,” said Laljibhai Patel. Ghanshyam D. Dholakia said, “We provide free Lunch facility for all our employees, On the job and off the Job training is provided to all the employees, regular employee engagement activities are conducted, picnics and pilgrimage trips organised for employees and their parents, cricket matches arranged to enhance team spirit, musical events with dinner for employees and their family. We have a well-planned Rewards and Recognition programme for our employees, we have awarded vehicles as a token of appreciation to our deserving and efficient staff, monthly cash incentives for top performers and employees with regular time and attendance, Diwali gifts and sweets for all the employees, educational help for staff children with school fees and notebooks, free annual health check-up for all, every employee is greeted on his birthday with sweets and a book on self-development, interest free housing loans, medical help for staff members and their family and we have an in-house library for our employees.”

Shreyans Dholakia said, “A scheme that aims to acknowledge efforts of employees, who have displayed exemplary commitment in the fulfillment of their objectives beyond their call of duty, is referred to as People Who Made the Difference (PWMD) at SRK, we have an Employee of the Year award for recognising individuals who have been consistent in achieving excellence in their work area around the year. We have formulated an incentive plan such that if employees work in line with the business targets, they gain tangible rewards every month. Involvement of employees is not only to be found in the responsibilities assigned to them but also in their suggestions and ideas for work or improvement is been considered. SRK runs schools near its facility for the welfare of its employees. SRK has also set up an engineering college. Merit and college scholarships are also made available to the children of SRK employees.

Employees are satisfied in working conditions and production processes in the factories where diamonds are produced peacefully from last many years. Every year SRK organises annual function for all employees with their family members and a family tour. We organise a sports week for our employees every year and this event has been the most awaited one for every SRKians. Employees of SRK can also buy products at special subsidised rates for their families from SRK resources. There are regular health check-up and wellness programmes for all employees conducted at SRK to ensure each team member is healthy and fine. SRK has a comprehensive medical insurance policy in place for employees and their dependents. Annual premium of employees' with their families is also borne by the company. As a part of welfare initiatives, SRK also offers free lunch service to all of the employees. Facilities for employees' recreation also form part of welfare activities. SRK owns a sports complex, where sports facilities like cricket; volley ball etc. are existing for employees at free of cost.”

Most critical policy for employees is related to safeguard measures. Suraj Shantakumar said, “Personal Protective Equipments are given to our employees to use wherever and whenever necessary. The Women's Wellness Program offers an opportunity for women who wish to learn more about their health and adopt a healthy lifestyle. We provide Social Security Benefits to all our employees from day one. Annual health checks for all the employees of Kirtilals are in place to minimise the health risk and move towards a longer healthier lifestyle. All employees and their families are covered under Group Health insurance and Personal Accident Insurance Coverage. We conduct programmes like diet counseling, healthy living, work life balance, etc. for employees on monthly basis.”

Ghanshyam D. Dholakia said, “We provide Life cum Accident Insurance Policy for every factory employee and a cheque of 21 Lacs was given to the family of an employee who had an untimely death.” Laljibhai Patel said, “We are always serious about the safety of our human resources during working hours and understand importance of safety measures and systems for prevention of mishaps. We have installed modern and hi-tech safety system with regards to electric system and fire safety systems. The staffs are well trained in usage of these systems whenever needed. In addition, a clinic in the factory serves for primary treatment in case of any eventuality.” Shreyans Dholakia shared, “Abiding by the international ‘Go Green’ mantra, our greenfield building infrastructure is designed to be a better and sensible place - for our workforce, society and environment – equipped with: an innovative energy efficient Magnetic Chiller Technology from Italy (first installation in India at SRK), a cavity wall construction in the entire building leading to reduce heat penetration and save on the air-conditioning energy, high quality solar reflective glass window with double-glazing to save energy, a scientific rain water harvesting system to preserve water, maximum usage of natural day light for our day-to-day operations, auditorium with 100+ seating capacity, highly hygienic kitchen to serve lunch to each employee of SRK and sewage treatment plant for re-utilisation of drain water. All employees in SRK are covered under the group personal accident scheme, life insurance scheme. Apart from this, SRK offers facilities like banking within the company. The company also supports employees in filling tax forms, application for Passport; PAN Card. SRK offers employees vehicle loans and amenity loans. Our workers are our family. In a Recent 2006 Surat crisis our workers were given 50 per cent extra salary for the month of August and 15 per cent extra for September and October. At least four times a year, the SRK directors have a face-to-face interaction with employees to improve their work efficiency and relationships.”

It is undoubtedly a very difficult job is to retain employees, on this, Suraj Shantakumar shared their method, “We select the right people for the job through various selection tools. Periodical rewards and recognitions through monitory and non-monitory benefits are awarded. We got in place Individual Development Plan and Career Path to assure employees’ growth in their professional life. We provide periodical trainings to our employees which will keep them updated in the latest trends of the industry.” “Well, I believe that one need to do efforts to retain employees, only when they are not happy or willing to leave. Moreover, our employment policies enable us to have numerous pending applications in our HR department who are willing to join our company. We claim our labour turnover is below than average retention ratio in the industry,” shared Laljibhai Patel.

“Employees are the most important assets of our organisation. We have set the right and fair HR policies and practices in place for all. We create growth opportunities for all our employees. Leverage performance reviews to gain insights into employee’s goals and aspirations. Firstly we select the right people for the right job and discuss with key employees their future opportunities within the organisation. We let key employees know they’re importance to the business and create a succession plan to replace key individuals. We help motivate our employees with monetary incentives. Provide meaningful and enriching job designs for key employees. We show our employees that we trust them by giving them responsibilities that allow them to grow. We conduct one-on-one session with each of our employees to understand their needs and goals and always welcome feedback and suggestions, if any,” shared Ghanshyam D. Dholakia. Shreyans Dholakia explained, “We can’t stop employees from leaving unless we have a plan to make them stay! Progressive Management vs. Reactionary Management (Don’t wait for a problem): We have developed a habit of regularly checking employees’ needs, Succession planning and development, own up what is ours – Mistake / Progress / Pride, Communicate with passion, Act on what is actionable, keeping your Internal Customers need in mind, Be transparent and communicate straight, show your concern and care, provide best of the facilities you can, recognise the ‘Performance Heroes’ in public, deal with all in all the earnest way, be available always. We also have Emotional Values at SRK: Spouse Engagement Programs, Community Development initiatives, Family Welfare Fund - Supporting the dear ones, Medical Expenses Support – MediClaim, Life Insurance coverage, Group Accident Policy, Children Educational initiatives and Self-Development initiatives & Supports,” shared Shreyans Dholakia.

Employees want their employers to care about their personal lives, to take an interest in them as people, to care about how they feel and support their health and well-being. An employer’s ability to build strong relationships with employees, build strong team interaction and lead in a ‘person-centered’ way creates an engaging environment in which employees can perform at the highest possible level.

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