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Social Cause Marketing - The Regis Group Inc

Social Cause Marketing - The Regis Group Inc

I N T E R V I E W HR,

I N T E R V I E W HR, anywhere and everywhere needs to be sensitive to all situations, but proactive and swift. People in HR need to understand and balance their skills between two sets of needs – those of the individual employee and those of the company as a whole. Most HR departments play a major balancing role between these two, to seek out the most effective and least painful method. – Tapan Mitra SEPTEMBER 2009 68 EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE

As financial meltdown has turned into global economic crisis, the human cost in terms of lost jobs and displaced workers is growing at a terrifying pace. The International Labor Organization (ILO) predicts that 38 million people around the world could lose their jobs this year alone, sending unemployment rates in Europe and the US into double digits for the first time in years and slowing ñ or in some places reversing ñ the massive jobs growth of recent years in Asia. What would be the political and social consequences? How should governments, companies and labor unions in countries across the globe address this issue? As we can see in hindsight this was a cycle that was waiting to happen, given the high growth rates and the over extending of nearly all financial and economic facilities that had taken place since the early 1990s. This is a correction; yes an unfortunate one, but a correction that needed to take place to ensure sustainable growth across economies. While the implication of this on jobs could be dramatic, especially in the developed nations, what this downturn would also do is weed out the companies which had not managed themselves well during the good times. Going by the past few months, I do not expect massive political or social unrest due to this. Governments across the world have been taking proactive action to try and minimise the pain on the average workers. The steps taken by each government are intrinsically linked to their governance policy and therefore the way we have been addressing this in India is going to be quite different from say how the US or Chinese governments tackle them. These are times when all parties have to come together to take collective decisions and a time when labor unions need to keep long term interests in mind. What is your assessment of impact of US financial crisis (global financial crisis) on India? Which sectors/industries do you think are affected most and what are your perspectives on the way Indian companies are managing this unprecedented downturn? Given that the US is the worldís largest economy and closely linked to economics across the world, an upheaval in the US has far-reaching consequences. In countries like India, the strengthening of the dollar has had an immediate impact. Also the sectors Tapan Mitra as Chief of Human Resources, and his team have been instrumental in developing robust HR systems and processes in the company, focusing on performance management, leadership development, market-driven compensation structures, job classification, competency management, team building, and talent development, ensuring healthy employee relations and high levels of employee engagement. He is also responsible for the successful integration of HR processes with any acquired entity. His leadership has enabled Apollo to move to the next level of people development and performance management. Tapan Mitra joined Apollo Tyres in early 2005. Prior to that he was with Ballarpur Industries Ltd. (BILT), where he was Vice President, People Development and Communications. He began his career as a management trainee with JK Papers in 1977, moving on to Voltas Ltd., and then to BILT. He has worked both at the plant and corporate HR in these organizations. International exposure with institutions like INSEAD, IMD, Centre for Creative Leadership, and Saville Holdsworth Ltd., have further complemented his in-depth functional knowledge. Schooled at St Xaviers Delhi, Tapan Mitra is a Delhi University Gold Medalist and National Scholarship holder and has a postgraduate degree in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics. He is actively associated with HR platforms at CII, National HRD Network, All India Management Association, National Institute of Personnel Management, ASSOCHAM and the Conference Board, apart from being a guest faculty in leading management institutes. An ardent photographer, he enjoys reading and listening to western music. He believes that a true "people's manager” needs to be adept at handling interpersonal relationships and be able to communicate with clarity across organizational hierarchies. Equally important is the ability to address employee concerns in a proactive manner. INTERVIEW that have been most impacted are those which have a high exposure to the US economy like IT services. However, others like the hospitality businesses, infrastructure development, high-end or export-oriented businesses like gems and jewelry will suffer more than others. In terms of Indian business, we have once again surprised ourselves with our ability to be agile and adjust quickly. Majority of our businesses had taken on themselves efficiency enhancing and cost cutting drives at an early stage, preparing themselves well for the tougher days ahead. However, I do have to say that in India, we are blessed with a large, diverse and growing domestic market which creates a certain buffer for us during a global downturn. As Chief of HR at Apollo Tyres, whatís the plan of action to manage through the crisis? Any layoffs? Our people have voluntarily taken lower perks for two quarters to ensure that the company remains profitable. It has been difficult, but as Chief HR my and my teamís role becomes easier when people themselves are willing to take collective decisions to ensure a better future. At Apollo the culture of teamwork and looking out for the greater good is very high, which has always worked in the companyís favor. I feel, in many respects, this gives us an edge over other companies. No we have not had any layoff, however the normal practice of non-performers being weeded out of the system continued to take place. Our focus has actually been on redeployment and production management to keep manpower costs low, rather than layoffs. Recently, when the UK arm of accounting firm KPMG asked its staff if they would be willing to reduce their workweek ñ and thereby save jobs ñ in the event that business dried up, an overwhelming 85% signed on. Probably, the deal is a first for a British financial services firm. Itís unlikely to be the last. A recent survey by Watson Wyatt finds that almost one employer in ten intends SEPTEMBER 2009 69 EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE

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