Article: Crafting effective OD programmes for infusing employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention into work culture

Strategic HR

Crafting effective OD programmes for infusing employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention into work culture

Chitra Prasad, Senior General Manager of Organisational Development at Shahi Exports Pvt. Ltd., shares key insights (and metrics) for making OD programmes a key driver for bolstering employee experience, productivity, and work culture.
Crafting effective OD programmes for infusing employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention into work culture

For businesses fostering a modern work culture, Organisational Development (OD) becomes a crucial driver of success. Why? By prioritising employee growth, leadership development, offering training programmes, and fostering a culture of team collaboration and engagement, employees are empowered to unleash their full potential, thereby driving organisational effectiveness to new levels. However, developing effective OD programmes that bolster employee experience, productivity, and overall culture requires identifying the gaps and opportunities at the core of an organisation.

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Chitra Prasad, Senior General Manager of Organisational Development at Shahi Exports Pvt. Ltd, explores insights into how they achieved over 1.2 million training hours through their effective OD programmes, while contributing to key aspects of work culture including employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention.

Here are the edited excerpts:

How did Shahi Exports achieve 1.2 million training hours in FY 2022-23? 

Our approach to training and development is more than a routine task; it's deeply ingrained in our commitment to our employees' growth and well-being. It all stems from the vision of our Founder, Mrs. Sarla Ahuja. From the very beginning, our company has been driven by a purpose to uplift people through meaningful employment. We understand the ripple effect it creates in their lives and in society.

Our current focus on investing significantly in training is about equipping our employees with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in their roles. We're keen on enhancing employee engagement and productivity by providing ample opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

Behind this overarching goal, there's a robust process at play. Our approach is rooted in thorough research and needs assessment. We work closely with subject matter experts like KSHITIJ, a non-profit organisation, and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) to identify the right training topics and design programmes that truly resonate with our workforce. With a large team of dedicated trainers, each focused on specific factories; we ensure that our training isn't just a one-time event but a continuous journey toward improvement.

So, when you see numbers like 1.2 million training hours, it's more than a figure; it's our commitment to providing quality training to a vast workforce of 100,000 employees.

Aligning regulatory standards and innovative strategies for worker safety, skill development, and welfare

We place a high priority on essential workplace training, making sure our teams are well-versed in Organisational Health and Safety (OH&S) programmes to meet regulatory standards. Our focus extends to vital areas like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and fire safety training, ensuring the well-being of every member of our workforce.

When it comes to audits, we hold our factories to rigorous standards aligned with customer Codes of Conduct and certifications. Since 2019, we've been actively involved in the Social and Labour Convergence Projects (SLCP), which has covered 84% of our factories so far. This approach not only reduces audit fatigue but also establishes consistent assessment frameworks across our operations.

Innovation is key to our progress, and that’s why we've introduced Inache, a digital grievance redressal mechanism developed by the Good Business Lab, a non-profit labour research organisation. This platform, ensuring anonymity, empowers our workers to voice their concerns securely. Currently implemented in 74% of our factories, we're on track to achieve full coverage by this year. Additionally, our flagship programme, Bsafe, offers comprehensive training on grievance redressal mechanisms, fostering understanding among employees of various forms of harassment and remediation methods.

Our Shahi model of skilling and employment has been instrumental in empowering female and rural candidates. Providing free sewing training and livelihood opportunities to 56,000 women so far, we're making a tangible impact on communities. With the support of 80 free sewing training centres, we're ambitiously aiming to train 65,000 community women in both soft and technical skills by next year.

How leadership development evolved at Shahi Exports fostering a nurturing work culture?

When it comes to learning within the flow of work, we've found that micro-learning, which delivers easily digestible content over a day or two, works best. But, of course, there are limitations to this approach. Recognising these limitations, we introduced the Promoting Upcoming Leadership at Shahi Exports (PULSE) programme, which is specifically tailored to managers, floor incharges, and those in higher leadership roles. It focuses on personal and interpersonal development, empowering leaders to create a constructive and collaborative workplace atmosphere and motivating teams to achieve shared objectives.

By providing tailored training at each stage, we ensure that our leaders are equipped to manage teams effectively and drive performance through a range of programmes.

For newcomers stepping into managerial roles, we have the Management Development Programme (MDP). This programme provides essential training for those transitioning into leadership positions.

The Captain Programme is designed to enable worker's advancement to supervisory roles, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to lead effectively. Supervisors’ Transformation Into Change Holders (STITCH) is tailored for those already in supervisory positions, enhancing their skills and capabilities to navigate the challenges of leadership. Each of these programmes is intricately designed to address the specific needs and challenges faced at different levels of leadership within our organisation.

Impact of OD programmes on enhancing employee experience, well-being and talent development

Shahi provides a range of training programmes that cover everything from leadership and soft skills to technical proficiency and human rights awareness. BSafe, for instance, ensures that our workers are well-versed in grievance redressal methods, empowering them with knowledge and confidence. Then there’s the STITCH and Captain Programmes for nurturing future leaders.

Additionally, we partner with our customers to make a real difference in the lives of our people. For instance, we collaborated with Gap Inc. on the P.A.C.E. initiative, which was first piloted back in 2007. This comprehensive programme focuses on life skills training for female garment workers, covering everything from communication and time management to legal awareness and execution excellence. In fact, in 2022 alone, we conducted a whopping 5,13,357 hours of training. The success of these programmes is evident in the well-being and professional development of our employees, like Rathnamma, a former school teacher who joined Shahi as a tailor. She channelled her leadership and managerial skills through training under almost all of Shahi’s programmes to become a Captain and lead a production line of her own.

Cross-functional collaboration for success of Organisational Development

Every factory in Shahi has dedicated Organisational Development (OD) resources. These teams operate under centralised governance yet enjoy independent functioning. This setup fosters an environment for effective collaboration among various factory departments, including HR and Production. Such collaboration has been instrumental in establishing a unified approach to execute training modules and ensure the continued success of our impactful programmes. This coordinated effort guarantees consistency, quality, and efficiency across the board. For instance, Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. programme stands as our longest-running initiative at Shahi. By aligning it with our core values and facilitating cross-unit training, we've been able to amplify its positive effects. This programme laid the groundwork for subsequent initiatives like Empowering Women at Shahi Exports (EWASE). The skills acquired by our workforce through such programmes have empowered them to actively engage and provide invaluable feedback, contributing to the refinement and enhancement of our offerings.

Collaboration enables us to generate consistent and impactful outcomes. By working together, our teams share best practices and insights, leading to a more standardised delivery of training and development initiatives.

Key performance metrics evaluating the impact of OD programmes on employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention

Understanding the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of our OD initiatives is crucial for ensuring they truly align with our objectives. Our approach to employee well-being is deeply rooted in research, and we're committed to partnering with organisations like GBL, which help us assess the impact generated through our programmes. In fact, our involvement with GBL extends beyond collaboration; we've provided seed funding and incubation support to help them scale their solutions across the industry. Through this partnership, we gain valuable insights into the impact of our programmes. By collecting quantitative data on metrics such as productivity, employee engagement, satisfaction, and overall workplace outcomes, we're able to make well-informed decisions regarding programme optimisation and resource allocation. For example, Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. beneficiaries were 20% more productive, experienced increased confidence and self-esteem, achieved greater financial awareness, and focused on goal-setting compared to those who had not participated in the programme. Ultimately, this approach enables us to drive tangible outcomes for both our employees and the organisation as a whole.

Reshaping OD programmes in line with evolving industry trends and employee needs

In our approach to programme development, we put people at the forefront. Our programmes undergo a thorough evaluation, not just crunching numbers but also tapping into the real-life experiences of our workforce and management. The OD team is pivotal in this process, wearing many hats, from initial evaluation to training and stakeholder management. As we developed our programmes with pilots, we established a positive relationship between these programmes and a visible impact on workers, increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism and attrition. This keeps us up to pace with the evolving industry trends. Our approach is to manage change and tailor programmes to make them relevant through feedback loops and regular check-ins with stakeholders. One interesting example is Inache, GBL’s anonymous, multilingual digital worker voice tool, created through extensive design-thinking research with workers, management, and the wider industry. Through this tool, workers can call or send an SMS about their complaints, grievances, suggestions, or questions, which go to a central dashboard and onwards to the designated factory staff for response and resolution.  Inache is now operational in all Shahi factories. We have incorporated it into our grievance redressal mechanism training as a pillar to drive awareness and utilisation of the tool, and constantly use feedback from HR and workers to improve the experience of the tool.

Key priorities, initiatives and focus areas for enhancing employee well-being and performance 

We are focused on expanding existing programmes while setting ambitious goals for the future. Through our BSafe programme we target to train 100% of our workforce by next year, having already trained around 27,000 workers till now. Additionally, our efforts through the Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. programmes are ongoing, with a goal to train 90,000 women and train all supervisors in STITCH by this year. To bolster leadership capabilities, we're expanding enrollment in the PULSE programme and extending our captain programme to drive performance enhancements. Additionally, we are prioritising mental well-being initiatives, particularly for our migrant workers. Partnering with organisations like "yourdost," we aim to scale this support across Shahi. This includes setting up more migrant support centres and offering financial, legal, and health awareness sessions alongside mental health programmes to promote longer retention within our organisation.

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Topics: Strategic HR, Learning & Development, Talent Management, #HRCommunity

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