Artificial Intelligence and new technologies have streamlined HR functions, allowing for a strategic shift towards talent development and employee engagement. This underscores the importance of engaging with and motivating employees, providing growth opportunities, and fostering resilience in challenging situations. In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Parag Bengali, Director of HR and Finance at Bisleri International Pvt. Ltd., shared valuable insights on enabling learning and development strategies for upskilling employees and cultivating an inclusive work culture to drive sustainable organisational growth.
Here are the edited excerpts:
What is the secret behind Bisleri’s sustainable success as India’s oldest packaged drinking water company? How has it successfully retained employees for over three decades?
Our sustainable success as India's oldest packaged drinking water company can be attributed to our steadfast commitment to fostering an employee-friendly organisation. We understand the needs and expectations of our workforce, actively tailoring our approach to ensure they feel valued and supported. One of the key reasons behind our remarkable employee retention is our comprehensive approach to career development.
As an organisation, we emphasize individual career growth, collaborating closely with our employees and implementing various career-centric initiatives. We have employees who have been with us for over three decades, a testament to our dedication to retaining and nurturing talent and offering a support system for their professional advancement.
Our employee-friendly policies are designed to not only benefit our employees but also the overall betterment of our organisation. Our core principle has always been placing our employees at the forefront, recognising them as the backbone of Bisleri’s success and the driving force behind our journey to becoming a trusted brand in the country.
What Learning and Development initiatives or programs does Bisleri have for training and upskilling employees to boost productivity? Are AI tools or data-driven technologies utilized to enable a productive workforce?
In an era of rapid change and innovation, we at Bisleri International realise the importance of nurturing our greatest asset - our employees. It is vital for business growth and success. As an organisation, we have undertaken several initiatives to improve workplace culture, bridge skills gaps and increase employee retention rates.
Through our initiative, Project Rise, we focus on championing the goal of enabling and building a future talent pool within the organisation to become the future of the company. We have developed a program called 'BOLD Academy' (Bisleri Organisation for Learning & Development) in partnership with QuoDeck, designed to deliver informative articles tailored to the specific needs of each employee. These initiatives are not only about individual growth but also about the organisation's future-proofing. Thus, by investing in employee development, we are becoming partners in their journey and instilling a spirit of entrepreneurship.
How has Bisleri engaged its diverse workforce over the years? What initiatives are in place to reduce the gender diversity gap in the workforce? Are women employees offered leadership opportunities?
The FMCG sector has traditionally exhibited limited female representation. The industry is dominated by sales, which has grappled with a significant gender disparity for decades. Historically, it has been characterized by limited representation of women in key roles and positions. However, with businesses increasingly recognizing the value of diversity, there is a growing realization of transforming the industry to become more inclusive and gender balanced.
At Bisleri International, we are committed to cultivating an inclusive environment that values diversity. This commitment is manifested in our concerted efforts to lessen the gender diversity gap within our workforce. Currently, we have 25% of women in leadership roles, heading various departments.
We are on a transformation journey and are committed to hiring more women across departments, including leadership roles. We are determined to create new avenues for women in this sales-driven industry, as women have exceptional negotiation skills. This would help ensure their influential participation in shaping Bisleri's future. Our ongoing efforts are focused on fostering a diverse team, creating new opportunities, and offering support to women within our workforce.
In fostering a future-ready workforce, what Gen Z-focused initiatives are implemented within the organisation? How does Bisleri balance the needs of its multi-generational workforce? What challenges are faced in this regard?
We are a 58-year-young company dedicated to cultivating a forward-thinking workforce that remains pertinent to individuals of all generations. We recognize the value of bringing a fresh perspective through innovation and creativity, along with the eagerness to learn. These attributes, coupled with the invaluable experience of our long-serviced employees, culminate in a dynamic, multi-generational workforce that forms the cornerstone of our success.
At present, Bisleri International is embarked on a transformative journey that aligns with the evolving expectations of the younger generation. Transparency and empathy are key values they seek in their workplace. Our commitment to fostering an open and inclusive culture is exemplified by our open-door policy. Employees are encouraged to freely voice their concerns and offer feedback. Their valuable suggestions and feedback are given due consideration during management meetings, to drive necessary improvements, if required. As part of our ongoing initiatives, we have introduced knowledge sessions where industry leaders impart their experiences and inspiring stories to motivate our team. Besides, our existing rewards and recognition program serves as an additional incentive for employees to contribute to our collective growth and success.
Furthermore, we are committed to bridging the generational gap and fostering collaboration among employees of varying age groups by creating a harmonious and inclusive work culture. Our primary objective is to focus on infusing modernity while staying true to the brand's core ethos and vision established over half a century ago. We remain committed to creating an environment where open communication, learning, and recognition flourish, making Bisleri International a place where employees can thrive and contribute to our shared success.
What emerging HR trends contribute to building a sustainable global organisation with a diverse workforce? What role does HR play in nurturing talent ready for tomorrow?
The rise of technology is reshaping HR practices with data-driven decision-making, AI-driven recruitment, and digital tools for employee engagement. Organisations must embrace lifelong learning and upskilling in this evolving landscape to prepare their workforce for rapid changes. Adopting hybrid work arrangements allows employees to seek a work-life balance, which is becoming the norm. Furthermore, there is an increasing need to prioritize employee well-being and mental health.
At Bisleri, our primary focus is on fostering a healthy work environment for all employees, including contractual workers. During the outbreak of the pandemic, we were one of the first organisations to implement a COVID insurance policy within a few days of the lockdown to safeguard the well-being of our employees and provide them with mental comfort. As an organisation, we work relentlessly to prioritize the health of our employees and their families. There have been instances where we have implemented necessary adjustments and improvements to enhance our employees' well-being, thereby contributing to the overall health and success of our business.
With organisations adapting to these trends, they not only attract and retain top talent but also create an environment that fosters innovation, resilience, and sustained success. Through proactive initiatives, organisations can establish themselves as leaders in nurturing future talent, ensuring their continued growth and competitiveness in the years ahead.
Please share your insights on the evolution of HR in recent years, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, concerning new work arrangements, AI technologies, and fostering an engaged workforce.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the role of HR has become an integral component in critical decision-making processes. The evolution of HR has witnessed significant transformations, most notably in the domain of work arrangements. These arrangements played a pivotal role in facilitating a seamless transition when the pandemic compelled us to embrace new work models. Subsequently, they have been incorporated into our long-term business decisions and strategies.
Furthermore, the ubiquity of mobile technologies and AI has helped streamline many HR functions, enabling us to focus more on the strategic aspects of HR, such as talent development and employee engagement. The shift has underscored the importance of engaging with the employees and keeping them motivated. These developments have provided an opportunity to grow and prove resilience during challenging situations.