It’s employees who drive biz profitability
Nearly 1.5 million engineers graduate every year and firms roughly reject 52.21 per cent of them because they are not soft skill trainable. There is immediate need to map the courses and curriculum to make students industry-ready. Kestone, a leading integrated marketing services firm, is
effectively reaching out to the youth through its association with CL Educate and is trying to bridge this gap, says Niharika Jalan, head (training), Kestone IMS, in an interview with Ritwik Mukherjee. Excerpts:


Many people say that in today’s context HR drives business profitability also. What is your take on that? If you subscribe to this view, how does it influence the HR strategy, particularly recruitment policies?
HR drives business profitability, as it is the employees who drive the business. Even in large manufacturing concerns it’s the key mach­ine operators who ensure that go­ods are without defect. So, yes it’s the employees who drive business profitability. An effective HR team is key to ensure that the company culture is in line with goals. HR sh­o­uld ensure that people who get hired for a particular role are adept in understanding what the organisation demands from them.
How do you act as an extended arm by providing learning and development to your clients?
Kestone provides customised lear­ning workshops to clients. We do a detailed discussion with the client to understand the participant profile and their learning plans. We also do a training need analysis as required. This often includes IDI, competition mapping, dipsticks in the market etc. Through the above interventions we then work with the reporting managers and the learning managers at the clients end, to define workshop objectives and clearly outline the desired outcomes of any workshops.

What is your current headcount and what are your hiring plans in near future?
Kestone has over 150 employees, and will continue to recruit & build a strong team to outperform the industry at large.

In a large firms one often comes across conflicts of various nature. How one can manage them?
Conflict management is a critical skill that is required in the corporate world. It even becomes more important as one moves up an organisation as a leader must inspire everyone to move towards a common goal together collectively. Conflicts should not be suppressed or ignored but must be faced.
Kestone provides manpower and training services in 120 cities with 234 centres in India, including tier II and III cities. They have a training app through which they create customised content for tra­i­ning on the go. Some of our noteworthy B2B clients include global leaders in technology, India’s leading e-commerce portal, financial services company, banks, etc.

Technology keeps changing very fast. So constant updating and fine-tuning of skills is very important for the industry, you are in. Isn’t it? How do you do that?
Technology changes with every rotation of the earth. The role of HR has become more crucial now than ever as the HR manpower, has to constantly keep in touch with the latest tools that help cater to the needs of the employees who are diverse in nature, habits, skills and culture. Employees and organisations must have time on their hands to learn and observe the world around them at large.
How do you measure the performance of the team after the training programmes?
Performance measurement criteria are set during the planning sta­ge with managers and the learning & development planners. Mea­s­ure­m­ent criteria can be business lin­ked or basis psychometric testing.

Employees often complain that loyalty doesn’t pay any longer. It doesn’t help if you stay in any organisation for too long. What is your take on this?
As long as an employee is happy to get up in the morning and head to work, I do not see any reason to move on. While the general perception is thatone must switch jobs to get the right opportunities. I have seen many successful companies, which are industry leaders continue to have their key set of employees who joined them at inception. Some of such employees have been with an organization for over 20 years. Loyalty does not pay in the traditional sense of getting promotions and raises based on the number of years.

If you think retention is important, what strategies companies are adopting for employee retention?
As we believe that every employee within Kestone must continuously grow, we help them achieve their personal milestones. In order to keep the employee morale up we organise quarterly and annual awards at Kestone.

What innovative modes of training organisations are seen to adopt for better growth opportunities of their employees?
At Kestone our employees are coached on an on-going basis and encouraged to draw up individual career paths with milestones. The most important aspect for any learning and development session is content and Kestone has a team that curates high quality content that keeps the participants engaged.
ritwikmukherjee@mydigitalfc.com
Columnist: 
Ritwik Mukherjee
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