Amity Institute Of Training & Development

Leading through Challenging Times

About: Mr. Vivek Yadav is the Business Head and Senior Vice President at Havells India Limited. Mr. Yadav is an Industry veteran with over 31 years of experience in Electrical and Automation. Having worked in all domains from Residential and Commercial Buildings to Industries and Infrastructure, he has extensive experience in Products and Solutions from Circuit Protections in Low Voltage and Medium Voltage to Automation in Industries and Homes. He has worked extensively on Go-to-Market Strategies, both in B2B and B2C space. He is also credited for establishing Businesses and Functions from scratch in his illustrious career spanning three decades. He is currently heading Havells Domestic Circuit Protection, Electrical Wiring Accessories and Home Automation Businesses. He also heads the Projects and Enterprise Business which cuts across all Business verticals in Havells. Vivek is an Electrical Engineer with a PG in Management and Systems from IIT Delhi.

Click below to watch the recorded conversation.

 AITD: Indian Businesses feared the second wave of the COVID Pandemic that could set back the gains made by the Indian Economy in the last two quarters following the ending of the Lockdown measures which were imposed if you all recall during 2020. Considering that the impact of the first wave was already in a negative way, Businesses today are worried about what the Economy would look like in a few years going forward. At the moment we are in a receding COVID tide but the arrival of the third wave cannot be ruled out. Therefore, Businesses are today looking at what the Government does to bring the Healthcare crisis under control.

So, what are the challenges of leading through these difficult times? What has changed and what is set to change? How do businesses manage their Employees, and keep them engaged and productive? What was the impact on your business, your employees and your customers and how did you manage during 2020?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: The first wave actually took everyone by surprise and actually nobody was prepared. It was the Lockdown which was announced at that time; it was a feeling that things have come to a standstill. The Lockdown was very different from what it is today and since nobody knew how to react, it was a feeling of numbness initially. But then, everyone realised their businesses that they have to pass this time with minimal damage because, sales were not there, factories were closed, supply chains were stopped. Suddenly the material which was on road was there on the road, safety of that material again was a question mark.

Most of our Businesses, as I said, did not know how to react. So, it took some time initially, I would say a couple of days to realise that we have to take some action and the actions would be looking at your basics. So, basics first would be that how do you manage your cost that time? All the expenses which were going on they had to be stopped. Let's say, you are spending on incoming activities altogether, Travel Administration expenses, because nobody was traveling; people were at home. What we looked at was all our fixed costs, so fixed costs for example if there were rentals etc. of our offices, we went back to the office because it was around that time they were all renegotiated also because your contracts come to end in March so it was an opportunity to negotiate them. So we renegotiated all those Contracts and then we took a lot of other steps in terms of controlling costs and we created cross-function teams across the Country to look at the various aspects of Business.

In times like these, if you decentralize your decision making to the extent that you create teams which are empowered then you are in a position to address a lot of areas of the Business which you want to create an impact due to the difficult times. The other was the Employee cost, of course, Employee cost is something that you cannot do much about, I mean if you value your Employees, I think it is the time to give them confidence so we decided that we will not ask anybody to go, we will not touch the salaries of our Employees so we didn't do anything of that sort.

Obviously, since the Business was not there and we had no clue when the Businesses would resume, so we only said that the incentives, the sales incentives which are there, of course, we will not consider that, bonuses and incentives were stopped and we also stopped recruitment of adding any sanctioned recruitments which were there that we stopped. On the Customer side, of course, when the Customers are also closed you're not meeting them regularly how do you address that part, so incidentally we are now using Zoom, MS Teams and WebEx always very frequently and with so much ease we were fortunate actually to start using Teams sometime in January and we didn't know the Pandemic is coming so our entire sales force were fully trained in working on these Video Calling softwares.

So Teams was one of them and before that also we were using a lot of other Video Calling softwares but Teams was recently installed. So we knew that this tool can now be used extensively, so we started doing small meetings in smaller groups with our teams, we started doing town halls with our Employees and we extended that to our channel partners, also, in terms of regular engagements maybe training sessions, we even reached out to our Customers for our regular calls. So, all this started to come; this wasn't planned but then as the Pandemic progressed, week after week, we started to Innovate and thought that how our Business can run normally though in spite of that everything was stopped, no transaction was taking place but other than that what we could do, we tried to explore all that. So, this was the first initial reaction from despair to finding opportunities.

AITD: That's very hard to know. I'm equally very happily surprised that you already had these systems in January, especially for meetings and engaging with each other that's very good and we are also very happy that you didn't cut Employee costs and didn't cut salaries and jobs which was the easiest way out for any company to have done that's the most important thing.

Mr. Vivek Yadav: We planned to cut cost that time and Employee salaries weren’t cut but this we decided on day one that we will not do this.

AITD: That’s an absolutely wonderful thing that you've done. But, what was the overall impact on the people?

How did they react to, for example, you had social distancing, you had to rearrange your working in the factories; you had must have cut down on people on the shop floor? How did you manage that aspect of social distancing and productivity?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: When the Offices re-opened sometime in May, for the first time when we came in. So, it was very restricted. All the protocols were followed; guidelines were laid down for coming back to Office, which included checks for all the Employees. We said that it is mandatory to use Aarogya Setu App, though a lot of people had questions on that App but still in my experience in the last, now over one year, it has really helped our organisation because it gives you the status if it is on all the time if you actually truthfully use it and your Bluetooth is on and the App is on actually you can find out who has come in contact with the infected person and what are the chances of risk in terms of low risk or moderate risk or high risk and that App status shows so in the morning people used to come and believe me every day we used to find people whose status was not green and they were asked to go back, so this was one mandatory thing we did.

Initially, we started with about 25 percent of the people and we ensured that there were social distancing there. Another very important thing that we did, similar thing we did in the factories, our factories, of course, opened with social distancing with lesser manpower and slowly as things started to improve we increased the manpower. But another very important thing that we did was we bought a software and installed in all our premises and then what that software did is that two people if the social distancing is less, which is defined, let's say, six feet; less than six feet it will be immediately recognised and that the Employee would send a mail to the Manager of the Employee, so there is a protocol breach; so please take care!

So, this was about the software everyone was told and people knew that they cannot take any liberty in this, it is in their own benefit so we had a lot of compliance to social distancing even on the shop floor and in Offices as well.

AITD: I am sure your Managers would have been flooded with such alerts coming from the software?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: Yes, they were initially. As I said, when we made people aware that there is a software and you will all be watched and if let's say you are found so there will be call-back by the Manager and you may be asked to go back home and we also said that then it will not be counted as work from home, your leave will be counted. So people were mindful and people realised that it is in their own interests.

AITD: Yes, it keeps everybody on their toes and they know that my presence is being recorded and my distance is being seen and that is a wonderful software for you. Now, we come to the to the present stage; the second wave of the Pandemic has been much more severe in terms of infection and fatalities. It has brought about different types of challenges for businesses.

What are these challenges which were not there in the first wave and how can these be addressed?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: Considering the first wave and then comparing with second, definitely, there were huge differences I would say. Though people knew that this is a virus and people were a little more aware of what the virus is and what it does and what are the implications but with the severity it hit, nobody realised. In the first wave, when you speak to people you would hardly hear that there is something happening in their family or relative but this time it was like everyone was impacted either directly in the immediate family or extended family or friends and it was definitely a scary situation.

But our factories did not stop, we stopped our Offices, people are not coming so they were working from home but our factories did not stop. Our factories were functioning and most of the factories before we had the experience of working in the first wave with social distancing; we hardly had any cases in the first wave. In the second wave also, we managed beautifully and productions continued because markets though were closed the channel partners wherever they were open they were still buying.

So, there was some Business happening; it wasn't like the earlier wave that Business was zero so some Business was happening. You would also see that in the financial year, there was huge dip in our GDP growth also but this first quarter results would be when they are announced would still be far better than what your base of last year. We did manage our production but the challenge in production minimum was because the factories were not loaded fully; they were loaded less so the fixed cost were not getting absorbed fully and we had to even work on our variable cost also. Then how do we manage? So, there is definitely a per unit cost of production which was definitely higher than our normal but we still managed with higher productivity per Employee and reducing both our variable cost. So, apart from that our supply chains also were open so we were able to manage but I think the big difference was only the fear factor.

The fear factor was much higher this time. Unfortunately, Havells lost some of the Employees during this Pandemic and that created more panic. But, we did a lot of soul searching to our Employees at personal level through the team Managers. We needed people that provided in terms of help in getting hospitals, oxygen whosoever was not down with COVID in getting medicine so that kind of atmosphere was created and we already have our communication groups, even in the last level in the organisation, so we know if somebody has got impacted, so immediately we knew that there is someone who needs help and that kind of system is worked very well in Havells. So, all in all, I would say that though at the physical and emotional level, the situation in the second wave is much worse but Business-wise it's still better as compared to the wave one.

AITD: We also must be aware now that even the third wave can come so people and Businesses have it at the back of their mind and should that kind of a situation arise again what all we would require, what all contingency planning we can do so that a little benefit of hindsight we have got now. But, we are happy that you tackled the second wave in a good manner and your productivity didn't suffer though of course physical casualties and this kind of a problem.

So, coming to this problem on the second wave about Employee health and well-being. That is one area which we feel needs to be discussed because that is an area which was not very important, may be, a few years ago. So why health and well-being is uppermost in the mind of most Business Leaders today.

Can you for our benefit of our viewers, identify these physical and mental health issues and how should Businesses deal with them so that their mental health index in the Company remains high, the productivity doesn't go down, people's anxieties and fears and stress is addressed; so how would you be addressing these issues?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: If the organisations are performing, you have a very well distributed organisation in terms of geography so you can have your common policies and ask your Managers to implement but in a situation like this, I think it helps very little. The best person to address the Employee mental health issues or immediate medical issues etc. is the Manager and the support system which he can create in his Office. So, advantage with Havells is that it operates through a branch structure and each branch which is headed by, let's say, a Branch Manager is a first unit and people there in branch are highly empowered people, so the Manager there is very closely in touch with people and of course in the channel partners also I mean very closely in touch and the promoters of the organization really take pride in creating that family kind of atmosphere.

So, each and every Manager had a detailed view of his Employees. How many Employees are affected because of COVID, how many Employees family members are affected because of COVID and what is the stage? So, in our normal meetings, they would start with a status check of what’s the status in your branch, so he would say “Sir, ten employees have COVID and they have passed through the first seven days period they are now recovering, these many people are in hospital and their stage is so much, these many people required oxygen”.

So, we arranged oxygen from there and there, so that kind of support system was there in Havells and as I was saying there are no amount of policy framework or that you create will not help until and unless there is people-to-people contact and people-to-people support available at the local level.

AITD: We fully agree with you that there is something that we are also promoting that the immediate Manager and the Branch Manager. They are the people on the spot and if they have the autonomy and the authority to undertake expenditure or take action, they are the best people to take decisions and look after the Employees, especially in large organisations which are well distributed geographically.

Mr. Vivek Yadav: I would also like to add in terms of crisis if it was there in some of the families’ Employees, the entire organisation, we saw the top brass of the organisation got into the act and tried to arrange hospitals and oxygen in their local places. We still lost some people, of course, there is a support system or with respect to term life insurance which the organisation provides for the family once the earning member has gone so that basic hygiene is already there but what I'm saying is that we left no stone unturned to get in the best medical facility and all the medicines, oxygen etc. to the extent that organisation bought oxygen concentrators and placed in each offices so that Employees can take it when there is a need and return it back when the need is over.

AITD: Employees will never forget this kind of a treatment and a good treatment from their Employers during the time of crisis. They will repay you back when you need them and those Companies which for short-term gains did not do what was supposed to be done they will suffer in the long term. I'm sure what you have done is, I think, the best practices amongst the man-management and looking after your people are excellent.

Now, you mentioned about your channel partners; they are in your case are very important people because they are the ones who bring you the Business and help you run the Business. They are a very important asset for you.

The thing is that they have also been impacted by the Lockdowns, by social distancing, their own supply chains and have been disrupted so what would be your advice to Businesses to strengthen their channel partner relationships and sell effectively? During these challenging times, how should we deal with our channel partners?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: Havells is actually a unique Company which actually prides in itself in saying that they have a huge emotional connect with their channel partners. Channel partner in the Indian context largely when you talk about is these small ‘mom and pop’ shops where the shop is run by the proprietor and these could be small, could be large partner, owner driven Business doing a turnover of 100 crores 200 crores plus also is the case. So, in such a situation, the direct connect with channel partner organisation, its people and Leadership is something which go a long way.

Apart from this, if you really believe in the emotional and financial health of a channel partner in issues and you work with them closely, help them, then the bond strengthens hugely. So, Havells has traditionally been a very channel friendly Company. It's not just this Pandemic; in past also if there have been let's say floods, there were floods in Kerala, the floods in Srinagar in Kashmir sometime back there were floods in Bihar; so, every time the organisation has gone and worked at the grassroot level, helped channel partners. Sometimes, if your stocks have got washed out even if you don't have insurance they come back to us and we have waived off that much amount of money to those channel partners, gave a huge amount of money to Kerala Government, when there were floods two years ago and there was contribution for Employees and equal amount of contribution by the organisation.

So, in this Pandemic also, we realize that there is immediate need for unlocking some capital. So, to have a unique fund where channel partners’ incentive is deposited and though that fund is managed by the organisation, so, we released money from there and the channel partners own money which is locked in there so we released that so that there is money available to them. There were the financial year last year had closed and the incentives were to be given so a lot of channel partners did not achieve their targets because the year was not full.

I mean we closed at about, 20th or 21st, we closed so nobody was able to meet their targets but we still apportioned and on pro-databases we cleared the incentive and we released that money to all the channel partners so almost 200 crores worth of capital came inside the channel partners’ accounts and of course that was used in clearing our outstanding and that money came into circulation for us. So that way the channel is at the forefront and at the centre of the decision, the organisation takes and the bond between channel partner and the organisation is really very strong.

Apart from that, I said, at all levels of the organisation right from top promoters to the senior management through people on the ground; they really are in touch with the channel partners on day-to-day basis and it's almost like family relations. They can actually go to their house, meet their family members and know them by name. We do a lot of incentive tours and all these channel partners and their family go on their tours and so every member of our team knows what their family members are so that kind of connect we have. So, in every crisis, we have managed this beautifully and the same thing we did in COVID also in wave one and in wave two both.

AITD: I think that should be a lesson for many other Businesses who have similar channels because channel partner is your real partner and he survives with you and he thrives with you and I think that's the way Havells deals with their partners, and that is something to be imbibed by others.

I will just ask that question. This is about reorganizing the work on the shop floor because of the Lockdown and social distancing restrictions, we have already mentioned it but you must have the number of people on the shop floor would have reduced, the number of people coming in shifts would have reduced.

So, how did you manage your operations and what kind of lessons have you learned? How should we manage operations during these disruptions?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: It was a very interesting phase at the time when the first Pandemic started, when the factories were almost closed and work was not happening so the first question was that you have your Employees who are your permanent Employees, of course, we didn't touch them then you also have your Employees who are on contract and you have not much I would say in terms of your obligation that your direct Employees rather than indirect terms treat our indirect Employees.

Also, as our direct Employees so we did not ask any of our indirect Employee also to go but voluntarily a lot of people went away so we managed that part by paying them salaries. We said, you stay we will pay you salaries because we knew that the moment market opens up there will be demand and we need to produce at that time, so we need to have those people so we made arrangements as far as their health is concerned, hospital tie-ups are concerned all that we did. On the shop floor, we gave them confidence that the moment you come back we have all this arrangement done and in the event of any health issue happening that time so we have tie up with hospital and in some of the our factories where we had the resources to even arrange, create temporary hospital beds, we did that as well.

So we passed that period but the moment it opened up there was a huge demand in the market so some of the organized players were not able to react the way we reacted so the demand of unorganized sector also came to the organized sector and we were flushed with orders. The moment it started sometime in May and June and we needed to produce at much higher rate as we were producing earlier. Since our capacities were available so from the same assets we produced almost double of what we were normally doing and these people our Employees who stayed back with us and they worked all their heart and we were able to even ramp up our production to that extent.

So we managed it very well and incidentally the last 10 months of the year we did almost 12 months of work and we grew on our base last financial year 2021 by more than 10 percent and also improved our profitability.

AITD: Just a question arose in my mind while we were discussing our channel partners and did you try to probe the digital market online selling, online sales and what was your experience of going digital sales if you have done it?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: Last year online sales, e-commerce sales, really zoomed, so, we realized in the month of April itself we realized that staying basically at home, there will be a lot of stuff that they would be needing because kitchens were being operated full time by people who are sitting at home. So, there are some kitchen appliances for which we have a division which is small domestic appliances division, then personal grooming is another product category that Havells is into and that product category also products would be needed so what we did was that of course online sales were happening we created a platform which was online to offline so you book your material online and offline our channel partners will deliver not through the regular Amazon, Flipkart but own Havells delivery system.

So, we mapped each pin code to our channel partner and the moment that order was given, the channel partner will get an order linked to his pin code and he will deliver to the customer’s home. So, we created this platform, we engaged with the normal Amazon and Flipkart all our e-com partners and made sure that we had these supplies available and we ensured that we were able to improve our market share even in the online delivery platform.

AITD: This is one of the Innovations, I think, we can talk a little bit more but this is something Companies would need to look at seriously because online is a very good option in times like these and even if these are normal times online the people have now got so used to buying things online that this trend is likely to continue into the future so I think now all companies will have to look into this aspect besides the brick and mortar stores that everybody has. We have touched on the costs a little bit earlier in your introductory remarks but during the crisis, there has been a great impact on Manufacturing Companies like yours and many of them could experience losses. Here we feel that Companies that deployed sustainable cost reduction; some of them you have already mentioned will emerge strong and profitable.

So, how are you managing costs; you have told us a little bit and how different is it from wave one and how do you look at it going forward in case there is a wave three or in the next one or two years so this cost factor could you elaborate a little bit more?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: Cost consciousness, I think it’s not something that we do as a reaction to the environment, we do it on a sustainable basis and how we do it is we in the context of factory I'll tell you first. So, we look at all our fixed costs in terms of the capex etc. We do it very diligently. The variable cost be in terms of your manpower, be in terms of improving the efficiency on the shop floor or in terms of renegotiation, so all this is a regular exercise. But what we did last year was we created a cross-function team and we asked for plans from each and every factory and every month every factory was presenting it, what are their plans and what is the status as on date.

Apart from this we also looked at all our product designs and created the ideas around value engineering and how you can redesign your product and reduce cost without compromising on the quality and performance of the product. So, almost about 300 crores worth of ideas were generated last year and we achieved savings of 300 crores through those ideas last year. In spite of the raw material, there were ideas around renegotiation of raw material but in that context we failed because all your raw material commodities like plastic, copper, brass, steel everything is going up.

I mean to the extent of anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent; that increase is there in the last 12 months if I see. So if I remove that still we improved our bottom line by 300 crores only because of cost saving ideas that were implemented in the last wave. So, this year again that exercise has again been started so the idea generation is almost about 275 crores and still there is negotiation going on how to take that to 200 to 350. This is a regular exercise in the organisation and we do it quite well we mastered this and the whole organisation is involved in this. When I say that idea generation, so, idea generation is like there is a brainstorming with the entire team will sit and they will identify the ideas; the ideas that will get qualified and slowly they will move to a stage of implementation. So, implementation and accrual of the cost reduction; that is what is then monitored every month. So we have started again in the wave two also.

AITD: What kind of ideas and innovations in the last one year, besides cost reduction ideas, value engineering ideas? Can you give us a few examples of how ideas you could capture and then implement those ideas very quickly one or two examples?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: Sometimes, it would be, let's say, a change of material; using a particular material so if another material available substitute material which will have exactly same properties or function which is needed for that product so it could be one.

Second, could be, let's say, you are redesigning the product and reducing the cost and faster implementation is possible turnaround is possible and that should bee we do that.

Third, could be that, you do the re-routing of the complete assembly line and reduce the time taken to manufacture that product it could be that.

Fourth could be, looking at a product if it is a critical product, can I Manufacture it inside rather than taking from a Vendor. So it could be positive integration, as well, then how do you save it there? So, these are some of the ideas which were implemented. So, I won't go into detail but broadly that can be classified like this.

AITD: Now, I will just move on to a topic which is very current and that is the area of vaccination.

As you all know, it is very important for controlling the outbreak and so how are you handling vaccination of your Employees and now that these are becoming available so how have you been handling this aspect?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: Very interesting. How the myths about vaccination are created and how you have to break those myths is something that is very interesting what is happening today? When it all started let's say the first vaccination started somewhere in February end, March that was a time nobody realized that everyone will have to get vaccinated. So, what I would say is that organisations realised this early and in the month of March itself they said that everyone will get vaccinated and Company will bear cost though it was little at that time but still they said whatever the cost be, Company would bear the cost of vaccination, so you get vaccinated and there is an online tracker we have created on our Intranet you come and register there and you give your Certificate, put your Certificate there and you claim for reimbursement.

Slowly, it started that people, as they were getting vaccinated, we saw that it is increasing. Then we said the moment vaccine policy becomes a little liberal and the Corporates would be allowed to vaccinate; let's wait for that time so that time came and last month in our Head Office and in our branches, we tried to organise either in camps or tied up with hospitals where our employees can go and get vaccinated and obviously as I said Company is bearing the cost.

So, another important thing what we said was to all Employees that this is absolutely mandatory, if you say that I don't want to get vaccinated that's not a choice because we believe that if we are creating a workspace where people are coming and they can be a potential carrier so I don't want to sacrifice the health of other Employees who are there inside the Office. So, we said that if you are not vaccinated you cannot come to Office and neither you will be allowed to work from home so there is no compromise from there so you will be on leave and if your leave gets exhausted you will be without pay.

But you have to get vaccinated only then you can come. So, this is the policy we have adopted and we ensured that we are tracking how people are getting vaccinated; what is the number of people who have got first shot, number of people who have got two shots? So, I'm happy to say that more than 45 years age plus, 100 percent of our population in Office got vaccinated fully means both the vaccination shots. 18 to 45, almost 70 percent of our Employees have got the first shot and now we are ensuring that the balance 30 percent also get their first shot because if you have got COVID then once window period is there in which you cannot get the shot so these are in that category they've got some medical condition and their Doctor has prescribed that you wait till your condition improves so only those kind of people are exempted at this time. So, vaccination policy has been implemented with very strong rigour in the organisation.

AITD: We feel that over the years the role of Leadership has emerged as critical determinant of Employees’ experience at the workplace.

Which leadership styles are required to instil a sense of ownership and shared purpose among the Employees? Which are the most essential Leadership skills in the current scenario? What do you think the Leaders at Junior, Middle and Senior level what kind of changes they must kind of bring about in their leadership styles?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: I think leadership styles are essentially participative style of leadership which is something which you needed at this time. You have to be empathetic towards the situation and then take decisions. So, Havells has always been a Company where they believe that collective decision making is something which is working for the organisation and it has to continue. Collective decision making sometimes is very difficult to implement when you have to take consensus from a lot of people but we do it very beautifully in the organization so it's like a ‘Baithak’ kind of atmosphere where the entire leadership team sits and we've translated that into even MS Teams. So, let’s discuss on agenda points, arrive at a consensus and move on.

So, this Leadership style has translated even from our top management down even to the grassroots level at the organisation level and very frequently the team meets in huddles and the Leader ensures that the collective agenda is put forward and discussed and decisions taken and move on. Another thing, I think, from a Leadership point of view is execution so whatever kind of strategies we make in sitting inside your air conditioned Office but it has to be implemented on ground level, so, successful leadership I think is 90 percent about execution and 10 percent about strategizing.

So, a Leader who believes in execution and follows through till implementation is the one who would be most successful across times even in normal times or difficult times. So, a lot of people can say that he's a 24 degree temperature Leader and he's not 48 degree Leader; so when I say 24, 48 that's the rule based on temperature it's not 80-20 rule but 24-48 rule. So 24 degree temperature people who sit in air conditioned Offices design strategies etc. but 48 degree people are the ones who work on the ground; your supply chain people, field people, sales people, service field people. So, if the Leadership is 24 and 48, 90 percent 48 and only 10 percent 24 then that's a more successful Leadership.

AITD: Yes, we fully agree with you there and that’s the way we do things in the Army also. Because we always lead from the front and we are there with our men all the time so that we have the pulse of the situation we know all the time and we are aware of the situation at all times. I think that's the way and I think participative and that kind of leadership style is most appropriate at this juncture.

Will continue with this, one more question related to Employees and Employees engagement. Of course, there have been a lot of changes in the workplaces as a result of the Pandemic and there has been a lot of disruption of all sorts of shifts and timings and way of working.

What has been your experience with Employee engagement, engaged Employees are productive Employees and especially in a situation like Pandemic; it's very easy for an Employer to get disengaged because of personal problems or family problems so that is a very important area we feel? So what are your views on keeping Employees engaged and productive?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: It is a very relevant question when remotely people are working from home and you don't get feeling of professionally engaged with your Peers, Colleagues, Customers so that connect is not there and it's very easy to get lost in such an environment. So, Business being there or not being there but still when you are working from home even if Business revives then also talking to Customers, talking to your channel partner remotely it's very different and it's a different feel, it doesn't give you that kind of feeling, doesn't give you that kind of kick. So, it's important that every Employee, even at, let's say, frontline level you expect that your Managers and senior people are fully engaged and they know because they're the ones who are to drive, so, we are assuming that those people are all fully engaged no need to talk to them but yes the promoters definitely use them in some way or the other but the frontline team members they need to be engaged when I say engaged means he has to spend his time productively even sitting at home.

So, the basic rules they find was that you have to get ready in the morning, you have to come dressed sit in front of your laptop, start your laptop at the designated time nine o'clock. Your meeting calendar has to be there with respect to your internal meetings, your Customer meetings, your channel partner meetings; Customer means your direct Customers, institutional Customers and your channel partner. So, that meeting agenda has to be there and manager has to ensure that we have, let's say, our sales force confirmation and we record the visits of our Employees when they physically go, but even if you're making calls you please record it in the salesforce automation modules that there is a virtual visit that you've made what have you discussed there and what is the outcome of that.

In the morning, there is a huddle meeting by the Manager to the Employees and evening again there will be a huddle meeting and they will discuss the outcomes of the day, what he did during the day. So, this was largely done, let's say there may not be too many outcome this was largely done to keep the Employee engaged so that his mind is not distracted even if he missed a difficult situation at his home or there are issues with his extended family he's hearing ambulance noises throughout the day so he has to be engaged so that his mind is occupied and he is not distracted because of unnecessary issues which are happening. Of course, if he is personally affected so he was exempted and the support provided by the Manager and the support infrastructure that we created but then we ensured that every employee is engaged like this.

So, sometimes it happens that people who are self-motivated he says I don't want to be monitored, I will manage; so, they were slightly in a complaint mode that what is this that I have to be in the huddle in the morning and then in the evening I will manage my work but then I think slowly they also got to understand the issue why we are doing this. But we ensured that each and every Employee we know that what he is doing and how is he engaged in the organisation.

AITD: Fast moving electrical goods or FMCG; these are sectors which are highly competitive. There's a lot of competition and the Customer can turn away anytime, he wants to. So, Customers these days especially because of the Pandemic, you would realize their drivers for choosing product have become for example safety, hygiene, trust whether the brand they can trust that brand, these are changes which are slowly overcome in the last one year in the minds of the Customers. So, as the consumer focus is shifting that Customer loyalty which was there, may not be there anymore.

How can Companies quickly adapt to this changing market dynamics and what will define market Leadership as we move through this Pandemic and post-Pandemic stage? Could you share us with what you feel about Customer centricity competition and how do you go about it?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: In general, first I would say that Companies who listen to Customers who catch on the trends changing trends and Innovate and come out with products which are the need of the hour. Those are the ones who will remain in Business and continue to thrive and grow. So, it's important to listen to the subtle changes which are happening; these subtle changes in consumer behaviour which are happening so simple example I will give.

For example, today, let's say, you are in a situation where there is Pandemic around you and you don’t want to touch surfaces, you don't want to physically be around and operate, let's say, even your gadgets etc. or your switches inside your home so what can you do? So, can you operate your devices through voice, so Internet of Things (IoT) has been built in a lot of our product categories?

We also even looked at, let's say, switches is something which are installed at home, in commercial spaces, in hospitals, hotels and is being used by a lot of people who are coming from different places and the transmission of either bacteria or virus can happen through those touches. So, recently one Innovative thing we did was, in our two product categories, two ranges of switches, we said that we will create material which will not allow the virus and bacteria to grow. So, we found a compound which is a plant-based compound and we mixed in the plastic and the outcome was that the normal plastic that we were using we replaced it with this material and we got it tested in lab the virus was 92.5% finished in one minute.

Bacteria, with the prolonged exposure on that surface gets 99.9 percent eradicated in 24 hours. So, we immediately changed all the material in our switches to 100 percent this material and, of course, we said that we will not charge any extra money though there is an additional cost the organisation is bearing but we've introduced this virus safe technology recently that we have launched this is one such example that I’m giving.

But, apart from that, a lot of our products have become connected like fans, water heater, touch switches which can be operated through voice and through mobile app. So, this is some example of changes that we are bringing about seeing that consumers today are becoming more and more aware about health and hygiene and also improving their lifestyles so this is what we do. Apart from that, I would, just quickly say that every year we look at the top trends which are globally visible these could be through reports of Consultants like Big Four and we see that how we can incorporate those trends in our product roadmap and solution roadmap that we derive.

So, we are very conscious and Customer centricity is absolutely at the core, not just in designing our products for them but even our after-sales service. Once our product goes and gets installed, so how do you get feedback not just that there is a complaint but even otherwise also we go and take feedback from our consumers we often do surveys of our consumers even customer voice, how do you listen to so that you incorporate all the feedbacks in your product we do that very often? We have our in-house design studio where customers either physically can come in or we do surveys and take feedback and we design products in-house so the latest products of Havells which are coming to market majority of them are designed in-house and produced.

AITD: May I request you to tell us how do you look into the future, the next two three years and what kind of a Business environment do you see in India and abroad of course, you have plants all over the World and what should Companies do to future proof their Business as you look into the future so that they are not disrupted by such Pandemics in the future?

Mr. Vivek Yadav: I think if I just draw from whatever we discussed the major point community situation how nimble and agile is your organisation. These things are really important how quickly you can adapt to the market demand either when the demand is going how you can downsize your organisation, I'm not just simply saying that removing people but how you can downsize in terms of your cost and then the moment the demand comes back how quickly you can come back, how strong is your Supply Chain Infrastructure, right from your vendors, going up to supplying to your dealers so that agility in your Manufacturing and Supply Chain is very critical.

The other thing is reaching out your GTM your go to market is largely through let's say the channel partners or you're reaching Customers directly, how strong is that channel connect and how loyal is that channel partner to you? Of course, you have multi-brand channel partners today so any channel partner for his survival, he cannot just simply depend on one brand but then how can I extract maximum from his counter with respect to let's say he doesn't get there so we look at that one from channel connect apart from that what kind of product basket I can provide them.

Second, is the trust on the brand, if the trust on the brand is strong then the categories that you introduce, the products that you introduce the solutions that you give to your Customers the acceptability of those would be much-much higher. So, today Havells introduces a product in let's say ABC category and introduces vis-a-vis let's say another brand which is not so much trusted the success rate of the that product becoming successful and becoming a sizable Business in a very short period of time is much-much higher because Havells is trusted as a brand so that you invest in creating a brand, so it's not just about advertisement it's about the full 360 degree approach that you take in building a brand. I believe India is a strong Economy in terms of consumption, majority of the youth less than 35 years of age; majority of that is the population of the Country today, so, India is going towards becoming hugely a consumption Economy.

So I believe in that and I believe that India is going to thrive as far as products what Havells Manufactures. We also believe that the penetration of the products that we sell in every household will take an example as a refrigerator in every house doesn't have a refrigerator, you take ACs every house doesn't have an AC so there are a lot of product categories where the penetration is very low. So, we see that the potential for Growth in the Country is huge and the population dividend is itself a positive for a Company like Havells.

As we move forward, connected products will play a huge role so every product category that we introduce have to have connected portfolio and we are moving that down that line so be it your consumer appliances, be it your lighting, be it your switch, switch gear, either domestic or industrial switch gear, everything has to get connected ultimately, so that homes of future are communicable, are responsive to your needs. So, we are building that portfolio as well and e-commerce is another side which is building up very strongly so we are working on this particular channel which we believe that give you about 100 billion US dollar in the next four years. We want to take the maximum pie out of it.

So, in India, the opportunities are tremendous if you look at the pessimism and negative side you will go down if you look at opportunity, sky is the limit for Growth.

AITD: I'm sure, we are with you and what you're what you're looking at you say we are really with you and India has proved it, the way we have recovered of course again we went down, again we have recovered the V-shaped recovery has been tremendous and in spite of the hardships in the second wave people were resilient. So to that extent, we must appreciate the way India has handled its affairs.

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