October 2009 | Cynthia Rodrigues

Putting people first

A host of skill and talent development programmes along with processes that encourage and nurture employee involvement is what makes Titan Industries a great place to work

Titan Industries is not a brick and mortar company. It is built on the passion and emotion of its proud employees. Titan can be best described as a huge living organism pulsating with highly motivated and dedicated employees. Every employee is treated with care and concern and is allowed to grow and blossom. No wonder then that the company has won the ‘India’s Best Companies to Work For - 2009’ award, having bagged the 24th position across all industry categories and the first position in the Retail Industry category in the 'Great Places to Work' study instituted by The Economic Times.

Titan bags Great Place to Work award
The company has been recognised for many “firsts” both in terms of its products as well as employee initiatives. Some of the noteworthy contributions are a state-of-the-art Titan township in Hosur, designed by renowned architect Charles Correa. Over 600 families reside in this well-planned township. It also boasts of the Titan School, which is open to all the residents’ children.

S Ramadoss, vice president, HR and Administration, says, “Titan has always believed in the concept of Human Capital. Putting people first comes naturally to us.”

The company provides a host of welfare measures such as a crèche facility at the manufacturing units, gymnasium, canteen, medical, transport, etc. Loans for marriage, house deposit allowances, an interest subsidy on housing loans, vehicle loans, internal and external accident benefits, death relief fund, etc are offered to unionised and non-unionised employees.

A culture of camaraderie is evident in the enthusiastic celebration of all Indian festivals and special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, long service awards, cultural programmes, sports competitions, business meets, etc. The company also extends medical facilities and provides highly subsidised food to workers who are not on its rolls, an act of kindness that goes beyond statutory requirements.

Family members are also made to feel welcome at Titan by including them in awareness programmes, factory visits, family picnics, celebrations such as Father’s Day, Spouse’s Day, Children’s Day and community initiatives. Mr Ramadoss says, “More than 1,000 children participate in the Children’s Day programme each year to display their talent in drawing, painting, music, etc.”

These occasions are used by the management to communicate the goals and aspirations of the organisation. Company representatives also visit newlyweds at their residence to congratulate them and give them gifts, a practice that has helped cement ties between the organisation and employees and their families.

But it isn’t all play at Titan. The company has established a structure consisting of small group activities, suggestion schemes such as SEED and Idea Plus, and cross-functional teams to enable employees to express their ideas for making things better. This enables employees to play a more active role in their work lives. Employees are recognised and rewarded for going the extra mile through a well drawn out three-tiered recognition programme, namely, Moment of Fame, Outstanding Titanian, and Dream Team awards. Titan has also instituted a special recognition programme for frontline employees, namely, ‘Face of Titan’, ‘Super Stars’ and ‘Look for Stars’.

Apart from this,
the company has formed several committees through which employees can express their talents. These committees are related to the canteen, safety, sports, cultural activities, etc. While the sports committee enables sportspersons to participate in local, regional and national events, the cultural committee hones employees' talent and encourages them to perform at special events within and outside the company. Employees with a flair for writing are encouraged to contribute to in-house newsletters such as NEWS BOX, Glitter Buzz, Retale, Champions.

The company also has a strong culture of volunteering. Over 300 volunteers participate in blood donation camps, eye camps, AIDS and environmental awareness, and other community initiatives. The efforts of volunteers are actively supported by the management too.

Titan’s HR structure is designed so as to understand and cater to the needs of employees at every level. At the local level, there are regional HR executives and Unit Personnel Executives (UPE). The UPEs are entrusted with the task of taking care of specific units within the company and acting as a single point of contact for employees. Mr Ramadoss adds, “The UPEs communicate with employees, enable deployment of welfare measures and larger HR initiatives, resolve grievances and counsel employees.”

The UPE system, which is well entrenched within the organisation, combines with the biannual open house interactions to instill confidence in employees that their opinions and views are important to the company. The open house interactions are typically presided over by the MD and heads of key functions.

Employees are free to directly communicate with the MD via email or phone. They can also approach other managers to discuss official and personal issues.

Mr Ramadoss says, “Titan has a formal documented grievance redressal procedure. Often the management forms committees which specifically focus on understanding and resolving employee grievances. U.speak@titan.co.in is another formal e-channel, which encourages employees to express their concerns and complaints in a non-invasive manner. These are centrally monitored by HR. There are other formal structures that deal strongly with issues such as ethical conduct, sexual harassment, etc.” In addition, the presence of a formal union, with designated office bearers and executive members representing various units, ensures that employee needs are catered to.

The growth and development of its people is very important to Titan. “We have a formal structure to impart knowledge and skills through in-house as well as external training programmes," says Mr Ramadoss. "All categories of employees go through an average of two to five man days of training each year.”

There is a structured Talent Management process in place at Titan, which is meant for grooming future leaders in the organisation. The programme ensures that the organisation has a continuous supply of high-potential individuals. The focus is to recognise high performance, address the aspirations of the talent and provide opportunities for career growth, which will help them take leadership roles.

Training programs on stress management and Yoga
Training is also provided on stress management and yoga, personality development and grooming, English and Hindi speaking, etc. Additionally, Titan encourages its employees to participate in public events, seminars and competitions by providing additional training and mentoring. The company also encourages employees to take up higher studies.

The Tata philosophy is quite evident in Titan’s approach towards its employees. Titanians, in turn, have acknowledged the approach by naming it ‘a great workplace’.