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Mumbai, September 25, 2021: The Manning Modern Retail (MMR) 2021 by Retailers Association of India (RAI) was hosted in its digital avatar on 22 & 23 September 2021. The 15th edition of the conclave brought together CEOs, CPOs/CHROs, academia and thought leaders from the retail industry to discuss their ideas, opinion and experiences on the theme ‘Reset 2.0: Emergence of Holistic HR-Innovate, Transform, Optimise’, and arrive on the holistic way forward for businesses on where to innovate, what to transform and how to optimise to get there.

Retail is the country’s biggest employer after agriculture. Being a service-driven industry, people are its biggest asset. RAI member establishments, which include large and small establishments, provide direct and Indirect employment to 46 million Indians. MMR is where retail leaders deliberate on macro-level people strategies. The pandemic has led to fundamental shifts in human and organisation behaviour, compelling us to change everything—the way we lived, the way we interacted, communicated and did business. Businesses not only had to adapt their working style but in many cases their core business models as well. Some even had to invent new models because survival is great motivator to innovation.

 Speaking about the emerging trends in the retail industry that are creating a new roadmap for HR requirements, Kumar Rajagopalan, Chief Executive Officer, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said, “The pandemic has led to newer trends in how retail businesses need to be conducted, thereby setting a fresh roadmap for the HRs to be able to meet the new set of resource requirements for the evolving business needs of today and be future ready. Some new trends that have emerged demanding upgradation of employee skillsets include the expanding omnichannel environment, competition from outside the retail industry penetrating into retail’s share of consumer wallet, changing definition of high-performance individuals, digital adaption requirements, the need for businesses to become agile to keep pace with the changing environment.

Bijou Kurien, Chairman, Retailers Association (RAI), expressed  “HR professionals have been able to reorient employees to quickly adjust to the demands of remote working while maintaining productivity”, Maintaining employee engagement and wellbeing  was the emphasis during later phase of the pandemic, “but as markets and offices open up, organisations  will need to transform, and HR professionals have to learn new skill sets and develop capabilities to drive this transformation” Bijou Kurien further added.

 The highlights of the first day was the Keynote Address by Krish Shankar, Global Head HR, Infosys. During his session, he emphasized on the changing role of the HR function as organisations have started thinking about roadmaps for change in the view of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

“HR professionals need to now start thinking about where to innovate, where to transform and where to optimize, and take a lead to support the transition. The key areas to look at will define the workforce, as well as the organization of tomorrow. These include: redefining employee experience in the digital and hybrid world – how will the HR function work using technology; future wellbeing – physical and mental in the hybrid world; skills for future leaders – becoming empathetic, collaborative, agile learners, and learn to spot patterns of change; and changing the culture – starting with leaders, articulating the right culture that is inclusive and open to change and conducive to learning,” said, Krish Shankar, Global Head HR, Infosys.

 Another key session during the summit was the special address by Dr. Harish Shetty, an eminent Psychiatrist, Community Mental Health, on Emotions & Efficiency: Mental health at Work Place. In his address he said, “It is important that the HR managers teach cognitive self-talk to all their employees as the ongoing pandemic that has been around for almost two years is likely to have higher consequence on mental health of individuals due to the high number of fatalities, the uncertainty, invisibility of the virus, and covid terrorism. To prevent employees from getting into depression, HR managers need to guide them on managing stress by dealing with the circumstances seeking practical solutions, dissolving through exercising, deflecting, distracting and disintegrating. All organisations need to have an inclusive mental health policy.”

 The conclave progressed into a power-packed panel discussion on ‘Emerging New Business Models’, ‘Performance Management in the New Normal’, ‘Evolving Role of HR In 2021’, and ‘Workforce Planning In Future’, ‘Wage Bill Optimization’ among others.

 The dynamic array of speakers included stalwarts such as BS Nagesh, Founder – TRRAIN & Chairman – Shoppers Stop, and James A. Raphael Executive Head – RASCI & Joint Central Apprenticeship Adviser – Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (GOI), B. Venkataramana, Former Group President -HR, Landmark Group India, among others.

 Retail Business Heads speaking the at conclave included leaders such as Vishak Kumar, CEO-Madura Fashion & Lifestyle and Whole-time Director ABFRL, Dhruv Bogra, Country Manager, Forever New India and South East Asia, Devarajan Iyer, CEO, Lifestyle Department Stores, Gunjan Shah, CEO, Bata India, Mohit Khattar, Director & CEO, Graviss Foods, Manish Sabnis, Chief Business Officer, Jiomart B2B Grocery – Reliance Retail, among others.

 CHROs sharing their learnings and insights at MMR 2021 included, Chandrashekhar Chavan, CHRO, Aditya Birla Fashion Retail, Venkatesh Raja, CHRO, Shoppers Stop, Diya Suri, Former Director – People Resources, Hardcastle Restaurants, Adhir Mane, CHRO – Lifestyle Business, Raymond, Parineeta Cecil Lakra, Country People & Culture Manager, IKEA India, Sandeep Sengupta, Head HR, Pantaloons, Aditya Birla Group, Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Chauhan, Director – Human Resources, Pepe Jeans India, Nabamita Banerjee, Head Partner (HR), Tata Starbucks, Sutanu Chowdhury, Chief Human Resources Officer, Spencer’s Retail, R. Rajnarayan, Retired as Executive Vice President & CHRO, Titan Company.

 The conclave concluded with the 5th edition of the Retail HR Awards, recognising the Best Employee Engagement Practice (Organization Level) and Emerging Young Leader in HR (Individual Level)

 A) Best Employee Engagement Practice (Organisation Level)

Winner: Reliance Retail – Fashion & Lifestyle Business (AJIO)

1st Runner up: Kaya Ltd.

2nd Runner up (tie): Puma Sports India Pvt. Ltd. & Titan Company Ltd.

 B) Emerging Young Leader in HR (Individual Level)

Winner: Ankita Sinha, United Colors of Benetton, India

1st Runner up: Shraddha S Bhosle, Skechers South Asia Pvt. Ltd.

2nd Runner up: Anthony Francis, Reliance Retail Ltd.

 Manning Modern Retail (MMR), Retail HR Conclave is focused on developing ideas and resource capabilities to understand the retail industry’s most pressing issues around people practices. Over the years, this conclave has become an essential annual gathering for the retail HR fraternity to explore, engage and exchange ideas on moving towards sustainable growth.

 About RAI

Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of retailers in India. A not for profit organisation, RAI works with all stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of modern retail industry in India. We encourage, develop, facilitate and support retailers to modernise and adopt best practices that will delight customers. www.rai.net.in

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