Forbes India – War For Talent Has Never Been So Fierce Before: Varun Berry

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Varun Berry, MD (right) and Ritesh Rana, head of human resources
Image: Nishant Ratnakar for Forbes India

If 2020 was all about navigating the new normal, battling global inflationary pressures and the ravaging second wave, and continuing to grow its market share were Britannia Industries’ focus in 2021. “People and their safety need to be at the core of whatever we do,” says Varun Berry, managing director, Britannia Industries.

Reacting to the second wave became crucial as 70 percent of its workforce is engaged in sales and manufacturing. “Britannia was one of the few FMCG companies that mandated its sales teams to work from home when the second wave created havoc… we believed it was the need of the hour and distribution focus was secondary,” says Ritesh Rana, head of human resources.

Managing talent has been a challenge for most industries. “The war for talent has never been experienced at such scale before, hence it is important to flex our differentiators which can only come by way of our culture and what we have to offer employees,” says Berry.

It plans to capitalise on its concept of empowered eco-space, where every individual feels like an owner, where talent is encouraged with larger end-to-end roles early in their careers and homegrown talent is honed for leadership positions, something called ‘Britannia for Britannians’. 

“The biggest factor for our success has been a homegrown team. It was tempting for me to get great managers I had worked with in the past. I would have got a running start to the business by doing this. I didn’t. Within the company we identified talent, brought them up from three levels below, trained them, and gave them a much larger responsibility,” explains Berry. “One factor for our success was having a well-oriented, coordinated team.”
 
One of the biggest pressure points for the largest biscuit maker in the country by value has been the global inflationary pressure, and it has been forced to pass on the cost to consumers. During its last quarter results, the manufacturer of biscuits like Good Day and Nutri Choice has indicated that commodities account for about 60 percent of its total cost. While it has been increasing prices to offset costs, it has managed to buck the trend among its peers and not seen a slowdown in sales in the rural region.  

“Britannia has used the pandemic to reinvent products, improve its processes and enhance employee wellness to emerge as a cheerful and positive employer brand, says Kamal Karanth, co-founder, Xpheno, a specialist staffing company.

The challenge now is to bring back resources to office. “Our work from home policy (which was in place before the pandemic) will continue to exist… we provide colleagues the flexibility to cater to their individual needs basis the discussion with their function heads on the work allocation,” says Rana.

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(This story appears in the 11 March, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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