While many companies and institutions are laying off employees, retail chain Big Bazaar is among the few institutions that have decided to not have any job cuts. This was confirmed by Big Bazaar, CEO, Sadashiv Nayak, who was speaking at a webinar on “The future of Retail after Covid-19” organised by The Free Press Journal-IIM Indore.
Supported by BIG FM and Moneylife, this webinar with Nayak is the fifth session in the ‘India After COVID-19’ series.
“We made an internal call that no staff will lose his or her job. So, we decided to give everyone whatever little we had,” said Nayak. The employee strength of this hypermarket is 30,000.
Adding to this, he said, “If consumption grows, we don't see jobs in the sector getting affected. We will not see a long-standing dent in employment in this sector.” However, due to this pandemic, if the consumption pattern in India takes a hit, businesses like Big Bazaar are more likely to feel the pinch.
He talks of how when the malls were shut down by the government, his company took to phone based-order taking and even home deliveries. It then took to online services as well. The show, according to him, has to go on. Customers must be catered to. If you don’t, you lose the customer, you lose business, and you lose the capability of retaining a very talented workforce as well. In all probability, Big Bazaar will continue its online presence and taking orders on phone even post-COVID-19. The market is growing, and we have to be present in every segment to meet customers’ expectations.
The company has been engaging with its employees from the beginning of the lockdown. “We communicated to the families of the 30,000 staff. We informed them about the safety measures taken by us to keep our staff members safe." The company allowed the employees to stay at home if they were not confident of coming out and working at their respective outlets. “On a daily basis, over 8,000 to 9,000 staff members have been coming to work (since the lockdown),” Nayak asserted. Most of the staff members are either opting for carpooling or taking public transport -- mostly buses as the services of the company fall under essential services. Praising the staff, Nayak stated, “Most of our staff come from humble backgrounds yet they came to work even though trains are not operational."
At such times, it is imperative to give both staff and customers a lot of assurance and give them hope through various forms of communication, said Nayak “I keep telling my team that we will survive this very well.”
At present, the chain has around 370 outlets including Fashion Big Bazaar across the country. Nayak is optimistic that this number will help the chain reach out to large numbers of customers who are availing their services online or by walking into a store.