Reliance Retail adopts unique traditional welcome for new employees at its grocery stores



Bhubaneswar: Reliance Retail, which is on an expansion spree, has adopted community-based HR tools to onboard new employees at its grocery stores.


The development comes at a time when India’s largest retailer is in talks to absorb employees of German retailer Metro’s wholesale India business and has offered jobs to more than 30,000 Future Group employees.


Internally called the “karta ceremony”, the traditional ritual that draws its origin from the country’s diverse communities is being used to welcome hundreds of executives that are taking charge of new grocery stores that Reliance Retail is opening at a breakneck speed across the country.


When contacted, GR Venkatesh, CHRO at Reliance Retail, said, ““Karta” is a special ceremony that is deeply rooted in Indian culture and ethos where the leader is regarded as the head of the family. Once that happens, he or she does not take her responsibility as just part of the job. The leader starts treating his staff as members of his family. This keeps the staff in the store happy and results in happy customers.”


Before joining a store, the executive is blindfolded and placed on a throne in front of all store employees, vendors and relatives. Amidst much fanfare that lasts hours, the store plans and keys are handed over to him or her. The ceremony mirrors the tradition and culture of the area the store is located in. If, for instance, it’s Odisha, then the local customs are followed.


Designed to be a transformational moment for new employees at Reliance Retail, the ceremony helps the person ease into the new culture quickly, said a senior executive familiar with the development. “Karta” in Hindi means a person in charge of a joint family, he said.


The development comes against the backdrop of India’s largest retailer offering jobs to more than 30,000 Future Group employees during the lengthy legal battle between US e-tailer Amazon and a cash-strapped Future Group. It is being seen as strategic, as these new hands are being absorbed in hundreds of grocery stores that are being rapidly launched across the country.


“Retail is globally one of the most manpower intensive sectors. In that regard, we take pride in the fact that the aspirations of our huge workforce numbering in lakhs, drives our HR policy,” said GR Venkatesh.


“The policy takes three factors into consideration: how do we keep the workforce happy from the point of view of materialistic comfort to augment their standard of living including perks and incentives. Second, to give them challenging roles and opportunities to become better professionals and discover their own potential. And third, to build a culture that fosters respect, affection and basic human regard for their peers and fellow Indians,” he added.


In February, Future Group employees joined Reliance Retail after Amazon scuttled the Rs 24,700-crore Reliance-Future deal leading to the latter staring at bankruptcy proceedings. In addition, the retail arm of the energy-to-telecom conglomerate is acquiring German retailer Metro’s local operations that may lead to it absorbing 3,500 more employees in the grocery space. Reliance Retail currently has a workforce with a headcount of around 4.2 lakh.


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