Vithal Acharya, Head – Human Resources of Greaves Electric Mobility says building capabilities and making employees future-ready is pivotal. The primary challenge is finding talent with the right skill sets, aptitude and growth mindset, having the potential to fit in seamlessly in the organisation.
What are the key general skills that you look to hire for freshers?
At Greaves Electric Mobility, we prioritise hiring employees whose ideologies are in alignment with Greaves’ mission of transforming the EV ecosystem and enhancing the last-mile mobility experience of our customers. Frugal Innovation is one of the key fundamental principles in our company, and we always look for aspirants with a curiosity and learning mindset, problem-solving ability, creativity, analytical skills, ability to navigate complex situations, ability to learn and adapt, and a strong foundation in product design & development.
What skills and qualities do you look for in employees on the shop floor?
The shop floor is a critical area of value creation for manufacturing companies. It is important to have a sound technical background, a strong grasp of production processes & procedures, quality systems & processes, team management & interpersonal skills, ability to mobilise and direct the workforce effectively, adherence to safety protocols, communication skills to flag off operational issues and close loopholes, capacity to troubleshoot problems, and optimise workflow & productivity.
When hiring new talent, which are the various streams of education/qualification that can apply to your company?
When it comes to core automotive expertise, we prefer candidates with Bachelors in relevant engineering disciplines (such as Mechanical, Automobile engineering, E&E, Embedded System) with a special focus on Electric Vehicle Manufacturing and Design. For the advanced engineering teams, we also look for engineers with specialized master’s or PhD qualifications in relevant disciplines. With a significant focus on software and digital, we look for talent in disciplines such as embedded software, communication technologies, product management, data sciences, application software development, cloud infrastructure management, security and software process areas.
What are you doing to attract, train and retain young professionals?
Building capabilities and making employees future-ready is pivotal to the success of any organization. At Greaves, we focus on attracting, retaining, and developing the right talent to meet the current and future business needs of the company. Over the years, we have successfully built an organizational environment that promotes fairness, transparency, mutual respect, and alignment of goals & aspirations of the employees, and the company.
Some of areas that we have embarked upon are 1) Built relationships with some key engineering campuses for a continuous exchange of industry problems being solved by students, steady stream of interns and final placements (around 20% of our engineering workforce is through campus hiring, 2) Integrated technology organisation across the different platforms of vehicles we develop. This helps in leveraging scale and building specific centers of expertise around critical EV technologies such as battery, motors, and other systems. 3) Establish an integrated testing and engineering facility at Bangalore to provide a wholistic learning environment, skill building and shorter learning cycle.
Are there any additional training programs or courses that you have incorporated to upskill your existing workforce?
As we keep scaling our presence in the electric mobility vertical, we have introduced a wide repertoire of programs to upskill our employees and make them future-ready. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy here, as each program is tailor-made for its respective functions and job responsibilities. Whether it’s for employees working on the shop floor, R&D center, or design and engineering, the upskilling programs have been crafted and customized to nurture their core competencies in their respective areas.
Our flagship reskilling project, called DEEP (Development, Education, Empowerment & Progress), provides extensive theoretical and practical training to underprivileged students, and equips them for the manufacturing industry. Under the Prime Meet initiative, we empower mechanics with re-skilling and training workshops. These one-day workshops are conducted by industry experts at different locations across the country. The Greaves Scholarship Program (GSP) is an initiative to further the cause of education by financing students’ education.
What are the challenges you face when hiring new talent?
The EV sector has also become one of the most competitive industries, because of which talented candidates are often in great demand, but in short supply. Another primary challenge that we face is to find talent with the right skill sets, aptitude, and growth mindset, having the potential to fit in seamlessly and organically in the organization and adapt to its dynamic environments.
At Greaves, we always have a ‘People-First’ policy, putting the growth and development of our employees at the core of our growth. As a result, we have always been able to attract an able and talented workforce, who complement Greaves’ vision to bring affordable, last-mile mobility to every EV aspirant in India.
Do you think there is a gap between academia and industry? How can this be bridged?
In a recent announcement by NITI Aayog, India aims to achieve 80% EV penetration in two-and-three-wheeler segments by 2030. Considering that electric two-and-three wheelers are expected to occupy the lion’s share of the market, the need of the hour is to build a highly skilled and efficient workforce to fructify this into reality. One of the way forward is to create specialised, rigorous training curriculum with practical applications on vehicle design, battery management, software & hardware development, and so on.
The path to upskilling the workforce in electric vehicles can also be accelerated through partnerships between organizations and academic institutions, that creates specialised courses that will shorten learning time, bridge skill gap, and importantly make this accessible to a large section of the young and aspiring workforce.
How do you ensure to retain your hardworking employees? Are fiscal incentives the only way to motivate employees?
During the pandemic, we prioritized the safety of our workforce, deployed work-from-home, extended mental health support, encouraged online learning, and motivated employees to look after their holistic well-being. As an employee-centric organisation, we believe in building a culture that embodies the values of transparency, integrity, responsibility, passion for excellence, and respect towards all our stakeholders, including our workforce.
To build a personal connection with employees, we regularly conduct monthly catch-up sessions with the senior management and share insights into the business growth and developments in the pipeline. Motivating employees through fiscal incentives will only reap rewards in the short-term and does not naturally instill a sense of loyalty that endures through the years. Finally having products on the field, continuous feedback from customers and network partners, make the entire effort meaningful.
What are the policies laid down to ensure work-life balance for your employees?
One of the priorities at Greaves Electric Mobility is to provide a work environment that is flexible and supportive enough. We encourage employees to focus on productivity and have instituted flexible working hours to make sure that they can perform optimally, without getting bogged down by too much workload.
Some of the design elements to address work-life balance: 1) Building discipline-specific teams or pods to nurture specialization and address scale (we have over 25+ unique discipline teams at different stages of buildup), 2) Adequate supervision and leadership layer, organization structure and continuously enhanced work processes, including digitization to make workflow seamless, 3) Partnership for talent through our extended ecosystem of partners (internal such as, Greaves Technology Limited, to other leading partners) to manage changes in workload and 4) Flexible work policies on work timings and number of hours logged in during a week.
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