Industry to face 'new normal' once Covid-19 crisis ends: Suresh Narayanan

The firm, which usually recruits from campuses post-May, is yet to take call on new hires
The ongoing crisis due to the Covid-19 outbreak will change the business environment altogether. Once the crisis gets over, the industry is set to face a ‘new normal’, said Suresh Narayanan, chairman and managing director, Nestle India.

Apart from adapting to changes like remote workplaces and stricter hygiene measures at manufacturing units, the crisis may alter the way brands communicate with their consumers, forever. 

“In terms of brand campaigns alone, advertising which reflected an ‘out of home’ experience, may pave the way for more ‘in home consumption moments’.  Ways of working are also expected to evolve, as the long lockdown periods have dispelled many of the notions associated with effectiveness issues while working from home”, he said.

Nestle India, a part of the bunch of manufacturers that are allowed to operate during the lockdown, is taking measures to keep its workforce on the ground safe and motivated. The firm is preparing to roll out a protection cover for the front-line sales personnel, who work for its distribution partners and are not covered by Employees’ State Insurance programme. It has planned a Covid-19 insurance protection for a period of three months for them. Further, to keep them motivated, the company has paid 100 per cent of their sales incentive for March.

“In our factories we have taken, strict social distancing measures and other precautionary measures to ensure the health and well-being of our people. We have rolled out, across all operating factories, a programme that will reward each operator for working during the stipulated period”, said Narayanan.

With a majority of its work force operating from home, technology has already played a crucial role in keeping day-to-day activities going, however, not without its share of challenges. “We had to embrace new and very different ways of working in terms of ‘work from home’ and been subject to stresses, fears and anxieties experienced never before. We have rolled out numerous virtual engagement programmes, training programmes, mental health initiatives, ‘check-in’ programmes with youngsters, who live alone or far from home, and free advisory calls with accredited doctors in India and overseas”, he said.

The firm, which usually recruits from campuses post-May, is yet to take call on new hires. It is already running a virtual join in programme for summer interns from April 1.

Narayanan, however, did not comment on a potential retrenchment of workforce or possible cuts in pay. Nestle India, which employs close to 7,000 people directly, has so far performed well in the stock market. Despite loss of sales due to the country-wide lockdown, its stock at the Bombay Stock Exchange has surged over 30 per cent since the lockdown began, compared to the 25 per cent gain registered by the broader FMCG index.

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