Lessons In Human Capital Development From Retail With Amith Kumar Karmaker, Asst. Manager, HR & Admin, Bay Emporium Limited

Lessons In Human Capital Development From Retail With Amith Kumar Karmaker, Asst. Manager, HR & Admin, Bay Emporium Limited

Welcome to our new series The State of Human Capital Development in Bangladesh powered by Kormo, exploring the field of human resource across various industries. In this series, we’ll be exploring topics ranging from strategic approaches to HR to all the way to use of technology in recruitment and people operations.

We’ll be interviewing some of the country’s most respected HR thought leaders and learn about their vision, how they are addressing issues like skills gap in the market and much more. All the stories will be exclusively published in Future Startup and you can find them here.

In this insightful interview, Amith Kumar Karmaker, Asst. Manager, HR & Admin, Bay Emporium Limited, goes deep into human resources management practices and the state of human capital development in retail industry in Bangladesh in general and at Bay Emporium Limited, a leading footwear marketing company in Bangladesh, in particular.

We cover a wide range of topics from how Human Resources Management works at Bay Emporium Limited, how Bay Emporium invests in its people and has built a culture of excellence, how Bay Emporium finds, hires and retains the right people, the importance of employee engagement and how Bay ensures engagement and development of its people, the crux of the job of an HR professional, the importance of investing in human capital development for an organization, the state of skills gap and the most in-demand skills in the market, how Bay Emporium uses technology to manage complex and demanding retain recruitment process, and much more.

Future Startup

Could you please tell us about yourself, your background and your work at Bay Emporium? How long have you been working at Bay Emporium as well as how big your HR team?

Amith Kumar Karmaker

By training, I’m a student of business. I studied HR at Independent University Bangladesh (IUB) – did both my BBA and MBA with a major in HR from there. After graduation, I began my professional life working at Pou Hung Industrial Limited in their HR Department in 2010. Pou Hung is a concern of Taiwan-based Pou Chen Corporation, which is considered as one of the largest shoe manufacturers in the world. It was an education of a lifetime.

Afterward, I worked at A K Khan & Company Ltd and then INBOX (Pvt.) Ltd. before joining Bay Emporium Limited. I joined Bay Emporium in 2016. It has been now over three and a half years that I’m working here. I have almost 10 years of working experience in core HR in aggregate and been operated in diverse roles with HR functions in a broad range of industries.

At Bay, I lead a team of 9 people, including Admin Staff. We look after all the Human Resources Management and Administrative tasks both in Corporate Office and Retail Stores.

Most of our work is related to human resource planning, recruitment, HR transformation, performance management, training, learning and development, and employee engagement and assistance. Most of our employee training takes place in-house. We have an excellent training facility here.

We also look after the succession planning, career planning of our people, reward and incentive system, employee relations, the relationship between our retail operations and corporate office, health and safety issues, personal well-being of the employees, etc.

We’ve created a feedback loop in the system that allows us to observe our performance regularly. We then design interventions to improve based on the feedback.

Future Startup

As a leader of HR & Admin team, what are the things that you look after daily? What does your daily or weekly priority list look like as well as how do you approach your work?

Amith

Retail is a demanding operation. There is a daily demand attached to it. It reflects on our HR works as well.

We prepare and update employment records related to hiring, transferring, promotion and termination daily and weekly. Ensure that the new hire paperwork is completed and processed. Develop and Review HR or other Policies or SOP as per requirement. Prepare and review JDs. Maintain proper approval through the chart of authority. At the same time, introducing new policies and SOPs is not easy. We put in an equal amount of work in devising strategies to inspire adaptation of the new process.

We regularly hire people for both our retail and other operations. Overseeing the hiring process, which includes coordinating job posts, reviewing resumes and performing reference checks, is a daily thing. We routinely conduct safety inspections, and resolve grievances,

We also allocated a fair amount of time in learning and development of our people – arranging training and learning sessions for the sales force and corporate officials, administering on-the-job training programs and evaluating, performing job analysis and evaluation.

Future Startup

That’s a pretty long day and week, what are the three most important things that you do on a daily or weekly basis?

Amith

The three most important tasks we perform are hiring the right talents, learning, and development of our people and employee engagement.

Future Startup

How do you approach these three jobs in practice i.e. hiring, development, and engagement? How do you improve on these areas regularly i.e. how do you improve your recruitment efforts or learning and development efforts?

Amith

We’ve created a feedback loop in the system that allows us to observe our performance regularly. We then design interventions to improve based on the feedback.

We have found that getting feedback and then acting on that feedback where appropriate is the best approach to improving anything. Be it performance or a system.

An orientation of service, particularly serving customers. In retail, we are in the business of customer service. Someone who has some understanding about customer service and who are inclined to serve in general makes a great candidate.

Amit Kumar Karmaker

Amit Kumar Karmaker at Bay Emporium Corporate HQ

Future Startup

What do you do about learning and employee engagement?

Amith

Business is an ever-changing world. Consequently, the demand for skills changes daily. We identify these changes and related skill gaps in the process and develop programs to up-skill our people accordingly.

In simple, we identify the skill gaps, prepare the training modules, ensure that everyone who needs certain training gets them. Employees provide feedback after each training that helps to understand the effectiveness of various training.

Employee engagement is something that we take seriously. Engagement helps to boost workplace bonding. It helps improve efficiency, profitability, and collaboration. Employee engagement is directly linked to performance. We arrange training, business trip, group works/projects, sales conference, launch event, campaign, reunions etc to improve employee engagement. We encourage cross-department interaction and collaboration by bringing people together from different departments.

Future Startup

How do you approach your work? For example, I make a weekly to-do list, keep a diary, notebooks use a couple of to-do apps, etc. How do you operate?

Amith

Planning is often half the job. I take planning seriously and spend a fair bit of time planning my tasks and the day. I write down all my tasks in this diary (shows a diary), delegate tasks to subordinates when appropriate and review at the end of the day. A notebook is the most effective productivity tool. I set my working time frame with a deadline always.

I also use MS Excel. I’ve developed a custom excel sheet that helps me to review the progress of our work regularly. It gives me pop-ups for how much work is done or needed to be done daily or weekly basis.

Future Startup

You talked about skill gaps. For a blue-collar job say, shop manager, what are the skills that you look for in a candidate?

Amith

An orientation of service, particularly serving customers. In retail, we are in the business of customer service. Someone who has some understanding about customer service and who are inclined to serve in general makes a great candidate. Apart from that, we look for organization skills, communication skills, data analyzing capacity and leadership skills.

Future Startup

Being an HR professional, what are some professional challenges you face regularly?

Amith

The biggest challenge, for now, is to create a strong employer brand which helps to attract talents. Creating a talent pool and retaining them are also major challenges. Apart from that, finding the right candidates, salesforce training and development and quick decision making are some regular challenges that we face.

Future Startup

What are your thoughts on the importance of investing in developing human capital?

Amith

The most important part of investing in developing human capital is the return in workmanship. If people are well trained then they can give the best for the company. As well as developing human capital improves culture, productivity, communication, and employee satisfaction.

Future Startup

Could you tell us about the HR practices and values at Bay Emporium?

Amith

Over the years, we have been able to cultivate a high-performance culture designed to achieve service excellence through fostering the values of openness, honesty, tolerance, fairness, trust, and responsibility. We practice transparency in decision-making. Innovation, commitment, Integrity, enlightened Service, and employee satisfaction are some of our core values. Apart from that some of our operating principles are:

  • Globalization
  • Capability focused – what capabilities currently exist and what will be required in the future, how can capabilities be aligned with business strategies, how can HR practices be designed to create the needed capabilities.
  • Change, change, and change
  • Technology
  • Attracting, retaining and measuring competence and intellectual capital
  • Transformation
Amit Kumar Karmaker

Amit Kumar Karmaker speaking with the interviewer at Bay Emporium Corporate HQ

Future Startup

What are some challenges you see when it comes to investing in people and developing human capital?

Amith

There are instances where people are not keen to learn and adapt and transform themselves. To make changes happen, people need to be willing to learn and grow themselves. Sometimes, we don’t welcome changes. Mindset is a big challenge. The willingness of organizations to invest in their people is a challenge as well. Many organizations don’t want to invest in people. They rationalize it by saying that what if people leave after getting the training. This is a limiting mindset. Organizations should take investing in their people more seriously. It determines the performance of your organization.

Companies need to invest in developing human capital. At the same time, people should also have a learning mindset. Training and development facilities are critical. Similarly, the willingness to self-development of people is equally important for human capital development.

Over the years, we have been able to cultivate a high-performance culture designed to achieve service excellence through fostering the values of openness, honesty, tolerance, fairness, trust and responsibility.

Future Startup

How does your recruitment process work? What does the entire process look like?

Amith

First, the HR plan must be aligned with the long-term business plan. Then short-term business plan may bring changes in some cases but we always aspire to help in achieving the long term goals. We have an annual recruitment and manpower planning, which guides our recruitment throughout the year.

For hiring, we use a couple of tools and platforms. For the vacancy announcement, we post job ads on LinkedIn, Facebook, Kormo and occasionally in bdjobs. For blue-collars, we are depending on Kormo and other referral.

After the vacancy announcement, we receive the CVs, do the screening manually, we take written tests and viva of the shortlisted candidates. We also take problem-solving and aptitude test. After onboarding, we arrange an induction program for new candidates.

For managing recruitment, we use platforms like Kormo. Kormo has been a great help for us in terms of hiring for blue color jobs. It has developed a screening tool which reduces our effort in screening. Then again, we do most of our screening manually because it allows us to better understand a candidate.

Future Startup

How do you decide who are the best candidates for the positions?

Amith

Those who meet the job requirements and have the potential to take the challenges are considered as suitable. We look for communication and computer skills, office management, presentation skills, analytical ability, and work experience.

We try to find people who are dedicated and passionate about the job they are applying for. We try to understand a candidate through behavioral and aptitude tests and screening previous job records.

Future Startup

What are some major skills gap that you see in the market these days?

Amith

There are two aspects to this question. First, mindset and attitude where you maintain a positive attitude and a growth mindset and apply yourself to better your condition. These are critical skills to do well not only at work but also in life. Many young people lack the ability and willingness to take ownership, initiative and go outside of their comfort zone.

Then there are skills both hard and soft skills. Nowadays we see the skills gap in terms of communication, leadership, and teamwork. People sometimes don’t take ownership of their job.

Future Startup

What are some of the most in-demand skills in the job market?

Amith

In general, communication, tech skills, presentation skills, and analytical ability are important for a beginner. The other on-job skills can be developed later on through training.

Future Startup

What are the technologies that you use for HR management?

Amith

We use Odoo-based HR software. For the vacancy announcement, we use platforms like Kormo, Bdjobs, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Future Startup

What advice would you give to companies and HR professionals looking to invest in human capital development?

Amith

Understand your people. Once you understand your people, it gets easier to deal with them. When you understand what motivates your people, it is easier to devise strategy and interventions to motivate them. That’s one.

Build a great working environment for your people. Set a high standard for everything that you do. Be the trendsetter.

Engage your people. Participatory management is often the best approach in the right environment. You should allow your people to share their opinions, take their views seriously and incorporate them into making decisions.

Invest in developing your people. It can take many forms – employee engagement, business trip, vacation, training development programs, etc. If you cannot provide long-term career benefit to your employees, it is tough to attract and retain employees. However, be consistent and don’t risk business sustainability.

Money motivates people but until a certain level. Beyond that more money does not add any incremental satisfaction. Often job satisfaction comes from solving a complex problem. Give your people challenges at work. Give them a tough problem to solve. It increases job satisfaction.

 

This interview is brought to you by Kormo – a job matching and career development app that connects job seekers to businesses that are looking to hire. For job seekers, joining the Kormo community gives them access to relevant job openings and information and tools to help them grow their careers. These include the Kormo CV that allows job seekers to create and maintain a digital CV and the Learn Tab, which consists of tons of targeted educational content. For employers, Kormo makes hiring the right candidates easy and effortless through a combination of automated screening, matching and more. You can learn more about Kormo here.

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