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Companies promote musical talent at workplace

L&T, McDonald's and Godrej Industries are some of the companies engaging their employees in these kind of initiatives

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Seventy five people have signed up for the competition and are ready to perform before the judges. It includes both men and women who may or may not be trained in music, but have one thing in common: a love for music. No, this is not an audition round for a reality television show, but this is an in-house competition at L&T.

Recently, L&T hosted its first edition of Voice of L&T competition. Not just their employees, but some members of their family also signed up for the event. Companies in India Inc are taking a keen interest in promoting the musical talent at workplace. Apart from L&T, McDonald's and also have similar initiatives for engaging their employees.

Yogi Shriram Senior Vice President Corporate Human Resources, L&T said that they had worked out this arrangement with the Shankar Mahadevan Academy (SMA) for offering on line coaching facilities and lessons for interested employees in September 2011. "We had decided at that time to announce a competition two years later when L&T-ites who had enrolled themselves with the SMA would be trained and feel more prepared to compete in the competition. Now, this competition is planned to be held once every 2 years," said Shriram.

This year, L&T had two rounds initially and after the eliminations, the number of participants reduced to the best twelve. The feedback of the participants has been very encouraging. There is a lot of excitement and blissful engagement. Music is turning out to be a wonderful currency for togetherness and in reinforcing further a great work culture that the Company enjoys. Such participative music cuts across hierarchies and is enjoyed by all. The young employees enjoy themselves and the older ones also get into the rhythm.

Led by L&T's Corporate HR-Learning & Development arm, the event is an extension of the e-Swara initiative established in 2011 in collaboration with the Shankar Mahadevan Music Academy. The event was attended by L&T's top management including AM Naik, Group Executive Chairman, L&T. The e-Swara initiative is an expression of the conviction that a work life balance is critical to productivity.  This year, Chetan Naik was selected as the 'Voice of L&T' and will be part of a music album along with Shankar Mahadevan.

Shriram said that they have music classes, classical singing sessions, sessions where young L&T-ites come together on a weekly basis, do gigs and Jam: western pop, rock etc. Now, through SMA the employees can learn online. The music coaching is offered in multiple locations. He explained that professionals come and teach & train them. While some of these classes are subsidized by L&T, others are paid for by the employees themselves.

McDonald's has a competition worldwide to discover and reward musical talent. Seema Arora Nambiar, Senior Director, People Resources, Hardcastle Restaurants (the company that manages and operates McDonald's restaurants in South and West India) said, "The Voice of McDonald's is an annual worldwide contest to discover, recognize and reward the most talented singers among the approximately 68 million restaurant employees in the McDonald's system globally."

Employee engagement, say industry experts, has become a practice among Indian companies. At a time when there is a talk of slowdown in the job market, HR experts said that such engaging activities were necessary to boost employee morale. At Godrej Industries too, they have a singing competition that is open for all group employees. Here too, the singers are trained and mentored by professionals.

Nambiar said that 2013 saw McDonald’s India host the second edition of the Voice of McDonald’s wherein employees across India came together and participated on common ground. Here, winners will get an opportunity to compete at the APMEA level and then go on to represent India at the Grand Finale which is expected to be held at Orlando in 2014.

"Employees have responded positively and have participated with enthusiasm. Participating employees have come in from all parts of the country to try their luck and display their talents. The Voice of McDonald’s platform, gives employees unmatched exposure, training and confidence along with a chance to showcase their musical talents," she explained.

At L&T too, music is a complementary activity. To make the work place exciting, they have gyms, sports, outdoor and indoor, trekking, rock climbing, quiz competitions etc. and a host of other activities to keep the employees engaged and to develop an inclusive culture.

The key, during slowdown, said the chief executive of a Mumbai-based HR consulting firm, is not just to give make employees feel wanted in an organisation, but also communicate it effectively to the staff.

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