The Godrej Group plans to increase its 16,000-strong workforce by 25 per cent in three years, as the soaps-to-chemicals enterprise focuses on its '10-by-10' growth strategy. The strategy involves boosting both organic and inorganic growth across the group's five key companies - Godrej Consumer Products, Godrej Properties, Godrej Agrovet, Godrej Chemicals and Nature's Basket. In May, Chairman Adi Godrej had stressed verticals such as consumer goods and real estate would take the lead in driving the 10-by-10 strategy. Sumit Mitra, the Godrej Group's head of human resources and corporate services, said a 20,000-strong workforce was achievable, given the pace of growth of businesses such as Godrej Properties. "Our real estate business is seeing annual 20-25 per cent organic growth. With that pace, you need people. Godrej Consumer is steady at about eight per cent in terms of growth, but when there is an acquisition, and the consumer business continues to scout for acquisitions, the growth numbers automatically go up and so does the headcount. The chemicals segment is more or less flat, but retail is growing and so is the agro business. So, a headcount of 20,000 isn't far off. In three years, we should touch that number," he said. To manage that, the group is putting a number of levers in place, Mitra adds.
These centre on three broad themes - 'tough love', 'whole self' and 'your canvass'. While 'tough love' is about taking bets on employees, irrespective of education and experience, 'whole self' focuses on overall employee welfare and development and 'your canvass' dwells on internal movement of resources across the group. "We have five businesses in 18 countries. 'Your canvass' isn't only about internal job postings, we are also rolling out career conversation modules this year, which will allow employees to have meaningful discussions about how they can broaden their canvass," Mitra says. The aim, he adds, is to make the conglomerate a meaningful place to work, a process that began sometime ago. "As far as the India business is concerned, the blueprint is in place and is moving smoothly. The challenge for us is to replicate this model across markets." The group has already taken steps in that direction, focusing on key markets such as Indonesia, Africa and Latin America. A total of 56 per cent of the group's employees are located abroad. This ratio is unlikely to change, as the group keeps its eye on acquisitions. "Five years ago, our overall headcount was about 8,000, with India and foreign operations more or less on an even keel. We added headcount largely by way of acquisitions by the group in the past few years…hence, the increase in our international workforce. The next leg of growth, however, from a human resources point of view, will come with the organic and inorganic initiatives that the group companies will take," Mitra says.