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When a lot of firms were cutting down on their employees during the two-month lockdown, we retained all our staff

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Kamal Rastogi, partner, Kamal Jewellers, Dehradun has ditched the popular notion of profit in the jewellery business, and gone out on a limb to care for his employees, who he calls his extended family. He talks about a year that requires businessmen to be kind and keep the faith alive.

Standing the test of time
Although this has been a very difficult period for the industry, it has also been a great learning experience for us. We realised that this is not an earning year where you think about profit and losses, but a challenging one where you need to sustain and just let it pass through.
This is not the time to take hurried decisions, but cut down on expenses according to the short term interest of the business. Jewellers need to be able to keep up with their commitment to employees on human grounds. This will earn you their loyalty, in keeping with the trust-based nature of
the business.

A year of giving
When a lot of firms were cutting down on their employees during the two-month lockdown, we retained all our staff. We also did not deduct their salaries. Most of our staff has been with us for more than six years, and are just like family. They have a house to run, so it would be unfair to reduce their salaries at this crucial hour. However, keeping in mind that there won’t be any business in the lockdown days, we did decide to defer increments
unless the business revives in the coming months.
As a jeweller our responsibility goes beyond sustaining our employees. Every jeweller needs to rise above his means and provide health benefits.

A year of caring
In July, I suddenly came to know that one of my staff members has tested positive for the virus. The news sent shockwaves across the company and we immediately closed down the shop as a precautionary measure. But we also took matters in our own hands, and got the entire staff and their family members tested in a private lab. No one showed any symptoms, but we didn’t want to take a chance. This came at a huge expense but I think it’s our duty as a responsible organisation.

The test results came as another shocker: twenty-five more staff members were positive. Our management informed the concerned departments, who took them to private quarantine facilities. We took care of all the medical expenses and also saw to it that their families did not face any trouble. After completing the mandatory home quarantine, we opened our stores after proper sanitisation. Thankfully, all our employees beat the virus and rejoined work. Only a couple are still scared to join back, but we are not forcing them. We keep in touch with them to boost their confidence and we are hoping that they will be back in some time.

A year of keeping faith
The company has worked hard after the lockdown and we achieved 50% of our pre-Covid sales. We expect the number to soar in the coming festive season.

I think it is important to remember that hard times don’t last but relationships do. We are in a legacy business, which will stay alive for years to come. Only caring about expenses results in loss of goodwill, and breeds mistrust among good employees. It may also result in dissonance about serving a company, which puts its business above people. For the longest period, jewellers have been vocal about how it is a trust-based business, and now is the time to walk the talk.

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