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Fitness and wellness: The focus of Sony Pictures

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-08-2017 Arushi Kotecha

Lighting up TV screens in 131 million homes across 8,000 Indian towns and cities, Sony Pictures Networks Distribution India Pvt. Ltd (SPND) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. Ltd (SPN). Along with its own channels such as SET, SAB, MAX, PIX, etc., it also distributes TV Today Network channels–India Today, Aaj Tak and Tez.

Business performance at SPND seems to have never been better. “For the past six years, our CAGR (compound annual growth rate) has surpassed the industry average; our bouquet size has increased across the board but, especially, high growth has been contributed by the sports, kids and entertainment segments,” said Rajesh Kaul, president, distribution and sports business, SPND.

This doesn’t come as a surprise since SPN has been the official broadcaster for the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the past 10 seasons. The league is undoubtedly popular; the most recent season, the 10th, clocked more than 411 million viewers, a 13.8% increase over season nine’s 361 million. An increase in viewership certainly boosts distribution revenue.

SPN’s acquisition of the Ten Sports Network from Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) earlier this year has provided a fillip too. “Historically, sports has high viewership and is a huge driver of distribution revenue,” added Kaul.

The industry has generally done well over the past five to six years, going by ZEEL’s year-on-year revenue growth, which ranged between 10.4% in fiscal 2016-17 to 21.8% in fiscal 2012-13, according to Bloomberg data.

A good business performance leads to the question of hiring trends. “There hasn’t been much hiring at SPND at the senior level because of higher retention though regular churn at the mid and junior levels necessitates some hiring. SPND’s business growth has been good over the past few years but there has been no need to create new positions, so hiring trends look pretty regular,” says Deepika Ramani, head, media and entertainment vertical – west India, ABC Consultants.

SPND ranked fifth among Indian mid-size firms in the Great Place to Work survey 2017.

The company emphasizes a healthy work-life balance by way of flexible hours. Once every quarter, the office lights are shut off pan-India at 4pm to encourage employees to build a social life. Employees can also take half the day off on their birthdays.

Public holidays falling on Fridays or Mondays are given more importance to ensure longer weekends. An employee assistance programme (EAP) has been established in association with Canadian human resource services company Morneau Shepell to counsel employees and their families to enable them to lead more emotionally balanced lives.

SNPD takes wellness and fitness seriously. “An annual medical check-up is conducted in addition to providing a family floater Mediclaim insurance policy. The organization provides up to Rs12 lakh depending on the situation. We have a physician’s examination room at our head office in Malad, Mumbai” says Hema Malhotra Kubde, director, human resources, SPND.

A health and wellness newsletter is periodically released though the firm admits there is little evidence to show a newsletter has a substantial impact on employee productivity.

SPND fosters team building at an annual team intervention, which is meant not just for leisure but to recognize excellence and break the ice for new hires.

At the annual awards ceremony, Crowning Excellence, individual and team achievements are recognized; best debut awards are conferred.

“It is important to recognize employee contribution, especially since the company’s inherent nature involves sales targets. Our team, consisting of 135 people, is small, but generates annual revenues of about Rs1,600 crore,” said Kubde.

To enhance personal growth, the company has associated with Kwench, a corporate library solutions provider, to encourage employees to take some time off during the workday. To improve employee engagement, dance workshops by the Shiamak Davar dance school, aerobics sessions, and carrom, table tennis and box cricket—a version of cricket—competitions are organized every month.

The firm’s attrition rate was about 11% for the previous year. “Employees stay on at the company for 10 to 15 years on average, with the average employee age being 35. We attribute our low attrition rate to the ‘Thank God It’s Monday’ feeling we attempt to create,” said Kubde.

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