Author: Swarn

India and its working culture

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A renowned company. An inspiring leader. A super motivational company story and then a murder.

The crime was committed on Sunday. Sunday evening.

The first and the foremost thing which comes to my mind is –

What was so urgent that a techie has to work on Sunday evening and can’t wait just for a night’s time?

Next –

What is use of all the technology advancement, use of internet or laptops, when in extreme emergency (which may occur), when we can’t even connect from our home or other convenient or safe location.

I have been in IT sector and unfortunately have been in a maintenance and enhancement project. My work used to start from 7:00 AM till late 7 or 8 PM. I succumbed to this schedule for a year and later started working strictly for 8.30 hours. Very soon, irrespective of my work and strictly following deadlines, there was an impression that I leave office early; hence I am not working enough.

I am sure this isn’t just my story.

This is what is called the – ‘INDIAN WORKING CULTURE’. Our working culture thrives on three main pillars:
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Timing – is a very important factor to show how productive you are. The mindset has been developed the longer you stay, the more you work, although it has no direct relation to the work productivity. You might just finish a small EOD work and linger on the second, still if you stay really late; you are a hard working individual.

Processes – Every company has its norms and regulations. These must be followed. It is called company process. At times, these processes have no relation to the current scenario, it was made by senior’s way back and it is still followed. Does it hold true now or not, is a different story altogether.

Hierarchy – This is the worst part of the great Indian work culture. The boss is always right. If he says left is right, you have to agree. The right answer is a no-no. If you follow an alternate path, you will have to face the consequences, like loads of work, no overtime to top it and very evident bad ratings.

The world has become a smaller place and we have come face-to-face with the western culture. We have adapted a lot of things from there – like being open about relationships, live-in relationships, beautiful attires and what not.

What we also need to learn, is the working culture – No matter what, employees leave their workstation on the defined time and no body, mind it, no body judges them for that. There is a very rare situation when employees come to work on a holiday and most certainly, it is a big deal to work on holidays. There are a lot of work from home arrangements/liberties and employees follow the rules accordingly. Why can’t we adopt some working trends from there?

Talking about the recent crime, newspaper is filled with different stories, but only she knows what stress she was going through which made her work even on that fateful Sunday evening. May she rest in peace. As a respect for the lost life, let’s all work together towards a better and safer tomorrow!

The Unverified house helps

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India, a place where, if not every but majority of houses have one thing in common – House helps. House helps are not only the ones who do the monotonous house work, but in a way, they also help Indian women to get back to the work, even when they have little ones back home.

There are many families which prefer live-in house-helps. Others prefer to have part time helps.
Considering the case of live-in house-helps, there have been a lot of unpleasant incidents. In some cases the live-in house help stole money and disappeared in thin air. In other cases it was worse, they tried to kidnap the child for money. Not to forgot the worst, few well-planned murders.

People have become aware of the various nuisances which are created due to lack of background verification of live-in maids. So, people who want to keep live-in house helps are becoming smarter and getting a background check done. But one sector which still lacks awakening for the need of background verification and that area is of part-time house helps.

I can recollect a recent incident, when my friend lost her two rings worth Rs 2 lakhs and 65 thousand. She came back from a party pretty late and kept her rings on the side table. Next morning she completely forgot about the rings. The maid came, cleaned EVERYTHING and went. About lunch time, she remembered her rings and thought of keeping it at a safe place. To her surprise, both her rings were not there.

30janShe immediately called the house help and enquired about the rings. The help said she had not seen any rings over there in the morning when she came. My friend went ahead and immediately filed a police compliant. The police did their investigation and some background checks of the house help.

That house help had a very scary background. There were two other FIRs lodged against her in other police station.
After just half an hour interrogation, the house help confessed her crime and the rings were recovered.

That house help was working at my friend’s place for more than a year. She was also working in nearby houses for even longer period. None of the families had even an iota of doubt about her background. They were all very happy with her work. The fact was different. That maid could have easily vanished and it would have been difficult for my friend to find her. But she was quick in contacting the right help and the police also hit the iron while it was still hot. The maid didn’t get time to escape.

For the part-time house helps, we generally think, it’s just a matter of few hours and somebody would be home when they come. But it could lead to danger. And it is about time to change our mind set and take background verification more seriously. Every maid should be verified for our own and our family’s safety. What do you say?

Borderless Background Verification

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‘Responsible screening is same for the shop room floor as for the executive suite’

We have seen the great technological revolution and advent of the information age. We are still evolving! Talking about background verification in the information age, the entire process of background verification has become easier and faster. Looking back at the analogue era, the background verification was a lengthy task. Fax or post used to reach the previous employer and the response also took the same mode in weeks or months. It was quite time-consuming.

In this information era, everything is digitalized. Getting background information for a particular person is rather easier and faster. Be it educational information, previous job verification or criminal check, within a few days, data can be retrieved.

The next challenge for background verification is having a seamless-system, where the borders do not matter. Globalization has made the world a smaller place. Companies are functioning across the border and people are moving out from their land to a foreign land or sometimes coming back to their land, for good. Monster India had even launched a platform back in 2010, for expatriates seeking jobs in India. According to their internal survey, Monster India found that its NRI job seeker traffic had suddenly risen by 65% in 2010 and that it had received around 250,000 such resumes in areas ranging from information technology, banking and finance, construction and oil and gas sectors, during this period.

worldLet’s say a person, either an NRI or a resident of a foreign land, moves to India and takes up a job in an Indian company; doing background verification for that person is time-consuming. First of all, different countries have different norms of background verification. Let’s see the norms of different countries:

Canada: You need to have consent of the applicant to conduct background verification

Germany: For Germans, you should avoid the term – background check, because it’s culturally not appreciated. You should call it – ‘information verification’ and they should be informed that the information they gave will be verified.

Mexico: Consent from the applicant is a must. Also, the criminal records are maintained at state level, so having a correct postal address of the applicant is important.

Likewise, different cultures have different processes. Having said that, having a seamless-society where the background verification becomes easier and faster is the hope for the New Year. So let’s bring in 2017, with new hopes for a better and border less background verification process.

Time for Action – Background Verification

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Once a frog fell in a vessel full of hot water. The vessel was on a gas stove. The frog still did not try to jump out of the vessel, instead it just stayed in it. As the temperature of the water started to rise, the frog managed to adjust its body temperature accordingly. As the water started to reach the boiling point, the frog was no longer able to keep up and manage its body temperature.

The frog tried to jump out of the vessel but with water reaching its boiling point, the frog was not able to bear it and couldn’t make it out.

The latest fad for home-based business is – crèches’ and day care centres. There are many people, who are earning well, with just few changes in their home set up and others by setting up a proper day care centre. With slogans such as – “Home away from home”, “Mom’s Care”, “Home Care”, it has become a way out for women to get back to their work. With hope that their children would be taken care of, they drop their little ones, expecting to pick their children in the same happy state.

There are many other mothers who are ready to let go of their career but daycares are not an option for them. Looking at the current scenario, where we very often hear horrifying stories of day cares/crèches – where a small girl is raped or children are given medicines to fall asleep, little kids are beaten up brutally and what not, are these mothers right in a way? Is there any way out for all of us – to send our kids to safe and happy day care centres/crèches?

The answer to this lies in one and only solution – Background Verification!

Background verification must be done for all the staff that are employed at all the day care centres/crèches, irrespective of the size of the centre.

2nd janAnother very important step towards safety of kids should be done from the side of the parents – verification of the day care centres. Parent should go ahead and get the centres verified. Verification to be done on the following points:

  1. Background verification of the centre owner,
  2. If the child-staff ratio is maintained by the centre, as stated by them and if they follow all the rules.
  3. If the centre has any complains registered in the past.

Getting back to the above mentioned story of the – frog – what was the reason that the frog couldn’t make it?

Well, the water was extremely hot, isn’t it!

Not really. The frog couldn’t make it due to its own inability to decide when it had to jump out.

With various disturbing news about treatment of children in day care centres, all I can say is that the water temperature is getting higher. Before we get affected, we need to take action. There is a way out – Background Verification. Precaution is always better than cure – what do you think?

Background Verification is the new Hippocratic Oath

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“Only constant thing in life is – CHANGE.” – Heraclitus

Once upon a time there was a land where the whole community lived under one big glass dome. For generations the families had been born, lived and died under the glass dome. And the story that was passed down from generation to generation was if you ever did step outside of the glass dome, you would surely die. So, no one had ever dared to step outside the glass dome.

There was a young man who looked outside and what he could see was that the outside world – which was extremely pleasant. There was green glass till he could see, beautiful and colourful flowers all over the place. There were birds that flew freely. There were many small and big animals that had a lot of space to roam around. In the rainy season, he could see the rain drops but could never feel it.

All he wanted was – change. A life away from the closed glass dome. A life where he could feel free.

One fine day, to everyone’s horror, he opened the door. People tried to stop him but he was quick, he moved out and closed the door behind.

As the people in the glass dome watched intently, the man waved back to them and looked all around him. And then, to everyone’s’ amazement, the man began to dance softly in the green, green grass — moving this way and that way, trying out his arms and legs that seemed to work perfectly well. He smelled the beautiful flowers, felt the fresh air and enjoyed the freedom he finally got.

After that night passed and the man survived and was super happy, it was time for a big change and the glass dome door was open. The myth was broken and everyone enjoyed the world outside the closed dome.

There was a time when there were many frauds/incorrect information/erroneous hires of various employees, house helps and drivers among others. Not only on the job front, but also on the personal ground, marriages happened just on basis of word of mouth. There had been many irreversible/reversible damages.
It was like the organization was a dome and the hires’ were considered to be true irrespective of the truth, that may be. No one ever ventured out to separate the facts and fiction. And then there was – background verification.
Background verification has opened that closed door and is seeking the truth. The right and worthy candidates are being honored and the wrong candidates are shown closed doors.

5decBackground verification can cover a variety of credentials:
 Identification documents
 Educational qualification
 Employment history
 Address
 Criminal records
 References
 Social media history
 Credit history

Organizations as well as individuals can benefit from background verification. Background verification is more a boon than a cost and hence it has become the new Hippocratic oath which organizations of every size and individuals seem to be taking. Let’s do no harm.

Hiring – Are we asking enough questions?

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There lived a king who had two sons. He loved them dearly. It was about time to name one of them as the next king to the throne. He called both his sons and asked them to find out the market price of cereals. It was an easy task – that’s what it seemed.
The elder one wanted to be the next king and was in a hurry to reach the market, get the quotes and tell his father as soon as possible. He didn’t want to lose a minute. In his mind, he was all set to be the next king.

Younger one was unlike his elder brother. He went to the market. He met the merchants and asked relevant questions regarding his subject and researched in detail. By the time he reached the court, the eldest son was already seated there after sharing his information with the king.

The information which the eldest one shared was – the price of the cereals. After all that was asked by the king, right!
The king asked the younger son about the price and he informed about the price, the demand in the market for each along with the supply and other related statistics for the same.

King was very pleased with the younger son and he was named as the next king.

Whenever there is an inappropriate hire for any position, the one which easily gets the blame is – the recruitment and selection process. Isn’t it?

But the actual fault may have occurred at much different place all together. Right from the place when the position/vacancy arises, are we actually asking enough questions?

Questions at the start of vacancy may be:-
 Is the work load a lot to handle the pressure?
 Is the work being delegated equally to all the team members?
 Is the work actually understood by the team?
 Are the team members abiding to the time frame properly?
 Can the vacancy be filled by training the current employees?
 Can there be lateral or horizontal movements of employees to fill that gap?

If these initial questions are answered, the next step of planning leads to a proper job description and job specification as the entire analysis about the position has already been done.

questionThe second big mistake in hiring wrongly is – ‘HURRY’. The hurry to get to the result in the shortest possible time. The pressure to fill the gap in shortest possible time, rejects a right candidate and selects a wrong one.

Manpower is the most crucial asset of the organization. It takes a significant cost to get a candidate on board, train him according to the requirement and place him. One small wrong move can easily convert an asset to a liability. So let’s not hurry and start questioning!

High-Life or Low-Life

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Two friends, Sam and Raghav, were just starting their career at the same level, with the same package. Coming from a small town, their lives seemed to be as good as a dream. They were committed and responsible employees – they were absolute assets for their organization. Be it co-workers, seniors or clients, everyone was happy with their work attitude.
After work, they wanted to experience the city life – the flashy restaurants, late night dhabas and of course, pubs. They felt they were being very cool and trendy by going to various pubs and they always used to find a reason to be there. Sadly, according to them, to have a high life you needed to drink and take drugs.

They started too.

Their work performance deteriorated. They started misbehaving with colleagues. They could hardly concentrate.
Luckily, Raghav could sense their downfall, and with his immense will power, he stopped going to pubs and the use of alcohol and drugs. It was a short while since he had started taking drugs and thus, he could impose control on his mind.

He tried to explain the consequences to Sam too. Sam was too attracted to the high life and the idea of it. He didn’t listen. Slowly, Sam became a drug addict and started showing symptoms such as:
• Extreme mood swings
• Paranoia
• Aggression (towards self and others)
• Noticeable exhaustion and lack of energy at all times
• Frequent absenteeism

Raghav wanted to help his friend, but he was confused. He hardly knew anyone outside his office, and he was scared about people in office finding out that Sam had become a drug addict.

He was also scared that Sam may lose his job. But he valued Sam’s life the most and hence – he asked for help. He trusted his manager the most and requested him to intervene and help Sam.

His manager was not shocked; he had seen the obvious changes in Sam and he had some doubts. Nevertheless, he was very happy that Raghav weighed his friend’s life more than any other thing.

His manager acted swiftly and got Sam into the right hands that helped him out of the mesh of drugs. It took a good one year’s time. The company welcomed Sam back to the position where he left. Sam was sorry for the past and ever grateful to his friend Raghav, his manager and his organization for the present.

The United Nations Drug Report in 2011 pronounces India as the biggest consumer of heroin. Drugs are most used in the age group 25-34. In India alone, about 3 million people are dependent on drugs (0.3% of the population).
Drug users not only harm themselves, but they also cost the organization they are working for. With their low productivity, less power to understand and judge the situation, carelessness, destructive attitude (towards self or others) can not only cost company an employee but may also be bad for its general public image.

What is the solution to this high-life?

stopPre-Employment Drug Test: With the kind of data supporting use of drugs among youngsters, there should be a mandatory Pre-Employment Drug Test.

For-Cause Drug Test: If any employee is suspected for use of drugs, they should be asked to take the test. If the test is positive, organization may choose to help the employee to get to the right track.

Sam was lucky to get help on time and his organization took him back, but there are many who don’t get help on time. They become a liability to the organization, spoil their own life and shatter their families too, just to have a high life and act cool and trendy.

It is high time the young generation should awaken and understand that you get high on life by walking the right way, else you fall deep down to a low life. So, grow up young India, let’s all get high on life, not drugs!

The Most Popular Profession

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One day Akbar thought about professions and wanted to know which profession was most popular in his capital. He asked his courtiers about this. Some said it would be trade, others said soldiering.

When it was Birbal’s turn, he arose from his seat and bowed before Akbar and said, “Your Majesty, in my opinion it’s medicine.”

This was surprising as there were just a few physicians in the city. Physicians in court got furious and said, “you have no clue about how difficult is it to practice medicine and advise people about medical problems.”

Birbal smiled and said, “I can prove this to you My Majesty, if you come with me tomorrow morning.”

Next morning Akbar met Birbal on the major crossroad in the city. Birbal had a bandage on one hand. Akbar saw it and asked what happened.

Birbal said, “I cut my hand by mistake while cutting some fruits for breakfast.”

Birbal further request Akbar, “Your majesty you will have to write down the names of all the physicians we come across.”

Akbar agreed and said, “I will surely do but firstly be sure to wash that wound and apply ointment on it.”

They sat at busy crossroad through all day. Birbal was a well known personality so anyone who passed by inquired about his injury and advised him some or the other medication.

As the day went on, the list grew longer, Akbar got tired so suggested they go home.

Birbal asked for the list and said, “Majesty you forget to write your own name on the top of list. You were the first to advise me.”

If you ask me which profession is most popular in general – the situation is still the same. But looking into a specific field of Human Resource, the most popular profession is – Recruitment and the Selection Process.

I have been a HR fresher once and got a few calls from companies, whose website looked absolutely brilliant, challenging and innovative. Seeking a better placement, I had visited a few recruitment consultancies. The office looked nothing like the website. A one room office with two or three ancient computers. Except for the head of the consultancies, others looked comparatively less qualified. It was not a difficult decision whether to accept the offer or not! There are many people around who feel that just having a phone, a Monster or Naukari account and two/three high-school pass/graduates, is all what is required to run a recruitment consultancy.

During the recruitment and selection process, the most important part is locating the right candidate. If the person who is on a lookout for much higher and much more qualified personal, will he/she be the right person to judge? Of course, the recruitment consultancies line up a lot of candidates and send to the company after their initial screening, but isn’t it a gamble? We waste one the most precious element – time. Interviewing one right candidate and interviewing multiple candidates lined up by the consultancy, is what we should ponder on!

recruitment
There are many good recruitment consultancies which have good qualified professionals working for them to meet the requirements of various companies. They are qualified enough to understand the specifications of the job and are apt for reviewing the resume of the candidate for the required profile. They have placed themselves right and have the ability to further help others in recruiting the most appropriate candidates in the shortest time span.

Everyone can give advice on your wounds but you should follow the advice given by a qualified doctor, right! What do you say?

Get help before House Help!

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In a country where having a house help has been a norm for almost every house, doing a background check seems a bit odd. Isn’t it?

I was of the same opinion till I got a personal shocker.

One of my close relative hired a house help to look after their one year old child and old parents at home while they were away at work. They brought this house help from their native place to Bangalore. The agency through which they got this help, assured them that she is mentally and physically fit, and had undergone a back ground check. The agency took a fat charge for the providing same, along with three months’ salary of the house help in advance.

When this help reached Bangalore, things were fine till a month or so. One fine normal-kind of a morning, things were going as per everyday routine. After both husband and wife went to office, the kid was with the grandparents (thank God for that) and the help was in kitchen. That’s how it used to be. It was not before one hour or so that the grandparents realized that the door was wide open and the lady was just nowhere. All her belongings were right at place but she was nowhere. Even after a lot of calls and a police complaint, the family couldn’t trace that girl. In a city like Bangalore finding a girl who could barely speak Hindi was a big challenge.

After 11 in night, they got a call from police station to report there as soon as possible. We all got scared. Now what?

Luckily, the girl was safe and sound and was found wondering on the roads at late night by a patrolling police van. She behaved odd. She complained to police that this family doesn’t pay her. Really!

Luckily, this family had a few documents to present where money transaction was mentioned. The agency head was unreachable for a long time. After some more investigation, it turned out that this lady was not mentally stable and had run from her previous work places as well.

After the police let go the relative and the house help, they reached her back to their native place. The agency refused to refund and said we will provide a better house help. Well, will you take a chance again in such cases?

Just imagine

  • if the maid had run with the baby while the grandparents were sleeping?
  • if she would have got herself in to some grave trouble while wondering in the streets of Bangalore?
  • if she would have made more serious charges against the family in front of the police?

In any of the three situations, the family could have easily got themselves into a trouble for life time.

Today with the growing troubles related to house help, there is a very simple solution – BACKGROUND CHECK.

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Let’s take the entire case the other way – they could have hired this maid and before paying the entire money and getting her to Bangalore, they could have done a background check. They would have found the mental state and case history of the lady. They could have immediately either cancelled the deal or got a better and verified replacement.

They were lucky that they got away with a small shocker, but others may not be so lucky! It’s more sensible to be smart by doing proper background verification than running into an absolutely uncalled trouble!

 

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Every Job is Temporary!

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Love your job, but never fall in love with your company because you never know when the company stops loving you. —N. R. Narayana Murthy

Long long time ago, there was a Mr. X. He was fortunate to get a government job. Well, it was an era where a government job meant that the ‘person who got it, is settled for life’. He started working and he will retire from the same place very soon. He holds a better designation, a better salary and a lot of credibility for serving the organization for so long.

That was a different era when once associated with an organization, employees served for the organization until their retirement. I wonder how many of us could even relate to a scenario where we have to be in relationship with our organization for that long. This generation lives out of its comfort zone. “Loyalty towards company” is just a forgotten thing.

It’s a two way game – the company also plays a crucial role in making the employees feel unsettled. It must be a tough call for the companies also, to let go of its employees but it’s something which has become very common. This is also the primary driver in today’s world that make every job temporary as the company itself may jettison you because of any of these reasons:

– You are no longer useful to the company

– You are no longer performing at the right level

– Your role/team/division/centre is being downsized

From the employee’s perspective, if he/she is doing really well and gets a better opportunity, he moves. According to a survey 2015/2016 EMPLOYEE INTENTIONS REPORT”, 82% Indian Employees intend to switch job within 12 months. There are around 73% people who have already appeared in an interview or two.
every job temp

On one side, employees are enjoying various lucrative opportunity-filled markets, on the other side; there are organizations that are losing their star performers while the others are catching them with open hearts.

There are various reasons attributing to such change in the job market. The same report states a few as below:

Ø  Scope of career progression 65%
Ø  Increase in salary 56%
Ø  Company brand and reputation 45%
Ø  Learning and development 34%
Ø  Better title / promotion 31%
Ø  Potential for overseas career opportunities 23%
Ø  Office location / accessibility 18%
Ø  Other( Job security, job satisfaction, more challenging job) 2%

People value their career growth more than ‘Stability’. They are willing to move to different cities for better opportunities. In fact, overseas locations are one of the most sought after reason for change in jobs.

Employees in India feel confident and secure in the current job market, as the opportunities in the employment market continue to grow. With blooming career-opportunities-filled-market, employees are well aware of their own value in the market. It has lead to the situation – every job has become temporary.