Author: Swarn

Background Verification – Being Prepared

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A wild boar was rubbing his tusks against a tree.

A fox passing by asked him what he was doing.

“My tusks are my weapons,” said the boar. “I’m sharpening them.”

“Why waste time sharpening your weapons when there’s no danger in sight?” said the fox. “You’re being foolish.”

Just then a hunter appeared on the scene. Frightened by the boar’s sharpened tusks, he turned on the fox instead and shot him dead.

You have to be prepared; isn’t it!

Imagine a situation where the human resource department has to do bulk recruitment or just one recruitment but they have a strict time constraint. Within that time span they need to advertise, do initial screening, fix an interview and then complete the final HR round. After all these steps; there is one more step before handing over the offer letter and that is – background verification.

To get the work done on time and to fasten the process, these companies could hire a third party vender – companies that provide background verifications at a zooming speed. But then, apart from the time constraint, there is one more constraint the HR department faces and that is budget.

Now, background verification is a new addition to various recruitment steps. It still needs to get the importance – it holds. It is a step that – people usually take lightly. Considering own experience and the very important, face value, candidates are hired.

What happens when the initial preparation is not done properly?

News 1:
Shyam worked in Hewlett Packard’s (HP) Bangalore office for three years without any issues. And then, he quit. A few months later, Shankar joined the company and when he was in the canteen one day, some employees were surprised that he looked exactly like Shyam. Of course, Shankar denied any knowledge of Shyam. However, in the HR verification, it turned out that Shankar was indeed Shyam.

What transpired was that Shankar had failed to get his college degree. So, his girlfriend, who worked in the company, used her brother Shyam’s degree to get Shankar a job. In the course on three years, at the company, Shankar passed and got his own degree. So, he re-applied, this time with his own degree, and got in. This time with real identity.

18th aprilNews 2:
The Uber rape case in New Delhi has revealed the murky underbelly of slapdash background checks in India.

There are many more stories which tells us that we are not giving much time for preparation. And who is at the loss! Cost of background check for one employee is actually not a cost, it is the much needed preparation. A company’s goodwill is at stake! So, it high time we take background verification more seriously and are prepared! After all, you can’t buy back your goodwill, you can just earn it!

Time for a big Change – Aadhaar e-verification

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Long ago, people lived happily under the rule of a king. The people of the kingdom were very happy as they led a very prosperous life with an abundance of wealth and no misfortunes.

Once, the king decided to go visiting places of historical importance and pilgrim centres at distant places. He decided to travel by foot to interact with his people. People of distant places were very happy to have a conversation with their king. They were proud that their king had a kind heart.

After several weeks of travel, the king returned to the palace. He was quite happy that he had visited many pilgrim centres and witnessed his people leading a prosperous life. However, he had one regret.

He had intolerable pain in his feet as it was his first trip by foot covering a long distance. He complained to his ministers that the roads weren’t comfortable and that they were very stony. He could not tolerate the pain. He said that he was very worried about the people who had to walk along those roads as it would be painful for them too!
Considering all this, he ordered his servants to cover the roads in the whole country with leather so that the people of his kingdom can walk comfortably.

The king’s ministers were stunned to hear his order as it would mean that thousands of animals would have to be slaughtered in order to get sufficient quantity of leather. It would cost a huge amount of money also.
Finally, a wise man from the ministry came to the king and said that he had another idea. The king asked what the alternative was. The minister said, “Instead of covering the roads with leather, why don’t you just have a piece of leather cut in appropriate shape to cover your feet?”

The king was very surprised by his suggestion and applauded the wisdom of the minister. He ordered a pair of leather shoes for himself and requested all his countrymen also to wear shoes.

29th marchThere are few changes which are revolutionary in nature and happen for the good. Aadhaar card is one such initiative. In a country like India, where people belong to organized and unorganized sectors, are from rural and urban areas, there are many who don’t have a valid PAN card or passport. They don’t need it. They don’t pay taxes and for other things they need their ration cards. Ration card is not a valid address proof, which leaves just a permanent address or rent agreement. Many don’t have either.

In such a cases, having an Aadhaar card is a ray of hope – of having a genuine identity proof, for everyone, irrespective of age, gender, working class sector, financial sector or place one lives. It is mandatory for all.

At present, there are 105 crore registered people in the Aadhaar database. An, almost, instant validation of an individual, is a feather in the cap of Janta-khoj. Any individual can get their or their employees’ Aadhaar e-verification done, almost instantly. Be it a driver, a house help, a blue collar employee or a white collar employee or just a would-be groom, everyone can get verified instantly.

With Aadhaar, demographic and biometric details are attached. Going by a simple daily life example, if we need to hire a house help or a driver and they come with a valid Aadhaar card and specifies all her demographic details, it can be verified instantly through Aadhaar e-verification. Once the Aadhaar verification is successfully completed, they can be hired but if in any case, they commit any foul/fraud, we not only have their photo but also their demographic details with us, as we have their validated Aadhaar card number. Makes life easier and safer, isn’t it! So Aadhaar e-verification is a big change and it is here to stay! Let’s be safe and verified!

Happy Women’s Day!

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Happy Women’s Day to all the wonderful ladies out there! Now, that women day has just passed, we all experienced the whole mega-celebration for the women we are! Few stores gave free vouchers/coupons, few gave free drinks and few gave one free lunch with four. Many companies gave flowers and gifts to the female employees and celebrated their womanhood.

There were many commercials which celebrated women in the most beautiful way. Few inspired us to take out time for ourselves; few captured how much work we put in everyday, in the best possible way. All were done marvelously! It made us, all women feel, that we truly are super-powered-women in our own ways.

Let’s get to the history of Women’s day celebration? Seeing all the arrangements made and the entire celebration, I felt the whole purpose of the day was lost!

fig1 15marchThe original aim of celebrating this day was – to achieve full gender equality for women of the world. Sadly, we talk about the gender equality but when it comes to pay-gaps, education, health and safety, there is a huge gap to be filled.

In education, according to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) June 2015, shows the following:

Age Group Male Female
Up to Seven Years 83% 67%
Up to Graduation(In Rural Area) 4.5% 2.2%
Up to Graduation(In Urban Area) 17% 13%

Considering the gender pay gap in India, a new report shows the figure stands as high as 27%. The median gross hourly salary for both genders is as follows:

Male Female
Median Gross Salary Rs. 288.68/Hour Rs. 207.85/Hour

Considering crime against women in India, it is said that crime against women is reported every two minutes.

Not one day, but women have to fight for these three basic things every day. Of course, everything which has been celebrated is true, but we need to look beyond it and address the major issues too!

 

Human Resources in 2017

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The last part of the year-2016, when almost the entire nation was worried about – Who is going to be the next president of USA, a ‘zor ka jhatka’ was given by our PM – Demonetization. The whole nation was shocked. Every headline was about demonetization. Mr Prime Minister played his Trump-Card!

Apart from the usual havoc which stirred the nation completely, this demonetization had an effect on few sectors too. Sectors like manufacturing, E-commerce, IT/ITES, tourism, infrastructure and many more, or shall I just say, all the sectors.

One department, in all these sectors, which needs to take a step forward post demonetization is – the Human resources department.

Human resources has a mammoth role to play. There are a lot of changes which Human resources needs to implement/upgrade, post demonetization.

Talking about demonetization first, the whole motto behind this was digitalization or having a cashless economy. Even at this time, when go-green is one of the most talked about things, HR departments of many companies use paper-pen for documentation. Offer letters and appointment letters are still given out as hard copies, one signed copy with the HR and one with the employee. Even recognitions and awards are presented in writing. Can’t we just go completely digitalized?

28febThere are many software applications which can be used to monitor work and store the data in super organized ways. One software which is very popular is HRMS – Human Resource Management System or HRIS – Human Resource Information System. They can help in reducing the paper work and can enable an organization in completely getting digitalized.

Coming to the cash-less part: still a lot of companies pay the housekeeping staff, gardening staff or contract staff in cash. This practice is something which is still very common. Every employee of the organization should have their salary account. It would be beneficial for all of them.

Human resources needs to step up here and the get the whole process of digitalization, active and become cashless too.

Human resources doesn’t have to cater just to the above, rather they have a third issue in hand as well. The unseen effect of demonetization – fear and restlessness among employees. Report says that there is going to around 35% job loss within six months, as an effect of demonetization (holds true only for few sectors). This has created a stir among employees across all sectors. Everyone is scared of losing their job. HR has to again face this challenge of bringing the faith back, among employees. HR will have to convey the message that the job loss happens when the productivity is low; the company is working just fine, even post demonetization.
This can happen by sharing positive achievements of the organization through internet or by having a small day out or motivational training sessions.

Human resources has a lot in store for the entire 2017. Let’s get working!

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:
15feb

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!