Author: Swarn

Brand Image – The Power of Background Verification

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One day a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They waited anxiously at their desks for the test to begin. The professor handed out the question paper, with the text facing down as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked his students to turn the page and begin. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions; just a black dot in the center of the paper. The professor seeing the expression on everyone’s face told them the following:“I want you to write what you see there.”

The confused students got started on the inexplicable task.

At the end of the class, the professor took all the answer papers and started reading each one of them aloud in front of all the students. All of them with no exceptions described the black dot, trying to explain its position in the middle of the sheet, etc. After all had been read, the classroom was silent, the professor concluded:

“No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot!”

That’s exactly how the world moves. One wrong can erase hundreds of rights. Can any organization afford to have a black spot on their brand image?

A report states almost 51% candidates play with their resume data regarding their educational qualifications. Well, it might be just a small harmless lie, isn’t it! No one is harmed by that. But doesn’t this act speak loudly about the candidates morals! When that candidate is in real need, he created wrong documents and had the courage to go ahead and submit it too.

Can’t he submit wrong documents again – maybe a little fraud. But whether this little lie/fraud will create a big black spot or just a small one, no one can say!

19thNot only the educational qualification, but work experience has also been forged at many times. There has been an incident where the owner of a dingy one-room mobile repair shop was pretending to be an HR manager of a fake IT firm and he answered verification calls and described how the candidates had worked for him previously doing data entry.

One wrong step and the entire brand image may be blemished with that! Can anyone vouch for such candidates’ credibility?

Not really!

Imagine a situation – a candidate is absolute fit to the position to be filled urgently! Background verification is to be done but due to urgency, the candidate is absorbed immediately. He has perfect technical knowledge, excellent soft skills and within a week, he shows amazing compatibility with the team. The subordinates are happy to have him and so are his colleagues and his managers.

His background verification fails! He has forged his marks so that he qualifies the minimum criterion for getting the job!

What shall you do?

Small little fraud isn’t it! Certainly, he knows where or how to create a forged mark sheet. If this offense is not noted, this will re-insure the fact that small frauds are acceptable.

Can you really wait for the time when this candidate makes a black spot on the brand image of your organization? The decision to let go that candidate might look tough, but is there any choice?

It is said, every failure is a stepping stone to success. If the background verification fails, don’t miss a chance! Be safe and successful and keep the brand image white, without any black spots!

The need of the hour – Training

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Sigmund Freud was laughed at when he presented his ideas to a scientific community in Europe. He got back to his desk and starting writing.

Henry Ford failed and went broke in business three times before he succeeded.

Michael Caine‘s headmaster once told him, “you will be a labourer all your life”.

Van Gogh only sold a single painting in his entire life, for 400 francs to a sister’s friend. However, he didn’t stop painting 800 other works of art.

J.K Rowling was broke, living in poverty for quite a while before she thought of Harry Potter while on a train from Manchester to London.

Abraham Lincoln lost in 8 elections and failed in 2 businesses. But that didn’t stop him from becoming the 16th President of the USA.

Charles Darwin‘s father told him that he was an ordinary boy and wouldn’t do anything substantial in life.

Sachin Tendulkar played cricket for twenty years until he won his first World Cup in 2011.

Chris Gardner was a homeless man, living on the streets, in the worst poverty has to offer, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a millionaire through his investment firm.

Michael Jordan didn’t make his school’s basketball team. He went home, closed his door and cried. But that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the greatest sporting icons of all time and definitely the greatest basketball player of all time.

There are hundreds of inspirational examples – who failed miserably and came back so strong that there was no stopping. They became an example for all. Every common man/woman looks up to them and has a strong desire to be like them. There are thousands of sites and newspaper articles,  which sing about their glory.

Sadly, there are not tens, not hundreds, not thousands but lakhs of people trying to make it big, like others. Many young/old are leaving their jobs to follow their passion or something they feel is right for them. They fail and get up again to get it right the next time. They fail again. And again. And again till they have nothing to fall back on. These failures happen for a reason, it’s about time to understand the same.

The reason for all the repetitive failures is – Lack of training.

I know of a person who is passionate about photography, but he feels taking training is useless. It’s his passion and he will succeed as many have done it. They failed a lot of times and got success at the end.

Another one left a job to make an application; he won’t even release it on a smaller platform because he feels someone will copy his idea. Now, neither does he have a job nor his application has been released anywhere. He strongly feels he needs no training to do such a thing; many have made apps and have become a millionaires.

There are a few exceptional people who are experts, for others to succeed – you need to become an expert. To be an expert, there is just one way – Training.

trainingRatan Tata took a trainee job on the shop floor in his own ancestral company. He was just training himself to reach to top and stay there without falling.

Narayan Murthy worked at IIM-A as chief systems programmer and Patni Computer Systems in Pune (Maharashtra), before he created Infosys.

Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulakar, M.S. Dhoni, P.V. Sindhu, Sania Mirza and all the players, who have reached the pinnacle of success, have done so not only because of their passion but also because of the intense practice which goes on every day.

It is rightly said – Training is the essence of transformation.

If it glitters, be alert!

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Once upon a time there were two friends – Anil and Sunil. They were travelling by train from their village to the city. They both were planning to do a lot of shopping in the city malls and were discussing this. The first thing they wanted to buy was a wrist watch.

A very well dressed young man with impeccable manners was also travelling along with them. He overheard their conversation and politely asked if they would be interested in buying a couple of watches – that he had. He showed them the watches and the watches were stunning and glittered marvelously. He informed that these watches were imported and the straps were made of pure gold.

Anil liked the watches so much that he immediately agreed to buy one. Sunil however cautioned Anil not to take a hasty decision since they did not know for sure if the watch was made of pure gold. But Anil just loved the watch and wanted to buy it right away.

He paid a huge sum of money and bought the watch. It was indeed a beautiful watch and was the best in the village. Well, just for a few days, the watch stopped ticking and when Anil took it to a watch repairer; he was told that the watch was not made of gold and that he had been cheated.

It was not difficult to guess that, isn’t it?

Now that we have read the above story, consider the following situations:
A house help agency has many house helps. The agency says that they have done the background verification for all the house helps. You like one of the house helps. Plus you are in dire need of one.

What do you do?

You hire one of them, right!

Somewhere in Bangalore….
The family hired the help and she was great. She charged only Rs. 12000/- for 24 hours. The agency wanted the entire salary to be paid to them and they would pay the girl and her family, which looked okay to the family. They were very happy. It seemed that they won a jackpot.

After a few months, the girl committed suicide.

02mayAfter a lot of investigation, the facts came to light. The girl was an orphan and was a beggar. She was picked by this agency. They never paid a penny to her! The whole feel was extremely glittery. The house help was great, she charged so less and (as informed by the agency) already had her background verification done; the agency knew the family (as they were paying her salary to them). It was all good to go.

Hence, more the glitter, the more careful you need to be!

There are not one but many cases of house-helps fraud backgrounds, many from Bangalore. It is a busy city with more and more couples working, leaving behind old parents and small children in the house to be taken care off.
Apart from what happened, there were many more possibilities – theft, kidnapping or worse. She was a stranger to the agency and to the family. If she wanted to do harm to the family, she could have done that. She could have vanished in thin air without any trace left behind. She had no family or no one rather. Having said that, what happened was also equally bad!

It’s time to be more careful and take background verification more seriously. It is better not to be penny wise and pound foolish.

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.