EMPLOYABILITY- are you job smart ? , KNOWLEDGE AND BECOME EMPLOYABLE, Radix Learning, fundamentals of programming and business communication skillsGLOBAL WORKFORCE- Bonding with the best,‘Ozone’. Official transactions, leave accounting system, resource booking,Information related to news announcements, emergency business meetings, and corporate agendas-THE VIRAL EFFECT-ALONG WITH THE EVOLUTION IN THE ROLE OF THE HR, THE INDUSTRY IS FACING A CRUNCH IN QUALITY HR PROFESSIONAL
Are you job smart?
Employability is the buzzword currently doing the rounds in the industry. As a response, institutions are now coming up with finishing schools,
So all the hard work you put in into your four years of engineering have paid off and you have now completed your BE with flying colours. But how "employable" are you exactly? Chances are that, despite your 80% marks, there are lacunae in your overall employability make-up. Something that industries cry hoarse about when they come to colleges for campus placement.
However, the silver lining is that the government and institutions are aware of the situation and are finding ways to fill the gaps.
But what does the word employability mean? Explains Prof S Sadagopan, director, International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIIT-B), "When companies employ people, they look for usable knowledge. What happens with many Tier II and Tier III colleges is that their students possess bookish knowledge, but when they join a company, they cannot relate to the job or the industry. Further, companies these days do not have enough mentors to train the students. In addition, our education system is such that students mug up information and regurgitate it at exams. Which means that students can’t apply what they learn in college to the workplace situation. That is why we now have finishing schools that have come up to fill the gaps".
SJ Amalan, regional director, DGET, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, elaborates on employability:"Knowledge is not employable at all levels. Knowledge is only potential. You need skills to use your knowledge and become employable".
He gives the example of an IIM graduate. "Let’s say an IIM graduate gets a job at a sugar mill. He has learnt all about managing a business, different business models, and communication skills, and so on at IIM. But in a sugar mill, he needs to know how sugar is made, the process, the raw materials used. This is what comprises skills".
Talking of engineering students, Amalan says,"An engineer may know everything about the tools to be used, but does he have the skills to train three people under him? That would amount to skills".
The figures speak for themselves. Nearly one third of the 4,50,000 engineering graduates every year are unemployable, say experts. According to MN Vidyashankar, former IT secretary, a 2006 survey among 8,500 respondents showed that only 38.3 engineering graduates were employable. In tier II cities, it was 23%, which brought the average to 35%.
Coming up with a solution — to impart skills required for the IT industry — IIITB recently launched Yogyata, a new professional certification programme, collaborating with Radix Learning.
Says Sadagopan, "Rather than complain about the lack of employability, it is time for academia and the industry work together for a solution".
The scenario was also what propelled the Karnataka government to step in and act as an enabler when institutions like the Raman International Institute of Information Technology chose to embark on the finishing school in My sore, says MN Vidyashankar.
Elaborating on Yogyata, Prof Raman, who heads the Yogyata initiative says, "Our focus is now on fundamentals of programming and business communication skills".
One of the problems is that the curriculum does not keep up with the industry needs. Says Shalini Reddy, director, Acharya Institute of Technology, "There is so much development in the industry. But curriculum development in colleges is not keeping pace with it. Students joining the industry need domain skills as well as communication skills. So we train them in these areas and make them employable". Apart from working in labs using relevant software, there are subject experts who come from the IISC to train them in domain knowledge and skills.
Says Shalini, "Indian students are very intelligent. But some of them come from a rural background. They lack knowledge of technical English, or even Basic English language skills. When it comes to an interview, they don’t do well because they can’t explain in English". Hence communication skills.
In some colleges, the faculty is not sufficiently networked with the industry, so they do not know what exactly the industry needs are.
Again, such inadequacies are reflected in the resume. According to Prof Raman, when a candidate cannot write a decent resume, or a statement of purpose or an application, he is at a dis—advantage in a job scenario.
Another inadequacy among students is that they may not understand cultural nuances."In a networked world, you must communicate across cultures". Hence tee need for more finishing schools.
According to Amalan, the Ministry of Labour and Employment under the government of India is implementing Modular Employable Skills programme for recognizing, training, testing, certifying skilled professional for all sectors of the global economy. It has been conducting fairs in cities in India to create awareness about the programme.
BONDING’ WITH THE BEST
Today, every organization boasts of a global workforce that spreads across diverse geographies and varied time zones. However, keeping such a workforce connected is a daunting task. Given the need for constant communication with employees spread across the-globe, many organizations have devised a wide array of tools to enhance employee communication,Picture this office scenario twenty years ago… a CEO wants to call an emergency staff meeting to make an important announcement about a new business strategy. How would he ideally do it? Text messages all employees, right? Wrong, twenty years ago, cell phones didn’t exist, remembers? So what does he do? Ask his secretaries to type out an official letter, literally make copies and paste it on various notice boards across the organization and in other areas like the canteen, library, re—creational centers etc. where employees assemble, right? True! Many might see the notice and assemble for the meeting. However, chances are that many might miss the meeting too because the information didn’t reach them on time. But the risks back then, were comparatively negligible as organizations were small, not as globally dispersed as they are today and most of the information would spread through word of mouth. Today, conducting an emergency meeting may seem like a faraway dream for organizations, especially if they have employees dispersed across diverse geo—graphies, right? Experts think otherwise. They confirm that technological intervention has en—hanced a smooth and clear flow of information. Today, every organization boasts of operational efficiency and is abreast with the latest in the technology domain to keep its workforce connected.
"Team Lease has about 70,000 employees in over 468 locations across the country. For core team of 850+ employees operates via a network of 19 branches. With such a huge manpower in our ambit, we have to maintain active means of communication not only to support effective real-time decision making but also to maintain effective client and employee relationship, spread across a big and culturally diverse nation like India," says Rajesh A R, Vice President, Temping, Team Lease Services Pvt Ltd. Today, firms leverage online and offline forms of communication to disseminate information across the organization. In-house communication happens through various initiatives like periodic staff meetings, internal newsletters, magazines, bulletin boards, intranet, emails, blogs, anonymous staff queries, employee opinion surveys, suggestion boxes, executive chats, instant messages etc.
"The online medium ensures commonality and consistency in the messages that are going out to the employees," says Harish Govind, Vice President, HR, Blue Star InfoTech Ltd. "It is important to ensure that the employees are informed of organizational developments, irrespective of which location they operate from," says Shantanu Banerjee Director, HR, Steria India.Another advantage of reaching out to employees through various online tools is that it enables a two-way communication and makes information sharing more interactive and effective. People who bond with the organization strongly give the organization the exalted status of being an employer of choice.Even though the corporate world is flooded with various online tools, the importance of traditional print medium cannot be negated. According to Soma Sajeevan — EVP and Head —Global HR, Polaris Software Lab Ltd, "As the size of the organization increases, in-house magazines become the essential tool for knitting the company together. It collates information from different locations and disseminates it organization-wide". "The biggest impact these tools have had is towards creating a single globally-connected community of employees," opines Chetan Shah, Managing Director, and Synergy India. "These tools for reaching out to our employees have enabled better customer service, encouraged clarity of purpose, enhanced employee motivation and dedication to the company, fostered teamwork, inspired productive staff input, and established the organization’s transparency and integrity. This has helped us break through the barriers of rank and status and foster greater synergy between employees and managers for advancing our strategic vision and attaining the goals we have set for ourselves," concludes R Ram Kumar, Director, Corporate Marketing and Communications, Cognizant.
Technology intervention has proved fruitful for organizations as various technological tools have been proven effective in bringing widely dispersed employees closer. And experts say that ‘staying connected’ has never been so easy!
THE VIRAL EFFECT
A DISSATISFIED TEAM MEMBER CAN AFFECT THE MORALE OF AN ENTIRE TEAM, SPREAD NEGATIVE VIBES AND CAUSE A LOT OF DAMAGE. YOU DISCOVERS HOW ORGANISATIONS TACKLE SUCH ISSUES
The success of an organization depends on its people and how they work in close coordination and harmony. If there is a group of people working together, dissonance or discontentment is inevitable. While organizations work extensively towards creating a healthy environment for employees, feelings of dissatisfaction are bound to creep in. There can be numerous reasons leading to small conflicts and tussles within a team. But, it does get dangerous when the problem remains unresolved and starts affecting the team’s morale and performance. It becomes absolutely essential for the organization to control such a venomous atmosphere from spreading within a team and nip the ‘dispute’ in the bud.
There can be numerous factors affecting the morale of the employees and leading to disgruntlement. According to Dr Ganesh Sherman, partner and head – KPMG Human Capital Practice, KPMG, “Campus based peer level competitive pressure is a significant factor along with perception of distribution of rewards. But more importantly, poor leadership, lack of depth in people management mostly seen in organizations that lack leadership maturity is a major factor for disgruntlement within a team”.
For Navin Joshua, executive director, Customer Corporation, “The few factors that may lead to disputes amongst the employees are role overlapping, ego clashes, miscommunication, etc”. Dr. Y V Verma, Director HR and MS, LGEIL adds, “Lack of transparency in dealing with HR issues, improper work-life balance and delay in redressal of grievances or lack of availability of such forum in an organization also adds to an employee’s feeling of discontentment”.
“The primary reason for dissatisfaction amongst employees is a feeling of disconnect with the organization and lack of clarity about how they are contributing towards realization of the corporate vision/goals. Also, the feeling of being treated unfairly or not being given an opportunity to explain their point of view adds to such a feeling. This could arise due to leadership style of the immediate boss or politicking/unfriendly behaviour of a colleague,” adds Rajiv Phadke, executive director, HR and Corporate Communications, Angel Broking.
INDICATORS OF SPITE
A problem like this has to be identified at the earliest in order to make sure it doesn’t get worse with each passing day. So how do organizations recognize such issues? “Generally when there is dis—contentment in a team, mails will be copied to more than necessary people, internecine gossip will float, third party will start commenting, people will ask global questions on policy related questions, question values of the company, politics at the grass root level, etc,”. Sherman discusses a few signs that can imply disgruntlement in a team. There are numerous indicators to identify that things are not fine in a team. Experts say that one needs to be sensitive to capture and understand these subtle indicators. “Some indicators include decrease in involvement by team members, indifferent attitude towards any situation, low productivity level, dropping quality level, dampening team spirit and low energy level in the team and increase in absenteeism and attrition level,” adds Verma.
NIP IT IN THE BUD
An organization needs to deal with a lot of intricacies, which include day-to-day problems, difference of opinions between colleagues, internal conflicts, etc. Trivial issues like these at times cause disgruntlement in teams, and this spreads faster than a virus. This is when the organization needs to step up and handle the situation in a very careful and mature manner as early as possible.
Experts say that it is important to deal with rising issues of disgruntlement at its initial levels, rather than prolonging it and turning them into conflicts. They say that organizations can do so by periodic feedback sessions between the superiors and the subordinates. Joshua explains, “We offer platforms such as skip level meetings, wherein both the superior and subordinate come together to discuss issues. We also have the ‘Voice of employee’ initiative, whereupon an employee can raise his/her issue via an email that is accessible to the center head”.
“At Angel, we believe in solving issues by dealing with them at the initial stages. Our managers take prompt action by meeting up with the disgruntled employee and trying to understand the reasons for his/her grievance. The important thing is that such interactions are held in a positive and problem solving mind set and not in an interrogating manner. All managers and HODs are trained to enhance their people management skills in general, and conflict resolution techniques in specific,” informs Phadke.
ENCOURAGING TEAM SPIRIT
Considering that such problems of disgruntlement and dissatisfaction can come up at anytime, most organizations have adopted special intervention techniques for handling these problems. Also, maintaining a healthy and positive environment helps combat negativity in workplace and organization are doing a lot to do so.
At KPMG, they conduct periodic ‘Role Negotiation Technique and Processes’ to engage people on a 360 degree basis to communicate. “This has proved to be very effective. ‘Leadership and Stake Holder Alignment Techniques’ help bring about a common understanding on team performance management too,” states Sherman.
“We at Customer believe in ‘Employee First’ and ensure a conducive, lively and healthy environment for our employees. Events, floor games, activities, recognition programmes have become a part of the employees’ daily lives. We provide 24/7 HR support to the employees to address their issues if any,” expresses Joshua.
According to Verma, “The remedy lies in prevention. At LGEIL, the use of appropriate tools to assess whether people with particular sets of values should be considered for the organization or not really helps. However, certain initiatives that are essential to immunize the organization from the negative impact include maintaining contact with employees at professional as well as emotional level, enhancing their value and providing growth opportunities and while dealing with cases of indiscipline, providing sufficient counseling sessions to employees to correct their behaviour”.
Phadke to concurs and adds, “Negativity begets negativity and it’s essential to have a positive atmosphere within the organization. We have frequent ‘Town-Halls’ where the top management dis—cusses pertinent issues and news with the employees, as well as skip-level meetings for team heads to interact with the employees not directly reporting to them”.
Similarly, at Piramal Healthcare, negative vibes – particularly on a lack of integrity – are dealt with very seriously. Politicking, using foul language or sexual harassment cases is dealt with immediately. “We have a strong foundation for employees who live our three values of Gyana (knowledge), Karma (dynamic action and entrepreneurship) and Bhakti (devotion to a higher purpose) and we actively discuss instances where these values were applied,” adds Dr Swati Piramal, Director – Strategic Alliances and Communication, Piramal Healthcare.
Though conflicts and feelings of discontentment within a team are inevitable, these should not escalate to a hazardous level. Any problem can be solved if dealt with in the initial phase and with maturity since it’s all about working together and working in harmony.
THE ACADEMIC EDGE
ALONG WITH THE EVOLUTION IN THE ROLE OF THE HR, THE INDUSTRY IS FACING A CRUNCH IN QUALITY HR PROFESSIONAL. THE NEED OF THE HOUR IS TO NURTURE QUALITY TALENT TO BECOME COMPETENT HR PROFESSIONALS AND FEW FIRMS HAVE STARTED DOING THIS THROUGH VARIOUS INDUSTRY—ACADMIA PARTNERSHIP,
In the past, the main job of the HR department was to look after recruitments, pay-roll, take care of the compensation, benefits and other employee related strategies and issues. And the only reason an employee would approach the HR would be to solve any of the above issues. However, with the changing mindset of Indian organizations, HR has become omnipresent and is today involved in strategizing of various initiatives to keep the employees of the organization happy.
With this change in the role of HR, the demand for quality HR professionals has also increased. However, industry experts believe that there would be a shortfall of more than one lakh HR professionals in the coming years. The reasons cited for this shortfall are that only a few organizations are giving specialized training in HR and most of the students coming out of the premier institutions opt for other branches like finance or marketing rather than going in for HR. And organizations have started realizing this impending danger and have started coming up with various plans for bringing in more qualified people into the industry. Prithvi Shergill, Lead, Human Resources, Accenture India, says, “With the surging business demand, Accenture recognized the criticality of high caliber human resources professionals for the IT industry, and a need for developing a talent base that will enable growth in future”.
Nurturing The Talent
It is a well-acknowledged fact that having a strong and empowered HR team is the key to the success for any organization today. So to manage the possible talent crunch many organizations have come up with initiatives including industry-academia partnerships.
“‘People Ambassador’s Programme’ is an initiative by Wipro to induct bright, young, energetic members into the HR team of Wipro. The ‘People Ambassador’ will be undergoing a work-integrated collaborative Executive Diploma in Human Resources Management (EPGDHRM) programme from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune,” says Veena Padmanabhan, GM Talent Engagement and Development, Wipro Technologies.
“Participants of the programme attend instructor led training by SIBM faculty at Wipro campus, two days in a fortnight. The rest of the working days are spent on the job. This is one of the models that we work on – creating a talent pool that is able to work and at the same time study a chosen subject,” adds Padmanabhan.
On similar lines is the Accenture – XLRI (Xavier Labour Relations Institute) HR Academy, a training academy dedicated to the Human Capital Management needs of the growing Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industries.
“The trainees of Accenture – XLRI HR Academy programme become part of the work-study opportunity, wherein they are employed with Accenture as they undergo the programme. This programme comprises of internal training and 15 learning modules covering a variety of HR-related topics, including training and development, career/performance management, rewards and compensation, organizational behaviour, as well as the financial and legal aspects of HR,” explains Shergill. These programmes are open to any graduate, but to ensure quality, firms put forward certain benchmarks, which are essential for the candidates. “Wipro has set this initiative for non-engineers like the BA/BSC/B.com graduates. Candidates are selected from throughout the country by means of a common management aptitude test. Later, they are screened to a smaller number and this is followed by an interview conducted by the HR, where they are short-listed based on their soft skills, professional interpersonal sensitivity, problem solving skills, customer orientation, self confidence and team working abilities etc.,” informs Padmanabhan about the selection process.
“Trainees who complete the Accenture – XLRI HR Academy programme receive the Accenture and XLRI Certification in Human Capital Management. The trainees are then employed with Accenture from the start of the programme and continue to work with Accenture until their training is over,” says Shergill.
However, it depends on the individual if he/she wants to continue working with the organization or move out in search of newer pastures. Apart from these industry academia partner—ships to transform fresh graduates into industry ready HR professionals, there are several other training programmes conducted by various firms exclusively for their HR professionals. These training programmes are basically done for skills up gradation of the HR, all with the intention of grooming well skilled competent HR professionals to manage the people and the business.
At it is said, where ever there are more than two people there is a need for HR to mange them. So, with the changing role and increasing demand it is imperative for firms to churn out more and more HR people and the academia is doing its part to help industries to get well-groomed professionals to work with.
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