SOME ORGANISATIONS EXHIBIT A DISCRIMINATORY ATTITUDE TOWARDS EMPLOYEES-The Learning Curve,'THE IMAGE BUILDERS'-How You Can Negotiate for Your PAY HIKE-WORKEPLACE WONDERS- MANY FIRMS BELIEVE THAT AN EMPLOYEE’S FAMILY IS ALSO THE COMPANY’S EXTENDED FAMILY-WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER-
EXITING’ AN EXPERIENCE
FOR EMPLOYEES SERVING THEIR NOTICE PERIOD, THE JOURNEY TOWARDS THE EXIT DOOR, MANY CLAIM, CAN BE QUITE EXCRUCIATING.
SO, WHY DO SOME ORGANISATIONS EXHIBIT A DISCRIMINATORY ATTITUDE TOWARDS EMPLOYEES, ON THE EXIT MODE? YASMIN TAJ FINDS OUT WAYS THROUGH WHICH ORGANISATIONS CAN ADDRESS THIS ISSUE
THOUGH job-hopping is quite a common phenomenon these days, the process of moving out is not always a pleasant experience. It can be traumatic and devastating for the person who’s on his/her way out. For Anirudh, a VP-marketing working in a leading multi-national company, heaven fell apart once he declared he decision of quitting his previous organization. There can be numerous reasons behind an employee’s decision to move towards the exit door and Anirudh too had a few, but little did he know that he would have to bear the brunt of his decision. Though Anirudh had a genuine reason (he was planning to shift industries) to quit his organization, he was a little too surprised by his or—ganisation’s approach towards his decision. As per rules, once a certain employee decides to leave the organization, he/she is supposed to serve a notice period and Anirudh, just like any other employee, was serving his. But Anirudh says that he received the cold shoulder, under several occasion, from his organization, post his decision. They felt that it was illogical to give him important projects or involve him in major decision-making during that time. He also missed out on an opportunity to travel abroad for a project that he had initiated. The organization was also wary of sharing sensitive information with him and any suggestions that he tried making towards the organization’s growth, was wickedly overlooked. The organization not only clearly shunned his hard work of many years but also in—directly questioned his loyalty. Anirudh, today, confesses that the whole ‘exiting’ experience was truly nightmarish. Therefore, the million-dollar question is, how does an organization deal with this issue and make sure that the employee does not have to go through a painful exit?
SENSE AND SENSITIVITY:“Generally, the immediate supervisors, of employees serving their notice period, can make the exit process very painful. In such instances, the immediate supervisors lack the professional maturity and efficient people management skills. It is important for supervisors to appreciate and acknowledge the work done by their subordinates in the past and ensure that their last days in the company should be enjoyable. This ensures that the departing employee leaves the company with pleasant memories,” expresses Sandeep Sony, ED and CEO, span co BPO.
According to Rajeev Gopalakrishnan, CEO, MD & Founder, Maxrad Software (India) Pvt. Ltd,
“Unfortunately, no employer in the world can accept, wholeheartedly, a resignation, especially from a key employee! In our case, being an engineering services company that messages a lot of vital data, it is obviously painful as well as uncomfortable to involve the employee for future project discussions or executions, if he or she has already put in his/her papers”.“In today’s booming job scenario where jobs are aplenty, people have become the only competitive advantage and hence, it’s imperative for managers to become attrition agnostic. Employee exit, though undesirable, is a situation that we have to deal with,” adds S J Poornima, Manager – Finance and Admin, Stratify Software India Pvt Ltd.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Once an employee has expressed his/her intention of moving out openly, does the organization change its perception regarding the loyalty of that particular worker? Does the company lose trust in such an employee and refrain from giving him/her sensitive information or some serious responsibility? Is there a feeling of anger or distrust towards the concerned employee? Dr Naresh Malhan, MD, Manpower India expresses, “Trust is an outcome of multiple factors. Once the separation process starts, the trust gets impacted and wherever transparency between employees—employers is low, the suspicion grows and trust reduces. Also, very often employees move to competitors and therefore the organization invariable loses trust in those employees”. Gopalakrishnan agrees and adds, “Yes, it is quite natural that no employer probably will be able to give sensitive information or serious responsibility to a person on his/her exit mode. But as a professionally managed organization, there is no question of anger or distrust. These phenomena are quite common and normal everywhere, every time”.
A SMOOTH TRANSITION: In times when employer branding is much talked about, an employee is also considered a brand ambassador of the organization. Hence, no organization would want an employee to leave on a sure note and spread a bad word about the company. How do organizations try to make sure that the process is comfortable for both, the employee and the employer? “It is important that the company deals with such employees in a sensitive manner. Mature companies and candidates realize that the process should be a two way mutually fulfilling relationship; hence grace and professionalism should be intact for long term gains,” says Malhan. Gopalakrishnan state, “Impose a clear exit policy in the company and make sure that it is getting followed every time. It’s vital to understand that like people, processes are also equally important. And by keeping a tab on these processes and its outcomes, one can ensure a smooth transit. Last but not the least, respect the employee till the very last. There are chances of him/her coming back to the same organization and he/she could also bring in some business later (it happened in our case, a number of times!)”.
At Stratify Software, the ‘notice period’ in all ways, becomes a mentorship period. “The initiatives that the employee was involved continue to be a part of his work profile, even after he/she had signed his resignation letter and every noteworthy contribution made by him/her should be appreciated, till the last day. Normally obtaining no-dues from various departments and relieving letter are an employee’s onus. But in our organization, HR and the admin department own up that responsibility. All exiting employees go through the exit interview and they are also asked for their feedback on various subjects during the exit process as well,” says Poornim.
Letting go is never an easy thing to do, be it personally or professionally, especially when you have given your sweat and blood to an organization. The least organizations can do is to make sure the process does not become too painful for the employee who is on his/her way out, by being supportive and empathetic. And most organizations today, in fact, are doing all that they can to make the exit smooth and comfortable, for both.
If you think you possess skills that help you relate well with the public then there’s no stopping for you,
Maintaining a public image is one of the stepping-stones to success. To make your place in the market, it is important to promote yourself as well as have a clear image. And that’s exactly where a Public Relations Officer (PRO) steps in. At the forefront, the PR industry faces criticism, as it is believed to be portraying the ‘bad’ in a ‘good’ way, thus making the scene deceptive. Nevertheless, this is not true by all means. Let’s explore…
THE INDUSTRY AT A GLANCE
‘Public Relations’ is synonymous to a management job, and encompasses activities like monitoring, evaluating and maintaining mutual relations and understanding between an organization and the public that it corresponds to. Now, in such cases, ‘public’ does not mean the masses. It includes shareholders, consumers, media and even the employees of the organization. Its objective is to improve channels of communication and establish methods of setting up a road for flow of information and understanding. The media plays a key role in PR processes when it comes to popular organizations. After all, the media always has the ‘power’ to make or break. It therefore becomes mandatory to build and maintain a good relationship with the media.
PROs play a very crucial role when it comes to bonding. They have the dual responsibility of working within as well as outside the organization. Within the organization they organize management—employee meets, inform employees about organizational policies, etc. They also have to maintain a liaison with government departments, trade unions, the press etc whose cooperation is very important for the smooth functioning of the organization.
Well, a crisis situation is the ultimate test for a PRO. Handling affairs in an appropriate way scores the PRO cookie points. They have to put their foot down and save the face of the organization, and how well you do this will reflect your credentials. A new aspect of this career involves bringing about the passage of laws favourable to the special interest group they represent. It is a strategy used to raise public consciousness and influence policy makers in areas like environment, human rights, and education etc.
Another important area of work is to create public identity or an image for public figures like political parties/leaders, models and film stars. This includes advising on every aspect of personality, including dress code, behaviour, statements to be given in the press, public appearances, etc.
WHAT’S ON OFFER?
In terms of career opportunities, PR involves product publicity, corporate publicity, and improvement of relations with the government, publishing corporate publications like newsletters, bulletins, and magazines for employees, etc.
PROs are employed in the corporate sector, public sector, government agencies, tourist agencies, hotels, banks and other financial institutions, private consultancy firms, etc. They are also employed with individuals like political figures, models and film stars who want their pictures, profiles and interviews published in magazines and need agents who can do the work for them so as to portray an image.
For a successful career in PR, you must possess certain qualities like excellent communication skills, both spoken and written. This will in expressing thoughts clearly and in a manner, which can be understood well. A good personality and the ability to get along with people, both in and outside an organization, are also important. Being polite and calm even while working under pressure is like an added qualification.
Confident, far-sightedness, event management and the ability to handle crises are other key traits of a PRO. Analytical skills are required to interpret research information and plan activity. An alert mind, resilience, good sense of humour and diplomacy are assets for PR professionals.
Be it good or bad, publicity is important to make others aware of the existence of an entity. Hence, public relation (PR) as a career came to the forefront as public image became important for or—ganizations and prominent personalities. With growing competition in technically all the fields, the demand for PR executives is only going to increase. The regular controversies and scandals that keep popping up is probably a “boon” for the PRO as it is these people, who are responsible for resetting the image…
Diplomas as well as postgraduate diploma courses are offered in public relations. Fees would be approximately between Rs.20,000-Rs.25,000. An individual who is a graduate in any discipline is eligible to apply for the course. Apart from this there are also short-term certificate courses. Most training programmes in advertising also include the subject of public relations for study.
The salary at the initial stages ranges between Rs.4,000 to Rs.10,000 per month, depending on the kind of organization that one joins.
1. KC College of Management, Mumbai
2. Osmania University, Andhra Pradesh
3. Aligarh Muslim University, Uttar Pradesh
4. Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai
5. Symbiosis Institute of Journalism and Communication, Pune
It pays to ask for a raise
You may not always get the hike you deserve. Here’s how you can negotiate for more
Your annual review is often the forum for haggling over a raise. People tend to go into these meetings assuming employers will note their accomplishments and reward them accordingly. Yet in the current employment scenario, with a shrinking job market and employers tightening their belts, that’s not always the case. In addition, employees often complain they have not received a raise in two years or more. Worse, some employers may have actually taken away certain benefits, such as bonuses or vocation days.
These examples underscore the need for preparation to challenge the suggested raise and negotiate for more. This doesn’t mean you’ll always get what you want, but if you do your home—work, at least you’ll be satisfied you did all you could to get a decent rise.
Savvy employees keep a performance review file. During the year, they put in memos, lists of completed projects or additional work taken on during the year and other documentation of good performance. This file serves two functions. First, it provides a proof of accomplishments. Second, it helps to jog one’s memory about the time to prepare for a review. If you’re like many workers who don’t maintain a file, take the time to look over your calendar from the past year and recreate in your mind what you have accomplished.
In order to fight your case at the negotiation table, it’s a good idea to go hunting for industry figures. These statistics can help support your request when you sit across the table with your boss.
The word about the raise tends to leak out once the review process starts. After the first round, ob—serve how the employees look. Often dissatisfied employees will let the world know they were treat-ed poorly. If salary increases are lower than expected, chances are you’ll find that out before your own review. Responsible employers will often notify workers if salary increases are lower than the previous year. Don’t hesitate to ask your boss if you can expect a good raise. Base your arguments on the previous year’s increase plus the company’s performance over the past year. If the company’s sales were flat or there were layoffs, chances are you may not get as much as you did last year.
Once you have a salary figure in mind and your list of achievements, reason with you boss why you deserve more. Expect your boss to balk. Then it’s your turn to reason why you deserve a raise. Often your manager will say, “This is the figure everyone is getting across the board”. Don’t buy into that until you’ve played all your cards well. True, many employers do set aside a certain amount for raises, but there is always room for that special case, the employee who went above and beyond the call of duty.
If your employer refuses to give you the raise you feel you deserve, negotiate for a timeline to get what you want. For example, state your disappointment and say you’d like to revisit the issue in three to six months. You’ve got to walk the thin line between retaining good relations with your boss and fighting about money. Set yourself up for another review that may allow you to get what you want.
Firms are doing unusual thing to help workers solve personal problems,
A small company in Jacksonville, Florida, came up with a novel and sensitive solution when two crucial employees had trouble commuting to its new headquarters across town. As Derek Marcer, the founder and chief executive of the company, Vurv Technology, tells it, the employees’ supervisor came to him with the suggestion that the company buy two good used cars and give them to the workers outright.
Mercer said he agreed, and immediately approved the $5,000 expenditure for each car. Seven years later, the two employees, Tim Gunter and Renee Richmond, are still with Vurv, a developer of human resources software. The company itself has grown from about two-dozen employees in those days to about 300 and is now in yet another building.
In looking at the alternative, Mercer said, it would have cost the company more than the nearly $10,000 it paid for the automobiles to find and train replacements, not to mention the ground it would have lost with customers. “I felt that they were good employees and responsive to the customers,” Mercer said, and thus a valuable asset to the company.
Gunter, who helped clients with software issues, said he was barely six months one the job when the family car broke down. He had to ask a neighbour for a ride to work that day, and he feared his new job was at risk. That same day, Vurv bought him the used car.
“It wasn’t the nicest car,” he said. “It wasn’t the prettiest car. But boy, did my overwhelming feeling of dread go from that to enlightenment. This is what this company is about. This is what Derek is about”.
At that point, Gunter said: “I was just hooked. The 80-hour weeks we worked after that never meant anything. It was give and take. I was giving and the company was definitely giving back”.
Richmond, who helped companies deploy Vurv’s software, was a single mother of two in 2000. Her Chevrolet Cavalier, with 270,000 miles on it, “finally took its last breath,” she recalled. “I lived 45 miles away from the office, so I had quite a hike back and forth”.
Her supervisor, who is no longer with the company, and Mercer knew of her troubles, she said, and at her annual evaluation offered to buy her a car instead of giving her a $3,000 raise. They also helped her find the right car, a Diamantine, and paid $4,500 for it, she said. She told them to work out an installment so she could pay the difference. They never did. And then she got a second pleasant surprise: her raise started showing up in her paycheck as well.
Creativity and sensitivity meshed with good business sense at Vurve is a crucial aspect of problem solving, according to Glenn Okun, clinical professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Stern School of Business at New YorkUniversity.
Small-business owners should approach such instances analytically, Okun said, examining risk and opportunity. Act as if you are a third party interested in financing your own company, he suggested, and then decide how to proceed.
Especially now, when economic times are tough, Okun says, business owners will have to weigh unexpected outlays against the knowledge there will be potentially less revenue coming in and less credit extended by lenders and investors to smooth rough patches. In this environment, he said,“problems get magnified, even if the firm is solid”. The solution at Vurv was a balancing act of trying to help employees while not hurting the bottom line.
The same was true for the Transect Group in Austin,Texas, which helps public and private agencies in street, highway, airfield and seaport projects. Dan K. Rozycki, its president, recalled what happened when an employee had to get out of her apartment after a relationship broke up. “In a matter of days,” Rozycki said, “We helped her find a new apartment and we furnished the whole place from sofa to spatula”.
When another employee had serious personal problems, he said, the company offered and paid for the professional therapy.
And when a new employee from China needed to learn how to drive, colleagues took him for driving lessons and helped him shop for a car.
What it really comes down to,” he said, “is we’re trying to create the ultimate workplace. We believe you can do the right thing and be profitable”.
FOR THE HOLIDAYS
TODAY, MANY FIRMS BELIEVE THAT AN EMPLOYEE’S FAMILY IS ALSO THE COMPANY’S EXTENDED FAMILY. SO THE ONUS OF TAKING CARE OF THE CHILDREN OF THE EMPLOYEES, ALSO FALL ON THEM AND MANY FIRMS DO THIS WHEN IT IS MOST NEEDED – DURING THE HOLIDAYS! PRIYA C NAIR SHOWCASES A FEW SUCH EFFORTS
Balloons of all colours floating around, watercolours and pencil drawings adoring the walls, loud music and tiny tots in bright coloured dresses tapping their feet to the tunes of a famous dance number; all this and more fun is taking place on the campus of an IT company in Bangalore and the tiny tots in question, are the employees’ wards getting ready for their final day of holiday camp organized by the firm. Sounds unbelievable? Many firms understand the importance of an extended family (read: employees’ families) and the role it plays in keeping an employee engaged if the organization displays care and affection towards their spouses and kids. By organizing summer camps and various other programmes, organizations are exhibiting their care towards employees’ kids. Not only are the kids utilizing their summer vacations constructively, but this activity also increases employee loyalty.
Kids at Work
“When holidays are about to start, parents are in a dilemma because their children have long holidays and they are concerned about keeping the kids usefully occupied. Thus, the idea of having camps for our employees’ kids was formed. We began this initiative in 2001 and have been organizing it ever since,” says N Narasimha Rao, Vice President, Human Resources, Agro Tech Foods Limited.
“With our ‘Fun @ Sun’ camp, parents do not have to waste their time searching for a good place for their children. Employees can be hassle free, since they know where their kids are and what they are up to. It also increases employee productivity as they would not go on long leaves citing vacation, as a reason,” adds Anand Talwar, VP, Talent Management, and ITC Infotech.
These camps are usually held for a period of about 15 to 60 days, for children from 3 to 15 years of age where they are taught to dance, do yoga, draw, play indoor and outdoor games etc., during the camp. Most of the firms organize the timing of the camp according to the working hours of the employees, so that it is convenient for them to bring the children and also to take them back along with them. “The camp is organized as a shared responsibility between members of our HR team. They are in-charge to ensure the smooth functioning of the camp. They monitor participation, encourage employees to make the best of such an opportunity and take care of the overall safety aspect on-ground,” explains R Elango, Chief Human Resources officer, Emphasis. “To add a professional touch to the programme, we seek the help of trainers from outside. Spouses of many of our employees also volunteer to help out in many things like reading a book to the kids or telling stories to them,” says Talwar.
During a time when firms are increasingly offering incentives that offer a balanced life for the employees, taking care of the needs of the children of the employees is a win-win situation for both, the employee and the employer. Elango explains, “Our employees are very excited as the camp is held at the office and children can be close to their parents during the long break and even have some fun of their own. Parents are at ease as their children are safe, being looked after and are convinced that their kids are putting their time to creative use. The exercise is extremely beneficial because sharing our workplace with our children is a unique experience and it gives children an understanding of what their parents possibly do at work and helps them accept their time away from them”.
“Holiday camps build up the camaraderie among the employees, because their children get to know one another and relationships are formed. Employees also have peace of mind as they know their child is in good hands and they need not worry about transport – they bring the child with them and take them back, at the end of the day,” adds Rao.
Apart from holiday camps, firms organize other activities also for the children of the employees to keep them occupied. “Satyam is organizing a workshop on film making for the children of our senior management team. Children would be trained in film making and eminent personalities from the film industry will give inputs and at the end of the week, a long workshop will be conducted,” informs Pradeep KV, Associate Relations, Satyam Computer Services Ltd.
Kirloskar Brothers Limited organizes a career-counseling programme for employee’s children during summer vacations.“The programme aims to create awareness about one’s naturally developed inner potentials, inclination towards specific field of knowledge or career and personality traits. Expert counseling is also provided to both parents and the child to make the best choice of career, which would help the child for his/her overall development with proper support from the family. Also it helps in building transparent parent-child relationship,” says R K Srivastav, Director, Kirloskar Brothers Limited.
Swati, a parent working in an IT firm says that these camps have been a boon to them. She adds, “Holiday camps provide the child with a chance to develop their character, learn new skills, make new friends, and discover new interests. The kids too are keen to attend. They do not want to miss it even for a day”!
The fact that the organizations are not just concerned about getting the work done from the employee but also care for their families, as it goes a long way in ensuring employee loyalty.“Events in which the families are involved make the employees feel much more approachable to—wards the company. They feel more like a part of the company. This also helps in retention of the employees within the company. Also it plays a major role in motivating them to work better for the betterment of themselves and their families,” concludes Neeraj Gupta, Managing Director, and V—Link Taxis.
The event at TechMahindra’s Pune office let the kids have a great day in the same premise where their parents work. The kids are greeted with clown caps, lollipops, snakes and a special identity card of their own. Various activities like fun with balloons, horse riding, kids and parents snap at FRENZ photo studio, magic shows etc. are also organized as a part of the event. They also have an initiative to organize TechMahindra employees’ kids who made a mark in the Board ex—amination by securing outstanding percentage in their 10th and 12th examination (85% and above). To felicitate such brilliant kids, they have designed the award, which gives away a certificate and a cash prize of Rs.5000.
In the end, parents are happy when they know that their children are happy and safe. And what better way to have them enjoy at their office premises without being concerned about their whereabouts. So next time your kids’ vacation is about to begin and you don’t know what to do, ask your HR whether they have any policies set up doing holidays, because you never know what they might have up their sleeve.
Work SMARTER, not HARDER
No time management technique can help you manage your workday unless you are determined to do so. Working smarter requires a lot of discipline in the way you use both your time and attention. Here are some ways to optimize your productivity with the same effort as usual:
Prioritize your work: When faced with a number of tasks to do at the same time, one is tempted to go for the easiest one first, or to do the one your boss just assigned you. But is more effective to start with tasks that are truly important, that is, those that help meet a goal. Some people prefer to start their day with the most unpleasant task before them, so that it is out of their way at the earliest.
Manage interruptions: Persistent phone calls and e-mails can fragment your workday, and your attention span as well. However, these interruptions can be minimized by setting aside certain hours every day for answering your mails, e-mails and phone calls. Keep your e-mail (or chat) window closed and your phones switched off (with the voice mail on) the rest of the time.
Focus on the task at hand: It is not always others who break our concentration. We are often our own worst distracters, getting up from our desk to grab another coffee or to chat with a colleague, or staying at our desk and getting lost in the wilds of Internet research instead of finishing our work. When you find your mind wandering, just bring it back to the task at hand by reminding yourself that the sooner you get that work done, the faster you can move on to something else – or go home!
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