Monday, December 13, 2010

‘Employability’ Quotient

A few days ago, we had the great opportunity of listening to Mr. Sundar Raman, VP-HR of Sutherland Global Services, during a Guest Lecture session. Mr. Sundar Raman is a pleasant professional who, in spite of his demanding night-shifts, was kind enough to pull out time for speaking to us. We found it hard to believe that he hadn’t slept the previous night and yet, was fresh and energetic at 8:00 am in the morning! That was the first inspiring thing about this wonderful person, who was down-to-earth when he spoke about employability in today’s world.

As he started talking about what bosses look for in prospective recruits, we understood that we had a lot of work right from drafting our goals to our own sentiments at work. Being a VP in the HR function isn’t easy and it was evident from the way he shared a few of his experiences with us. First, he urged us to state our goals in a SMART fashion (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). Then, he made us realize that companies recruit someone when they believe that the person can add value to them. And, though not many of us knew it, he enlightened us on the risks that people pose in terms of hostile attitudes and discriminatory behavior. It really got us thinking in new lines – if India Inc wanted businesses from abroad, it isn’t going to be easy without adopting some global practices – even more difficult when it comes to implementing it, when not all people might adhere to professional and ethical values. This was one area where he wanted us to be consciously vigilant, as multinationals can’t survive without global people practices in today’s world.

There were two distinctive questions that are generally unwelcome in the Outsourcing industry, and yet, Mr. Sundar Raman answered them for us.

1. Parity issues – When a new recruit joins the company in an equivalent role/designation of another employee who is in-grown, (and who is performing similar kind of duties), there is invariably a parity issue in-terms of salary where the new joinee always ends up earning more than the in-grown employee.

When asked why this was the case, Mr. Sundar Raman asked us not to get carried away with the short-term gains of the new joinee, as the company offered him a higher pay because they had to attract talent from the market and had to go by the market prices.” However, that doesn’t mean that the in-grown employee isn’t rewarded”, he said,” What should be observed here, is their growth-chart. The in-grown employee will always have an edge over the recruit, when it comes to growth prospects”.

2. When a dissatisfied employee left a company for a better offer, why didn’t companies try retaining the employee with the package that he was offered else-where?

To this question, Mr. Sundar Raman replied that it wasn’t a good practice to retain someone that way, as it paved way for the others to try and hold the company to ransom. The whole industry is effectively, in a state of equilibrium, as employees keep changing companies and the net result is nearly the same for all companies in the industry. He however, voiced out the million dollar question in the outsourcing industry because of this trend – High Training and development costs.

Overall, we had a quick-paced, essenceful session when he even suggested that we over-look the unconventional businesses that are in reality, some really great opportunities that are waiting to be explored – like the vanity business, for instance. What started as a session on employability ended in all of us wondering about the off-track business opportunities that we could start. Who knows, a few of us may even set a trend with one such business venture and come back to CBS as a guest lecturer!

Contributed by Narmada K- BFS Varsity (V Batch 2010-11)

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