New Delhi: Despite an increased perception of risk and unprecedented public ire over the gang rape of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student —who along with her friend was beaten up and thrown out of a moving bus on December 16 — some human resource companies in NCR say the capital’s women’s workforce will march on.
Rituparna Chakraborty, Vice President Indian Staffing Federation, told Firstpost that women continue to seek employment in the region.
“The fact is that rape and sexual abuse is a reality of life in Delhi NCR and large parts of North India and women seeking jobs in this part of the country have already factored in all these challenges,” she said. “The truth also is, that rape and the abuse of women has nothing to do with work or what a woman does outside of home. We see 16-year-olds raped as much as 60-year-olds, so not working is not a solution or guarantee for not being violated and it should not impact the decision to take up a job,” she added.
Following the incident of rape of the girl who succumbed to her injuries on December 29, many offices in and around Delhi NCR have issued advisories for its women employees and also seen a change in their attitude towards personal security. AFP
Jaideep Singh, spokesperson for Ikya, a human capital solutions company, agreed. He said that while the gang rape case has brought much focus on the issue of the safety, Ikya has not seen an impact in terms of hiring women candidates or jobs being declined by female candidates.
Chakraborty— also Co-Founder and Senior Vice President at TeamLease Services Private Ltd, a human resources company — however said, that women employees have become more cautious and have begun asking more questions about the job and facilities they will receive in terms of pick ups and drops, work timings and hours, options of working from home, etc.
“Yes, women are a little more cautious about their rights, what they deserve and what is good for them, which I think is a good thing, one that nobody should forget,” Chakraborty said.
While the case of the gang rape has prompted many women in the Delhi NCR region to take charge of their own safety, Chakraborty said that women working in and around Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon have usually always accounted for the challenge.
“Many women who work in offices here do not have the resources or option to give up on a job because of an incident like the rape — and they shouldn’t even give up. They come from social backgrounds where they need to work or provide for a family or just for a better life. And, Delhi NCR has ample opportunity and lucrative jobs in this part of India,” Chakraborty said.
OFFICES STEP UP SAFETY MEASURES
Following the incident of rape of the girl who succumbed to her injuries on December 29, many offices in and around Delhi NCR have issued advisories for its women employees and also seen a change in their attitude towards personal security.
While it is statutory for corporates, with the exceptions of business processing operations (BPOs) which seek special permission, to have limits on working hours for women, many companies are making sure that its outer limit for having female employees at work is 7 pm, Chakraborty said.
Chakraborty said that she has seen a lot of companies they service, shifting office timings and shutting by 5.30 pm-6 pm so that people can get home on time and before dark.
“Leaving office early has pretty much become a norm — especially for women who can work from home. All across people and companies are also ensuring and taking steps to make sure employees reach home safely,” she said.
Teamlease, which offers its clients services in hiring, hygiene and productivity works with around 450 companies in the Delhi NCR region, caters mostly to companies dealing in consumer durables, E-commerce, telecom, infrastructure, data and customer support. Chakraborty said that more than 400 of these have issued advisories for women employees.
Ikya’s Singh told Firstpost that many companies they service were already accommodating women employees in terms of allotting women regular hour shifts, not having them stay on in office late and providing transport facilities.
“While the gang rape of the girl and her death has created a lot of waves and increased individual security awareness, many companies we work with have been accommodating women for a while now,” he said.
A recent survey by industry body ASSOCHAM’s Social Development Foundation (ASDF) found that 89 percent of the survey’s participants said they have begun insisting on leaving offices on time, immediately after duty hours following the gang rape case and a heightened sense of insecurity.
The survey, whose sample size was 2,500 women across Delhi NCR and other metros, also cited that women who travel by buses, chartered buses, three-wheelers and metro are most susceptible to anxiety.
NO WOMEN QUITTING JOBS
The survey also said that productivity of the workforce has been affected and that one in three amongst the female worker has either reduced working hours after sunset or quit jobs after horrendous Delhi rape incident.
Chakraborty, however, said that TeamLease is not aware of any woman employee who has quit her job due to safety concerns. “Women employees must face a lot of family pressure if nothing else and there is definitely some change in their behavior, but nobody to my knowledge has quit work for the security reason,” she said, adding, “Personally, I don’t think once should quit. Doing that is only acknowledging defeat.”
She also denied any drop in productivity.
“I don’t think there has been any drop in productivity. It’s not like people have been taken by surprise at the incident, as this has always been the reality. While rape case has been an eye opener, it’s not new. it’s a wake up call — but women have always been and are aware of the risk of moving around in Delhi NCR,” she said.
The gang rape of the 23-year-old girl saw a fierce public outcry and protests against the state and government for failing to stem violence against women.
Five of the six accused have been charged with murder, attempt to murder, gang-rape, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, dacoity, murder and unnatural sexual offences. The sixth victim , a minor, will be tried by the juvenile justice board.
NEW DELHI | BANGALORE: Rituparna Chakraborty,co-founder and SVP, TeamLease Services, may find it hard to get conclusive assurances to her cry of anguish at the December 16 gang-rape case in Delhi, but the uproar the incident has triggered across the country is at least having one salutary collateral impact.
Across corporate India, the tragic and devastating incident has shaken employees, managers and CEOs alike, pitch-forking issues such as sexual harassmentand women safety to the top of the list of senior management discussion topics, and with it, a priority for action.
Although organisations are wary of taking knee jerk reactions, they are talking about the issue of women safety, reviewing and reinforcing processes already in place and creating them if they don't exist.
The Employers' Federation of India (EFI), which represents employers' interests in the areas of human resources, industrial relations and labour issues, has held discussions on the Delhi incident, although much of it informally.
EFI president Rajeev Dubey said the discussions have been at three levels. "The first level is the physical safety of women, especially those who work in shifts in the services sector or work till late; the second level is sexual harassment, and the third is cultural and historical mindset," said Dubey, who also oversees HR and is a member of the group executive board at Mahindra & Mahindra. "Ultimately, the mindset has to change in the long term."
Still, experts say firms do not want to be caught vulnerable on this count, as an incident could leave lasting reputational - and maybe even financial - damage to firms.
Already, India's record on the issue of sexual harassment at workplaces is far from stellar. A report by the Indian chapter of British charity Oxfam released last month said that 17% of working women in India feel that they have experienced acts of sexual harassment at workplace. This, the report said, indicated a high incidence of sexual harassment among working women from both the organised and unorganised sectors.
While large companies have well defined and codified sexual harassment rules and policies for tackling them, several small and mid-sized firms do not. In many older firms rules exist, but are rarely, if ever, propagated. Experts say the Delhi incident could be the trigger for change.
"The Delhi incident brings focus on these (issues) and will lead to more sensitisation," says Ajit Isaac, CEO of Ikya Human Capital Solutions, a staffing services provider.
Industry body Ficci last week set up an industry task force on safety for women, which will work towards developing a National Safety Policy for Women to be adopted by industry.
In any case, conversations around the issue are increasing, say experts.
Nirmala Menon, founder and CEO of Interweave Consulting, a firm that advises organisations on diversity management and sexual awareness, reveals that communication and conversations on these issues have increased recently in companies, although not all as a knee jerk reaction to the Delhi incident.
"Besides IT, sectors like energy, smaller firms, banks... have asked us to frame and audit their policies on sexual harassment and train their employees and managers as well," says Menon. Employees are being trained to spot when either party feels uncomfortable. Often the perpetrator and the victim do not know that they have been harassing or are being harassed and need to be sensitised to vibes that the other party emits, she explains.
Larger firms and groups that have well defined policies and have enforced them say that strong action has invariably proved effective.
At RPG Group, in the early 2000s, a woman deputy manager had complained of being sexually harassed by her a male colleague, who was three levels her senior. The committee that looked into sexual harassment was asked to submit a report within 24 hours and action taken. The group has not had any sexual harassment case since, says Arvind Agrawal, HR president & chief executive for corporate development.
November 30, 2012:
Long renowned as a manufacturing base, Chennai is fast-emerging as an investment destination for services companies in the banking and financial space.
“Due to a number of factors — cost, infrastructure, and availability of skilled personnel — there has been a move away from cities such as Mumbai and Delhi NCR into other cities. In the last six months, we’ve seen a number of clients express interest in setting up their business hubs in Chennai or expanding their presence in the city,” said Tulika Tripathi, Managing Director for Michael Page India, a specialist recruitment consultancy firm.
Outlining the drivers for the shift to Chennai, she said the city’s infrastructure and connectivity with international and regional locations were key factors.
In addition, lower costs in establishing a base in Chennai, and presence of a strong, local technical pool were differentiators vis-à-vis other cities. Also, the policies of the State Government were investor-friendly, she added.
Another recruitment consultant, Teamlease, too has echoed a positive outlook on Chennai.
According to Teamlease’s latest employment survey for the July-September quarter, Chennai recorded the best growth in hiring out of any Indian city over the last four quarters. The business outlook for financial services in Chennai was better than in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Pune.
But the hiring prospects in the BFSI space dimmed a bit during the quarter under review, as per Teamlease. In the previous quarter, Chennai trumped other major cities in BFSI hiring prospects, barring Mumbai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad.
OFF-SHORED WORKTripathi says there is an opportunity for India to garner a larger slice of work off-shored by multinational companies amid the global slowdown. “One of the top-most priorities around the world this year is cost optimisation, followed by process optimisation… As a result, we’ve seen the advent of new job creation because of this global slowdown,” she says.
What is more, a lot of multinationals want to increase their exposure to India and China, because of a growing middle class and domestic demand. Tripathi says a skilled workforce is the country’s strength. “If you look at 10 years ago, we were basically just doing customer service.
“And what India has done quite well is garner client relationships to move up the value chain. So we’ve gone from being just part of an organisation’s support systems to being part of the core functions.”
“It has gone from being a more reactive function for cost optimisation, to a place where we are harbouring talent and harnessing innovation, within finance and operations,” she says.
“There is big demand for finance professionals at the moment,” she points out. Chartered accountants with 6-8 years of experience are currently much sought after, particularily in the areas of MIS, financial control and reporting, she emphasised.
Ashok Reddy, the Managing Director of TeamLease in a discussion with SkillingIndia.com. Excerpts of the interview:
“We believe the market will continue to stay consistently warm for now and will lead to incremental hiring,” states, Ashok Reddy, MD, TeamLease.
SkillingIndia: Given the slowdown in the job market, what’s your assessment on hiring trends for the upcoming year? Any particular sectors or industries that are affected?
Ashok Reddy: There is a cautious approach in the job market to hiring and adding headcount in organizations. Companies have been bruised in the slowdown of 2009 that came after the exuberance of the prior period. There were many knee jerk reactions then and companies through retrenchment let go of fat and muscle. Sectors like BFSI and Telecom led the pack here. Now, they are looking to add back muscle slowly by judging how the market is playing itself out through the global cues.
We believe, across sectors there will be cautious optimism towards hiring and it will be a quarter on quarter visibility rather than one being able to project for the long run. Companies will continue to build on key skills and look to either have entry level hires or lateral hires during a slow market. Also, since the temp staffing industry is a springboard in good times and a shock absorber in bad times, we will see a lot more hiring happening through the temp route given the uncertainties.
SkillingIndia: In your opinion, when is a turnaround expected to happen?
Ashok Reddy: The Indian and global economic cues don’t seem to be very positive at this juncture. Having said that, there is no strong negative reason to create a knee jerk reaction in the job market, either. We believe the market will continue to stay consistently warm for now and will lead to incremental hiring, but it won’t have a quantum change unless a surprise comes by.
Our economy is still one of the most resilient and I am fairly confident that the current slowdown will pass soon. Major economy indicators like inflation, WIP, IIP, etc. are not worse unlike earlier quarters, and should ideally start improving.
SkillingIndia: What are the pluses and minuses of temporary staffing workforce in India?
Ashok Reddy: Temporary staffing has lot of positives like flexibility in tenure, access to job market, ability to learn on the job, comprehensive statutory compliances, manpower for projects, hiring and mapping capabilities, it addresses the long tail of demand, leverages economies of scale and strong HR support systems.
Some of the so-called minuses are the new concept of employment through temp route, the mindset bias for permanent jobs, and the unorganized and informal sector employment competition.
SkillingIndia: What can candidates opting for temporary staffing positions expect in terms of assessments and training?
Ashok Reddy: Most hiring happens by way of candidates being assessed for the job through written tests and/or interviews. The large volume of temp hiring happens at the bottom of the pyramid where you have a lot of first timers entering the job market. While a lot of learning for the temps happens on the job, it also enables them to earn while they learn. Also, we do industry and company specific assessments and thereon specific induction and functional trainings ramp ups hires to attain speed in their jobs.
These days lot of emphasis is being laid on skilling the workforce and we at TeamLease have also embarked on this journey. So, whether it is through apprenticeships, vocational training, assessment and coaching, industry academia partnership, etc. there are various means to bring candidates up to the mark by providing them the required skilling/training.
SkillingIndia: Any innovative training techniques that TeamLease uses for skilling candidates?
Ashok Reddy: While a lot of training does happen on the job, the other methodologies used by us to reach out and skill the temps are through the phone – for induction, using technology–satellite classrooms, e-learning study circles, learning management systems through the net, upcoming cloud campus, etc.
We have an eight-minute assessment for any first time caller if he or she is willing to undergo it, which then leads to further assessment and training of the candidates. This is a first basic step apart from the ones mentioned above.
SkillingIndia: How often does the curriculum undergo changes to remain relevant to the job market demands?
Ashok Reddy: We do a quarterly curriculum review panel of the course contents by having a panel of academicians. Our teachers and the industry makes the required changes and makes the content relevant and up to date on a recurring basis.
SkillingIndia: Anything you would like to add?
Ashok Reddy: The public policy case for temporary jobs is strong. Most Indians in temporary jobs are labour market outsiders (less skilled, less educated, small town residents, first-time job seekers, women, retired, etc) who have been traditionally disadvantaged. Temp jobs reduce frictional unemployment (temporary mismatches of demand and supply) by providing labour market liquidity and substituting for the shameful performance of employment exchanges. Additionally, these jobs are a non-fiscal market substitute (albeit short term and imperfect) for social security and unemployment insurance.
Most importantly, organized temporary jobs are a bridge to full employment; more than 40% find permanent jobs within a year. Given that un-employability is emerging as a larger problem than unemployment, organized temporary jobs have earned a review of the regulatory cholesterol that holds them back just based on an improved employability corridor more powerful than the low conversions of the Apprenticeship Act.
The case for temporary jobs from a labour demand perspective is also important. Temping increases the strategic flexibility of employers by lowering fixed costs (not total costs). In a country like India, this flexibility creates a viable and important alternative to the blind capital substitution of labour. These jobs also represent cost effective handling of peak capacity requirements (particularly for service companies that cannot inventory their output and cyclical manufacturing like textiles). Global experience confirms that temporary jobs reduce unemployment.
GURGAON: After organizing job fairs in the city, the companies are now venturing into nearby towns and cities. On Wednesday a first-of-its-kind job fair was organized by TeamLease Services, for the youth of Jhajjar and surrounding areas. On the occasion, it also announced its proposal to manage the Jhajjar Employment Exchange going forward, in association with the district administration of Jhajjar. The initiative with active support from the district administration aims to increase the employability quotient of residents of Jhajjar and near-by areas through proper training (skilling) and access to quality jobs.
The mega job fair was inaugurated by Deependar Singh Hooda, the MP from Rohtak Constituency. The job fair had around 18-20 companies evaluating candidates and trying to fill in around 4000- 5000 openings.
Aimed at connecting job seekers with employers, the job fair was held at the Government Polytechnic College, Jhajjar. It was open for candidates with a minimum qualification of secondary education and above.
"Skilled employees are a big challenge in India. We believe in creating a synergy between employees and employers and the job fair is extension of this vision. The job fair will provide candidates a platform that will give them right career guidance and job access in varied sectors. For corporate it would help them with the much needed talent as well," said Neeti Sharma, vice president, TeamLease Services.
Bangaloreans are among the most superstitious lot of employees across the country. A study by city-based staffing firm TeamLease Services has revealed that around 73% of those surveyed in the city believe strongly in superstitious practices at the workplace.
The extent of belief in superstitions have been found to be high in Bangalore and New Delhi, whereas in cities such as Kolkata and Pune the prevalence of such beliefs is minimal.
While Vaastu Shastra and Feng Shui are the most common practices followed at the workplace, personal favourites are lucky charms such as keeping stones, colour specific items, and the ubiquitous bamboo shoot. However, since managements in India are usually adaptive of such practices, employees are not restricted from practicing the same at work.
According to Surabhi Mathur Gandhi, senior vice-president and co-founder, TeamLease Services, Bangalore has no gender disparity when it comes to superstitious practices at work. While 70% women employees believe in such practices, men are close behind with 69%. While city-based firms mostly believe in Vaastu Shastra and proper seating arrangements to ward off evil spirits, individual employees believe in lucky charms.
For instance, Rakesh MG who works in an automobile firm, keeps a rudraksha bead near his computer. “I derive inner strength by merely looking at it. I have been doing this for the past couple of years,” he says.
Some 48% of the respondents feel that superstitions at the workplace have had a positive effect on their lives, and that ‘modern’ organisations impose fewer restrictions on such practices.
India Infoline News Service / 09:10 , Nov 20, 2012
The survey revealed that overall faith in personal belief or superstition is quite high (62%) among employees in India and more than half of respondents (51%) follow superstition at their work place.
TeamLease Services, India’s largest composite staffing company, released the findings of its latest survey ‘Superstitions@Workplace’ as part of its survey series to understand ‘India’s new World of Work’. The survey revealed that overall faith in personal belief or superstition is quite high (62%) among employees in India and more than half of respondents (51%) follow superstition at their work place.
While Vaastu Shastra and Feng Shui are the most common practices followed at the workplace, the personal favourites are lucky charms like stones, colour specific items, specific number oriented items and the ubiquitous bamboo shoot. The study also states that management in India is generally adaptive to various superstitious beliefs of employees and does not restrict them from practicing it at work as long as it does not negatively affect productivity. Add to this, majority of the senior management at companies themselves believe that superstitious practices are more prevalent at the top of the order.
Commenting on the study, Surabhi Mathur Gandhi, Sr. V-P and Co-founder, TeamLease Services, said, “The aggressive drive to a higher productivity and performance based output is reflected by the radical shifting of gears within the corporate circle. Keener business focus, stringent performance metrics and an acute sense of onus has set the pace for our work force today. With equal fervor we observe popular practices like FengShui or Vaastu being discreetly incorporated by all and sundry as a good measure of support. Favourite good luck charms like the laughing Buddha, the musical fountain, frog, tortoise or even the simple bamboo shoot stand out strikingly at most work places today; and an acceptance of these beliefs across the board has made it non-conflictive.”
The study goes to say that more than 48% of the respondents felt that practicing superstition at workplace has had a positive effect and modern organizations impose fewer restrictions on such practices. While management does not lend explicit support to employees who practice superstitions, they also said in the same breath that no one interferes as well when an employee is seen to be following some superstitious belief.
Furthermore, when the senior management of companies was quizzed, majority of them revealed that though practices like FengShui, Vaastu Shastra, lucky charms, arrangement of idols and stickers of gods at workstations, laughing Buddha, money plant, etc. are common at workplaces, they do not have any significant influence on people and the corporate culture. Practice whatever you may, but ultimately the work and outcome will be subject to your skills, knowledge and application, is what they seem to say, according to the TeamLease study.
Employees across all levels and cities are happy with the kind of superstitious practices being followed in their organisations. A higher percentage of female employees (80%) are happy with superstitious practices followed in their organisations as compared to males (68%). When asked who follows superstitions more at workplace between men and women, majority of the respondents (63%) felt that female workers are more superstitions than their male counterparts.
The survey, conducted by Market Search IPL for TeamLease, covered 800 companies across the top eight cities in India - New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad. The respondents’ profile ranged between the age group of 21 to above 45 years with 60% from the junior level, 25% from the middle management and 15% from the senior level. Among the cities, it was observed that the level of superstition seems to be comparatively less followed in Ahmedabad and Pune whereas it was higher in Bangalore and New Delhi.
Young graduates haven’t had it so tough in a while. Fewer campus offers are being made by companies and even where offers have been made, joining dates are getting stretched.
This has forced many to queue up for temporary — better known as temp — jobs. Staffing firms have seen a 30-40% surge in the number of CVs coming in for such jobs in the past few months.
Unlike in a regular job, where the recruit is on the payroll of the company, a temp candidate sits on the payroll of the staffing firm that has hired him but is deployed to different companies for short durations of 12-24 months for functions that are largely industry agnostic.
According to Aneesh G Laikar, CEO of search firm Selectema Consulting, temps are preferred for functions like finance, administration, accounts, sales, and data processing.
A few years ago, temp jobs typically brought unskilled or semi-skilled workers into the market. Today, with permanent jobs hard to land, even MBAs and engineers are queuing up for these despite the fact that the salaries are 10-12% lower.
Sangeeta Lala, senior vice-president at temp staffing firm TeamLease Services, said the overall hiring momentum for temp jobs has held steady in the last six months or so, though hiring for permanent jobs has dwindled by as much as 20%.
By her estimate, where earlier they would receive 300-400 CVs a day, todaythat number has zoomed to over 550: “Thus, people are becoming more open for temp jobs. We are seeing a lot of applications.”
The organised temping sector has been growing at a healthy 20-25% for the past year, said Rituparna Chakraborty, vice-president, Indian Staffing Federation. Rough estimates suggest there are 5 lakh temps, with Randstad India accounting for 62,000 and TeamLease, 72,000. Lala said TeamLease is looking to add 3,000-6,000 temps by March.
The change also suits companies, keen to keep their obligations low as they battle the slowdown. For short-term projects and new launches, particularly, hiring temps often makes sense.
“Firms mainly from the FMCG, consumer durables, e-commerce domains are seeking out temps,” said Chakraborty of ISF.
According to experts, temping allows companies to save as much as 15% of their manpower costs since they do not have to bear these employees’ pension, insurance, health-care and provident fund costs as they are not on their payrolls.
“Many firms see temps as a sort of hedging strategy to safeguard themselves against taking in additional manpower costs,” said E Balaji, MD and CEO of staffing firm Randstad India.
Regus survey finds 7 out of 10 employees not comfortable with the concept.
Working from home is yet to catch up as a healthy practice among the Indian employees, notwithstanding the fact that it cuts down one’s commuting time and daily travelling cost. There are more reasons than one why this is yet to become a popular and practical option. According to a recent global survey by the LSE-listed and Luxembourg-headquartered Regus, world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces, with products and services ranging from fully equipped offices to professional meeting rooms, business lounges and the world’s largest network of video communication studios, over seven out of ten people surveyed, said they were regularly put off by their kids or family demanding more attention.
The survey was conducted among over 24,000 business executives from over 90 countries during September 2012. Of them as many as 508 respondents were from India. These were sourced from Regus’ global contacts database of over 1 million business-people worldwide, which is highly representative of senior managers and owners in business across the globe.
“Working from home can clearly affect your concentration and productivity. Employees are naturally keen to benefit from flexible working practices, so they can avoid lengthy commutes, and work the hours that suit them, in order to improve their work-life balance. But the findings of the recent survey suggest that a professional environment close to home is preferable to actual home-working, so as to avoid strain on families, to project a professional image, and to improve overall productivity,” Madhusudan Thakur, regional vice president, South Asia, Regus, told FC.
The Regus study said that for Indian workers the three biggest issues when working from home are: children or family demanding attention (68 per cent), children, family or pets disturbing work telephone calls (51 per cent), household noises such as the bell ringing or the washing machine spinning (45 per cent). Besides, some important health related issues also cropped up. Nearly 28 per cent complained of bad posture at home due to their unsuitable home office arrangements – good posture is critical to ensuring that workers do not suffer repetitive strain injury and permanent damage. Lack of a proper work surface is also a problem for a third (32 per cent) of respondents. Altogether, 15 different issues were identified as being obstacles to productively working from home.
“As more people experience it (working from home), many are also discovering the downsides. Personal life needs to adapt to the professional activities that are taking place and that’s not always easy. In addition to our survey findings, there are reports of home-workers feeling lonely, alienated and cut off from colleagues. It seems that office ‘face-time’ also plays an important role in helping workers secure promotions, with employees that work from home being overlooked even in firms that actively encourage staff to work from home at least occasionally,” said Thakur.