Let the games begin…

Recruitment refers to the process of attracting, screening, and selecting a qualified person for a job. At the strategic level it may involve the development of an employer brand which includes an ’employee offering’.*(Wikipedia)

Given the above definition, the objectives of any recruitment process can be defined as follows:

1. Reach out to the right target audience in terms of the talent pool
2. Developing an attractive and robust value proposition to attract the talent
3. Effectively communicating this value proposition to the target pool
4. Ensuring that the best available talent is brought on board
5. Positively impacting the perception of the potential talent pool to create a recall as a desirable employer

Given the complex nature of the labour markets and the severe talent crunch, recruitment professionals have for long been pushed into innovation almost as a compulsion. One such increasingly popular trend is to carry out “Competitions” / “Practical skill testing” as the preliminary resourcing process. Most employers carry out competitions or skill tests as they call it. The best performers at such programs are usually offered a job with the company which is empowering and lucrative. 

This distinct trend is especially seen to be gaining ground in recruiting for 2 talent segments:

a) Entry Level Campus / Graduate Recruitment 
b) IT / Coding Professionals

Let’s look at some of the benefits employers derive from such resourcing endeavors: 

1. Since a program like this targets a large number of participants from a focused talent pool taking part, it automatically translates into an effective platform to reach out and communicate / market the Employee Value Proposition of the company to a targeted talent pool

2. Such a program is also a great way for the employer to ‘test’ it’s desirability. The applicant response generated for a competition tells the company about it’s own desirability as an employer within those focused talent segments.

3. The content for these competitions are designed keeping in mind the competencies which the company wishes to test participants on. Case Studies, Role Plays, Simulations, Strategy Documents, Research Papers and sometimes even Field Assignments are included as part of the program content. Hence these programs not only allow the employer to test the hands on knowledge, aptitude and analytical skills but also is a robust test of the participant’s softer competencies like team working skills, ability to handle pressure, dealing with ambiguity and most importantly, leadership orientation. 

This is where the real value lies for the recruiter. In the traditional mould, the recruiter was heavily dependent on the Resume of the candidate along with the Interview / GD which can last only a few minutes. The traditional practice didn’t enable the recruiter to gather enough information on important decision variables. However, these competitions enable the employer to analyse the results and behaviours exhibited by the candidates over a period of time of the duration of the competition and enables the multi-dimensional analysis of the applicant profile. 

There are a few entrepreneurial ventures who have spotted this trend early and are facilitating the process. The website Dare2Compete is a good platform which enables companies / colleges carrying out these competitions to advertise their events and at times even carry out their online preliminary rounds through the portal. 

Some of the corporate houses who have already explored this route for resourcing successfully are as follows:

Hindustan Unilever Limited, which prides itself in being consistently ranked as the most desirable company to work for on B-School campuses across India, launched a competition named LIME (Lessons in Marketing Excellence). Not being left out far behind, the global FMCG major L’Oreal has been conducting it’s own Brandstorm which is a branding & marketing competition for B-Schoolers.

This is not only restricted to MBAs, the trend is also helping techies and coders leverage their skills to realize their Silicon Valley dreams. With many of the Valley start ups in dire need for talented programs, this coding competition called CodeSprint has proved to be the perfect launch pad for talented programmers to exhibit their talent and move a step closer to their Dollar Salary dreams! Not only that, such competitions also act as a great global platform where these young aspirant can assess and evaluate where they stand among the like minded peer group. Some great learning is derived just by participation and some enduring binds are forged while working in groups. 

HR and innovation have not exactly been known to co-exist, but this kind of a marriage which results in a win-win for all stakeholders is surely a very welcome development for the HR fraternity. As they say, let the games begin… 

(Image Courtesy: Google Images)

5 Tips of Campus Relations

1.       A comprehensive strategy
Campus Relations should not be a one off recruitment drive. If you are convinced that campuses offer significant value, have a long term sustainable strategy in place for campus relations. Also if you wish to recruit talent, ensure that you clearly articulate responses to the following basic questions:
(a)    What am I recruiting this talent for? What career development opportunities can I offer them?
(b)   Where do I stand in the minds of the students in terms of desirability of employer brand?
(c)    How am I going to differentiate myself from other employers
(d)   Who is my ideal candidate? (Define the competencies desired)
2.       Clearly define a Value proposition
 For yourself as well as the campuses. Define clearly what you’re looking for and align with campuses which are best equipped to deliver value. Great talent doesn’t always necessarily come from premiere campuses.
3.       Ongoing Engagement
Maintain ongoing engagement, network extensively. Work on clearly articulating your employer brand & effectively communicate to position it correctly. Monitor the trends; be aware of what others are doing. Be visible and active on social media, students on campuses are actively looking out for anchors which will help them zero in on their aspirational employer brand. Initiating campus connect initiatives, case study or B-Plan competitions etc are great ways of creating direct touch points with the campuses and engaging the students.
4.       Provide a great experience
Personalise as much as possible, make people feel wanted, keep your word. Plan your campus visits well in advance & ensure that senior management takes adequate interest and provides face time for campus relations initiatives. We as HR should also ensure an organisational culture which is conducive for such talent to develop & grow within the organisation and that everyone recognises the value that campus relations brings to the organisation. Providing mentor & buddy support, a well chalked out career development plan, individual learning plans and other support if provided to campus hires, will result in great delight and help retain and develop them into critical talent.
5.       Campus is not only about recruiting talent
Campus is not only about recruiting talent. To really leverage on your campus relations you can be creative. You can leverage the campus alumni network, the faculty base, research resources and even the students to help devise innovative solutions to your pain points.
Some institutes offer great Management Development Programs (MDP’s) which can be used as robust training providers for your staff. Students & faculty have in the past, proposed ideas that have really resulted in path breaking value creation for companies. Nowadays, student enterprises started up on campus are a great source of ideas & opportunities for the established companies to explore an learn from. There is great value to be unlocked, if only you engage well.

Latest on Employee’s Provident Funds – Part 1

Surya Roshni Limited, having its industrial establishment in Gwalior (MP), has filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court which was heard on 2nd March, 2012 and the notice was issued to the EPFO for further proceedings and for staying of Order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
It may be recollected that in Surya Roshni Ltd. vs. Employees Provident Fund & Anr., 2011 LLR 568, the Madhya Pradesh High Court (Gwalior Bench) has held that transport allowance, attendance incentive, washing allowance and special allowance being paid to all the employees except house rent allowance and the lunch allowance not being paid to all the workers will be treated as ‘basic wages’ for the purpose of
attracting provident fund contributions.
The above case is perhaps the first case where the controversy, as prevailing all over India, will be decided once for all.
Senior officials of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) say the EPFO will begin the process on April 1 when the entire compliance operation will be on line. That will eliminate the need for any EPFO officer to personally inspect company records. In the new system, the EPFO will ask companies to voluntarily disclose all information required to comply with the Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act. Based on the information, the EPFO will devise parameters to discover defaulters. The parameters will change each year to avoid companies being compliant with only certain parameters.
Last July, the Central Bureau of Investigation registered cases against nine senior officials of the EPFO for causing a loss to the exchequer amounting to Rs.169 crore. Most defaulting companies usually understated the number of employees to bring down EPFO liability. In view of the above, the visits from the EPFO office to your Company may be a thing of past.
The grievance of the appellant in the appeal is that the order dated 15.06.2011 passed by the EPF Authority under section 7A of the Act stating that the amount paid towards compensation to an ex-employee for not performing duty would attract EPF contributions is illegal. The EPF Appellate Tribunal observed that compensation was paid for keeping the employee away from duty, there is no document to show that the employee was continued in service without interruption. The amount paid is not the payment of wages for duties performed. Therefore, the amount of damages or the compensation awarded under a court settlement would not constitute ‘basic wages’ as envisaged by the Act and would not attract EPF liability. Hence, order of the EPF Authority is set aside and appeal allowed.
M/s. Binny Engineering Ltd. vs APFC, Tambaram, Chennai, 
No.605(13)/2011 decided on 23.02.2012
Source: Labour Law Reporter

Does tatoo have a place in the workplace?

A friend of mine, sent 3 of us fellow HR people a mail which said…

“Do you as future HR managers believe that a person with a tattoo should not be hired? Its common knowledge that apart from ad agencies, if you are applying to firms, its advisable to hide your tattoo.
It would be interesting to study the cultural and psychological significance of such a prejudice.”

Source of doubt : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/quickiearticleshow/9257848.cms

My Response:

We must trace down the role of a workplace as a social insitution / community. Every workplace is unique in its culture. Like every school, college or something as micro as even a family. Not all of them are on the same level of flexibility in being open to freedom of expressions of various kinds.

Hence, it is upto each individual to sensitise himself / herself to the nature of the organisational culture / environment in which one operates. For Eg: I’m sure an Ad Agency like O&M would be perfectly OK with having a tattoo, it might even be ‘cool’ for some people working in ‘creatives’ to be sporting one. However, a conservative place like a PSU Bank or a global MNC with evolved policies *(Dress Codes) like Unilever might not appreciate flashy displays of body art.

Besides, what might be creative *(Religious Symbols) as body art might even be offensive to another. I think, therefore, it is best that the issue be managed on the principle of ‘Self Regulation’ for appropriateness by the individual. IMHO, it’s best not to reach a stage where company intervention may be required!

The 9 Essential Skills of HR Management—How Many Do You Have?

By Stephen D. Bruce, PHR
Managing Editor, HR Daily Advisor

HR Key Skill #1: Organization

HR management requires an orderly approach. Organized files, strong time management skills, and personal efficiency are key to successful HR function. As readers well know, there’s a heavy load of regular work and that’s to say nothing of the “emergencies.” You have to make time and you can’t be sloppy.

HR Key Skill #2: Multitasking

On any day, an HR professional will deal with an employee’s personal issue one minute, a benefit claim the next, and a recruiting strategy for a hard-to-fill job the minute after. Priorities and business needs move fast and change fast, and colleague A who needs something doesn’t much care if you’re already helping colleague B. You need to be able to handle it all, all at once.

HR Key Skill #3: Discretion and Business Ethics

HR professionals are the conscience of the company, as well as the keepers of confidential information. You are the corporate watchdogs, and you need the strength to push back when things aren’t right. You have to be absolute in guarding the confidentiality of documents and information entrusted to you.

HR Key Skill #4: Dual Focus

HR professionals need to consider the needs of both employees and management. There are times you must make decisions to protect the individual, and other times when you protect the organization, its culture, and values. Going in either direction, you may have information you can’t share. It’s part of the territory.

HR Key Skill #5: Employee Trust

Employees expect HR professionals to advocate for their concerns, yet you must also enforce top management’s policies. The HR professional who can pull off this delicate balancing act wins trust from all concerned.

HR Key Skill #6: Fairness

Successful HR professionals demonstrate fairness. This means that communication is clear, that peoples’ voices are heard, that laws and policies are followed consistently, and that privacy and respect is maintained.

HR Key Skill #7: Dedication to Continuous Improvement

HR professionals help managers coach and develop their employees. The goal is continued improvement and innovation as well as remediation. And looking to their own houses, HR professionals also use technology and other means to continuously improve the HR function itself.

HR Key Skill #8: Team Orientation

Once, companies were organized into hierarchies. Today, the team is king. HR managers must consequently understand team dynamics and find ways to bring disparate personalities together to make the employer’s teams work together.

HR Key Skill #9: Strategic Orientation

Forward-thinking HR professionals take a leadership role and influence management’s strategic path. In gauging and filling the labor needs of the company, devising compensation schemes, improving engagement and retention, and bringing on board new skill sets leading to business growth, they provide the proof for the often-heard management comment, “People are our most important asset.”

Nine Skills, But Also One Caveat

As we listed these skills, one thing we didn’t do was try to prioritize them. Because no general list of skills can take into account the business strategy at your particular organization.

“HR is a creature of, and serves the business strategy,” says Bob Brady, founder of BLR Brady says. “It’s important for HR people to know what that strategy is and what makes the business tick so the approach to HR can be tailored accordingly.

“Never think of HR in isolation,” he advises. “Because if HR professionals think of themselves as ‘just HR,’ that’s what the rest of the organization will think too.”

What do you think? Did we get it right? What essential skill did we miss? Which one would you take off the list?


“The Employment Relationship: Crucial Challenges for HR”


This paper was adjudged as an award winning entry for a competition organised by one of the top B-School’s in India – Xavier’s Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar (XIMB) for their HR Magazine – HR’XPERT.


Dynamic Business Environment:

Today, we are living in the age of change and dynamism. The world as we know it is increasingly changing at a faster pace defined by global competition, faster flow of information , easier communication & increasing complexity of business environment.

With these rapid changes, new paradigms of business are constantly getting created, while the status quo is continually challenged by forces of technological breakthroughs, economic growth, market evolution, societal changes, shifts in consumer tastes and political events.

Changing Employment Relationship:

The pace and nature of changes in the environment in which businesses of today operate, the nature of employment relationship is undergoing fundamental changes. Reengineering, shifting market downsizing, and make other factors have contributed to rapid changes in existing jobs and creation of new ones. There are no rigid job definitions. Functional flexibility is the new rule of the game. The role and composition of teams has expanded. Organisations are increasingly using temporary staffing and contractual labour as a means to mitigate the cyclical changes as well as manage costs and efficiencies.

These changes have the following implications on Human Resource Management for both organizations and employees:

  1. Companies no longer assure lifelong employment to their employees
  2. Employees do not profess complete and lifelong loyalty to the employer.
  3. A talented and committed human resource base is emerging as a source of great competitive advantage.
  4. Increasing focus on HR practices & policies to retain and motivate the workforce

The companies need to invest in their human capital fully well knowing it could be their riskiest investment. Hence there are risk – mitigation / hedging methods in HR which are observed in recent times like the ‘Employment Bonds’ that are being used by the organisations as tools to minimise the potential loss of a bad people investment.

In this quest to win the ‘War for Talent’, employers often make promises that are likely to be met only if the pace of growth in the business continues steadily. However, the business realities of the downturn in the recent past have shown us that growth may not be uninterrupted or steady all the while and managing human resources may have to re-adjust to satisfy other stakeholders, particularly shareholders, by cutting down on promises made earlier, as a consequence, the relationship between employee & employer is impacted.

Organizational Psychology is a subject which applies the principles of psychology to one of the most important areas of people’s life – work. Specifically, with the human aspects of the workplace and aim at improving people’s efficiency, and hence organizational effectiveness, through the knowledge of human behaviour.

Employment Relationship in Future Organizations addresses the issues of change within employee relationships resulting from the impact of factors such as:

  • International competitive pressures
  • technological change
  • Changing individual expectations and behaviours

The new employment contract is analysed from inside and outside organizations and the issues are addressed from both a human resource management and work psychology perspective.

Emerging Challenges for HR – Employment Relationship:

  • Trust

Valuing the employment relationship implies that both the parties viz. The employers & the employees should value trust in the relationship. Employers should pay attention to building employee’s trust in the organisation through transparency and management credibility. This means clarifying what is on offer, meeting commitments, or when necessary, explaining what has gone wrong and monitoring employee attitudes from time to time. Non-fulfilment of perceived obligations may lead to disconnect. Congruence between what has been promised & what the employees receive from the organisation strengthens trust in the employment relationship.

  • Psychological Contract

Psychological Contract between the employer and the employee involves the beliefs about the obligations that are predicted on the unstated perception that a promise has been made between the two stakeholders. Psychological contract is dynamic. It implies the inferences of the ‘Employee value Proposition’ as promoted by the organisation. It refers to the way the employment relationship is interpreted. It helps build the people dimension into thinking about organisational strategy. Now, the purpose of business strategies becomes how to get the best return from their employee’s energies, knowledge and creativity. Managing the favourable balance of this ever changing Psychological Contract is going to be one of the biggest challenges for the HR practitioners going forward.


  • Well Being

The workforce today has matured beyond wanting only compensation at par. They demand more from the job – well being. The organisations today have also recognised that an employee’s emotional and physical well being is essential for overall efficiency and maximum productivity of the employee. Hence a slew of measures will be required to be initiated by the HR Managers of tomorrow.

  • Information

One of the cornerstones of any relationship is the openness of communication and the amount of information sharing that is done in good faith. Employment relationship is no different. Organisations going forward will have to design policies which enable them to seamlessly share relevant information on a continuous basis with their employees and engage them in the state of affairs from time to time as important stakeholders driving in a transparent and accessible environment.

  • Fairness

Adopting fair practices and ensuring that there are no inherent bias that creeps into any of the HR related processes whether it is the recruitment, performance evaluation, compensation parity or even for that matter, facilitating the exit of an employee, there should be no room for any prejudice, preconceived mindsets and meritocracy should be the norm. This is a very difficult target to achieve, especially given that some of these processes rely on a great degree of an individualistic assessment of the situation. When fairness in process is religiously followed, it significantly reduces the employee – employer litigation matters. Any lapse in maintaining a stringent check on the fair and unbiased treatment can lead to the severing of an employment relationship.

  • Involvement

Numerous empirical studies over the years have shown that a positively engaged workforce is more likely to be closer to their optimum performance. Intellectual stimulus and creating a challenging an compelling environment for every employee’s involvement is going to be a great challenge for the HR Managers going forward. To keep up the morale of the workforce and to ensure that there are enough opportunities create to differentiate the quality of internal talent pool, creating platforms for employee involvement will be vital for maintaining a healthy employment relationship. In the absence of such available platforms, boredom, monotony, lethargy and atrophy can easily creep in dislodging the balance & harmony of the employment relationship


Consequences of Mismanagement of Employment Relationship:

The problem occurs when the employee perceives that the organisation has failed to meet its obligations towards the employees and vice versa. This is a cognitive experience when either of the parties forms judgements regarding the level of breach of the unstated psychological contractual relationship.

This perception not only leads to negative feelings about the unmet expectations associated with specific promises, but also to more general feelings of organisational belongingness in term of not being mutually valued and respected. Such alienation in the minds of the employees would lead to the following behavioural reactions:

  • Lack of commitment
  • Increased Absenteeism & tardiness
  • Frustration
  • Job Insecurity
  • Disengagement

Ultimately resulting in Voluntary Turnover / Attrition which eventually results in elevating people costs to the organisation and lower productivity.


This is a turbulent time for the HR managers. With increasing number of legal cases involving employees and the employer, mostly revolving around employments bonds, HR managers have a strategic role to play. From acquiring the right talent and designing perfect employment agreements to helping the employees sustain or have a peaceful exit, HR managers have quite a lot on their plates.

Organisations trying to improve the quality or efficiency of employee’s work can gain a great deal while taking into consideration the holistic view of the Employment Relationship from the point of view of the employee and vice versa. Empathy from both sides is the key in this symbiotic association.

A strong organisational culture aligned with the vision and the strategy of the company can elicit the highest performance and retention of the top talent thereby enabling the organisation to truly emerge as a great place to work in.

Submitted by

Himanshu Kapadia

Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, Mumbai

PGDM 2010 – 2012 | Batch 3




  • ‘Employment Relationship’ – by Archana Tyagi & Rakesh Kumar Agarwal – Indian Journal of Industrial Relations – Vol. 45, No. 3, January, 2010
  • Anderson, N & Schalk R (1998), “The Psychological Contract in Retrospect and Prospect” – Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 19:637-47
  • Blau, P.M. (1964), Exchange and Power in Social Life, New York, Wiley.
  • Mayer, R.C. Davis, JH & Schoorman F.D. (1995), “An Integrative Model of Organisational Trust”, Academy of Management Review, 20: 709-34
  • Organ, D.W. (1988), Organisational Citizenship Behaviour: The Good Soldier Syndrome, DC Heath & Company, Lexington, MA

“The War For Talent” – Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company in 1997, by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod, Harvard Business Press, 2001 ISBN 1578514592, ISBN 9781578514595.

Job security for salesmen on the cards

Over 3 lakh salesmen in sectors such as FMCG, automobiles and apparel will now be covered under a new law providing higher job security, pay parity and better working conditions. However, this may raise companies’ operational cost.

Finally Someone Cared!
Sales and marketing personnel, excluding managers, in 10 sectors will be covered under the Sales Promotion Employees (SPE) Act, according to the minutes of a meeting of Labour Ministry as reported by the The Economic Times.

Employers in these sectors will have to give appointment letters to all sales employees besides offering benefits such as earned, medical, extraordinary, study and casual leaves. This will lead to a an overhaul of the HR policies in these workplaces.

After a meeting with industry and trade union representatives in November, the labour ministry has decided to expand the scope of the SPE Act of 1976 that covers only medical representatives at present. Though employers resisted the move to bring salesmen of other industries under the purview of the Act without talking to each of them first, a decision was pushed through by ‘broad consensus.’

The law will now also cover companies in businesses such as cosmetics, soaps and disinfectants; readymade garments; soft drink manufacturing; biscuits and confectionaries ; automobiles (including accessories); electronics, computers , electrical appliances and paints. Other sectors whose employers will be part of the amended law include ayurvedic, unani and homeopathic medicines; surgical equipment, artificial prosthesis and diagnostics besides paints and varnishes.

The onerous legal paperwork will make employers reluctant to hire sales personnel under such conditions, who will look at alternate ways to push sales, thus adversely impacting job opportunities in the country.

Companies have found ways to circumvent SPE Act even in the pharmaceuticals sector.
Some firms have designated their medical representatives as a supervisor or manager without much change in compensation or work condition as managers are not covered under the SPE Act.

Incidentally, the move to extending the SPE Act was driven by a petition submitted by the Federation of Medical and Sales Representatives’ Association (FMRAI), a trade union of the country’s medical representatives. While the petition was focused on problems faced by medical representatives, FMRAI had sought extension of the law to 40 sectors. The union had also called for penal provisions such as imprisonment of employers in violation cases, along with a longer maternity leave from three to six months.

Source: The Economic Times – 3rd December, 2010