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How to keep your Job

As the job market plummets amid economic slowdown and companies and industries tighten their purse strings, we answer the question that is on everyone’s mind. Mahua Venkatesh and Himani Chandna Gurtoo write.

business Updated: Nov 17, 2013 10:43 IST

Forty-two-year-old Deepak Singhal (name changed) employed in a Delhi based multinational company has decided to take up a new role in another city, a move that he has been trying to avoid for the past four years.

“It is a lateral move but I have decided to take it up as things have not been the same as they were a few years ago,” he said.

Like Singhal, Tripti Sen, a mid-level executive in an IT firm in Kolkata said there is no room for any error.

“You have to deliver in time, people are petrified of any negative inputs made by clients. Earlier, there was scope to explain to your bosses where the client was going wrong or being unreasonable, today the situation has changed,” Sen said.

Singhal and Sen are not alone.

Mumbai-based Sheela Diwan (name changed) another mid-level executive working in a multinational bank said targets are sacrosanct. “You have to adhere to the targets, not just that, to ensure you are in the safe zone, you need to go beyond your set targets,” she added.

A sales manager at a fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company admitted that the management has been constantly increasing the sales target and expecting the sales teams to meet the targets each time. “There is a huge pressure to drive sales for the company,” he said.

Similarly, in the IT sector, companies are looking to increase the performance-based variable pay component for employees to raise the performance bar for employees.

Consumer durables major LG India, has decided to initiate a weekly review system instead of a monthly one to understand ground reality and to ensure that no time is wasted in case a decision is to be taken.

With the slowdown, the job market is shrinking not just in India but across the globe. Slower manufacturing growth and a prolonged downturn in Western economies are hurting jobs in manufacturing and services alike.

Several companies have decided to hire less. Some have even decided to freeze hiring, while many have decided to downsize.

For instance: An estimated 10,000 people have lost their jobs in the insurance sector in the past two years — some of them quit their jobs because of high targets, while some were handed pink slips. Policy uncertainties have brought several infrastructural projects to a halt.

Infrastructure, being one of the largest job churning segments, it is threatening to create new segments of jobless workers. Few auto firms have also laid off temporary staff.

Small wonder, employees whether in Indian or multinational companies are taking no chances and are keeping a constant focus on delivery. Multitasking and adapting and updating themselves with new skill sets are key to making one more valuable to the company, say employees and headhunters.

And if you thought that you would win over your bosses by spending more time in office just to show that you are sincere, you may be in for trouble.

Human resource managers, headhunters and employees unanimously say it is extremely important to perform and deliver on time and avoid fooling your company.

“Your skill set needs to be constantly enhanced... In any organisation priorities change, products change and you need to move with that and you need to focus on work,” Naina Lal Kidwai, country head, HSBC India and president, Ficci told HT.

Echoing the same sentiment, Rajan Dutta, president, HR, Reliance Communications said that at a time when organisations are cutting costs, there is tremendous pressure on employees.

“Today you should look at multi-skilling which can be acquired through online training and certification programmes.”

Increments and bonuses have come down and in several cases, companies have slashed salaries. But employees are not complaining.

“We understand that times are tough and companies have no choice, we need to accept this and not complain,” a senior partner at a large law firm said, on condition of anonymity.

Needless to say, if this had happened a few years ago, the employee would float his resume to grab a better job.

“Team work is key and we have decided to go ahead with a weekly review system instead of a monthly system, as you cannot waste an opportunity and there is absolutely no room for complacency,” Umesh Dhar, HR head, LG India said.

Headhunters advise employees to refrain from switching jobs at this stage if they are set in their present jobs.

“Show enthusiasm and take the initiative and participate in assignments beyond your direct key recognition areas and be ready to take up multiple roles. This will not only help you upgrade your skill set but will also infuse confidence in your top management that you can take up any role and responsibility,” said a senior human resources executive at Tata Teleservices Limited.

Employees know that companies are dictated by one mantra: a penny saved is a penny earned and they are more cost conscious today than ever before.

So bottomline: Employees are doing their best to remain valuable for the company.

Besides, headhunters also advise employees to avoid conflicts with peers and bosses.

“Avoid getting into a conflict situation, employees cannot dictate terms,” said Deependra Nigam, vice chairman, Executive Recruiters’ Association.

“In today’s times, employees need to continuously keep updating themselves on the knowledge front and keep reinventing themselves. The knowledge could be work related or non-work related. Companies may offer a completely diverse opportunity and if one has wider knowledge base it helps in getting redeployed,” Rajneesh Singh, managing partner, Simply HR Solutions added.

When is the time to worry about your job?

Warning signals..

If your company is not performing well, its products and services are not doing well, revenues and profits are falling—signals that your job is in trouble.

If you are not occupied eight hours in a day, your bosses are not delegating much work and responsibilities to you.

If most of your colleagues have got decent hike in salary but your hike stands lowest.
If your boss is avoiding you, not striking much conversation, rather making you realise that you better work.

Now, what should you rather do...

Either pull up your socks and try to push up your performance phenomenally. Don’t just aim to reach the targets, rather aim to create new benchmarks.

Or, start looking for a new job. Start floating your resume.

Keys to retain your job In manufacturing, Energy, IT and Financial Services Sectors

Mobility is a key factor — the more mobile one is the higher are the chances of retention — just in case relocation comes up as an alternative. Be ready to relocate to a project site in case of manufacturing and energy while in financial services, you could be asked to go to a smaller town.

Ready for changes — Employees need to keep reinventing themselves and be open for diverse opportunities.
Ability to handle pressures which may come up, ability to face unforeseen challenges at project sites.
Be savvy in networking internally, it may help you hold on to your job.

What are companies doing to help you retain that job?

Providing training programmes to employees across all levels:

Companies are providing opportunities to employees to upgrade their skill sets. Several companies have been tying up with Indian School of Business and other business institutes to give their employees a chance to upgrade their skill sets.

Accenture India has mandated structural training for all new recruits, irrespective of the level they join in.

Companies like ITC, Tata Group, Infosys, ICICI among others are now planning training initiatives where business HR teams work closely with the corporate HR team in designing and implementing the learning and development initiatives formulated by the company.

Reward and recognition programmes:

Most companies are introducing a healthy mix of monetary rewards and non-monetary rewards along with social recognition to boost sentiments of employees.

Companies including American Express, Intel, Qualcomm, Reliance, SAP are among those to innovate programmes to reward their employees.

Increasing internal job postings (IJPs) and appointments:

Companies are trying to give exposure of different roles internally. Executives in certain firms engaged in a particular division have been moved to a completely different one, a move that helps in saving costs rather than going in fresh hiring.

Certain companies are providing opportunities to employees to shift from marketing role to finance role. It helps to have more control to steer their career, thereby increasing their motivation levels.

(With inputs from Anupama Airy and Vivek Sinha)

First Published: Nov 17, 2013 09:30 IST