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Jobs are back!…says

January 21, 2010 has made some of the best and most memorable ads right from the Hari Sadu days. Their latest campaign with the slogan ‘jobs are back’ is way too clever. After the slump in their business this is a very clever way to improve their revenues by instilling a positive feeling in the job market. What they are also doing very insightfully is tele marketing their resume management services to hordes of job seekers quite aggressively.

They understand the pent up feelings in the job seekers and perhaps sense that they would all be now looking at taking up these kind of services and that the market is on a brink of a Tsunami of resumes. I do not know if job market is back to where it was as earlier. Nor do I know if these services are known to provide any additional help to the job seekers. Economists would say that the labour market usually trails economic recovery by at least a couple of months.  To be fair Business World and TOI have been talking about this ‘jobs are back’ phenomenon since Oct-Nov so we should be there now for sure…staring in to a sea of job options. This also shows in our company as we have started hiring for sure but very cautiously. It will be the same most places so while there will be jobs, it wont be the same as in mid 2008.

Nevertheless, I am quite impressed with the marketing team at and I am sure they may be looking at a favourable ROI for their campaign.


The recession turnaround conundrum

January 11, 2010

A year later the newspapers no longer talk much about recession. Organisations seem to be witnessing a turnaround or at least they have stabilised and profits are flowing in after the spate of austerity measure taken last year including large scale layoffs. Recession had its own problems, turnaround has it own set of problems. Some say greed led us to recession. What turnaround throws up is perhaps not very different.

Organisations now face two opposite forces internally, and these are today magnified expectations from the employees as well as the employers. Having burnt their fingers last year and witnessing the turnaround with reduced salaries and many austerity measures, employers will want to continue the trend to the extent possible. They would like to run the organisations at same or better efficiencies that they have got used to, provided of course that these organisations have witnessed a turnaround.

Employees have been waiting for some sense of normalcy back in terms of pay cut reversals, salary increases, bonuses etc. Many might not have seen compensation change over nearly 2 years. Besides with things turning around, there will be an expectation among employees that they may be rewarded handsomely.

If communication was critical during recession to survive, it is critical today to sustain. Having said that organisations need to avoid the tendency to impose last year’s cost model on this year. If recovery continues this could be disastrous with a reduced workforce and lack of bench strength.

When fun at work is no fun at all

January 7, 2010

The last 18 months continue to teach some very important lessons in human resource management. There was a time when fun at work was a strong means for achieving employee engagement. It is still perceived to be so. However I am beginning to see that this works only beyond a certain threshold of employee engagement or the belongingness to the organisation.

Social events, fun at work etc lose meaning if they can not be supported by a larger business context in which everyone is striving to grow. In the absence of growth and positivism, the social events are quite lackluster. When they lose engagement they also get detached from the organisation and when organisations reach this level, you need to bring back the other elements that drive engagement. The most being positivism, growth and a sense of control over ones future.

Only the business leadership can help drive this through ‘talking’ positivism into the organisation. They need to be able to show a future that has opportunities and growth. Leadership today is more critical than even for organisational sustenance and growth.

Fun at work can catalyze engagement only when the engagement is already at a certain level. Nothing is more important for employee engagement than growth opportunities and progress. Fun at work is fun only when there is fun to work.

Searching for spirit

January 5, 2010

Rehabilitation for a recession hit company takes time. This we have read and learnt. However the really difficult part of this road to recovery is finding that missing spirit somewhere. When everyone merely works as machines – clocking time, being cattle, -where does inspiration come from? Well-performing engaged employees remain dull and detached. Deadlines get postponed, ideas are shelved for later. It is little excitement where there was thrill. Everyone wants to see the spirit again.

Leadership plays this very important role of engaging people today by talking continuously about growth and future. Of possibilities and new horizons. When growth – of people, their careers, the company, its products gets truncated, the organisation becomes endangered and so do its people. It seems the purpose of organisations is growth and motion. And when this is provided to people, they will see the spirit again.

Recession and a culture of sycophancy

September 17, 2009

I think this is another danger looming in companies. With large scale layoffs in companies, it has been known that the risk taking capacity of individuals takes a severe beating among the survivors. Whats can be worse is that if there isnt enough confidence built back in to the survivors, what starts as an aversion to risk develops slowly into fear of doing anything non compliant and slowly this would change to making sure you do everything your boss wants you to. The tendency to become subservient will get promounced across the organisation out of a constant fear and insecurity.

Unchecked across the organisation this can lead to a culture of sycophancy among those who stay back in the company. Ofcourse a lot depends on the reporting managers and how they handle their teams, but reporting managers are also likely to bask in this new found glory.

This recession is teaching us totally new things. Another challenge for HR folks!

Coping with the recessionary gloom

September 6, 2009

Even though the worse may be over, this recession has left scars that run fairly deep. Sufficient time has elapsed for the feeling of betralyal, andger and shock to settle in but many employees would still be in a stage of resignation, an unhealthy detachment or indifference to the work environment. I am beginning to understand how important it is to have a feeling of control over your future, even if it is delusionary. In the absence of such a feeling it is difficult to have any kind of commitment. It just turns us humans in to goats.

Today employees in organisation that have seen large scale layoffs are in this vaccum where the sense of purpose is weakened if not lost completely.  In such a scenario many people hope to get in to another job that will take them away from the negative environment that might have set in these companies. I wonder why such employees are not able to find hope in their current workplaces. A simplistic answer would be to generalise and say that people just want to run away from their negativities rather than turn it around at their own workplaces.

While in reality I think the management needs to provide this hope in their own companies. They need to give back a sense of control to their employees. Unless this happens, the churn will be higher as things get better. Commitment without a sense of control just doesnt happen.

A rise in entrepreneurship awaiting recovery?

July 23, 2009

With a large number of people getting affected due to the recession in the world through layoff of self or someone close them might have other socio-economic implication in the waiting. The drop in GDP of many effected countries and the social and psychological unrest are the more immediate implications of the recession.

Somewhere I read recently that 2/3rd of the working population in UK was affected by recessionary layoff of either self or someone known to them. Such large and high impact layoff not only make people lose trust in the organisations but also towards all corporations. People incresingly have a far more pronounced desire to break out of the corporation and be on their own due to layoffs than in normal times.

As economy improves, which we all hope and pray it does, two phenamenon likely to come out pronounced would be a) increased amount of attrition without necessarily new jobs coming up. People would move across companies in their bid to break free of the pressures they have been exposed to in the recent past. People would hope to start afresh.

b) increased amount of entrepreneurship due to a desire to break free from the shackles of a corporation, of being left at the mercy of someone else in the meeting room that you cant attend. The best employees in the companies would hate to feel under pressure of such ambiguities and might be the first ones to get out.

We await to see what really transpires.  If the economy recovers soon and at a reasonably steep slope, there are going be tough times for companies who have been in the thick of layoffs. Its possible that in some cases even tougher than the times of recession.