Why did I write SHRM-CP and how did it go?

Anish asked me to write about why and how I prepared for the SHRM-CP examination so a few HRs who might not know about this certification yet could benefit. I spent some time reflecting on whether I should actually write it or not, and finally, here I’m. If it helps someone, I am happy. If not, that’s still okay 😉

Background

I am an engineer by education and early-career profession. I did my masters in Computer Science and joined Oracle in Bangalore where I spent more than 3 years doing things that I was not contented with, and that I do not consider myself good at. FullContact happened as a you-got-what-you-wished-for opportunity, and I happily accepted the offer to join there as an HR. I always loved the HR job, unlike many other engineers out there!

Well, it goes without saying that I am without an MBA. Did it matter? I will be blunt: it did matter to me, though it didn’t to my employer. I was a beginner in the HR profession, but I was invited to lead the India people division of the organisation, owing to the trust and hope the then leaders had in me. I had to make it up to it, and I did not have an MBA. Did it really matter? Does it, now?

(Image courtesy: www.peoplematters.in)

Hey dude, do you really care about the degrees (and not the skills)?

We as humans tend to see and believe things as binaries—YES or NO! Do degrees really matter? Some say that it doesn’t, and some it does. Certain degrees do really matter, but what matters more is the kind of environment you studied in and the exposure you have attained. I have seen the case studies MBA colleges use to teach the graduate students in the tier-2 colleges and the top B-schools in the country and abroad. I was well aware of the differences in engineering education, but the kind of exposure those top-tier B-schools provide to their MBA students is something unparalleled from my observation. One can’t simply say that degrees do not really matter. What matters is exposure and potential—be it with a degree or not.

One may argue that college degrees cannot provide the quantum of exposure that on-the-job training provides. While this generally true in our country, the quick(kick)start the tier-1 educated graduates get is, still, something. There’s no denying that.

Back to our story: well, I did not have a degree. My ego and self-esteem played, and I thought of doing a distance MBA, joined, fully paid for and found it to be worthless an affair, left it at that. But as time progressed, thanks to the openness and unusually solid support that I got from this organisation (and the HR communities that I am associated with such as NIPM Kerala Chapter), I could learn A LOT while being on the job. I wanted to, however, benchmark myself to see where I stood (read this as self-appraisal. Unless you benchmark yourself, you are not giving yourself feedback. If you do not give feedback often, you are buying the same fish, again).

I heard about the SHRM certification and I was not eligible to write SCP then, hence chose CP; out of the blue, after reading some online reviews. I knew that it would take some effort, but my organisation supported me by spending considerably good amount of money on this learning effort by sponsoring the digital training kit for the examination. That’s one reason why I was fast ready to write the exam.

Tell me more about the exam

There is more than enough articles on what and how the SHRM Certification examinations are, hence I will skip that part except for an excerpt:

  • You can write SHRM-CP if you have 2 (or, 1 for those with PG) years of professional HR experience. If you are senior in terms of service, you could try SHRM-SCP.
  • The test is computer-based. Continuous 4 hours (trust me, my eyes pained). 160 questions. I wrote it at Prometric centre in Trivandrum, Kerala, India.
  • Of the 160, there are 95 knowledge-based questions, 65 judgement questions. They are all multiple choices, but alternatives can be confusing and similar-looking. This page gives you a sample set of questions.
  • How I prepared: There are four books that came along with the digital learning kit that was sponsored by the organisation. I read them. They are quite helpful and one may get tons of revelations of as to how many bad concepts/understanding of HR that one has had (I did). In fact, this was the best outcome of preparing for this certification.
  • You will get to know your provisional results immediately after the test. They will send you the official intimation later.
  • The examination costs you $400 ($300 if you are an SHRM member). The certificate is valid for 3 years (and can be renewed by acquiring certain recertification points by doing online courses, attending seminars, etc.). It is not mandatory that you purchase the digital learning system. This page may be helpful.

(Image courtesy: blog.shrm.org)

Should I do it?

  • Yes, if you want to benchmark yourself, and maybe, study something that you already didn’t know. Or, if you are doing it as a self-confidence booster.
  • No, if you are just doing it for a pay hike. Mostly no organisation—I understand some may still be doing—in India provides with a pay hike for HRs just because they have a certification (but that’s not the case abroad, and some job descriptions specify these certifications as minimum requirements, which is a benchmarking/filtering tactic). However, it can be a distinguishing factor. After all these, I know in person a ton of HR professionals doing much better than me, without an MBA and/or an SHRM Certification. So, it’s just all about what you want.

If you’re not so concerned about the certification, why have you written “SHRM-CP” in your LinkedIn profile name?

I am just being ostentatious.

So, you’re saying that you’re after fancy degrees (or candidates with such degrees)?

Wait there, never did I say that I have high respect for candidates just with fancy degrees. Moreover, I believe in interviews that are based on Behavioral Competencies (from a People standpoint)—BEI as it is called—rather than education texts that fill in white spaces on a resume.

TL;DR: Take an SHRM certification exam (or its competitor HRCI) if you want to benchmark yourself against what is considerably-okay in the industry. You may gain some confidence, too.

Wait, did I write a TL;DR at the bottom? 😉

P.S: Julian has written about how he passed the examination already, my job is reduced by 90% in writing this article and hence not explaining what he has already done.

P.P.S: I would strongly recommend being part of the SHRM community by spending money on their membership. It is really worth it (an online membership would suffice) in terms of strategic/operational documentation that is available on their member-only portal and the community of HRs they have built.

If you have more questions, I am happy to help. Please drop me a message or write in comments (beware: you are going to talk to someone who is known to be incommunicado for longer durations; so please expect the delay).

Also published at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-did-i-write-shrm-cp-how-go-arunanand-t-a-shrm-cp

Income Tax: Can I Choose and Declare the New Regime to the Employer?

Update (Apr 13, 2020): Govt of India has clarified that the employee can ask deductor (employer) to consider new tax regime for taxation (provided certain conditions of no-business income, etc. are met). The notification below is just in. Thanks to Ankit Lohiya for updating me about the notification.

Hence, the article below stands void.

In the 2020-21 budget by the Govt of India, a new tax regime was announced. The below table depicts the difference between the old regime and the new regime. HOWEVER, Govt has announced that it will give an option for the citizens to choose which tax regime they would like to be taxed on.

New Income Tax Regime

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/

Does that mean I can tell my employer to tax me on which regime?

As it looks, your employer cannot take such an option from you to choose which income tax regime they should tax you on.

So, what will the employer do?

The employer will still need to, as of today, continue deducting income taxes per the old regime (like how they used to do during FY 2019-20). They cannot ask, or take a choice from, the employee on which regime to tax on, nor they can tax them other than on the old tax regime.

When can I then choose my tax regime?

The employee can choose the tax regime at the time of his/her Income Tax returns. The IT department will recalculate the income tax and ask you to pay/refund an additional amount.

Why is it that so? Why can’t employers take option from employees?

As per the Finance Act, 2020 which is enacted by the Parliament, taxes are to be withheld and paid to the Government as per Part I of First Schedule of the Act (please see screenshots below).

No alt text provided for this image
No alt text provided for this image

The Government has, in fact, introduced the new tax regime not by altering the Part I of First Schedule above, but instead by introducing the new regime as a new section (Section 115BAC). As long as Part I of First Schedule is changed/amended with the rates mentioned in 115BAC, the employer needs to follow the old regime for TDS.

Can I change choose old regime in the years to come, if I choose the new regime during FY 2020-21 (AY 2021-22) during income tax returns?

No, 115BAC mandates that in case of individuals and HUFs who have income either from a business or a profession, once this option is exercised, they will have to continue with the new regime for that year and all subsequent years.

(with inputs from multiple resources and people, including Sreelal).

Also published at LinkedIn and Medium.

Work From Home Musings

Here’s the snapshot of my WFH experience (though I’ve done it in the past, not as many continuous days as this time).

Work From Home, Working From Home
Image Courtesy: www.entrepreneur.com
  1. Gained weight. I was on a consultant diet for the last three weeks and had lost 3 kgs. Looks like I eat at leisure while at home and gained 2 kgs over the last one week.
  2. I eat my meals on time, but while at the office I am known to procrastinate meals and eat them all together later. However, I drink less water while at home. And I miss pantry talks.
  3. Missing the office AC. The room where I’ve set up my work from home corner is damn hot. Internet at the office was heavenly, too.
  4. Missing my people around, especially the G&A team of FullContact. Meetings having been moved online, I’ve started missing meeting people in real. Added to it, I am in HR.
  5. I fail to switch to work attire though many on the web suggest doing so.
  6. Productivity swings. At times, I am underproductive while productivity soars up sometimes.
  7. Feeling unnaturally sleepy after lunches (while at the office, it doesn’t happen quite often).
  8. Kid at home & Working at home together is a bad idea.
  9. Last but not the least, I am living two more days in a month. I have a two-hour transit daily, multiply that by 24 and you get 48 hours = 2 days!

Why you should NOT celebrate the International Women’s Day with a cooking competition at the Workplace

The International Women’s Day is around the corner, i.e. on March 8, 2020. That being a Sunday, most organisations have decided to celebrate it on the Mon, Mar 9. It’s usual for every HR team to make a plan and celebrate the day certain set of programs and competitions within the office. We do, too, at FullContact. This post is not to talk about what we do, but what one should do.

No alt text provided for this image

(Image courtesy: http://www.durocherflorist.com)

How to?

I have seen many messages by HRs asking for ‘what do you do for women’s day’; so that we can replicate questions. Well, sometimes discussions like these are about sharing ideas, but many a time, they end up being a means to do something on the Women’s Day as an engagement activity (oh boy, a term that has lost its charm!).

Let’s think for a moment. Why do we need to celebrate Women’s Day? Is there a problem that we are trying to address at our organisation? It could be an equality issue. It could be an inclusion concern. It could be a facilities concern that male employees have access to but not women for their gender. Do you have such an issue at the organisation that’s unfair to your women employees? That’s what you should discuss and target to resolve.

Who to?

Usually, HR department takes care of conducting the engagement activity on the Women’s Day. Most organisations have an HRBP structure these days and why don’t we do it not on our shoulder but as a collaborative activity? First and foremost, stop planning the day with the help of male employees alone. They might be missing much of the context as to why we should ‘celebrate’ a day for women employees—why don’t you call in volunteers from among your women workforce to plan, better, a women’s day? They know their problems at the workplace!

What to

What to do on a Women’s Day will vary from organisation to organisation. As I said earlier, your intention should be to celebrate the successes of women, being an inspiration to women in the organisation, AND to try and resolve concerns your women employees have in terms of equality and inclusion.

Events such as cooking competition, best saree wearing competition, etc. are, in my personal opinion, are regressive in nature. A patriarchal society like ours has celebrated such forcefully collocated chores and events to women. As progressive organisations, our intention should not to celebrate and promulgate such practises but to address the issues that are created by such implicit biases.

HRs, think about what you want to do at your organisations. I am sure you will find something better than a cooking competition!

No alt text provided for this image

Still, give me some ideas!

I’ll begin with a few from the list of events that our team discussed Women’s Day Week #SheIsUs at FullContact this time (fully planned and owned by our non-HR members):

  • An AMA session where any questions about inclusion, equality at the workplace is answered and acted upon.
  • Select documentaries on inspirational figures from among women leaders around the world.
  • Inspirational Women stories from among our own members.
  • As part of #FullContactThanks, a day dedicated to thinking about and acknowledging one woman in our members’ lives.
  • Inspirational women leaders having a conversational meeting with the whole of the office where we will try to address some implicit bias issues.
  • Sponsor a girl child program with equal contributions from the organisation and the members.
  • Motivation to go out and be outdoorsy to those who didn’t get a chance to do so—clubbed with #HealthyFullContact.

Second Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Also published on LinkedIn and Medium.

Did your employer ever deny the Experience Certificate? Read on.

Indian labour laws are, majorly, employee-centric than employer-centric. Though this is the state of the act, most employees are not aware of their rights per various labour laws of the land. Or else, many employers purposefully do not educate their employees of the latter’s rights at the workplace.

One of the major threats many young professionals face from disgruntled employers is ‘we will not issue the experience certificate unless you do x or y‘. Not issuing an experience certificate is, unfortunately, used by many HRs and management as a tool to get something done by the employee. This something could be repayment of what the employee owes to the company, the employee not serving the notice period, etc.

Another common practice among some SMEs (I must admit that this trend is on a decline now) is to keep the originals of the employee’s certificates and mark lists with them until the term of employment/resignation. This is to make sure that the employee does not look for alternative employment whilst employed at the master organisation. Poor employee, s/he believes that the organisation has rights in their limit to do so and obeys this demand.

As it turns out (and it has always been like that), NO EMPLOYER is entitled to DENY experience certificates (service certificate in legal terms) to an employee or a former employee. If the employee demands such an experience certificate during or after the term of employment, the organisation is BOUND to issue one. To cite the labour law, 2J(3) of Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961 mandates that the employer shall issue the service certificate in Form BE, within seven days from the receipt of such a request from the employee (every state has its own S&CE Act, and they will have similar provisions).

In a nutshell, employer cannot deny a service certficate (experience certficate) even if the employee is absconding or under a formal domestic enquiry for a gross misconduct. If the employer does not follow the request, the employee has the right to contact the District Labour Officer or the Labour Court thereafter for redressal.

Now, Section 5E of the aforementioned act says:

5E. Prohibition of retaining education certificate or experience certificate.—No educational certificate or experience certificate in original received from an employee shall be retained by the employer of any establishment at the time of appointment or during the course of employment.

This means, no establishment has the right to retain the originals of the experience certificate and/or educational certificates of their employees. Copies, however, can be maintained for record purposes, but originals have to be returned immediately after verification.

Ever denied justice? Talk to your HR first. If they do not fall in line, you now know what to do.

Also published at LinkedIn and medium.

Musings of an Engineer-turned-HR: Here’s what the budding HRs should know

It was on a not-so-fine day that Arjun, CEO of Profoundis and my collegemate met me at Lulu Mall in Kochi. I was going back to Bangalore, where I worked at Oracle as a Software Engineer for around 3 years then, and I had no clue what Arjun had to offer. He asked me if I would like to join as the Head of HR of Profoundis, which was about to be acquired by FullContact, Inc.

I personally believed that I had the traits of an HR (though when I look back now, most of those thoughts were out of place ;-)). I had a dilemma during the final year of study of my graduation whether I should pursue MBA or MTech. After a lot of articulation and inner discourse I decided to pursue MTech, which I do NOT regret now. I ended up in IT, as I assumed, but I never felt Software Engineering was my realm. Having these excruciating thoughts to jump out of my engineer role coupled with Arjun’s offer, I didn’t have a second thought. I had my personal reasons to move to Kochi, too.

If I do not say that I was apprehensive, rather confused, about my capacity to be a Head of HR at the very beginning of my HR career itself, I wouldn’t be doing justice to me. I did a lot of reading afterwards, which in fact Arjun asked me not to. He said they wanted an unconventional HR, who doesn’t go by the books, and recommended that I be not distracted and misinformed by the literature. However, I did my fair share of reading before I joined Profoundis.

What followed was a roller-coaster ride. As I write this, I can feel the cold feet I’d when I first entered the Profoundis office. But I’d something in store – an amazing team who believed that people operations is fundamental and pivotal to any business. There started this small journey of my HR career, which is now at the fourth year! The three years have been of immense learning, understanding, mistakes, corrections, unlearning and what not! I would like to scribble down for the budding HR fellows, who might have as bad a cold feet as I’d on my first day, as to what to expect, what to ignore, what to render on an HR job. Here we go:

Prepare to Unlearn and Re-learn

One might have learnt many things about HR and processes in their text book; or they might have been told that this is how the ideal HR function looks like. Be ready to face the fact that HR is different across organisations depending on the nature of business, nature of the workforce, locale and the priorities of the leadership. What you learnt in books could be obsolete by when you join the HR job – so be ready to remember/forget what you learnt and start afresh on many things—let’s preserve and remember what’s still required. Be ready to read and re-read the latest books, trends, researches, blogs, etc. so that you stay up-to-date.

HR is not just about compliance

The general notion that many have is that HR is all about recruitment and compliance – this is a myth. HR has over the last two decades evolved as a business function. While compliance plays an important role in the success of an HR team, treating them as the core function of HR is erroneous. Compliance is an assumed-to-be-required function of HR. It’s very basic. HR’s more to it. But remember—compliance is a culture. Nurture it, but that’s not only what you’re defined by.

Culture is your dad, business is your mom

It’s the business leadership and the HR leadership together that decide the fate of an organisation. If one of this duo fails, either you will end up with a zero or negative business growth or a bunch of unsatisfactory people. The two are complementary to each other—or, rather, co-existent. HRs (should get a chance to) decide the culture of an organisation, while they participate in deciding the business destiny. Gone are those days when HRs come into play when someone needs to be hired, reprimanded or fired. Starting from talent acquisition to talent development to talent retention to talent nurturing to making the workplace a great experience for your members depend on how the HR team is envisaged and functions. Your job exists because the business exists

Find your path to heaven

One may define the success of their career by multi-factors. For some, it could be the happiness of their members, achieving KRIs, promotions and merit increases, and what not! But ultimately, if you ask me, the end result of one’s actions should be such that it makes him/her happy.

Learning is the Key

You need to invest some time to learn. To learn from others, your peers, leaders, fellow HRs, blogs, and what not! Make sure you are part of the communities of your liking. I have learnt a lot from the fellow HRs through NIPM, WhatsApp groups, meetups at Infopark, conferences, etc. Whenever you’re part of such a gathering, make sure you find (rather than it giving you; thanks to Anish for the usage) some takeaway as learning. You may also follow some really good HR blogs like PeopleMatters, RBL, etc.

Learn from marketers

It’s high time HR team learnt from the Marketing teams on various fronts. Starting from employer branding, HR should look at how the marketing team hustles in getting the product into the market and reach the right targets. In my opinion, Marketing teams are the ones who first use all the theories and tools of human interactions, technology, and result-oriented-action-plans in any organisation. They are leaders in many respect – for example, take the case of Conjoint analysis which helps the product organisations decide how their product should be. HRs can very well adopt this (and many organisations have already done so) technique to define the happiness factors of their members—the benefits, the facilities, the factors by which they will leave the organisation, etc. One must look at how the marketing team performs in their organisation and imbibe what can be imbibed into their HR team—be it theories of human interaction or defining success of one’s function.

© Pixabay

Not every grey hair deserves your ears

Keep the thought that every grey-haired man is a mentor out of your minds; it’s the grey matter that matters. You might need a mentor who can lead you through your HR career—since you’re just taking your baby steps—but that doesn’t mean that you should lend ears and years to those who pretend to be mentors. Try a few, leave them it doesn’t work. But trust me, having a good mentor is always worth the effort—but the call is yours.

Do not forget to live

When you strive to have a great work-life balance for your members, do not forget to have a life for yourself. Chill, keep calm and just be yourself. Have an introspection of whether you hate Mondays, or super happy on Fridays—if the answer is a yes, you should consider switching the job. At the end of your life, what matters is whether you have been happy throughout and that happiness is defined by you and you alone.

Also published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/musings-engineer-turned-hr-heres-what-budding-hrs-t-a-shrm-cp/?published=t

Training Your Employees to Take up Jobs at Other Companies? Yes, Amazon does it!

The Last Mile has always been a concern for all the realms of ideas. Today, let’s have a look at one of the Last Mile (at least, I would prefer calling it so) stretch of an HR concept.

Many organisations see training as an investment with a target ROI to the business. While this is an agreeable concept, IMHO, training is an ‘engagement’ (may not be in its traditional meaning) activity. When an organisation trains an individual, s/he is seen as an asset and thus feels more valued in the organisation. Plus, training offers avenues for self-exploration and self-improvement. Training, if done at the right metrics, certainly can improve the engagement dynamics.

Amazon went to that extra mile when it comes to learning. They are now offering company-sponsored learning budget to employees to TAKE UP JOBS IN OTHER COMPANIES. Yes, you heard that right!

Amazon found that there is a chunk of their employees who are earning less than the average of salaries. Those employees may leave the organisation owing to this concern. Most organisations would let it go—which is the start of that ‘extra mile’—as such. Amazon decided to let the employees take up a course of their choice that would equip themselves with skills that will land them in a better job—at the cost of Amazon!

The idea behind this is pure love; to let the employees empower themselves who will later be implicit ambassadors of Amazon. Or at the least, that’s the ‘human’ part of HR 🙂

#humanresources #LnD #training #employeeengagement

RÉSUMÉ/CV WRITING – 12 THINGS FOR A FRESHER TO PONDER

Resume writing  courtesy: workbloom.com
Image courtesy: workbloom.com

This write-up is inspired from what my friend Ranjith posted on his Facebook timeline a few months ago. I thought I should sum up and add my own two cents to it. Things a fresher should ponder while writing his résumé/CV (from the point of view of an HR, who will be viewing it amongst tens of other résumés a day):

  1. Avoid short forms (SMS language). Sad to see fresh graduates stick to that.
  2. No spelling mistakes and obvious structural mistakes which in turn give the opposite meaning. In the era of services like grammarly.com, this should be simpler.
  3. Please send CVs or résumés in PDF formats unless otherwise specified.
  4. Under the heading strengths, graduates tend to give a list of random adjectives, which is an immediate turn-off. Such words without substantiating evidence is substandard.
  5. It is always suggested that one give an overview about him/her, at the start of the document. This will give a quick intro to the reader (who might be flipping through tens of resumes a day) without going into details.
  6. No multi-color résumés unless it is required for the post you are applying for. Maximum of two colors.
  7. If the employer has asked for a covering letter, do add. That’s something people would like to read, rather than going through a rĂ©sumĂ©. A bad rĂ©sumĂ© along with a good covering letter might at least keep you on wait-list.
  8. Appropriate fonts and sizes. No bolds and underlines in paragraph text unless really required (only those you want to ‘really’ emphasize)
  9. No photographs on the résumés.
  10. We are not interested in knowing your parents’/spouse’s name and jobs.
  11. Use proper email IDs. No cooldude and rockingjohnnies.
  12. Keep a subject, if you are sending it as an email. Keep it meaningful

~ Arunanand T A

Originally posted at my personal blog: TAAism

Ordinance to make functioning easier: Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018

Kerala government recently published an ordinance amending certain provisions in the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1960. There have been multiple amendment acts to the original said act, but this ordinance (which will hopefully be adopted as an amendment act by the next sitting of Kerala Legislative Assembly) comes with a purpose of easing the operations of Shops and Establishments while making it safer and humane for the employees. Let’s look at what are changing.

Definition of employee

The original act defines employee as ‘a person wholly or principally employed in, and in connection with, any establishment and includes an apprentices’. The new amendment extends this definition by suffixing ‘any class of persons as the Government may, by notification in the gazette, declare to be an employee for the purpose of this act.

Round the week functioning

The old act demanded that the shop/establishment should remain closed for at least one day per week, and such a day should be permanently displayed as a notice by the employer at a conspicuous location at the work place. Such a closed-day could not be altered by the employer for more than once in a period of three months, too.

With the amendment, the ‘shop/establishment must be closed for a day per week’ is removed, and it shrinks to allowing every employee to be entitled to one full day holiday per week, provided s/he has worked for at least 6 days in that week including all authorised leaves. This, in turn, allows the employer to function the shop/establishment round the week, with making the weekly holidays of employees rotate.

Curfew relaxed for women employees

The original acts mandated that no woman or any person who has not attained the age of seventeen shall be required or allowed to work whether as an employee or otherwise in any establishment before 6 A. M. or after 7 P. M.

The amendment relaxes the time limit from 7 PM to 9 PM. Here comes the historic change: the employer can now employ women employees between 9 PM and 6 AM (which was prohibited earlier) after getting the consent of such women employees. Further, such women employees must be working in a group of at least 5 employees wherein at least 2 are women.

Further, adequate security measures to ensure safety, honour, dignity, and protection from Sexual Harassment of women employees working during these hours should be ensured by the employer. Moreover, transportation from the workplace to the residence of such women employees should be arranged for by the employer (though the amendment does not provide that a security personnel accompany the women employees during this travel, it is implicit since the act talks about ‘safety’ measures—hence it would be wise to have the security measures as well taken care of during this travel).

Kerala’s IT Policy, earlier, gave relaxations to the above effects, but the amendment now extends this to all the sections of Shops and Establishments.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page for full version of the ordinance

Humane changes

There have been a lot of protests, especially from the textiles industry, regarding inhumane treatments by employers, where employees were not allowed to sit during work hours. Kerala Human Rights Commission had intervened in the issue long ago, and Kerala Government sympathised with the employees thus treated. With an insertion of a provision in the original act, 21B, the amendment officially and legally puts an end to such inhumane treatments

The amendment says that all the shops/establishments must provide suitable seating arrangements for their workers to avoid on-the-toe situations throughout the duty time. This will call for a drastic change in many of the industries coming under the definition of Shops/Commercial Establishments.

Fines gets finer!

The violation of various provisions in the act may now attract a fine of Rs. 1 lakh and 2 lakh respectively, which was as mere as Rs. 5000/- and Rs. 10000/- earlier. There are some changes to the calculation of such fine and fine for wilful obstruction of inspectors/labour/govt officers from carrying out their official duties, which are available in the PDF below.

Last but not the least – electronic age!

Earlier, employers needed to take special permission from the labour authorities before keeping employee data (muster rolls, payrolls, etc.) in digital format. This has been a point of debate by many, and the government is now forced to accept that things have really changed and people have started to migrate to the digital world, the condition of prior approval has been lifted in the amendment. Employers can now keep the data in digital formats as well, without any sort of permission/approvals.

Let me know your thoughts in comments! Below is the Amendment Ordinance. You can find the original act here.

Kerala-Shops-Commercial-Establishments-Amendment-Ordinance-2018

Regards,
Arunanand T A

The Agony and Ecstasy of Working as HR Professionals in Organisations Today

‘You should not stop being people’s advocate! The day you end being one is the day the HR dies’.

These words which I happened to randomly listen to while working at Oracle as an Engineer, later became the cornerstone of my HR career. While I believe that any job has its own merits and fashions, there are certain jobs that have the capability to make impacts of higher gravities. HR is one, nevertheless, it goes a thankless job in some organisations.

HR, like any other job, is like a two-sided coin. You will have happy days; and then there will be days that give you a headache. Interestingly, the primitives on which the functions of an HR are based invariably embrace the ‘headaches’. What’s fun if things go as in the books; HRs come into play when things are not in line or if there’s no line at all. Thus, the headaches become opportunities. We cannot really see these as binaries—either yes or no—but grey. Let’s have a closer look:

Leaders with People Mindset

HR team’s vision will only be successful when your company has a management that believes in people. Forget your company’s revenue, business strategy and everything else; it’s the faith of the management in the people business and their mindset of treating people as the largest investment that drives the success of any HR team.

Starting from the CEO, every C-level and VPs should have a clear understanding and buy-in to the policies that the HR team parks on. This is the biggest factor of all which decide if an HR’s life is hell or heaven. This article on HBR says that during 2008 recession, only a  third of HR departments were consulted when layoffs happened, pointing to lesser influence HRs had in strategic business/people decisions—this is fast changing now.

It’s imperative for the modern day HR to work closely with the line managers as well, to make sure that the ‘people mindset’ envisaged at the top level trickled down appropriately at the length and breadth of the organisation. The organisation’s profitability comes only through the growth; and growth comes only through its employees and culture—not the C-officers alone! HR is certainly a partner in strategy execution, and hence they should have business acumen and understanding as well as the people mindset. 33% of execs believe that there’s ineffective HR leadership that drives their organisation to the unsolicited directions as per this HBR report. This can be tricky and painful for some of us, but definitely the need of the hour; it has always been, but clearer in the recent years.


Data and Opportunities for Analytics

With the advance of technology, data has come to play a major role for the HR as well. This has helped establish data-driven strategies. Since most HR operations have gone digital, HR gets instant access to the data and can run an analysis on it to reach faster and effective conclusions. Analytics has resulted in the greater impact of HR activities starting with talent acquisition through engagement to exit.

Changing Workforce

Gen X is fast coming to the top of the ladders, and most ‘workforce’ now comprises of Gen Y and Z. The millennials tend to pose and trigger a change in the way most HR teams function. The factors that excited Gen X may no longer be valid/needed for the Gen Y/Z. This needs a larger discussion in all organisations, where HR takes the lead role.

Starting from how your recruit talent to keeping them engaged should change due to this workforce change. Your ‘food coupons’ or ‘telephone reimbursement’ may not be an attractive benefit as it used to be. Your vacation plans, office timings, attire requirements and health initiatives may need a thorough change keeping in mind the interest of the new workforce. This is one place where HR gets into agonies or ecstasies. This also points to changing your HR practices and policies to accommodate the new-styled workforce who love things to happen faster and easier.

Pay Gaps and Diversity

Gone are those days HR recruited the ‘protagonists’ alone. Ideologies and societal factors keep changing, and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) has become another opportunity for HR. While this is seen as an ecstasy from a philosophical standpoint, various reports suggest that the pay gaps and men:women employee ratios are still really bad in numbers. The report from WeForum suggests that in 82 out of 142 countries, pay gaps based on gender is still increasing. This is alarming, and agonising for the HRs, for they have been trying to establish a reverse scenario through D&I and localisation initiatives.

KPMG reports that HRs around the world struggle to keep in line with the global workforce, which turns out to be an agony for the HR fraternity, yet. With globalisation, teams become more and more integrated and agile, which HRs must run fast to cope with. Increasing number of remote, and arguably virtual, employees demand that the HRs tighten their belts.

Attraction, Training and Retention

Organisations today want not job-seekers, but talents. For example, in IT, with the massive ‘attack’ of automation over the services sector has diminished the glitter of the old glossy, silky texture of the industry to a great extent. Companies today want to find talents (“attraction”) rather than applicants finding them for jobs (“acquisition”). The onus is on the HR team.

The new organisation have a diverse workforce that constantly looks for enhancing their skill set. The old school training curriculum is undergoing a thorough revamp, which is, yet again, equally agonizing and ecstatic for HRs. Starting from the training modes—virtual to gamification to anytime anywhere learning platforms—to the training content, organisations are thoroughly revamping their L&D strategies with the Gen Z in mind.

Another area of concern for the HR is retention. It’s way beyond creating a good brand; stories float about youngsters rejecting offers from big brands to choose what they want to do in small companies. Retention plans of the new age is another agony for HRs, planning of which needs a thorough analysis of their workforce as well as the industry trends. People don’t just stay back for money.

HR Tech: the future

As it goes without saying, HR Tech is already here. Yesteryears’ Personnel Manager changed to HR, and then got transformed into People Enablers over a period of time. The new role of HRs will be that of technology and business leaders enabling people functions with the help of cutting edge tech. Coming of tech into HR will certainly reduce the job opportunities of the existing HR workforce, but wait! It’s a two-sided coin again. While this is seen as an ‘oh-my-god-am-I-gonna-lose-it’ scenario, why don’t we look at the brighter side of it? It gives us room for learning technology and pouring it into what we have been doing, thereby making a yet greater, happier, better workplace! Ain’t it ecstatic?!

Disclaimer: Any of the discussions above does not reflect the views of my present or previous employers. Views are all personal.