How to improve your career prospects in 2013

There was nothing much to cheer about for the workforce in 2012. It was a relatively dismal year in terms of hiring compared with 2011. The industry chamber, Assocham, estimates that though 5.2 lakh jobs were created during the year, the country’s job creation actually dipped by 21%.

The second half of the year saw a drop of 40,000 jobs compared with 2.8 lakh created in the first half. Layoffs and downsizing became the norm in sectors like BFSI and telecom, which trimmed staff strength to cut costs. However, employees are crossing their fingers that the tide may turn and the new year may bring better news.

Outlook for 2013

The hiring outlook for the new year will vary, depending on the performance of key sectors. While sectors like FMCG, retail, pharma and healthcare remain upbeat and will continue to hire in significant numbers, HR consultants and placement firms are not as optimistic about real estate, infrastructure and telecom.

Though hiring has dipped in the current quarter, HR experts expect it to pick up towards the end.

“Most companies spend time planning for the next year during this period and one hardly notices any out-of-the-ordinary hiring during this phase.

As we come closer to the end of the quarter, hiring picks up, and given the signs so far, it definitely will,” says Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and senior VP, TeamLease Services.

While industries like ITeS and IT will continue to be sluggish, given their over-dependence on global economies, other sectors will display a positive outlook towards hiring, she adds.

graph-1However, the employees are likely to feel the pinch when it comes to salaries. A recent report published by the management consultancy firm Hay Group estimates that professionals can expect an average pay increase of 11.2% across job roles in 2013. This is a slight reduction compared with the average hike of 12% in 2012. Even bonus payouts could be lower.

Companies and consultants believe these will be in the range of 12-17% of the CTC this year. On an average, it is usually 10% for junior management and 20% for the senior management.

“A company’s performance is an integral part of variable payouts. Most of the firms have not performed as well as they were expected to this year, so they will not be able to share their gains.
Bonus payouts will remain the same as last year for others,” says Rahul Taneja, senior vice-president and head, corporate HR at Essar. He believes the going is especially tough for companies in the core sectors. Those like FMCG and consumer durables might be the exceptions.

The money question: Determining the type of insurance required

Varun Cyriac is a young engineer in his first job and has no financial commitments except those related to his own needs. He has been saving small amounts and wants to be able to do it consistently. He has heard about the importance of insurance in ensuring financial stability and is considering taking a life cover. Has he considered all aspects before making this decision?

Varun Cyriac is right in considering insurance an important aspect of his financial stability and security. However, the type of insurance he requires depends on his specific needs at the current juncture. His primary requirement at this stage is protecting himself against loss of income, or a large, unexpected expense, which can derail his income and savings. Since he has no dependants, life insurance may not be necessary at this point. So, he should consider covers that are more relevant for him.

Personal accident insurance will cover the loss of income in case an accident leads to temporary disability or inability to work. Cyriac will receive an income, according to policy terms, till such time that he is able to resume work. Life insurance provides protection to income, but only in case of death, though it may have riders that also offer accident cover. However, it may be less comprehensive and will also translate into a higher cost since he will pay premium for life insurance, which he does not require, as well as for the rider. The other cover that Cyriac must consider is health insurance to take care of medical costs. He will be able to get one at a low cost since he is young and healthy. If he renews it regularly and on time, he will have access to a low-cost cover even at a later stage when there may be health complications. Similarly, if he has a car, a comprehensive motor insurance is a better option than a third party cover as it will cover any loss or damage to his vehicle.

Cyriac must also assess the cost while deciding the type and size of cover he requires. Being over-insured will result in a higher cost than he needs to incur, while being under-insured will leave his income open to risk. His insurance needs will keep changing and require re-evaluation in terms of the type and amount. His insurance decisions have long-term consequences and he must evaluate these before committing to them.

IRDA chief differs with finmin over new post Wants A Position For Consumer Rights, Not Distribution, At Insurance Regulator

Mumbai: There is a difference of opinion between the chairman of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and the finance ministry over the creation of a new post in the regulatory body. IRDA chief J Hari Narayan on Thursday chose to stay away from a meeting to fill the new position even as the panel comprising bureaucrats shortlisted two candidates.
The appointment in question is for the post of member distribution, a new secondrung position in the regulatory body. Hari Narayan feels that it is crucial to have a second-rung position with the objective of protecting consumer rights. Speaking to TOI, Hari Narayan said, “Since prima facie the role of IRDA is consumer protection, we should have a member consumer affairs and to give a new perspective to consumer protection, it would be best if we had someone from outside the insurance industry.”
According to sources, the panel shortlisted two zonal managers from the Life Insurance Corporation, A P Singh and D D Singh, for the position. Incidentally, another panel also met and interviewed nine candidates to succeed Hari Narayan, who retires in February.
IRDA originally had a provision for five fulltime members, each looking into life, non-life, investments, actuary and pension, respectively. However, with the pension regulatory authority being created, it was decided that the post of the fifth full-time member remained vacant. The government, subsequently, decided to restate the fifth member’s responsibility to be part of distribution and advertised seeking applications in September 2012.
A panel, which included the IRDA chief and senior bureaucrats, was constituted to shortlist candidates. Other members include finance secretary D K Mittal, economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram, secretary, department of personnel, P KMisra and SB Mathur, former chief of Life Insurance Corporation and a part-time member at IRDA. The IRDA chairman wrote to the ministry saying that there was a need for a member to look into consumer affairs rather than distribution.After the shortlisting process, the IRDA chief raised the issue that the two candidates had not obtained clearances from the chief vigilance officers of their respective organizations. However, the panel was of the view that since the appointments would not be finalized without a clearance from the Central Vigilance Commission, this was a technicality.
Meanwhile, another government panel has shortlisted two candidates for the position of the managing director at Life Insurance Corporation – S B Mainak, ED in charge of investments, and SK Roy, zonal manager.
The candidates who were interviewed on Thursday for the position of IRDA chief included LIC chairman DK Mehrotra, former LIC chairman TS Vijayan petroleum secretary GC Chaturvedi, IT secretary R Chandrasekhar, Niranjan Pant and Kamalji Sahay.
OUTSIDER NEEDED
Since prima facie the role of IRDA is consumer protection, we should have a member consumer affairs and to give a new perspective to consumer protection, it would be best if we had someone from outside the insurance industry

HR Pros Tutored in Goodness to Break Bad

Managers being taught how to deal with employees in times of slowdow

Last week, Indore-based Neeraj Kapoor, senior branch manager at Panasonic India, was part of a business leadership development programme in Bangalore. It was unlike any other training the 34-year-old has undergone in almost three years at Panasonic. The training taught him, among other things, how to be a bearer of bad news and how to deal with people while doing that. “I learnt that in bad times, I inform the person about the current scenario, and why the company may not be giving an immediate salary hike or promotion,” says Kapoor. “At the same time, I outline prospects, both for employees and the company, and what they can expect if they stay on during a crisis.” Increasingly, companies are training managers like Kapoor, harbingers of bad news during performance appraisals, to soften the blow for employees, especially in a bad economy, where pay hikes are low and promotions few. Aegis, Angel Broking, Mahindra Satyam, Panasonic, RPG Group and Standard Chartered Bank are some companies proactively trying to address this predicament by training managers to be the messenger who does not get killed.
So, for instance, the RPG Group is showing its line managers the utility of objective data and non-monetary benefits while engaging with the employees. Elsewhere, Mahindra Satyam is breeding empathy among them, and Panasonic and Standard Chartered Bank are priming them to have more frequent and more meaningful conversations. Take Time to Prepare for Difficult Conversations
“The advice to line managers is to take time to prepare for difficult conversations, keep data ready and, at the same time, ensure the person is treated with respect,” says Madhvi Lall, head-HR (India & South Asia), StanChart.
Next month, an external coach will train Arvind Seth (name changed) on how to tell his team that there will be no incentives, bonus or increments this year, and on how to let go of a worker. Seth became a manager in the marketing team at Ceat, an RPG Group company, in 2011, and has three people reporting to him. But he has no experience in dealing with such issues. “In this volatility, I need to know how to deal with these issues as I am sure I will face them frequently,” says Seth, who has spent five years in Ceat.
Seth’s training is part of something called the ‘crucial accountability programme’ at the group where seniors are taught to be more “dispassionate and separate the person from the job”. It trains managers to use statistics to break bad news to employees and hold non-performers accountable, says Amit Das, senior vice-president (group HR), at RPG Enterprises.
So, 3,000 group managers will be asked to keep logbooks to record the performance of their juniors, which can be used as supporting data while delivering unpleasant news. “They will be trained to stick to the specific topic, and not get personal or emotional,” adds Das.
Angel Broking is another company prescribing objectivity over subjectivity in such difficult conversations. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the brokerage firm was showing dos and don’ts to its managers via videos of simulated manager-employee conversations. Over the past year, though, Angel has done away with situations that can cause a conflict between an employee and a manager.
Instead, it now charts performance data for each employee: number of accounts acquired, revenue generated, credits received, and the employee’s city, state and zonal rankings. “This chart goes to them every month,” says Dhruv Desai, senior VP (HR & leadership academy), Angel Broking. “During appraisals, there is no need for a further discussion on performance.”
Layoffs are extreme situations. More than layoffs, managers are being asked to retain performers in the absence of financial incentives. So, RPG is trainings its managers to focus on non-monetary benefits: for example, retain performers by showing them the benefits of undertaking company-sponsored programmes in alliance with the London School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management, or other learning and development training modules.
Managers are also being asked to raise the game of under-performing employees without fostering insecurity. In the past 18 months, leaders in Mahindra Satyam have undergone trainings to instil greater empathy in them. Devdutta Sarma, the company’s head for performance and reward management, has himself learnt a few lessons.
“Earlier, if someone did not perform, I would have been more vocal and asked them to buckle up their belts,” he says. “But now, I will have to sugarcoat my words.”
Sarma says this is necessary, especially during a bad economy, to reduce anxiety among employees who might not be performing well. “We cannot afford to lose people,” he adds. “By being ruthless, we will make them more worried about their deliverables and ultimately lose our market share.”
According to Prashant Deo Singh of Panasonic India, the problem happens when managers suddenly communicate ‘bad news’ to employees, or communicate only when there is negative news about the company, sector or economy. In a bid to change that, about a year ago, Panasonic started updating its employees on a monthly basis on business performance, overall economic scenario, people performance, and process- and customer-related challenges.
“This keeps employees aligned with how we are doing as a company in the overall business economic scenario and how is his/her contribution impacting company’s performance,” says Singh, head (HR and general affairs).
Nandan Savnal, managing director of consulting and training firm PeopleSys, seconds this approach. He says if an employee has done well, but the organisation has not, it is imperative the company delivers the bad news well and does not leave the entire job to the line manager.
For the past two years, Panasonic has also been training its managers on how to review, give and receive feedback, and appreciate and deliver bad news. Panasonic has segmented its managers into two sets: those who ‘manage others’ and those who ‘manage managers’. For the first lot, the training emphasis is on improving communication with their teams. For the senior lot, the focus of the training is on the dynamics of communication, and how to use emotions and make it impactful, among other things.
Elsewhere, StanChart has given its managers a toolkit called ‘conversations that count’, which contains guidelines on how to work around reviews in tough times. Manish Gupta, area director (east), recalls one such intervention.
A top-performing relationship manager was not meeting the bank’s expectations in his new role as a branch manager, an impression he possibly did not share. Rather than wait for the formal half-year review, Gupta had a number of feedback-oriented conversations, formal and informal, with the branch manager.

Nine in Race for IRDA Top Job Secys of petroleum & IT, GC Chaturvedi & R Chandrasekhar, to be interviewed today

Nine candidates, in fray for the post of chairman of the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority, will appear for a final interview on Thursday.
Among those who made the cut are petroleum secretary GC Chaturvedi, IT secretary R Chandrasekhar, LIC Chairman DK Mehrotra and former LIC boss TS Vijayan. Others include Malik Sonawala, Niranjan Pant, Vipul Desai and Kamalji Sahay. “Each candidate has strong backing in terms of experience and knowledge,” said a government official familiar with the selection process.
Some two score applications were received for the job, which involves oversight of an industry that contributes 4.5% to economic output. Incumbent J Hari Narayan retires in February.
Chaturvedi, a 1977 batch IAS officer, was special director general (finance & accounts) of the organising
committee for the Commonwealth Games before taking over as petroleum secretary. Chandrasekhar is a 1975 batch IAS officer from Andhra cadre. Former LIC Chairman TS Vijayan was demoted to MD from chairman after allegations ofirregularity. “He has got all his clearances… so he may get the backing of finance minister,” the official quoted above said. The resume of Sahay, the CEO of Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insurance, is strong because of his background in industry. “There has been some opinion that an industry person should be appointed as Irda head so that the regulator can play some developmental role as well. Both DK Mehrotra and Sahay can score on that ground,” the official said. The final selection will made by a committee headed by financial services secretary DK Mittal. The appointment will also happen in the backdrop of the government’s stated intention to allow up to 49% FDI in insurance.
The government is likely to lean towards a candidate who can ensure that Irda does not restrict itself to being a regulator but also plays an active role in the development of the sector.

Enhance your health cover to beat healthcare cost inflation

You need a larger health insurance cover.” You are likely to hear this statement more than once in the coming year. Insurance companies, their sales forces and financial advisor’s are likely to cite medical inflation and high incidence of lifestyle diseases to prod you to go a for a larger health cover. 

“Medical inflation is rising at the rate of 18-20% every year. With healthcare cost going up, people are realising that a cover of 2-5 lakh provided by their employer or existing health insurance policy may not be adequate,” says Manasije Mishra, CEO (designate) of standalone health insurer Max Bupa. 

Advances in the field of medicine are another factor. “It is a reality that cost of treatment, especially in case of serious ailments, is going up. But, this is not merely on account of medical inflation. The cost of treatment is also going up as the quality and technology applied to treatment is improving, resulting in better results, but at a higher cost,” adds Arvind Laddha, CEO, Vantage Insurance Brokers. 

In 2012, two general insurance companies launched high-value policies of 50-60 lakh. Also, two top-up plans were launched during the year. “In the initial years, insurers focused on selling conventional products and there was not much product differentiation. Largely, regular health policies were sold to individuals. Now, companies are taking it a level higher with enhanced offerings like top-ups,” says Mukesh Kumar, head, HR, marketing and strategy planning, HDFC ERGO, which rolled out a top-up plan this year. Companies like ICICI Lombard,Religare HealthApollo Munich and Max Bupa now offer high-end covers of up to 50-60 lakh. Top-up plans are offered by most private insurers including ICICI Lombard, Bajaj Allianz, HDFC ERGO, Max Bupa, Star Health and also PSU insurer United India
DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY 
Should you go for a new policy that offers a large cover? Or should you buy a top-up plan? 
Top-up plans, which act as add-ons to your existing health policy, come into picture once you exhaust your existing cover. Some new top-up plans also allow you to pay a particular amount from your pocket. “Top-ups can be purchased by policyholders with an existing base cover as well as those who volunteer to meet the initial expenses – up to a threshold level – out of their own resources. The top-up will be triggered if the cost of hospitalisation exceeds this pre-agreed amount,” explains Sanjay Datta, chief (underwriting and claims) at ICICI Lombard. 

However, some companies insist on a base policy – which need not necessarily be bought from them – before offering the add-on. “Our top-up product is offered only to those policyholders who already have a base indemnity policy. They have to provide details of their existing regular health policy before buying the top-up,” says Mukesh Kumar.

India Inc creates inclusive HR policies for LGBT community.

Bangalore: How many times have you heard homophobic water cooler jokes at your workplace? Jokes that reinforce the clichéd assumptions of the homophobes.
To reduce workplace bullying and intimidating stare downs, some companies in India have introduced inclusive HR policies for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) community. LGBTfriendly companies celebrate diversity and inclusion by covering sexual orientation in their policies and employee handbooks. The rationale for LGBT inclusion is an essential part of business for firms demonstrating diversity.
IBM India has initiated a reverse mentoring project where members of Employee Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Empowerment (EAGLE), an internal employee resource group, is paired up with senior staff to discuss issues ranging from alternative sexuality, queer pride events to career advancement. “The project sensitizes workforce on inclusiveness of sexual inclinations. The unique gay-straight collaboration is aimed at building awareness about LGBTs among employees, who cannot easily correlate with people not conforming to hetero-normative behaviour. The conversations between mentors and mentees will help segue naturally to other subjects like discussing their career paths,” said Kalpana Veeraraghavan, workforce diversity manager in IBM India.
Infosys Gays Lesbians and you (IGLU), the employee resource group for the LGBT community, was set up last year. “At Infosys, the focus has been to ensure employees have a safe and harassment-free work place irrespective of their sexual orientation. The members are further given a choice to declare if they are ‘out’ and are comfortable about others knowing about their orientation or ‘discrete’ where they would not like to disclose their identity to others,” said Nandita Gurjar, group head of HR at Infosys.
Gayglers, Google’s employee network group for LGBT employees, started in India in 2010. The company organized The Sixth Sense, a diversity week in 2010 with over 750 Googlers participating in the event, the company said in its Global Diversity & Talent Inclusion 2010 Report.
The momentum for a strong case for inclusion came with the Delhi HC revoking Section 377 of IPC decriminalizing gay sex between two consenting adults. “Since the Delhi High Court judgment in 2009, companies and employees are hungry to find ways to ensure they operate in an inclusive environment. If your company is not gay-friendly, you may start losing employees, future clients and revenue. It makes good business sense to be inclusive,” said Bunty Bohra, CEO of Goldman Sachs Services India.
Companies have a structured policy advocacy in place, but gender sensitivity among colleagues in the workplace is still abysmal. Vinay Chandran, ED of Swabhava Trust, an NGO that works with the LGBT community, said “In many ways, LGBT-friendly policies tend to be mere lip service. Companies are worried about productivity, not really about upholding rights of people with different sexual orientation.” Elengovel, a software professional with IBM, who takes pride in being gay, says many people hide their sexual orientation to avoid any kind of prejudice at workplace. “They should come out of the closet to talk about their gender identity. Though many companies have inclusive polices, lack of sensitivity
and awareness among colleagues is a concern.”
Colleagues can be intrusive about martial status and sexuality that forces many of them to go into a shell. Mahesh Natrajan, a senior consultant with a Bangalore-based IT company, said the management didn’t have an inclusive policy till the time he was around in 2003. “I got the impression that leaders were advocating “a don’t ask, don’t tell policy” at best. I had specifically mentioned in my exit interview that I quit because the firm didn’t have a support group for the LGBT community, but they didn’t respond.”
The awareness has grown with time. Companies are offering diversity training to sensitive their employees about gender identity and expression at workplace. As a part of its overall diversity focus, Goldman Sachs expects all its employees to complete at least 2-hours of diversity training each year. The programmer also offers a curriculum “Out in the Open: Sexual Orientation in the Workplace.” “Research shows that an LGBT person who does not need to hide sexual orientation can be 30-40% more productive in workplace. Relationships and trust are key in our business. Hiding something about you can impact trust,” said Stephen Golden, head of diversity for Asia-Pacific at Goldman Sachs. The company has 300 members as part of its LGBT Network in India.
CELEBRATING DIVERSITY 
IBM India has started a project where members of Employee Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Empowerment (EAGLE), an internal employee resource group, is paired up with senior employees to discuss issues ranging from alternative sexuality, queer pride events to career advancement
Infosys Gays Lesbians and you (IGLU) was set up last year
Gayglers, Google’s employee network group for LGBT staff, started in India in 2010. The company organized The Sixth Sense, a diversity week in 2010 with over 750 Googlers participating in the event
Goldman Sachs expects all its employees to complete at least 2-hours of diversity training each year. The programmer also offers a curriculum “Out in the Open: Sexual Orientation in the Workplace