5 WAYS TO Prepare for a Sabbatical

Sabbaticals, which have become increasingly common due to work pressure and higher aspirations, can hinder growth if not planned well. Worse, they can make the transition back to professional life tough. Shreya Biswas finds out how to make them work for you.
1 Decide on the Reason Employees take sabbaticals to manage a special circumstance such as a family crisis or a child’s exam; when they feel the burnout coming; or to expand their knowledge and skills. “Decide what you want to address during your sabbatical, first, to make the best use of time that you will have to yourself,” says Ruchi Sinha, assistant professor, organisational behaviour, ISB.
2 Discuss it with Your Family Before you reach out to your employer and communicate your decision, talk with your family. “The family backs you up if your plan doesn’t work out, be it financial or mental. Discuss with your spouse, children and parents before you take the leap,” says Sunetra Wagh, associate vice president – head (operations and strategy – manufacturing), Zensar, who returned from her eight-month sabbatical this April after her son completed his Standard 12 board exams.
3 Plan Ahead Let your organisation know well in time so they can prepare for the time you will be away. Wagh, for instance, told her boss about her plan in January last year and formally in April, as she planned to go on the sabbatical from August. “It helped them find a back-up and I got the time to help the person transition into a new role and hand over my responsibilities.” Apart from work being taken care of, it kept her goodwill intact.
4 Start a Sabbatical Fund
Make a financial plan for your time away, saving at least 12 months worth of expenses for every three months of sabbatical. Think about sub-letting your apartment for taking care of regular household expenses. “For healthcare needs, get a private insurer or negotiate with your company,” says Prasenjit Bhattacharya, CEO, Great Place to Work Institute.
5 Keep in Touch Once you’ve left for your sabbatical, continue networking online. Inform those close to you and family through a blog or an update every two weeks. Keep in touch with your boss and colleagues. This will come in handy when you get back to your professional life, says Bhattacharya.

Source :The Economic Times.
Date : 28/06/2013

Insurers Duck for Cover on Guerrilla Attack by Ex-staff Sacked employees steal client data to ‘blackmail’ insurance companies

Life insurance firms are caught in a strange menace, battling a guerrilla backlash from people they fired.
Several insurers have alerted the regulator that sacked employees, who walked away with data on thousands of policies, are now misusing the customer information given at the time of buying the policy to ‘blackmail’ the companies.
In the past one month, many insurance firms have been inundated with letters from customers raking up old policy issues, alleging misselling and threatening to move court.
The letters, surprisingly welldrafted and mostly from highvalue clients, have raised suspicion that the customers in question have been provoked by men who have access to key information.
Besides aggrieved ex-employees, some in the insurance industry said a north-based broker dealing with multiple insurance companies could be involved in the racket.
The modus operandi is simple: former employees reach out to customers and tell them that they were given a raw deal; the intention is to threaten and force an insurance company to come to the negotiating table; the deal is that the customer pays some commission to the former insurance man for his ‘services’.
“Some data has been leaked from a third-party vendor,” said Indiafirst Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer P Nandagopal. Insurers Seek Police Help
“Details of thousands of policies have been stolen by some executives and they are making spurious calls to policyholders to stop paying renewal (premium), discontinue their existing policy and move on to new policies,” said Indiafirst’s Nandagopal. The recent incidents are taking place soon after many policy renewals and almost a year after several companies received calls from fraudsters posing as officials of the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority, the industry watchdog.
Last week, some of the firms took up the matter with the regulator. “It could lead to reputational and financial loss and can impact our persistency (or policies in force) ratio. The regulator has advised companies to investigate the cases and file police complaints if necessary,” said an industry consultant. PNB Metlife Insurance is planning to report the incidents to Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing. “When we threatened to take the matter to the EOW, they stopped misleading our policyholders,” said Rajesh Relan, MD and CEO of PNB Metlife. Since insurance companies face a challenge in terms of high attrition, the incidents have also raised concerns over data theft in the life industry. “Sales executives often take data of policyholders and make them change policies to the new company they join,” said the CEO of another large private sector life company.
The industry has lost over 6 lakh individual agents and 5,000 direct employees since 2010 after the rules were changed for Unit-Linked Insurance Products (Ulips), which for some years sold like hot cakes. After allegations of rampant misselling, the regulator changed the rules of the game by on one hand increasing the lock-in period and policy tenure, and on the other hand lowering charges and commissions received for selling Ulips. The life insurance industry shrank with Ulips becoming less attractive for intermediaries. The share of Ulips in total income of the sector has crashed to 20-25% (from a peak of 80%) while traditional products such as money-back contribute the rest. The life insurance industry earned a total income of . 2.8 lakh crore in 2012-13, recording a drop of 6% in total income. “The complaints have come for Ulips as well as traditional policies. In some cases there may have been instances of misselling since intermediaries, fishing for high commission, promised the moon to customers. But many customers had unrealistically high expectations from such insurance products,” said a source.

Source :The Economic Times.
Date : 28/06/2013


With the race of new license application for Banking sector catching the speed, a well known but underlying threat is gradually increasing for the insurance Industry.

It is a very known fact that Insurance industry today is striving hard to attract new talent and it is also becoming bit difficult to retain the good employee.
According to the recent survey of Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) estimated that there would be need of approx. @ 21 lakhs insurance educated employees by 2025.

As a recruiter, I often hear a request from candidates that they prefer to change the sector (particularly Sales domain). Any challenging role with Banking excites them and they will move the sector instantly. This thought process could be because Banking as industry is matured and also done their bit to glamorize the sector which helps in attracting the talent easily.

Also, unlike Banking both acceptability & keenness of professionals from other sector (FMCG/ Telecom etc.) to join insurance Industry is very less.

For the last 3 years, Talent Discoveri is contributing in bringing fresh talent to the industry providing the insurance education to Post Graduate, even thereto I have found reluctance of the students to choose insurance as career.

There is a wide gap in Demand & Supply, any encroachment by banking sector to the insurance professional might severely hurt the sector.

This could be a major concern (accordingly to me) since Insurance is very people driven business and with scarcity of good experienced manpower, both insurer & Brokers will have hit.

Thoughts shared by Abhishek Sharma- Director & Co Founder- Talent Discoveri Consulting

Employability Factor: Education v/s Corporate Demand

A Better late then never recognition by the corporates, today Employability is the latest buzz word while scouting for the fresh talent.
An educated and trained workforce is essential if an organization wants to develop and maintain a viable growth. Most of the organizations particularly in Service sector are emphasizing for the fresh talent who is competent enough to produce results from “ Day One”.
With the current set of education system, the growing crevice between the education and the employer’s expectation seems inevitable at this point in time. This trend of course is not new to the sector but since there has not been much done to level the education methodologies to corporates expectations, employability today becomes a major challenge for most of the HR.
It is also been noticed & which is surly unfortunate, that today’s education (particularly higher education) is not able to produce the talent, which stood strong even on the basics. The Education “becomes an industry that end up producing the machines” (though this thought may not be correct for some institutes)
One of the other interesting outlook point out the need & will of corporates to establish strong training & development module. Though, majority of the companies today have full fledge training vertical, unfortunately being pushed by the management to curtail the time lines in training and utilize the talent in producing the numbers.
Recently, identifying the demands, some colleges started industry specific program, which has helped the corporates to discover the right candidate from the employability prospective, but there is still enough room to implement a lot of things on the same.
These sorts of program might help the corporates to accommodate the business demands for shorter timeframe but the bigger challenge of making the talent productive for longer time lies in the right and never ending training modules, which must be given at regular intervals.

By Abhishek Sharma- Co-founder – Talent Discoveri Consulting

Brokers Hike Cover After Emkay Episode Hike insurance to up to . 10 cr, extend mandatory broker indemnity policy to cover fat finger errors

Many stock brokers have raised their insurance coverage to up to . 10 crore and extended their mandatory broker indemnity policy to cover fat finger errors similar to the one that caused Mumbai-based brokerage Emkay to take a . 51-crore hit on its books. Emkay Global received only . 95 lakh as insurance against the loss of . 51 crore suffered because one of its dealers punched in an erroneous trade last year. The brokerage had an insurance cover of only . 1 crore to cover trading errors.
According to industry experts, brokerages such as Edelweiss, India Infoline, Motilal Oswal, Angel Broking and Geojit BNP have increased theirinsurance coverage to between . 7 crore and . 10 crore. “We have seen some broking houses upgrading their limits in response to the recent (Emkay) event,” said Sanjay Kedia, country head and CEO of Marsh India Insurance Brokers. Marsh is one of the world’s largest providers of cover for security market brokers. Brokers says prior to the Emkay incident, trading members bought only traditional indemnity policies that did not provide cover for punching errors.
“Until the Emkay incident, only a few brokerages had a cover protecting them against losses from punching errors. However, since then, many brokers, including a few smaller ones, have extended the coverage to E&O and a few have also extended to non-material business interruption and cyber crime,” said Siddharth Shah, chairman of BSE Brokers Forum. The E&O clause insures brokers against losses arising out of errors in execution of clients’ orders.
Public sector insurance companies like New India and Oriental provide stock broker indemnity policies. A more sophisticated E&O policy is also available with some PSU insurers. Also, other covers exist like those for non-material business interruption — which covers risk of losing connectivity due to power outage, network failure and hardware failure — and new cyber crime and liabilityinsurance solution — which covers internal and external fraud, data privacy and data breaches.
According to Sebi’s exchange regulations, it is mandatory for every stock broker to have a minimum professional indemnity insurance of . 5 lakh.
“Trading members have extended the coverage as their vulnerability to fat finger errors has been exposed,” said Nimesh Shah, managing director of Fortune Financial Services. “Nowadays, even mid-level brokerages buy insurance ranging from . 2 crore to . 5 crore.”

Source :The Economic Times.
Date : 20/06/2013

5 WAYS TO Deal with Returning Employee

Rarely does an employee part ways with the company without misgivings. But there are a few who do not mind coming back. For the firm, it is a delicate place to be in — boasting that a prodigal son has returned could lead to doubts on retention policies, while giving the employee a lukewarm response would mean losing him or her again. Devina Sengupta explores ways to steer clear of these sensitive spots.
1 Set Clear Rules The company should be very clear on the timeline and increment before hiring a former employee. The salary increase should match what the employee would have received had he or she stayed with the company. “The company should make it clear to the others that there is a premium on staying back,” says Adil Malia, HR head, Essar.
2 Refer to the Exit Interview “When an employee leaves, the exit interview opens up a variety of possibilities. If the firm understands the disconnect and has made changes, then he or she can be brought back,” says Priya Chetty Rajagopal, principal consultant, business excellence – corporate initiatives for Stanton Chase India. If the reason for the employee leaving has not changed, the company should question his or her decision to return.
3 Reorient the Employee If the gap between two stints with the company is more than a year, an employee has to go through a reorientation. “He is no Rip Van Winkle who will wake up from sleep and start working. He will have to adjust to company’s new policies, rules and culture,” says Malia.
4 Check for Team Alignment Companies that bring back former employees have to keep a hawk’s eye on relationship status with former bosses and colleagues. It is best if both parties work in different teams but if that is not possible, the firm has to double check the fit. “No one is foolish enough to come back to a company they know they will not fit into. And in case they have to work under the same heads, it is safe to assume that there has been a rejig in the relationship,” says Rajagopal.
5 Use it as a Branding Exercise For many employers, having former employees come back is an excellent branding option. Infosys, in 2010, named the programme to re-hire former employees as ‘Green Channel’ and received 350 resumes in the first few months of it being rolled out.

Source :The Economic Times.
Date : 18/06/2013

Banks Rock the Rules for Moms Lay out benefits for mothers-to-be and new mothers to retain women staffers

Anupama Ranade, joint general manager and head of corporate credit risk at ICICI Bank, has stuck to her first job for more than 20 years. With good reason.
A few years ago, when she was heading general banking operations, her husband was posted abroad for three years. She had two children to look after, and staying away from her husband or working from a remote location, were not feasible. With the bank’s support, Ranade went on a two-year sabbatical. She joined work in 2010 at the same level she had left the bank at, and a year later, received a promotion. “All women face this dilemma. You have family commitments and at the same time, you have studied and worked on your career. It’s a respite that the organisation will take care of you,” she says.
Ranade belongs to the select few organisations that offer employees such leave options. All the same, the hypercompetitive world of banking is increasingly recognising the importance of retaining female talent, in particular those who lose the most productive years of their lives to family commitments.
“Childbirth and childcare are the biggest career obstacles a woman between 28 and 35 years of age goes through. Organisations should be able to support women in these critical phases, else everything they do is lip service,” says K Ramkumar, executive director, ICICI Bank.
ICICI Bank provides its employees a unique leave basket: Six months of paid maternity leave that can be extended by taking leave without pay on a need basis; 36 days of paid child care leave each year for mothers or single fathers till the child attains the age of 2 years and 180 days of leave for employees undergoing fertility treatment.
Besides these, women employees and single fathers get six days of paid leave each year to support an adoptive parent. Those who take sabbaticals can return to work even after two years. The bank offers leave or flexible work options when an employee’s child is taking the Standard 10 and 12 exams.
For its part, Citi India has a unique ‘Flexible Maternity Policy’, where women officers are entitled to avail of maternity leave of 180 days in three different options. Women officers can either avail of leave continuously for six months or exercise flexibility in the leave duration by opting for four months and the subsequent two months in tranches.
The bank also makes sure new mothers secure their performance ratings during maternity leave. “Ratings are critical for promotions. They help reduce potential unconscious or other biases that come in the way of providing women an objective rating for the targets achieved during the period of work in a year,” says Anuranjita Kumar, country HR officer.
Besides Citi and ICICI, a clutch of big global banks aim leave initiatives and policies specifically at new mothers. At HSBC India, women are entitled to fully-paid maternity leave of six months. Additionally, maternity leave can be combined with privilege leave of 25 working days. Women employees can also request for leave without pay for up to four months, on approvals by their business heads. The bank is now exploring a maternity cover option, where for the duration that the new mother is away, a temporary replacement is found either through short-term attachments or fixed-term contracts. On returning, the employee can resume in the same role.
“Going on long leave can sometimes create challenges of safeguarding an existing role, given the long time an individual is away from work. The maternity cover option is being explored to manage this challenge,”says Vikram Tandon, head ofHR at HSBC.
The bank has also recently introduced ‘post-maternity transition’. A month prior to joining, a certified counsellor establishes contact with the new mother to understand her state of mind as she readies to come back to work. This is followed by a post-joining group counselling session held between 60 and 90 days of joining, focused on enabling development of a support group of new parents. The session explores how to effectively manage the dual priorities of work and family. Their onboarding programme, ‘Mothers on Board’, provides a work buddy to the new mother along with IT support.
At Standard Chartered Bank, women constitute about 30% of the overall workforce. Apart from six months’ maternity leave, the bank offers sabbaticals and day care centres called ‘Colours of Joy’ across New Delhi and Mumbai.
The policies have been laid out keeping future talent needs in mind. “To reap the benefits of acquiring best in class talent, an investment needs to be made in their development and engagement,” says Madhavi Lall, head of employee relations.

Source :The Economic Times.
Date : 18/06/2013