Age doesn’t matter… Or does it?

Having recruited across all levels of functions, I am afraid to see regularly evidences that discriminations still exist on the job market (racial, sexual, physical…). However, the one recruiters face mostly remains age discrimination, for senior professionals as for junior ones.


Yet, while browsing articles on Linkedin recently, I came across a comment which made me furious. The article was about the advantages and disadvantages of working with a recruiter and was written by an entrepreneur in his early thirties. The comment came from a 40+ year old Executive Search consultant and went pretty much like this: “It’s tough to have a mature outlook on business when you haven’t passed through puberty. The author should stick to subjects he knows about, like video games and TeleTubbies.”

Beyond my first reaction – feeling ashamed that someone from my industry (suffering enough misperceptions) could write such things – I felt revolted for myself and all the newbies on the job market. What does it mean? Is there an official age as from which everything one says becomes legitimate and true?

I myself faced a few situations when I felt my say was not considered worthy, just because of my age. And probably that on some occasions it was for the best, but isn’t it through practice, discussions and mistakes that we learn and grow mature and wise? A 5 years experienced professional having done many mistakes could well be wiser than a 15 years experienced one having done none.

Unfortunately, I also see many situations reflecting the other way around when younger (but not only) hiring managers are judging senior professionals as not relevant anymore for the job market as if they were outdated, unable to adapt or fit the team’s culture.

Whether discriminated against for being allegedly too young or too old, it is Frustrating BUT (here is the good news) very often Unfounded!


  • Do not take it personally: you should not care about comments coming from people having long expired ideas of the world. They are the ones out of place, not you.
  • Keep calm and don’t be arrogant: Unfortunately, age bias is not always a bias; there might be a reasonable explanation for why your age could be an issue for a specific job.
  • Try to understand and speak about it: There is no doubt that experience requires time and it could be that you are too young to know it all. But experience, knowledge and aptitudes are also a matter of circumstances; if you believe your age is an irrelevant consideration, open the discussion and constructively discuss it with your interlocutor.
  • If the discussion leads nowhere, move on! There is only so much you can do about it. If it were in the context of a recruitment process, maybe you could take legal action but even there, I would wonder if this person/company is worth your time, all the more since discrimination cases are very hard to prove. If you were really the good person then too bad for them because with this attitude they might not make it in the long run anyway.

There might always be some level of discrimination in the non-corporate world however it is a duty of every organization to set clear Policies & Procedures to avoid them and be an equal opportunity employer.

Polyglot Group prides itself to help its partners create better workplaces and put at the core of their strategy their most important asset: people!


Source : LinkedIn

Leader Spotting: The Four Essential Talents

What do you look for in tomorrow’s leaders? That question is crucial for the long-term health of any organization.

The only certainty about tomorrow’s business reality is that it will be “VUCA”: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. As the world changes, so do the abilities leaders will need. Yet there is a specific skill set that will match the demands of such a reality.

The hallmarks of these potential leaders are pinpointed by my friend and colleague, Claudio Fernández-Aráoz in 21 Century Talent Spotting,” the cover article of this month’s Harvard Business Review. Claudio, formerly director of research at the executive search firm Egon Zehnder International, has become the global guru on hiring, so his wisdom is all the more welcome.

What makes leaders successful today may not work so well in the future. So it’s not just the right skills, but the ability to master new ones that will count. High potentials, he finds, need:

These are the abilities that organizations need to spot today in those who will be candidates for leadership in the future. And companies will have to retain such high potential candidates, as well as build development methods that help them get even better.

Three forces, he says, will put a premium on future high potentials. Globalization means that companies will be competing for talent with others beyond their usual territory. A demographic shift signals a talent shortage: there are fewer 35-44 year-olds than the 50 and 60-somethings they will be replacing. Finally, companies have not put a premium on cultivating future leaders, and will have to upgrade their capabilities to keep and groom.

These are by no means new competencies – each has been around since companies began analyzing what talents set their star performers apart from average ones. I remember a study of highly successful entrepreneur done some years ago at the University of Southern California that showed curiosity – spreading a wide net in gathering information – was typical.

And even in the 1970s David McClelland at Harvard was teaching would-be entrepreneurs (some in countries like India and Ethiopia) how to set smart goals, get continuous feedback on their performance, and find ways to improve.

Still, Claudio’s research puts new value on these four in the near future, as signifying a mid-career employee has the potential to rise to a leadership role and excel at it.

But there’s more. These alone are insufficient for outstanding leadership.

Source : LinkedIn

Revamp of Health Insurance Plan for Poor on the Cards – YOGIMA SETH SHARMA NEW DELHI

The new government is proposing a comprehensive revamp of the health insurance scheme for the poor in a move that will benefit a further 11 crore people, mostly belonging to below poverty line (BPL) families.

The measures involve enhancing the transport allowance, introducing wellness checks and extending the validity of smart cards issued under the Rashtriya Swastha Bima Yojana (RSBY), a scheme that was introduced by the previous United Progressive Alliance government.

The beneficiaries will be eligible for transport allowance of .

`200 per hospital

isation with a maximum cap of .

`2,000 in a policy period, a senior government official told ET. Currently, a beneficiary is eligible for .

`100 per hospitalisation with a maximum ceiling of .

`1,000 a year as transport charges, which are reimbursed by the hospital at the time of discharge.

According to the official, the ministry has also proposed to increase the validity of the smart cards, which are needed to participate in the scheme, thereby saving on its cost, which is borne by the government. Smart cards cost .

`60 and now need to be renewed every year. If the proposal is accepted, the card will cost .

`100 and be valid for three years.

“This will make it convenient for the beneficiaries besides enabling us to save


`80 per card issued,” the official added.

“The ministry of labour and employment has already circulated a Cabinet note for inter-ministerial discussion and an announcement to this effect could be made in the budget.” RSBY, a flagship scheme of the UPA government launched in 2008, aims to provide protection to BPL households from financial liabilities arising out of health shocks that involve hospitalisation. Under the scheme, the beneficiaries are entitled to hospitalisation coverage of up to .

`30,000 for most diseases that require hospital stay. The coverage extends to five members of a family which includes the head of the household, spouse and up to three dependents. Beneficiaries only need to pay .

`30 as registration fees while

the central and state governments pay the premium to the insurer.

Being a centrally-sponsored scheme, 75% of the premium is paid by the central government and the rest by the state government. However, in the case of north eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre pays 90% and the state 10%.

RSBY was initially designed to target only BPL households, but was recently expanded to cover a number of non-BPL categories of informal sector workers, including street vendors, domestic workers, beedi workers, building and construction workers, and most importantly, those who have worked for more than 15 days under MGNREGS. The target is to cover 7 crore households by the end of the 12th Five-year Plan (2012-17).

Source : The Economics Times

Date : 23/6/2014

`Fresher’ Approach Helps TCS Save on Employee Costs

With more new grads, leaner mid-mgmt, co’s staff costs lowest in industry

While there is a lot of head scratching among pundits on how Tata Consultancy Services has managed to keep its employee costs much lower than its peers, the secret could be its higher intake of freshers and a lean middle management.

This focus on new hires has allowed India’s largest IT services player to earn the fattest margins in the software industry and also have considerable flexibility on deploying its resources.

Analyst firm HfS estimated that the Mumbai-based company effectively achieved a 6.3% reduction in average employee costs every year over 2007-2013. During this period, the percentage of new graduates hired of the total rose from 50% to 80%. TCS has over 3,00,000 employees globally.

Hiring more freshers gives TCS the flexibility to use them in lower value and transactional activities, freeing up the more experienced employees for higher value work, HfS said. Also, freshers are easier to train in new skills required for digital services, a multi-billion opportunity for TCS over the next few years.

“I see this labour model continuing to gain more traction as the industry matures, but also with more investments in niche experts with specific domain and consultative skills. The leading IT/BPO firms need more domain experts to remain differentiated,“ Phil Fersht, CEO of HfS, told ET. Fersht said he expects to see the fresher-heavy, mid-management-lite model to become the norm for other Indian IT players as well.

TCS, which will add about 25,000 freshers in fiscal 2015, is also cutting training costs by digitising the process and making e-learning more convenient. The e – learning could also make the trainees productive earlier, boosting utilisation and margins.

“We are piloting more digital training internally and we can extend this to students given the offer letter,“ Ajoyendra Mukherjee, head of global human resources, said last week at a press conference. “Obviously, I can’t do the three months training before they join but our assumption is this will help reduce training time and make them productive quicker.“ Mukherjee said TCS was yet to ascertain how much the project would reduce the training time.

The company had an utilisation rate of 77.9%, including trainees, for the fourth quarter of 2014, when it posted an operating margin of 29.1%.

Also helping TCS, and the rest of the industry, is the fact that salaries for college graduates have not increased in the last four years at about ` . 3.15-3.50 lakh annually. Mukherjee had said he does not expect fresher salaries to rise this year either.
Salary hikes have also fallen to single digits from double digits before the 2008 global economic meltdown.

“TCS’ average cost per employee for fiscal 2014 was about ` . 14 lakh, compared to about ` . 18 lakh for Infosys. While most of this is due to a higher proportion of freshers vs lateral hires, it’s also because TCS has more efficiency in managing its costs,“ said Harit Shah, research analyst with brokerage Nirmal Bang.

Shah added that TCS’ employee costs as a percentage of revenue were at least 5-10 percentage points below the rest of the industry. Other IT firms are also focusing on different ways to bring down employee costs, even as hiring is picking up due to a rebound in demand.

“There is focus on controlling costs,“ said Alka Dhingar, regional manager at staffing firm Team lease Services. “A new trend we are seeing, though it is still very small, is the hiring of workers who have previously retired who have experience but who are also less expensive.“

Source: The Economic Times

Date: June 20, 2014 

`Compassionate Visit’ Covered Too

Parents worried about inadequate insurance cover for their children studying abroad, or the cost of buying a comprehensive policy from a foreign provider, have more options now.

Indian insurers such as ICICI Lombard, Bajaj Allianz General and Tata AIG General Insurance offer plans that cover unexpected expenses on almost anything that a student could face abroad ­ bail bonds and drug and alcohol rehabilitation to abortion, suicide attempt and even an emergency visit by a parent to take care of an unwell child.

Until few years ago, Indian companies provided bare-bone medical and travel insurance. Universities abroad demand much more, and students often had to buy insurance plans from foreign insurers who have partnered with their institutes. Premiums were usually high.

Student travel insurance isn’t yet a big business for local companies, but it is growing fast and they didn’t want to lose on that. They launched policies that are comprehensive to meet the demands of foreign institutes. For par ents, costs were as low as half the premiums paid to foreign companies. From 2011 to 2014, the number of students opting for local insure rs increased from 30% of the total to 60% be cause of the expanded plans and lower cost, say industry executives.

Hemant Ashar of Mumbai, whose 18year-old son studies in the US, wants to shift his insurance cover from a US based insurer to an Indian company. His son joined University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business last year for a BBA degree. The initial policy included a study-interruption cover.
This year, he found that he could get similar cover from a local insurer for much less.

“ICICI Lombard is one such company that has a study interruption provision,“ said Ashar. “While I paid Rs 1 lakh for an international one, the domestic ones are available for a premium of around Rs 60,000 per year.“

Sanjay Datta, chief of underwriting and claims at ICICI Lombard, said local insurers had to “up our game“ after universities started demanding wider coverage from 2012. “We marketed aggressively with education counsellors, travel agents and global universities to convince that we can provide similar policies too.“ According to Datta, out of the company’s entire travel insurance portfolio, student travel insurance constitutes approximately 8%, and with the added covers, he expects it to grow 15% year-over-year. In 2012, the company brought in the ICICI Lombard Gold Plan, which included medical emergencies along with stay and trip-related covers like bail bond, study interruption, sponsor protection, two-way compassionate visit and loss of checked-in baggage.

Student insurance is predominantly sold in July and August as new academic sessions start in September. Premiums charged by Indian insurance firms is at times one third to half of what insurers tied up with universities charge.

Indian general insurers now offer student travel policies which also cover expenses on cancer screening, organ transplant, sports injuries, childbirth and physiotherapy. The `compassionate visit’ clause takes care of parents’ travel and lodgings to attend an unwell son or daughter studying abroad. Also gaining popularity is the study interruption cover, where a student’s repeat semester fees are paid for in case he misses studies because of an accident or illness.

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance this year introduced a suicide cover to take care of any hospitalisation bills or other costs from suicide attempts.

“There was an increasing demand from local universities (in the US) that new batches get suicide cover and 80% of our student clients study in the US,“ said Renuka Kanvinde, assistant vice-president of health and travel insurance at Bajaj Allianz.

Tata AIG plans to roll out an insurance plan with a $500,000 cover that will include maternity benefits and physiotherapy costs along with drug and alcohol rehabilitation, cancer screening, pregnancy termination and sponsor-protection programmes. Until now, the limit was $250,000. Provisions like maternity and physiotherapy were added because universities demanded more, said M Ravichandran of Tata AIG General Insurance.

These companies have been introducing new polices as more and more Indians are travelling abroad for studies. The Council of Graduate Schools International Graduate Admissions Survey, Phase I, said there has been a 32% increase in applications from India to US colleges in 2014.

According to, the student travel insurance market in India deals with 70,000-90,000 transactions a year and the online insurance marketplace has already seen a 50% increase in the number of polices sold since last year. Expansion of coverage is expected to add to the numbers.


Source: The Economic Times

Date: June 20, 2014 

With talent at a premium, cos roll out counter-offers

It may be a good time to explore your job options, especially if you are talented and have the skills crucial to your work profile. For, with sentiments improving in the job market, employees are again being serenaded by their organizations. And counter-offers, a popular mechanism through which an employee leaving a company for another is retained with monetary or other incentives, are back in vogue.

Hiring agencies say the trend is prompting companies to plan expansions, thereby triggering a demand for talent across sectors as varied as infrastructure, consumer durables, FMCG, pharma and e-commerce.

A counter-offer is usually made either in terms of a salary upgrade or a higher designation or both. In India, where job loyalty is pegged low, employees respond more positively to counter-offers than is the case globally . “Counter-offers, which are an unwritten norm in India and are acceptable to both the company and the employee, are back after more than a year of a depressed market,“ said Ronesh Puri, MD of Executive Access (India), a corporate personnel search firm. “Employees who have been made job offers are also biding their time in the hope that their organization will make them a better counter-offer,“ he added. India Inc is relying on counter-offers to retain talent. From the organization’s perspective, it is certainly costeffective to retain an employee rather than hire one from outside. “We have observed a trend where companies are reaching out to key performers with counter-offers as the cost involved in recruiting a new employee, and subsequently training them, is far higher and time-consuming,” said Moorthy K Uppaluri, CEO, Randstad India, a leading global HR service company.

Companies don’t want to lose out on critical time and hence want to retain top talent as these employees are key to realizing their business goals.

Companies are looking at various ways of doing this, including mid-year salary corrections and performance bonuses to fast-track career programmes, said Uppaluri.

“In one recent case, an IT major even went so far as to create a work-from-home facility for its employee in Mumbai where she wanted to relocate and had accepted a position with another firm. They made the offer as they did not have an office in Mumbai but didn’t want to let go of her either,” said Mayank Chandra, managing partner of global search firm Antal International.

To factor in such activity, Puri said, a number of organizations have increased their business targets and their annual employee budgets by up to 15-20% over that initially fixed in April.

Talent retention is one of India Inc’s biggest struggles. Take the auto sector, for instance.

“On an average, it takes anything between four-five years for a fresh engineering trainee to start contributing meaning fully towards product development. Given the scale of investment and commitment, their retention becomes critical for the company,” said C V Raman, executive director, engineering, Maruti Suzuki.

Telecom is another sector, where given the macro – economic environment and hyper-competitive nature of the industry, the market for talent has always been on the boil. “Telecom operators today are far more selective about retention of talent with the right skill sets,” said Ashok Ramchandran, HR director with Vodafone India.

“With positive market sentiments and increased projected investments, the competition for talent, especially for various mid to senior-level leadership roles, will grow further,” said Ramchandran. Vodafone India, he said, plans to hire more than 2,000 employees across levels this year. But job loyalty in India, according to Uppaluri, is the lowest. This could be the reason why counter-offers are more popular in India.

Source: The Times of India

Date: June 19, 2014 

SBI to Hire 7,200 People, Increase Reliance on Tech – SAIKAT DAS Mumbai

State Bank of India (SBI), the largest lender, plans to recruit about 7,200 people even as some 8,100 members of its staff are due to retire during the current fiscal, as it seeks to increase its reliance on technology for a number of routine tasks.

“I am trying to get a lot of technology to help my people so that they spend less of their time on activities that don’t really need a lot of thinking and knowledge. For routine stuff such as cash-counting, we are bringing more and more machines,“ said SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya, adding that SBI should be able to manage with the number of people it planned to hire during 2014-15.

The bank plans to install cash deposit machines, which will reduce the use of teller counters manned by bank employees. It’s also bringing in cash recyclers ­ where the ATM uses the deposited money for withdrawals. “These machines (cash recyclers) can recognise fake notes and impound them and credit your account lesser by that amount. We will be bringing in around 4,500 cash recyclers,“ said Bhattacharya.

Although the entire banking industry in the country is facing a manpower shortage, the situation is particularly acute in state-owned banks where, according to an estimate by McKinsey India, 75% of the top management or those above the assistant general manager grade are due to retire by 2020. “In FY15, SBI is planning to recruit about 1,837 probationary officers and 5,400 assistant officers,“ JN Misra, SBI’s deputy managing director and corporate development officer, told ET, on the sidelines of a conference held by SBICAP Securities last week.

In the previous fiscal, the SBI’s 7,600 staff members retired while 35,00040,000 are due to retire over the next four years. This will happen at a time when new private entities like Bandhan and IDFC, which have already got banking licences from the Reserve Bank of India, will seek to compete with the established banks and are likely to offer higher remunerations to draw talent.

The central bank also plans to issue differentiated bank licences like a standalone payment bank in months to come.
That will further push up the demand for human resources and banks offering better salaries may corner the lion’s share from the limited talent pool.

SBI’s Misra, however, said the bank would not lose manpower to the new banks. “I don’t think attrition rate will go up at SBI due to the emergence of two new banks,“ Misra said. SBI offers a salary of about `. 70,000 per month to fresh graduates who join as probationers.

Source : The Economic Times

Date : 16/6/2014