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30% employees fake illness to skip work:  Survey

PTI Oct 14, 2012, 02.44PM IST

New York: An average of three in ten employees call in sick to their office when not actually ill, with some giving unusual excuses like their dog having a nervous breakdown  to they themselves suffering from a broken heart, a new survey says.

As per the survey conducted by US-based human capital services provider Career builder, 30 per cent of workers have called in sick when not actually ill in the past year.

The sick days, legitimate or otherwise, also become more frequent around the winter holidays, with nearly one-third of employers reporting more employees call in sick during the holiday season, the survey found.

At the same time, 29 per cent of employers have checked up on an employee to verify that the illness is legitimate, usually by requiring a doctor's note or calling the employee later in the day.

Some employers have had other employees call a suspected faker (18 per cent) or even gone so far as to drive by the employee's home (14 per cent).

Besides, 17 per cent of employers have fired employees for giving a fake excuse, Careerbuilder said.

The most unusual excuses given by the employees calling in sick included the employee's sobriety tool not allowing the car to start, the worker forgetting he had a job, his or her dog having a nervous breakdown and the employee's dead grandmother being exhumed for a police investigation.

Employees also gave excuses like their toe getting stuck in a faucet, getting bitten by a bird, being upset after watching 'The Hunger Games', getting sick from reading too much, suffering from a broken heart and hair turning orange from dying her hair at home.

The survey was conducted across the US by research firm Harris Interactive on behalf of Careerbuilder and covered nearly 2,500 human resource professionals and around 4,000 workers across industries and company sizes.

The survey further found that 31 per cent of employers notice an uptick in sick days around the winter holidays.

December is the most popular month to call in sick, with 20 per cent saying their employees call in the most during that month. July is the next most popular month to skip out on work, followed by January and February, it said.

The study said that next to actually being sick, the most common reasons employees call in sick are because "they just don't feel like going to work (34 per cent), or because they felt like they needed to relax (29 per cent)."

Others take the day off so they can make it to a doctor's appointment (22 per cent), catch up on sleep (16 per cent), or run some errands (15 per cent).


Alcatel-Lucent may cut 1,000 jobs in India as deals dry up

Kalyan Parbat, ET Bureau Oct 15, 2012, 10.00AM IST

KOLKATA: Struggling French telecoms gear maker Alcatel-Lucent  will lay off nearly 1000 employees, or 9% of its India workforce as part of a global restructuring drive to cut costs as deals dry up and demand for network equipment plunges, two senior executives aware of the matter told ET.

Bulk of the cull is likely to impact Alcatel-Lucent India's key business support functions and its people-centric managed services vertical where nearly 7,000 employees are engaged primarily in maintaining and managing Reliance Communications' countrywide CDMA and GSM networks and Bharti Airtel's landline & broadband networks.

In July, the Paris-based phone equipment supplier had said it would cut 5,000 jobs across global units as part of an organisational rejig to optimise costs, becoming the second European networks vendor to announce staff reduction plans after Nokia Siemens Networks said it would axe 17,000 jobs globally to trim losses.

Alcatel-Lucent, in response to ET's specific queries, did not reveal the employee count reduction target in India as it is yet to conclude mandatory consultations with unions, but two people privy to the developments said the restructuring exercise, internally classified as `Performance Program', could trigger sizeable redundancies in India.

"We will not comment on specific details of the Performance Program as it affects people, until we have completed the legally-required consultations with workers' representatives in many countries," said an Alcatel-Lucent spokesman, adding that the restructuring exercise would not impact its 3500-strong India R&D staff distributed across Bangalore, Chennai and Gurgaon hubs.An executive with direct knowledge, however, said Alcatel-Lucent is reviewing existing managed services contracts in India and associated people requirements in the backdrop of its biggest client RCom's stated plans to go for a multi-vendor outsourcing deal shortly.Alcatel-Lucent Managed Solutions, a 67:33 JV between Alcatel-Lucent and Anil Ambani-promoted telco, has managed RCom's mobile networks for the past four years but it "could lose substantial business and face large-scale staff redundancies if RCom outsources network management to multiple vendors," said the executive quoted above.

The French gearmaker, it is learnt, is also reviewing future manpower needs at Alcatel-Lucent Network Management Services India, its 74:26 JV with the Bharti group, which manages Airtel's landline network.
"Managing and maintaining a pan-India fibre-optic network is both labour intensive and expensive since fibre-cuts are frequent," said another executive, hinting that a re-evaluation of people costs is in the offing amid the dip in infrastructure spends by telcos.

Staff redundancies further stare Alcatel-Lucent India in the face following its other key managed services customer, Uninor's recent decision to ramp down mobile operations in Kerala and Orissa, which are both being managed by the French networks vendor since 2009.

India's managed services market for network vendors is pegged upwards of $2 billion and Alcatel-Lucent commands roughly a 17% market share, behind Ericsson and NSN, who jointly control nearly 65% of the market.

Its annual India revenues are in excess of $400 million. Alcatel-Lucent's latest overtures could provoke similar action from other global network vendors who have also seen a slowdown in carrier spends after the Supreme Court, in its February 2 orders, revoked 122 mobile permits issued by ex-telecoms minister A Raja in a controversial first-come-first-served policy.

More than 1000 vacancies to be filled up in DD, AIR: Prasar Bharati

16 Oct, 2012, 03.42PM IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: In what is being considered as a major step in the last 15 years, national broadcaster Prasar Bharati today said 1,150 vacancies will be filled up in All India Radio and Doordarshan  to rejuvenate their functioning.

"The government has approved the filling up of 1,150 posts in the programming and the technical wings of Doordarshan and All India Radio," Prasar Bharati said in a statement here.

"These posts are part of the 3,452 essential category posts, which were approved by Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by the present Finance Minister P Chidambaram  in 2011," it said.

Most of the posts belong to Group B and C which would be filled up by Staff Selection Commission while others would be filled up by the Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board. Officials said the process will be over by mid-next year.

"This is the first major infusion of new blood into Doordarshan and All India Radio after a period of 15 long years. After approval of the Cabinet for the financial restructuring, which involved a waiver of Rs 12,071 crore, this is the second biggest decision," Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar said.

"It would go a long way in creating quality content for our viewers and help us in facing the emerging competition. Prasar Bharati is eternally grateful to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni for piloting it through GoM," he added.

The 1,150 posts include Assistant Station Directors, Engineering Assistants, Programme Executives, Transmission Executives, Technicians, Camerapersons, Production Assistants and Administrative Staff, officials said.

"These were critical and essential posts, which had lapsed and needed to be revived. A number of our stations were without engineers and programming staff, which had affected their operations," Brig. (Retd) VAM Hussain, Member (Personnel), Prasar Bharati said.

UBS is set to axe around 2,000 jobs in information technology:

Reuters Oct 13, 2012, 05.18PM IST

ZURICH: UBSis set to axe around 2,000 jobs in information technology  as part of a larger cost-cutting programme, a Swiss newspaper said on Saturday, citing sources close to the bank.
The job cuts, which are still being hammered out, would come alongside an undisclosed number of further job cutsfrom UBS business units, Tages-Anzeiger reported.

UBS's main business arms are a flagship private bank for the wealthy and an investment bank. According to Tages-Anzeiger, IT staffers fear that UBS could ultimately shed as many as 20 per cent of overall jobs, which would translate to cuts of more than 12,000 people in total.

A spokesman for UBS on Saturday declined to comment on potential job cuts in IT or elsewhere.
UBS Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti is struggling to unite his 12-person top management board behind cuts he says are necessary to improve profitability and hit targets, Reuters reported this week.

Although his managers agree on the need for cuts, infighting has emerged over details such as how to centralize work, which would crimp the division heads' responsibility.
UBS has already pledged to cut 3,500 jobs as part of earlier cost cuts, but this is seen as too little by most analysts given a dramatic slowdown in investment banking business and tighter capital rules governing riskier business.

Some analysts expect UBS to disclose further restructuring steps as soon as its third-quarter earnings release on October 30.

Aircel to cut 600 jobs amid surging costs, severe margin pressure

Kalyan Parbat, ET Bureau Oct 12, 2012, 07.59PM IST

KOLKATA: Aircel, the Indian arm of Malaysia's leading telecoms operator Maxis Berhad, will cut some 600 jobs or 12% of its workforce following its decision to reduce operations in five unprofitable regions amid surging costs and severe margin pressure, executives aware of the development told ET.
Aircel, which has about 66 million customers and a pan-India 2G presence, will scale down operations in MP, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat in its bid to cut costs and reallocate resources to profitable zones. The company has about 800 employees and 6 million customers in these five circles.

The country's fifth largest mobile carrier, in which Maxis owns 74%, will test the waters in MP where it proposes to rely on its intra-circle roaming pact with Tata DoCoMo for coverage, and handle customer acquisitions and recharges online, dispensing with the need of having its own network and sales & distribution channels at the field level.

"If the MP pilot is successful, the new business model will be extended to other unprofitable regions," said a company executive with direct knowledge of the development.

Aircel, in its response to ET's specific queries, said it is changing its business model to reduce costs. "Operational costs are high and margin pressure is severe. Aircel  is revamping its business model to lower the 'cost to serve' without compromising on customer service and network experience," said a company spokeswoman, declining, however, to confirm whether impacted staff in the scaled down circles would be relocated to profitable zones.

But executives privy to the developments said the new business model of relying on intra-circle roaming pacts to provide coverage to 6 million customers could have serious limitations. "Coverage can be a challenge as the intra-circle roaming pacts in the five regions are not all-encompassing,"" said one of them, adding there could also be problems in targeting customer acquisitions and recharges online if Aircel dispenses with ground level sales and distribution channels.

Aircel's move resembles what Norway's Telenor's did when its Indian unit reduced operations in four out of the 13 regions where it operates mobile services to refocus resources in profitable zones.

India was one of the world's fastest growing mobile markets but the sector has lost its sheen over the past three years, largely weighed down by fierce price wars, policy and regulatory uncertainty. Weighed down by debt, mobile phone companies have also been unable to expand footprint on the 3G front and many have pulled back freebies amid declining subscriber growth.

Months after the 3G airwaves auction, India's largest scam led to the sacking of A Raja, the ex-telecoms minister under whom airwaves were contentiously allocated for voice and 2G services. The sector has suffered a jolt in absence of follow-up action and resolution of regulatory uncer-tainty, thwarting additional investments in network rollouts that has also hit gear makers' revenues. The 2G  has also discouraged investors and scuppered business plans of many telcos.

Forced hiring by India Inc ensures women at the top; companies compromising competence

Kala Vijayaraghavan & Rica Bhattacharyya, ET Bureau Oct 12, 2012, 07.05AM IST

MUMBAI: A few days ago, headhunting honcho K Sudarshan got a frantic call from the human resources director of a multinational corporation. "Either you find us a woman director for our board or I will be forced to perform a sex-change operation on one of us," was the desperate plea of the HR head to the managing partner for India of EMA Partners International, a global executive search firm. Evidently, the MNC chairman was keen to hire a woman to showcase board diversity at a global investor meet.

The HR chief may have made the 'sex-change' jibe in jest, but it brings to light India Inc's dilemma when dealing with the diversity agenda. Should companies be bringing women onto their boards even if, in the bargain, merit gets a short shrift?
"Companies have the intent. But to a large extent, it is forced. Indian companies that are taking cues from multinationals find it fashionable to talk about equal opportunity and gender diversity. But the point is that in certain types of job roles it is difficult to get appropriate women talent," says Sudarshan.

Several women leaders ET spoke to rubbished the attempt by boards to resort to 'forced hiring' to ensure gender diversity.

Says, managing director of Britannia Industries: "A mandate sets the direction for action but cannot and should not be blindly followed. Gender diversity is not a statistic. The idea simply is that we have to provide opportunities for qualified women for senior corporate positions. It would be short-sighted and, frankly, quite silly on the part of any company to hire someone for their gender and not their competence." Adds , CEO, JPMorgan India: "There should be absolutely no reservation or tokenism in the name of diversity. Meritocracy has to be gender-neutral."

Need to Create Inclusive Mindset
Top headhunters explain that as part of the ongoing campaign for gender diversity at the workplace, there have been instances where corporates have held back resumes from male candidates to meet their quota to hire women workers. That isn't quite the best way to go about it, reckons Nirmala Menon, founder of Interweave Consulting, a Bangalore-based firm that focuses on diversity management and inclusiveness in the workplace. "No self-respecting woman would want hand-outs since that would be like reservations and quotas. We have had many women who were promoted but were concerned whether they were being seen as an undeserved beneficiary by people who tend to talk fast and loose," points out Menon. Rather, she adds, there is a need to create an inclusive mindset on why women are required for business.

Headhunters point out that there are companies - mostly multinationals and those in financial services and IT services - that run specific campaigns to hire women at senior levels. One search firm head points out on the condition of anonymity that he was recently offered a 10% extra commission if he could successfully hunt down a female candidate for a top management posting.

"Such companies just won't look at male candidates, howsoever capable they are, although they cannot openly say they are rejecting male candidates," says Aditya Narayan Mishra, president of staffing & marketing director, Randstad India, a recruitment and HR services firm.

Such moves may be knee-jerk reactions to correct the acute gender imbalance in corporate India - a study in 2011 revealed that women constituted only 5.3% of the total number of board members at the top 100 most valuable companies on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Flexi staffing industry in the country to grow to 9 mn by 2025

Devina Sengupta, ET Bureau Oct 10, 2012, 05.38PM IST

BANGALORE: The Indian flexible staffing industry is expected to grow from 1.3 million to 9 million and represent 10 per cent of organized workforce in the country by 2025, according to a report by Indian Staffing Federation (ISF).

In a report by Indicus Analytics, which did the research for the study, retail, telecom, manufacturing, pharma, hospitality and agriculture have been found to increase their intake of part-time employees over last few years.

India, according to the report, is amongst the top 5 nations in terms of flexible manpower strength but lowest in terms of penetration since only 0.32% of the workforce base employs them.
"The survey has also brought to light that due to lack of regulation specific to this industry, there is a huge prevalence of unorganised players who are playing outside the ambit of labour laws. Hence the time has come to take proactive steps to regulate the flexible staffing industry, as a first step India should seriously consider ratification of ILO Convention181. This single move can provide higher security and protection to the Indian flexi worker ," said Rituparna Chakraborty, vice president, ISF.
The study also showed that flexible staffing is applicable mainly in the lower order of workforce and specially in areas like data operations, accounts, sales, back end operations, administration and marketing.

Around 27 per cent of Indians work as flexible staff because of lack of other opportunities and take home an average salary of Rs 10,000 a month. The study also showed 82 per cent of this workforce is under the age of 30 years.

The study looked at growth drivers and prospects, its benefits to employers, the challenges involved, the regulatory scenario, some internationals trends and ISF's recommendations for the betterment of the industry.

India Inc witnesses three months of consecutive dip in recruitment numbers: Report

Shreya Biswas, ET Bureau Oct 9, 2012, 03.14PM IST
NEW DELHI: September witnessed a mixed hiring sentiment across India Inc . Some sectors like construction, insurance and auto witnessed stable hiring levels, while sectors like it, BPO and banking have seen a drop in hiring levels in September when compared to August this year. Overall, the job speak index has been dipping consecutively for the last three months.Hiring levels for September are 6% lower than what it was three months ago.

"The job market has considerably slowed down over the last six months and key sectors are adopting a cautious hiring approach. The job market will hopefully start looking up once the GDP  growth picks up momentum," said Hitesh Oberoi, MD and CEO, Info Edge India.

Last month, the hiring activity did not see much action for key sectors like auto, pharma, oil & gas telecom, and hospitality, indicating that recruiters are adopting a wait and watch mode. Although construction sector is one of worst affected sectors and has been consecutively witnessing low hiring numbers for the past one year, the recruitment trends for last month show hiring activity picked up by 11% when compared to August. IT and BPO companies have also seen lower hiring numbers with the index going down by 3% and 4% respectively in Sep-12 over Aug-12.

Mirroring hiring trends of IT and BPO sector, the demand for professionals working in these sectors saw hiring levels dip by 4% in the last three months. Production and accounts sector professionals saw a marginal 2% increase in their hiring numbers, while HR and banking professionals saw no movement in the recruitment front over the last one year.

A city wise analysis shows that all the top cities have seen lower hiring numbers over the last one month, barring Hyderabad and Pune which saw stable hiring levels. Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai saw hiring activity dip by 5% in the last three months. Delhi saw a marginal 1% dip in hiring in September when compared to August, while Kolkata saw a 17% dip, after three months of consecutive upward movement in the index.

FDI to boost employment opportunities in retail

Oct 8, 2012, 11.04AM IST Timesjobs Bureau

With the government giving a nod for 51% FDI in multi-brand retail sector and 100% FDI in single brand retail, the speculation are rife about this being a boon or a bane for the Indian retail sector, at large. Where most retailers operating in the multi-brand retail space are happy about the decision, small retailers are anxious. There is resistance on the front that this will also augment the unemployment scenario in the Indian Retail industry. However, industry experts foresee a much positive scenario.

Rituparna Chakraborty, Vice- President, Indian Staffing Federation shared a few facts with TJinsite (research & knowledge arm of TimesJobs.com), "It is estimated that FDI in retail can create approximately 4 million direct jobs and almost 5 to 6 million indirect jobs including contractual employment within a span of 10 years, making it the largest sector in organized employment."
Waving off the uncertainty in the market, experts predict that the declaration of FDI in retail will benefit the entire Indian retail sector. Job opportunities across levels and profiles are expected to grow and demand for niche skills will be high. As Seema Arora Nambiar, Senior Director, People Resources, McDonald's India (West & South Region) stated in TimesJobs.com RecruiteX, "With the opening up of the Indian market to single-brand FDI employment opportunities, especially, at the entry level, will rise." Profiles such as sales, supply chain executives, security personnel, attendants, in-shop supervisors, floor managers and warehouse supervisors are likely to see significant increase in demand, added Rituparna.

Reinforcing the benefit of FDI in retail, Dr Virendra P Singh, Executive Director- Human Resources & Chief Pupil, RJ Corp/ Devyani International Limited/ Devyani Food Street Limited affirmed that FDI in retail will only have a positive impact on employment trends in the sector.

He explained, "The revitalized retail industry will require a larger work force with better skill sets to produce and service an ever increasing customer base from big cities to small towns, and subsequently tehsils and village markets." He claimed that this will usher a skill revolution in the industry. However, he agreed that there is a strong possibility that demand-supply gaps may stall full blast  proliferation of world class retail operations. Proposing a probable solution he asserted that that academia has a big role to play in bridging the demand-supply gap. "Policy makers, administrative personnel and business leaders of public and private sector will have to create robust blueprints to make available knowledge inputs and infrastructural facilities, which will facilitate success of retail revolution in India," he advised.

Attrition, retirements trim SBI workforce

6 Oct, 2012, 10.10AM IST, Mayur Shetty,TNN

MUMBAI: The country's largest lender State Bank of India, which has hired over 25,000 in the last three years, has seen its overall staff strength fall by 7,500 in March 2012 due to a surge in retirements and a 15% attrition among new hires. This has prompted the bank to hire another 10,000 employees by March 2013.

According to data released by the Reserve Bank of India, the banking industry has added 42,000 jobsin FY12 taking the total number of people employed directly in banks past the million mark to 10.13 lakh. The only two segments that have seen a decline are foreign banks, which have seen a marginal drop of 300 jobs, and SBI group where overall staff strength has fallen by over 3,000. SBI group includes its six associate banks which have added employees. On a standalone basis SBI's staff has seen a decline of over 7,000 from 2.22 lakh to 2.15 lakh.

"It is not just about adding numbers. The challenge for public sector banks  will be to get the right skill sets. There is a sea change in banking which calls for a large number of specialized skills whether it is in marketing or even branch banking," said Monish Shah, senior director, Deloitte. He added that PSU banks will have to address this by a two-pronged strategy -lateral recruitment and training of new hires.

The reduction in jobs has resulted in the growth in SBI's wage costs easing to a single digit. While this has improved ratios, the bank is feeling the crunch in several branches which are short of staff. Also, the bank continues to expand to new areas and is finding the need to continuously hire. "A trend we are now seeing is that there is a 15% attrition among new hires as many new recruits get offers from other employers," said a bank official.

Banks have been finding it difficult to find people in smaller centres because of the preference for cities as salaries and opportunities are higher there. SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri had recently made a case for providing higher wages for employees in rural areas and said that this should be addressed in the next round of wage negotiations.

Part of the employees are lost to the new generation private banks which are expanding their operations at a much higher pace compared to public sector banks. Private sector banks, which include HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra, IndusInd and Yes Bank, have grown their employee base by 14%, adding 18,800 jobs last year. Although nationalized banks have increased staff strength by over 19,000, the rate of growth is lower given their large base of close to 5 lakh employees compared to 1.51 lakh for new private banks. Old generation private banks, which are largely concentrated in the Southern states are also in a resurgent mode with most of them under new management.