What it takes to build an empowered community

Why were the communities built ? Did someone actually start the trend right in the beginning of time? Or were they formed because human beings are social by nature! We are driven by goals which often echo as a common goal, when like minds come together. A group of people doesn’t form a community till there is a common thread of thoughts, willingness and purpose, that binds them together. Tribes were formed for survival. But each tribe developed an unique culture through the practices, the group involved. In time, communities moved beyond every boundaries and semantics with the internet changing the game. Online portals were initially formed for interest , then moved to need , hence emerged the ‘Community of Product’ and ‘Community of Practices’. When millions of people joined in to contribute to a discussion, the term ‘Crowdsource’ lost itself to the value created. Contributions driven by the need to help others, even without an identity which became an order of the day. Offline communities had a purpose to serve with the members interacting through regular meet-ups. Corporates initially used communities to build loyal consumers but moved to social and green world, responding to the environmental changes. Are there any other pattern through which communities have evolved? Let’s find out what builds a community!

On 4th of March The Mentorprenuers organised Women Power 2nd Edition at IIT Bombay. I feel honoured to share that I was invited to moderate the panel on ‘Growth Hacking in Business: Building Empowered Community. The speakers to my panel were Revathi Roy, Founder DeeDee and Vira cabs, Riddhi Doshi Founder Lajja, Neha Kare Founder UniMO and Neha Aggarwal Community Outreach Baby Chakra.

It was interesting to note how these offline and online communities were formed and why. Revathi Roy shared, she loved to drive and felt the need of women drivers even when it was unheard of. Hence, her service started way back in 2007, making her a pioneer. She built the community of close knit drivers who came from the social background with little and bare minimum income. For her it was an ordeal to convince them and then train. However, looking back she holds a numero uno position with the largest numbers of trained and professional women drivers. She went through challenge when the policy on driving license was suddenly changed last year. But then, she used it to turn the tide for the best. She used the gold mine of the trained drivers to build Hey Didi or Deedee as it is called now. Here she offers last mile delivery with the same women drivers. She offered everyone a two-wheeler on a loan with no collaterals attached. The amount was deducted from their salaries. In case you are wondering why this service is important, well we have cases where the delivery boys were either attacked or attacked the lone living women! Here’s an advertisement to support the point on how such women drivers and last mile delivery by women is making the world safe!

 

Next we had Riddhi Doshi , sharing why she built Lajja. For her it was important women speak up about the sexual issues that are shunned. She built Lajja where women feel safe to speak up and have the experts to guide them. It was very brave of her, given the conservative background she had. But then, that became the driving force why she was determined to build a community where women finds a voice!

Neha Kare, founder UniMo had a similar story to share on why she built the community which includes both the online and the offline model. She felt the need for the community of Mothers who required a support system with their peers to remain intellectually and emotionally active. Motherhood often comes with women being drained of every attention towards themselves. Hence, Neha created this million strong group where Women come forward to find ‘Me-Time’ through activities such as Bappa-thon where they cleaned up the sea-beaches a day after the idols were immersed in water. Her activities are directed towards building a responsible system where Mothers can use their time to change the world.

Neha Aggarwal, shared Baby Chakra was built purely to provide a support to the Mothers who look up on the internet for every information , products and services for their babies. In today’s world with nuclear families growing by manifolds, the mothers rarely find anyone who can guide them with exact information, right when they need it! Hence the online portal with the live discussion forums and experts answering them remains the best solution.

What happens when an Open-door meeting goes wrong ?

“I was a top performer till I used the Open-Door. Things went nasty, so I had to resign. My managers didn’t accept my resignation and I was unethically pushed to sign Performance Development Plan. This was done to cover-up my resignation. I was then fired for non-performance. This have affected my career and my dignity. Please help me.”

Open-Door breathes life to organisations where frictions between the machinery can derail it .

However, what happens when the practise meets scared leaders who cannot face the sun ? Building trust with a capability of accepting every error no matter what ever goes wrong, isn’t every one’s cup of tea !

I have been on both the sees of the table, where I blew the whistle and then managed cases where the whistle was blown.

Take my words the risks are far greater than any gains for both the parties.

An Open-Door is inevitable, yet, I am yet to meet any leader who can walk into the the room and accept his or her faults.

Hence, I write from that premise. Expect almost no returns , since you raised the storm. I am still blacklisted and have a ‘No Hire’ in the company where I blew the whistle. Much like you, before it all happened, I too was a top performer and was given a hike and promotion in less than 6 months of my joining. No matter whatever they write and store in their records , I have their letter of appreciation with the salary hike and new designation to me.

Yes, you are on dot imagining they are going to affect your career. I too remained unemployable for a while.

Thankfully, my life didn’t end there , so did my career!

You have three options now. First is to fight just as Dinesh have mentioned, taking the labour court way. You are of course free to speak to the CHRO. But expect a little difference in the result, as his data is based on what your reporting managers had filed. Third is to spend equal amount of time to rebuild your career from ground up.

Your ex-employer can write all the nasty comments during your reference check. And you still have their very own appreciation letters to counter.

Please be open with your prospective employer while sharing facts. If you were a great performer for two good years , then suddenly you couldn’t have gone brain dead and lost it in next two months. These situations are way to easy to be read. Any hiring managers can see through. However, you confirming your part would help them arrive at a decision .

For a while take up a job with a tech firm who wouldn’t loose their sleep over what your ex-employer says. Look for startups. Talents like yours would be highly valued by them .

I too did that. I worked with smaller firms till the stigma no longer mattered for me . Today , you might find it hard to believe, but their own CHRO treats me respectfully! No this is not what we should seek or why we work. But then I guess talent and handwork, does prove its point !

Wish you all the best !

This fever is beyond Viral

I am writing this because I am both angry and worried! Since yesterday each women came up sharing their experience while working with Arunabh Kumar. The number is growing and its getting murkier . It scares me to think what a 22 years old faces while working with the bright and promising young leaders.

Today the incident went even worse with the CEO stating, ” I am 26 year old heterosexual single man, when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she is sexy. I compliment women. Is there anything wrong?”

The Viral Fever was valued at 310 Crores post money last year ! There are 200 employees who are currently working in the firm. How does this impact them? Does the action of their 26 years old CEO question the health of their firm?

What about the revenue? Right now everyone is talking against the man. Hence they will wait till things subside and then release a series to woo the viewers back. So would it actually affect the numbers? We need to wait to see that!

Not sure what the investors are deciding. Does a media-social media trial affects the brand? Would this have any backlash on what the investors decide? In the past, Rahul Yadav, the CEO to Housing.com was fired by the Board in the wake of his questionable antics. According to the statement issued, “The board believed that his behavior is not befitting of a CEO and is detrimental to the company.”

What awaits Arunabha Kumar now? How would his actions affect him and his company? What message would this send across?

A formal complaint is yet to made, hence no legal actions evoked. However, the damage has been done. The reputation in a business is the strongest currency, one looses to realise !

Will Maternity Bill affect hiring women?

With barely two days to the Amendment to the Maternity Bill , we have raging debates in the media with Deccan Chronicle and Scoopwhoop raising the burning questions. Will this put a check on hiring women? Would taking six months off from the work, make a women talent irrelevant?

Canada and Norway offers 50 and 44 weeks as Maternity Benefit respectively. Did that stop the employers from hiring women? Census reveals that by 2014, women made up almost half (47%) of the entire Canadian workforce! Same for Norway, where the women workforce make upto 47% in public and 26% in private sector according to a study released in 2008! Since the number of jobs and talent entering the workforce have increased, can we expect a bigger number by now? But then these are countries other than India. So let’s take a look at what is going to challenge hiring Women in the workforce:

  1. It’s anybody’s guess that the employer would hesitate from hiring a woman in the child-bearing age because of the added cost.
  2. The needs of a six-month old baby would be only slightly less than a three-month old one.
  3. So suppose the man is getting at least half as many offs as the woman is getting, won’t the employer be less biased against women?

Here’s my question to the employers. If you choose not hire women to save on your six-months salary, will that help your attrition cost too? Given the fact that women, especially when they start a family looks for stability, hence are way more loyal to men who would job-hop at the drop of a hat, would that still make hiring women costly? As an employer does it makes sense to hire a competitive talent who won’t resign for the next few years, for the conducive environment that you are building? More importantly, doesn’t the men in the same firm remain productive just because their wives were taking care of the child at home? And somehow the employers hiring those women are readily bearing the cost!

Secondly, the needs of the baby cannot be categorised so broadly. We live in a world where there are nuclear families. Not every woman can hire a nanny or house help to take care of the baby as she is away. Compared to earlier days, the support-system is down to the parent who needs to meet every demand for raising a child. How does then it makes sense to narrow the timeline for an infant? Especially in a country where mall nutrition in babies does not remain specific to any economic group.

Finally, were men waiting for the bill to be passed so that they can wash off their hands from the responsibility of an infant-care? In a country where ‘Dads changing nappies because Moms need to attend a business meeting’ is a luxury to few, how much does this Bill change the behaviour?

Back in the days, where the IT Parks suddenly tightened the rules on women security, there were similar doubts raised towards hiring women. Did that stop the number of women in the workforce grow? Similar costs were calculated down to every dime with the increase in hiring security personnel and adding video cameras for round the clock surveillance. Every challenge brings in a new solution, such as rise in the number of women cab drivers since the Uber incident.

What fuelled the change where fears met solutions? Did we hear the rise in the telecommute way back in 90’s? Inspite of the adoption of this work design, the resistance remains as the companies can afford huge work spaces to accommodate every employee. FaceTime and cubicle will remain in vogue till we have socio-economic changes disrupting them.

The Bill clearly mentions the option for Telecommute. However, that is being ignored largely, as the adoption of such systems will take time to become a norm. In the view of emerging work format, how does the Bill look like in the future? Would it allow a women to plan her career and family in parallel? If a woman needs to remain out of workforce for a declared duration, does that allow her to be up-skilled and plan for greater responsibilities? It would call for sponsoring such growths within the company. Is n’t the woman who is taking a break for child care, a wife to a man who could remain productive to his employer, just because she was at home?

Cyclic unemployment is norm, thanks to the repeated business cycle changes that we have experienced. This goes same for men and women. Losing a job due to diminishing revenue or policy changes no longer stops a career. Even men have to up-skill, relocate and network to find a new job! Companies have openly acknowledge hiring talent out of workforce.

In case such measures are not enough to meet the employment required, we have Gig Economy offering interesting jobs to build a promising portfolio.

Every benefit offered turns into a hygiene factor even before we know. How soon would this 26 weeks turn into a norm with no one even discussing about them, we will wait to see!

If you have any HR Query or any query on Future of Work, please email me nabomita@nabomita.com . Looking forward to learn more while finding solutions for you.

Recommended reading: Maternity Benefit , Diversity  , We Are Equal , Future of Work

Why should your pay remain a secret?

‘Pay Secrecy’ one of the best kept secret by the HR , which the world comes to know otherwise!

We have tons of research to support how it adversely affects your performance when you get to know how much your undeserving co-worker is getting paid. Is that the only truth ?

Does secrecy breeds trust or transparency? Why as an employer would you want to hide when you have a policy for equal employment and promote equal pay? Is the information of how much an employee draws worth sharing openly within the company or even public domain? In the times of Glassdoor and Payscale, how secret is your pay to your employees?

We can understand the ugly situation of explaining every employee why one is paid more than other, inspite of in-equal education or experience is sticky. More importantly your view of weighing a potential may not remain equate how your employees measure them. But shouldn’t that remain self-explanatory in a result-driven world?

How did Whole Foods manage to make the information salaries open? That too since 1986? They managed to let every employee view how they are stacked up and not loose them? Or run into low-productivity? Why are the talent working in their company behaving differently and not raising a storm in a tea cup with their questions on entitlement ?

In India, Public Sector organisation have grades declared with the pay range. Talents joining such an organization have the exact information on how the hikes would work for them and their peers. Even the timeline to all such hikes remains declared.

When Buffer declared their salaries on the web the number of job applicants grew effortlessly. SumAll followed the lead, with the firm creating transparency within the 40 member team.

With Gig Economy growing through platforms that allow a talent to bid for the gig, how far does the pay remains a secret? When end-result is the only measure, shouldn’t pay remain obvious? If merit is the only edge, how difficult is it to explain potential?

If you have any HR Query or any query on Future of Work, please email me info@nabomita.com . Looking forward to learn more while finding solutions for you.

Recommended : Future of Work , If Bots are taking away your jobs should they pay your taxes too 

Future Of Work

What is the future of work? Where is it ? What is it all about? Is it only about technology ? Telecommute? Is it about a new-age talent? Or is it about a new economy?

World Forum for Responsible Economy held in Paris, France last year discussed several areas that addresses the deeper questions about Future of Work. They broadcasted my 3-minutes speech or rather situations that questions !

Technology has been the enabler since the beginning of time. What is changing the world is the way we are using it now. It’s no longer about delivering more efficient products but delivering it together. The concept of silos are already a thing of past with collaborative tools to the likes of Slack.

Evolution of a product-development have given way to solution development creating a whole new dimension. Such as earlier communities were built around a product or a practice, essentially to build a loyal set of users or customers. Now we have products such as Walnut App or even Eko App with an inbuilt community.

The creativity to using technology is stemming from deeper practices which allows freedom and acceptance at a whole new level! PriceBaba allows their employees to buy their own cloud and use it while developing their product. Gifting MacBooks during Christmas have far greater impact on Employee Satisfaction than offering bonus of equal amount!

So is this evolution to the Future of Work about Technology or how talent is redefining it? What about talent? Is FOW all about the cutting-edge talent? DITS hires employers to own and deliver projects for client. Yes, talent is no longer an employee, but the employer creating far higher value. This emerging ownership to the deliveries is pacing up the learning cycles as well. Learning is not reduced to the size of a postcard , but rather 140 characters at the right time by the right set of people. Such social learning marks only the beginning to the deeper research entirely focussed on the product that needs to be built!

What do you predict? Where do you see Future of work?

 

Diversity: Equality and it’s Reality

The age of equality is here, all thanks to merit and the competition it fuels. Gender is no longer a bottleneck for the talent. Its the optimisation of skills which remains the focus. Right from hiring to managing talent, it’s the result that matters. Then where does the gap arise. Why do our workforce fall out of the balance?

Middle level executives tend to have career breaks. It goes both for men and women. Socio-economic and business cycles churn the workforce creating cyclic unemployment. However, the return to the jobs are not even for both the genders. Men tend to take smaller or almost no-breaks. Whereas women who take a career-break to look after their families tends to extend their break atlas for an year.

The returning workforce may require either upscaling or underemployment through up a low-paying job. With the rise of Gig-Economy, the options for work have grown manifolds. These jobs may not match the pay of regular employment, but offers a continuity for sure. The jobs available in the Gig-Economy are so far the best fit for women as it allows them to telecommute , optimise their skills and manage domestic duties.

Does this adds on to the balance? Would the women workforce in the Gig-Economy add on to the missing diversity tile? What about career progression? Would these gigs add up to the skills that is required at the leadership and board level? Would you , as an Organisational Head , hire a talent from Gig-Economy for a leadership role? We know the concept of Full-time jobs and employment might not long for every role. Does this open up a window to hire the women talent whom you lost from your workforce due to child-birth and care?

weareequal-1

If Bots are taking away your jobs, should they be paying your taxes too?

Loved the blog post on TOI , adding a lighter note to the new age workforce or rather the absence of it!

Technology is weeding the repetitive tasks and activities that needs least human interventions out of the workforce. These tasks are delivered by bots. For example, the task of screening resumes with keywords are shortened by man hours using machine learning.

We already have Robot Lawyer being developed by Luminance ,  Xiao Nan a robot journalist and Sue the Artificial HR Assistant. The efficiency and the data analysis is essentially beyond human. Hence, the output remains desirable. 

Does this helps the revenue of a firm? Does this helps the remaining workforce? Would collectively add to the GDP? Well, that remains a distant dream, till we have data to support it.

More importantly, each time a repetitive falls out of a job , does it make space for delivering an intellectual one?  Of course we don’t have too many such job openings. Does this means we are calling for new jobs too ? As we are designing these bots are we designing a new workforce too?  Let’s not stretch this far into forming a new economy, or are we moving into one?

To conclude, if robots are taking away jobs, should they be paying taxes too? Or should we pay a convenience fees for using them? Or are we already paying that? 

If you have any HR Query or any query on Future of Work, please email me info@nabomita.com . Looking forward to learn more while finding solutions for you. 

Nabomita is the Founder to Nabomita.com. She is the 100 Women Achiever Awardee, awarded by Government of India , Quoted on ForbesUS, one of the Top 20 HR Influencer in Social Media as declared by SHRM India and one among the Top 100 Technology Influencer in India. Connect with her on @nabomita_smiles , Facebook Page and Google+

HR Query: Can you stop releasing the PF amount for your ex-employee?

“Need ur suggestions on.. one of our employee left organisation last month and has loan pending on him. Can we hold his pf settlement till he clears his loan.

Awaiting your valuable feedback”

Short answer, no.

Long answer, If the employee had borrowed from the employer and left the organization without clearing it, his ‘Full and Final Settlement’ won’t be released till he clears his dues.

Provident Fund release is a part of ‘Full and Final settlement’ Hence, this might be delayed till the employee settles every clearance.

Let’s understand how Release works. When an employee Resigns, the Reporting manager issues a Letter of Acceptance mentioning the terms and conditions to the Release. The Reporting Manager initiates the Clearance with Knowledge Transfer. Every duty needs to be handed over to the Back-Fill or the employee chosen to work on that role. This ends before the employee leaves the organization.

Every Letter of Acceptance of Resignation, offered during the submission and acceptance of Resignation Letter, clearly mentions that his Clearance is subjected to settling the dues. Hence his Letter of Experience and Relieving Letter would depend on the settlement of his dues. This is that last and the final step to release.

Calculating dues takes a number of areas into consideration. It calculates the number of days left in the Leaves Balance. In case the employee had taken leaves in excess, then he or she might need to pay for those number of days. It also calculates the days served in the notice period. Incase of salary-freeze, initiated at the point of resignation, the amount is usually deducted from remaining salary to be paid. A check on the submission of the office properties is made, to ensure there had been no loss incurred. In case there is a loss of property, such as employee failing to submit an office property including Laptop, Mobile Phone, Data card and other utilities issued to the employee, the amount is deducted from the remaining salary.

The calculation also takes in consideration of the money borrowed by the employee.

Once the internal calculations are over, the process to release the PF and Gratuity amount is initiated.

Hence, until and unless every area is settled, the Clearance and Release Letter of the employee remains impending.

Hope this helps!

If you have any HR Query, please email me info@nabomita.com. Looking forward to learn more while finding solutions for you. This have been re-blogged from

Nabomita is the Founder to Nabomita.com. She is the 100 Women Achiever Awardee, awarded by Government of India , Quoted on ForbesUS, one of the Top 20 HR Influencer in Social Media as declared by SHRM India and one among the Top 100 Technology Influencer in India. Connect with her on @nabomita_smiles , Facebook Page and Google+

My idea was stollen

I went for an interview and was asked to suggest a detailed product plan. One month later they deployed that plan and never hired me. I am feeling cheated. How do I ensure such a thing is not repeated with me?”

This is sad but unavoidable. Not everyone would have the integrity, you are expecting out of them. However, when you share the product plan can you not share the key points? Suppose when you tell them about product design, can you not discuss in details? Even if they try and grill you, brush it off saying, you are saving it for later.

There can be no fail-safe method, but a way out for sure. Most importantly, how often do you blog? Can you consider blogging about work? Working-out-loud is a concept which works best for such situations where no one can steal your concept. Finally, an idea to be as good as the one who implements it. That creates a level-playing field between the one who conceives the idea and one who implements it.  Try and learn from the mistakes they make while implementing your idea and you have a better full proof plan, if ever you need to work on it for their competition 🙂 Do consider pitching them for sure!

The best part of every problem, is it is never the end of the road. Keep getting better and stronger. Wish you all the best!