Business Today

Good employee Ver. 2009

While the good old rules of work, such as high aptitude for learning, innovative mindset and sound functional knowledge never went out of fashion, this is the time to go the extra mile to stick to them. Report by Saumya Bhattacharya & Tejaswi Shekhawat.

Saumya Bhattacharya & Tejaswi Shekhawat        Print Edition: January 11, 2009

The suddenness of the slowdown has handed out a reality check to the job-hopping generation of young executives. Says an HR head at an IT services company: “Call it the good fallout of bad times. The negative sentiment has been a wake-up call for our employees; we suddenly find the levels of commitment go up.” HR heads say that while the broader reason for this reality check and even lay-offs could be the economic crisis, the basis of the pink slip is still poor performance. While the good old rules of work, such as high aptitude for learning, innovative mindset and sound functional knowledge never went out of fashion, this is the time to go the extra mile to stick to them.

1. Help your organisation make more money
At a time when organisations are looking to cut costs, take an active role in helping your employer make more money. Business development isn’t just the responsibility of the sales people. Everyone has contacts who could be potential new buyers. “Tap into your network. Create a referral programme. Become an evangelist for your brand. Some of our most profitable ideas have come from our own people,” says Binoo Wadhwa, Director—People Success, Sapient India. The company is launching a client referral programme that will reward employees who bring in new business. This idea came from an employee in its London office.

2. Be a stakeholder in your organisation and own your growth
At a time when chips are down for the business, employees need to support the organisation and “manage their aspirations better,” says Sanjay Jog, Chief People Officer, Future Group. People who act less like employees and more like leaders stand out from the pack. Says S. Nagarajan, Co-founder and Chief People Officer, 24/7 Customer: “This is a great time to show that you care for the company as your own. Place the company’s goals before your personal goals. Be gracious about losing benefits.”

3. Be proactive in cost-saving initiatives, like cheaper travel
“Ask for a pay cut if you are part of top management. It sends out a powerful and positive message,” says E. Balaji, CEO, Ma Foi Consultants. Look for ways where you can make a direct and tangible impact on costs. Rishi Das, Co-founder & CEO, CareerNet Consulting, says: “Employees should inculcate a cost-consciousness around them.” Basically, do anything to prove that you are a good investment for the organisation. “Businesses in the UK lose over £13 billion every year from absent and late employees—even if you are hugely talented and highly experienced, if your employer is always having to find people to cover for you and work around your late arrival, you aren’t likely to be a good investment for them,” says Rajiv Mehrotra, Country General Manager, Kelly Services India.

4. Know the business of your company and its competition
It will not suffice to focus on your profile; understanding the company business will help you put employer’s decisions in perspective. Become a resource machine. In the coming year, knowing your business inside and out is not enough. You also need to know what the competition is doing. CSC India’s VP and Head-HR Neelam Gill Malhotra has seen positive fallout of the slowdown. “Lots of employees now want to understand how the business operates and what is adding to the cost. It has been a reality orientation for the employees.”

5. Wear multiple hats. Acquire new skills, if need be
Companies are finding it necessary to attract niche skills. In order to keep your skills relevant, research on and offline training courses. Take advantage of internal training programmes before your supervisor tells you to. “At Sapient, we look for people who bring a mix of skills. This tells us that the person is likely to be accountable for his/her growth,” says Sapient’s Wadhwa. Not just that, companies like Wipro Technologies are looking at multi-skilling their bench. In the IT sector especially, while hiring of generic skills will reduce considerably; super niche skills will remain in demand. The more qualified you are, the more opportunities you can create yourself.

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