The Hiring And Firing!

by | Nov 25, 2020

I have now spent about a month with my host organization in Indore. During this time, I’ve been spending time trying to understand the culture of the organization. It comes without a surprise that the corporate sector and the social sector have their own values, ethics, ways and in general, their modus operandi. What really stood out to me in this last month, is how culturally different the employee life cycle is. Everything from what motivates an employee to step in for an interview to what makes him/her live their stay is unusual.

Now I will not make a sweeping generalisation of this for all NGOs and the universe of the social sector. However this is just me penning down a few of my observations, rather fascinating ones in the process of hiring and firing here in my organization as compared to what I have experienced back home during my corporate stint.

The Scouting

The first step in any hiring cycle is the search. LinkedIn is invariably the first go-to for any human resource requirement, coupled with a bunch of job portals that both the seeker and the employer resort to. Apart from this, there are the head hunters who will ever so readily ask you for your requirements as though they were preparing a dish. After all this, there is the internal HR team (which apparently has tasks besides celebrating birthdays!).

Here’s what we did at our end though – we dished out a few pamphlets, typical of the ones we practised at school for advertisements during Hindi lectures. Each of the 7 (including me) employees at the head office took a bunch and headed out to spread the word. This was a first time for me but out here, this is pretty much a routine. I hardly had much knowledge of the vicinity, so I went from stores to coaching institutes to little restaurants around a 2 km radius from my office (also my home for now).

It was all like a minute long elevator pitch with keywords like, ‘job opening’, ‘accounts’, ‘urgent’, ‘yahi paas mein office hai’ amongst others. My conversation would pick up from “Bhaiyya ye corona ke baad toh job milna hi mushkil ho gaya hai” and if you did manage to catch their attention then they would be nice enough to paste your pamphlet in their store. You’re lucky when sometimes they even share it on their whatsapp groups!

The Interview

When it came it to this phase, there were quite a few similarities and differences. To begin with, there was a written aptitude test for all candidates who were seated in the meeting room (which also turns into my home at night). Post that, there were 10 – 15 minute quick interviews which covered the usual qualifications, past experiences, reasons for quitting, and a few relevant problem statements to gauge the candidate.

Now the differences began from asking the candidates their marriage plans, their spouse’s profession, family equation, the candidate’s hometown and family’s occupation to name a few. Also included were their modes of transport and the distance of their residence from the workplace. (And yes, we also have preferences for those who ride 2-wheelers). Evidently all these factors are pivotal in retaining quotient of a potential employee.

Now, the candidate’s turn to ask questions usually only revolved around negotiating salaries, the timings and the weekend working bit. There were no vision or growth goals discussed. Also what was surprising was that almost none of them was aware about the organisation’s work until they were told at the interview.

Was it not a given to know all about the organisation, it’s history and geography, scouting through all of LinkedIn and the website the previous night before heading into an interview? Apparently not! You bring along your skills and diligence and that’s the only metric that matters here.

The Onboarding

In corporate sector, most organisations usually have a 3-6 month probation period following which a candidate is confirmed as a full-time employee. Firing or quitting leaves both parties at least a month to handle the separation. What I noticed here was that any potential candidate is immediately roped in. They are asked to come in on the earliest next business day and begin testing the waters. That’s right, there’s a probation before the probation. A quick 1-2 week short trial run for both parties to test the synergy and through this period either party can choose to walk out, no questions asked.

The Departure

Luckily, for me, I have not seen any firing until now. However, I have seen a lot of overnight resignations and sudden departures. It’s safe to say the attrition rates are considerably on the higher side. But what’s alarming here is the fact that notice periods are barely adhered to. Yes, they are a part of the HR policies and the employee contracts, but the actual scenario varies from one case to another. One day they are on the field going about their work as usual and the next day, they are in office handing their resignation letter over and bidding adieu.

These are a few anecdotes that basically sum up my observations on how the cultures around employee life cycles are varied across the two sectors. These attributes may definitely differ from organisation to organisation and role to role.

However, what is to be noted and what might be unique to this sector is that the ones who do manage to stick around the initial year or two are the ones who would go on to be the most loyal employees who go on to sometimes spend 20-25 years, which is practically their whole career.

And yes, I have been lucky enough to have interacted with these prodigies. They are the ones who understand and resonate with what the organisation stands for and works towards. Their motivations stem from beyond the financial incentives, where impact drives them and becomes their biggest pay-off.

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