Adopting Best Practices in Leave Management

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Poised on this last day of August, it is eight months checked off the calendar in the soon-to-be-gone year 2017! With barely four months (122 days, 6 hours, 46 minutes, 17 seconds – to be exact) left before we finally bid the year adieu, suddenly a sizable chunk of time appears to have vanished. This leaves us wondering whether we could have done things better if only we had managed our time more efficiently. Going through the company deliverables and charting out near-future projections we notice a pattern of absences that make us realize that despite having an HR policy in place we still need to adopt certain best practices for leave management.

We need to get more resourceful in the art of managing absences by creating fool proof processes to handle leave absences,  for whatever reasons be they due to illness or injury. These processes will have to involve better responsiveness and proactive stance by employees. The goal of better managing sudden leave processes would be to control unexplained, unscheduled or excessive absenteeism. Any company needs to take care of neat hand-overs and smooth run-of-operations to meet the requirements of functioning of its varied units.

Despite having stated leave-of-absence rules and norms in place, there are bound to occur incidental events, occasions or hazards that may disrupt an employee’s regular work pace. These sudden lapses will decidedly affect direct costs to the company in the wake of unannounced incidental absences. Unplanned absences certainly result in indirect costs to the company in terms of lost productivity or replacement of manpower. We know full well that no sincere employee plays truant but unless some best practices are set in motion we cannot disrupt the progression of operations.

Often times we are really struck by the spate of such events and it is then that we look for ways to manage these kinds of situations created by sudden leave of absence. It is not possible to replace an employee at the spur of the moment and temp positions are still not available to us in our city. All this makes the absence management situation very much more complex, leading to heartburn, confusion and disarray if HR attempts at administering intermittent leaves with a heavy hand.

It is for this reason that management seeks to establish a process to facilitate employees with a clear cut modus operandi to ensure that the charted work does not suffer. Herein it would become essential to monitor and appraise individual employee requests and assess the reasonableness, urgency and necessity for leave absences in lieu of their commitment to return-to-work performances.

The company can feel really quite challenged if employees leave them high and dry, how-so-ever it might be able to manage processes in-house. It is for this reason that following a set of best practices in managing sudden absences will be critical. For one, employees must inform about leaves in the first hour if a situation is coming up that will require their absence. They should never wait to inform at the eleventh hour or depend on well-meaning colleagues to inform management. It is for this reason that we need to develop a written information sharing policy. Such will clarify the disability of the employee and give management time to intervene for makeshift alternate duties by other staff members.

Such processes of necessity require individual assessments as well as accommodations by the company to facilitate smooth run of operations. Further the establishment of a central leave reporting system (WhatsApp leave record group) would be ideal. Herein all absences may be reported in a single line at the very earliest. This will enable the HR managers to understand beforehand how to fill the gap. Once sudden leave gets notified the employee may begin with regular administrative procedures leaving no one in any kind of uncertainty.

What is really needed here is to develop the attitude for being responsive. This will save one from being classified with some employees who are regular leave-abusers and yes every office has them! We have all done it – combined Friday leaves until Mondays to extend weekends to do our thing!! However in case of unforeseen circumstances we should be seen as following best practices that will suit both management and us. This will make the process of reviewing and establishing clear cut norms for sudden leaves, and easier on HR to manage administering such leaves of absence. It would be good to adapt to this format of sudden leaves and HERD Group of Companies will certainly stand to benefit from continually improving on it.

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Sourcing Candidates

 

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A small but potent HR team within HERD Group keeps track of manpower needs and undertakes planning for the same. HERD Group follows established recruitment planning process by regularly estimating and projecting requirements of staffing needs for the different projects running presently. Some units, like for instance the pharmacy division, experience regular requirements for which an ongoing database is maintained.

Our manpower planning takes in factors like how and when we have to keep adding new employees, as and when required. The entire procedure is accomplished while keeping the vision, mission and goals of HERD Group in mind. We also bear in mind the future prospects of the particular business as well as by tracking industry trends. This helps in keeping systems in place and for us to be better prepared for future staffing needs.

Today, we stand at a point where we are definitely aiming for the top. In line with the projected targets for business prosperity we are keen to band together a strong team. It is for this purpose that we need to ensure that inbound incumbents be high achievers and disciplined. As much as their intelligence and skills, it would be their personality and attitude that would be helpful in moving forward successfully.

It is for this reason that the HR department is watchful about escalating experiences of newly inducted employees. HERD Group is moving ahead with confidence having adopted the best business practices. Recently every single staff member was apprised of the regulatory compliances to be followed in line with stipulated policies. Staff is also periodically provided with the motivational trainings by recognized motivational gurus. This helps instill a fervor in them to excel in their aspirations, at both the personal and work-life spheres.

In line with planned projections for spearheading the varied business dynamics, we know for sure that there will be increasing requirement of staff with focused skill-sets. HR department therefore regularly anticipates expected manpower needs for the company. Other than this they have devised processes for staff development in order to keep new as well as existing workforce in a stimulated state.

HR diligently examines the background, skill-set, qualification, attitude, aptitude etc., of existing and incoming work force so that they can take care of the pool of talent to nurture for the company. In line with the business needs of the units they understand the type of employees that would be best suited in the organization. Their competency has them examining and evaluating the types of employee workforce that they can build up.

Selection of candidates has them culling out and identifying appropriate shortlisted aspirants for required openings. Obviously they pick candidates who are better qualified, have needed skill-set, and experience to invite them for interviews. It is in the direct interactions that they usually assess suitability and long-term feasibility prospects. Once on board they are then trained as per organizational needs.

With such planned moves it is possible to groom work force to become prepared to adapt to the company culture and business practices. We follow an established system to induct employees and extend on-the-job-training that is an essential process.  Now that we are gradually growing, our workforce is also expanding likewise. With businesses at different locations and in different domains we cannot afford to be lax in our human resource management.

HERD Group welcomes the interested to join in for excellent career opportunities. It’s your personality that would play the most critical role. How you communicate with others, how well you handle interpersonal relationships in a team and social environment, and how emotionally intelligent are you, are factors to determine career growth. In fact, if one demonstrates excellent soft skills and get the quantum of tasks done to satisfaction – who knows you could be our operations head!

 

Monthly Management Review Meetings

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Monthly review meetings, held on the first Saturday of every month, have been a mandatory feature with HERD Foundation and HERD Group of Companies. These monthly review meetings allow everyone involved in varied businesses, in their diverse capacities, to join together while taking a step back from routine everyday responsibilities, to assist management in reviewing performances, achievements and setbacks.

These regular assessments help all in remaining focused on the intentions and targets of their units. Management evaluates and ensures that key personnel are focused in the direction of their business and also assesses their continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness. Such review meetings help in rethinking about changes that may have occurred in the context of company’s businesses. Review meetings are an opportunity to take cognizance of risky areas of businesses and how best to go forward.

HERD Group of Companies follows the management review process to the tee in order to be on top of situations. The idea is to see the actual results relating to the performance of the business and its systems. Staff members are expected to fill in requisite data about their business performance prior to stepping in for the meeting, with quality objectives and key performance outputs clearly defined therein.

Our management review meetings teach us what we need to do if something is amiss. Senior management looks at problems encountered and suggest ways to improve or eliminate issues that affect productivity. So from month to month, management review provides the team with opportunities to look on business growth from different angles and to evaluate each period so as to improve approaches while planning for the follow-up period.

Headed by Dr Amol Deshmukh and Dr Suchika Gupta, Managing Directors, these management review meetings are facilitated by Chief of Operations, Finance and HR Head who ensure performances are in alignment with the organization’s strategy. As business leaders of the group they demonstrate that they are committed to stringent management systems for effective outcomes and compliance with company policies.

For in the final count the review is as much about individual performance as it is about the company’s financial performance and result. Naturally employee performance directly affects business outcomes and review meetings are aimed at firmly keeping a grip on effective systems to reign in financial accountability. Herein we have to contend with issues – elimination of any waste, optimize operational efficiency, reduce complaints and improve customer satisfaction levels.

Subsequent improvements in these areas will decidedly impact positively on the financial performance. Staff is prepped up to plan and prepare well for these monthly review meetings. With the agenda in place all unit heads present actual results of their key areas of performance on a pre-decided format. With the availability of actual data along with facts and figures in place, management review meetings end up collecting and collating its core processes of performance.

Once the core process performance is evaluated we understand how our products/services/processes have been delivered. Were these implemented as per plan or did we lapse and fail in some areas. What were the costs of such failures and it is here that the top management audits its findings. Thus every month we come to know precisely what have been our levels of achievements vis-à-vis our objectives and strategies. Most importantly, did we fulfill them all? If not, then what are to be the next steps?

The purpose of our monthly review meetings is to undertake a factual approach by presentation, discussions, questioning and decision-making to arrive at facts that help in planning the subsequent strategies. Management expects such meetings to help key staff in gaining confidence to understand their organization and to take ownership of their units. Monthly review meetings have over a period of time evolved and contributed in doing this. Armed with actual data, staff presentations are not subjective, sketchy accounts but hard data that helps in confidently planning the road ahead. For HERD Group of Companies the purpose of Management Review Meetings is now a well-entrenched practice.

Role of Training in an Organization

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HERD Group of Companies has an energetic HR unit working proactively with both management and staff to bring on fruitful results for the smooth running and upward direction of its several businesses. Any HR Department worth its salt will vouch the importance of training in the success and development of an organization. Likewise our own HR group has been pushing ahead with staff engagement and training programs to inspire all workers at all levels.

Management and HR staff recognizes the fact that employees become more efficient and productive when they are well trained.  Our human resources are therefore offered training every step of the way since we do know how important the role of training is in the overall growth of the organization. It is for this reason that one of the key functions of HR is to continue with regular periodic trainings.

Our management unfailingly realizes the useful return on investment through training and other development activities that assist employees to remain supportive to business goals with an eye for optimal profitability. And so from day one, when we start providing orientation to our new employees, earmarked trainings become a significant step in building up a solid team aimed to become achievers.

HERD Group of Companies has been largely conducting in-house trainings and this has helped build a comfortable employer-employee relationship. We are also open to the idea of inviting training specialists who can be made responsible to coordinate motivational training that will help in employees’ in their transition to the next level. Such training specialists will hopefully conduct training for department heads and also at the supervisory levels for well-rounded orientation for growth and development.

Obviously such trainings occur after proper needs assessment in which again the HR managers cull out the training requirements in critical areas that need reckoning. Identifying employee skill sets and determining the kind of training they need is done to upgrade our workforce. Needs assessments are always critical to stay focused and facilitate appropriate training.  Herein the HR helps in identifying employees who have the aptitude for higher-level responsibilities. Such trainings then help prepare them to take on future leadership roles.

HERD Group of Companies is also keen in promoting the handling of the professional development of it staff. HR therefore also builds professional development activities based on staff abilities to create possibilities of smooth transition for employees keen on rising up within the organization. Our HR unit follows a set pattern for staff development and training is given on four basic grounds:

  1. New candidates who join us are given training so as to familiarize them with the organizational mission, vision, norms and working environment.
  2. Existing employees are given recurring trainings so that they may refresh and enhance their knowledge.
  3. For all update and amendments in technology, business sector and business environment trainings are given to cope up with those changes.
  4. Finally, when career growth becomes important then training is given so that employees are prepared to share the responsibilities of their higher level job.

In the recent past we have sensed certain benefits that such continuous trainings bring about. For one, it improves employee’s morale and self-esteem. This helps in employee contribution for organizational success since employees are in a state of motivation and less likely to be absent. Secondly well trained employees will be better acquainted with their tasks and perhaps will require little supervision. Thirdly, employees acquire skills and efficiency during training. They become more eligible for promotion. Eventually they become an asset for the organization.

HERD Pharmacy: Building A Brand

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When HERD Pharmacy got operational two years back, founders Dr Amol Deshmukh and Dr Suchika Gupta were keen to establish a brand image for the business. Their vivid world experiences made them keen to do things differently. HERD Pharmacy team was groomed to be devoted to making business transactions better and to learn to bring people scattered in the different outlet locations to be on the same page with the one idea that running a business is more than just selling.

Dealing with customers it became clear that they were at the heart of the operations. Customer service we soon fathomed was all about human interaction and resolving shopping issues to their complete satisfaction. Yes every now and then we came across situations and problems that brought staff under stressful situations. And so began the journey of training employees in the fine art of customer handling.

Customer service became the pivot around which the entire transactional business rotated. A satisfied customer was our brand ambassador and this is what prompted us to pay closer attention to learn how to handle our customers. Instead of getting under any kind of pressure employees were made to understand that they were to resolve issues through empathetic interactions. This was to be taken up as a challenge and empathy was to be our way forward.

Once front line staff began to learn to deal positively with customers they were soon offering excellent customer experiences. Again the challenge here was to ensure that they needed to offer high-quality interactions with customers. And this is the area that management began to focus on with the belief that they needed to extend empowerment to staff members.

Chief of Operations Ankur Gupta began to ascertain the dictum – if you want your people to act like it’s their business, make it their business! He inspired his team to create the “WOW” effect for every customer who walked in the door. Lending a certain flexibility of approach front line staff was empowered to lead sales by never losing a customer. HERD Pharmacy is now bent on implementing proactive customer service that remains the most critical component for the business.

For Pharmacy managers – Suresh Poonia, Stawan Bhujbal and Sachin Salunke spreading the customer service experience became a mission. Keyed up by the mission and vision statements drilled by management the entire pharmacy team has been trained to do their best. Attempts are now on to direct everybody in the organization to understand the importance of delivery of exceptional service to customers. Everybody is now focused on providing excellent customer service.

All credit goes to the managing directors of the organization who have involved one and all to share this focus which is what has made HERD Pharmacy to become absolutely customer-centric. Regular staff training teaches employees to serve others in a genuine manner as well as to understand how to deal with difficult moments. They have been given the freedom to use their talents and skills to the best of their abilities to make customers happy and satisfied.

We are now looking at the bigger picture and attempting to take on the bigger challenge for customer service and that is to make sure we create an integrated end-to-end customer experience. We do not want our customers having to repeat themselves. Also we do not want them to be out of the loop of off-site touch-points. So we will begin to take the right approaches through the right technology to help in these areas too.

Today, HERD Pharmacy is a visible brand made tangible by its people skills. Standing at the threshold of a burgeoning undertaking HERD Pharmacy reiterates the fact that when it comes to customer service, it’s not about what consumers think. Great service is about feelings and that is what we want to spread. Good will and Good health for all.

 

HR Lessons – Welcome Change

 

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At any point of time in an organization’s history there may be changes. Changes are bound to occur in an organization even if all is moving well and smooth.  Some changes are normal while some changes could appear to be tumultuous. Staff is often wary of changes and the fear is that any sort of change would be disruptive, not worthy of support and will certainly derail the regular momentum of progress.

HR Management therefore includes regular inputs on accepting change from time to time. Employees receiving change orientation would be more open to any kind of transformation processes that an organization may have to go through. It could be something as simplistic as shifting of the workplace or introduction of new norms in the office. It is actually human nature to resist any kind of modification in the regular framework.

Here is where the acumen of HR practice plays a vital role. Knowing full well that change is the only constant, management should include staff and take them into confidence in order to make it easier to accept change. This then makes it is possible to take the transformation processes forward in a positive way. Also, staff likewise turns out to be more flexible. Rather than desist or be fearful to accept new found ways of moving forward. So in order to stop them from raising their hackles, the need is to educate them in the art of welcoming change.

To accept change positively, personnel needs to keep an open mind and be flexible to structural adjustments. Herein they need to apply an open attitude to new learning. It is this ability to adapt to change that ought to be the focus of HR indoctrination. There are several HR trainings on change acceptance that work wonders on employee psyche. Because it is at times of change that many of us may think of going along with the known and familiar that appears secure and safe.

HR departments teach employees to understand that change in situations or outlooks may be viewed with poise and equanimity. It is at times of change that we learn of our ability to weather all kind of changes that may occur in the organization. Once on board staff learns to see the requirement for needed change and also becomes positive to new approaches. Only the unhappy, fearful staff members view change. Their complaining could really create negativity for the organization. We can do away with such naysayers.

The truth is that roles within the organization keep changing as do business strategies. It is therefore imperative at times to re-structure and re-configure certain aspects at the work place. HR heads then become liable to demonstrate to the employees why the change is needed and what would be the positive fall outs so that employees accept change in a more positive mode. Often this may be easier said than done. Although difficult it would certainly help to sift through the chaff.

It would do well also to look at aspects as to why employees resist changes at the workplace. Why is it so difficult for them to understand the benefits. The fact is they are habituated to routine and want to remain in their comfort zone. Also they may be having a practiced schedule on their functions and when change occurs they get uncomfortable or confused with procedures.

It’s a challenging time for HR for sure and they can really be such a support for management to assist them bring on needed changes. Communication herein is critical to make acceptance more positive. HR can really do well to include pre-change counseling sessions for more meaningful acceptance. This then is also a time to test the true colors of employees as to their attitude towards desirous changes. Employees who accept in a positive manner are the ones who are able to sustain themselves. So in short one must – Accept Change!

Monthly Employee Engagement Get-Togethers

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The afternoon hours of the last Saturday of the month are observed as Employee Engagement get-together by HERD Group of Companies. This excellent idea by HR is taken up with enthusiasm by all people working in and out the organization. It is really an interesting wrap up to the month that has the varied personnel meeting each other. The last Saturday also makes use of the forum to wind off the get-together by celebrating employee birthdays during the month.

In a pretty widespread and structured organization like HERD Foundation where more often than not staff may not always get to meet or talk to each other the activities allow for people to enjoy and have fun. HR wisely also uses the opportunity to take on some interesting training that adds to the efficiency and knowledge of the staff. Past such engagement has seen Nestle taking up training for staff attached to the Pharmacy division. This Saturday’s training is on Understanding Investments & Savings.

Employee engagement sessions organized by the enthusiastic team HR department allows staff members to relax, rewind and feel refreshed. Also the training session adds value to the merrymaking later. It is the aim that staff has fun at work and at the same time such activities help in building and fostering team spirit. It is for this reason that the HR staff devotes itself whole heartedly to bring everyone together from top to bottom in a bid to relieve the month’s stress and also to assist staff in bonding with each other. All miffed up feelings that are natural to occur in a huge set up get reduced when employees feel emotionally attached to their common work place.

It is great to hear the young HR staff figuring out what fun and games activities to take up. Having done this for some time now it is a challenge to come up with novel activities every month. And the spirited manner in which all aspects of such activities for employees is taken up is worth all the dilemma. Employee engagement activities are therefore totally vital when the employers want their employees to truly engage with what they do. And for the HR department that is always on the lookout for new and more interesting ways to make the monthly affair bright and happy here are some bright ideas – http://hrpeople.monster.com/news/articles/3075-25-hr-approved-office-party-ideas

Another aspect of such engagements is that they help in staff retention and most organizations do want to retain their best talent at work. This is a wonderful way to emotional connect to everyone working from their vantage positions. And so out of the everyday running around the last Saturday of the month becomes a day for some excitement and breaking bread together. Out of the rigors of daily fetters of their jobs such engagements help in creating a normal, relaxed end to the month’s pressures.

We do believe that our series of employee engagement activity has kept our workforce incredibly lively and dynamic. We have found this actually works to make them more productive too. There is little doubt that there is a direct relationship between employee engagement and employee motivation, productivity, satisfaction and retention. HERD Foundation remains indebted to its HR department for raising the bar when it comes to staff welfare and staff well being.