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February 2018 Cover Story

Published on: 2018-03-06 10:35:34     77 times read    0  Comments

“HR in NIC Asia is all about efficient people management” ​

Gautam Dongol. Head, Human Resource Department  NIC Asia BankGautam Dongol
Head, Human Resource Department 
NIC Asia Bank


How do you view the evolution of HR Practices in Nepali companies?
The perspective towards human resource management among Nepali companies began to change after the political change of 1990. Before the country adopted economic liberalization, companies used to practice the one-way management system where the voices of staff were largely ignored. The cost to operate HR departments in most institution used to be taken as an unnecessary expense. Such mentality used to prevail till the 90s. 

With the drastic development in the HR practices, institutions in Nepal now-a-days have realized that such costs are necessary expenditures and important investments for long term returns. 

HRM in the modern day world has been transformed into ‘Human Psychology Management’ which is used as a behavioural science in the organizations. Nepali corporates now know that HR is a very sensitive department which can be instrumental in bringing and creating big changes in the overall organisational management and in achieving vision, mission and goals of any organisation. 

What value do you think HR professionals can add to the overall organizational management?
Organisations deploy different strategies in different departments to achieve certain goals. Deploying the strategies is fully dependent on the HR department as the works of this unit have impacts on every department. The HR department can make both positive and negative changes in the overall organizational management. If the visions, missions and goals of the organisation are clearly stated, the HR department will concentrate their all efforts on making positive changes happen. 

What should be the appropriate modality of trainings for Nepali employees in banking? What types of training and development programmes are there for NIC Asia employees?
Industry specific and technically-focused trainings aren’t enough in the modern day world. Trainings on ‘behavioural aspects’ have become very important. Employees need to be trained in leadership, team management, stress management, positive attitude, motivating factors and passion, among others. At NIC Asia Bank, we focus on providing training to staff with a new approach rather than in old fashioned ways. The mandatory provision of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) requires BFIs to spend at least three percent of their budget on employee training. But NIC Asia Bank hasn’t limited its training budget to three percent. In the last fiscal year, our training expenditure was 4.07 percent which will probably exceed over 5 percent in the current fiscal year. We organise technical trainings every Friday and Saturday that includes customer information service and teller management, among others. We also invite CEOs of different renowned foreign institutions to conduct special trainings. We have been organising trainings as per the need of our staff.

What do you think are some of the effective ways to retain people in an organisation? What retention strategy has your organisation been deploying? 
A stiff competition is observable among BFIs in terms of expansion of branch networks. This has caused a short supply of staff. This has resulted in an employee poaching culture in Nepal. We view such practices not as long term solutions. So to avoid the shortage of required human resource, we are developing an academic concept. We will be starting the ‘NIC Asia Learning and Development Academy’ where fresh graduates will be selected for trainings in the entire banking system. For this, a building at Dhapasi, Kathmandu will be constructed very soon. The graduates will be taught banking practices in a very real life scenario. This will be the first such practice in banking training in Nepal aimed at creating a long term impact on the sector. After the graduates are trained, the graduates will directly get job opportunities in NIC Asia Bank.

What kind of performance evaluation method have you been using?  How is the performance appraisal in your organisation linked with remuneration increment, promotions, incentives, etc?
We have a fully automated evaluation system in place. The staffers are required to do their evaluation by themselves in NIC Asia. Every staff has the weightage of their workloads. As per our policy, employee rates themselves according to their performance and the objectives with completion of the fiscal year. The evaluation is verified by the supervisor and the HR Department. The ratings are then forwarded to the HR staffing committee where the final decision is taken. The members of all departments are evaluated by department heads, branch members by branch managers, supervisors by administrative contracting officer (ACO), ACO by DCO and CEO is evaluated by the board of directors (BoD). This whole process goes through our in-house Izone software.

We have two evaluation systems, namely Quarterly Performance Review (QPR) and Annual Performance Review (APR). Under both systems, three staffers each are awarded with cash prize amounting to Rs 50,000 and Rs 300,000 in QPR and APR respectively according to their work basis. Meanwhile, APR is also used for the grade increment. The growth is limitless for employees working in NIC Asia Bank. We revise staff salary every two years. We also declare ‘Staff of the Year’ three categories of business, service and control. The cash prize under these categories is Rs 300,000. Likewise, we also declare ‘Department of the Year’ where three staff receive cash prize of Rs 500,000 each. We are planning to add two new award categories – ‘Branch of the Year' and ‘Region of the Year’.

How do you view the scenario of staff retention in Nepali BFIs? What could the BFIs do to have higher retention rates?
Employee retention in BFIs has been very low. But, I don’t take staff movement as a problem. This has in fact helped in the overall development of the banking workforce. If someone in the organization didn’t get promoted for several years, then he/she can go to another institution at senior level with an increased salary which is very good for career development. Remuneration is not the only factor fueling staff movement at present. Retention of staff is also related to the working environment. I think there is enough money for people working in the Nepali banking sector to maintain a good living standard. So, BFIs need to look into different aspects for higher staff retention.

What practices are common in the Nepali banking sector for hiring staff. What external and internal sources have you been utilising for recruitments?
For immediate hiring, poaching of employees is common at present. The branch expansion activities of BFIs have fueled this type of hiring in particular. Nonetheless, there has been movement of people who are not mature and do not have experience at all. This has resulted in the pre-mature growth of staff in BFIs. The knowledge and skill sets of staff remain same whenever a career beginner moves to a new organisation. 

We also hire staff on contract basis for a limited period of time. To mitigate employee poaching, we will be soon implementing the academic concept. The HR companies have also helped a lot in recruitment. We don’t have to look after exams and other lengthy procedures to hire employees. They conduct exams of the applicants for us and we have to look after the interview process. This has made our hiring processes easy and short. 

Do fresh graduates meet the expectations of NIC Asia? What should colleges and universities in Nepal do to build the capabilities and skills of students?
We have found fresh graduates as people full of energy with an urge to do something for the institution. But, the colleges and universities should seriously work to enhance the capability of the students. Why the students of Nepal get good grades in university but can’t work properly in the office? This is all because of the education system. The education system in Nepal is focused on the theoretical aspects of the courses. The students say that the courses they have studied in colleges can’t be applied in real life which clearly shows drawbacks in our education system.  


“We aim to consistently remain the best employer brand”​

Bhuban Raj Joshi,  General Manager-HR  United Distributors Nepal, Vishal Group Bhuban Raj Joshi 
General Manager-HR 
United Distributors Nepal, Vishal Group 


Vishal Group recently bagged the "Nepal's Best Employer Brand Award 2017.” What are the factors that made this possible? What are the HR mantras of the Group? 
One of the visions of Vishal Group is to keep its employees happy and motivated. The management is equally concerned about the growth of the employees. People leave organisations in a short span of time because their expectations aren't met. In our case, we share our expectations and plans with the candidates during the interviews. We strive to fulfill the commitments after their appointment. We regularly provide career enhancement trainings to the employees so as to provide them growth opportunities within the organisation. As we have many business verticals, there are numerous career growth opportunities. We even transfer employees laterally to enable them to gain experience in new sectors and new areas for their professional growth.

Besides, the Group has an open working environment where top level executives are easily approachable. The management is open to new ideas and we regularly communicate with the employees and provide them information through mass emails. 

What role has succession planning played in the success of your organisation? 
We have been practicing succession planning for many years. Now, we are planning to work on the Individual Development Plan. We believe it will widen the concept of succession planning. As Vishal Group is expanding its business aggressively, we need to prepare future leaders from within the Group. Under the individual planning, we will work on grooming individuals both at professional and personal levels. Immediate supervisors will work towards the identification of staff weaknesses which will help us analyse the need for training. If the communication skill of a certain employee is weak, we will focus on the same. If needed, we will facilitate them with coaching and set down comfortable deadline for improvement. Individual Development Plan is not just about identifying talents but preparing for succession as well. It is about developing teams where every member is groomed.

We also have a regular flow of trainees coming for internship. Their working period is normally 3-6 months which is a substantial period for leaning. We are always open to new ideas of trainees and prioritise them during the job openings.  

What kind of performance evaluation method have you been using? 
At Vishal Group, the existing performance appraisal is such that an individual does his/her self assessment first and then the manager analyses the performance. In the future, we plan to implement 360 degree feedback where peers, subordinates, superiors and even clients will assess the employees’ performance. By gradually implementing the latest methods, we aim to consistently remain the best employer brand. Besides this, we increase the remuneration of our staff every year after anaysing the inflation rate in the market. 

What types of training and development programmes have you been running for your employees? 
Being the distributors of international brands, United Distributors Nepal needs to constantly provide product-specific sales training to its sales team. We customize internationally used training modules according to the local context of marketing and sales strategies. We also provide our employees with soft skill training including communication, interpersonal and negotiation skills and personality development. These types of trainings are mostly provided by senior staff. At times, we also bring resource persons from outside the company if needed. We also send our people for trainings and seminars outside the country. The trainings are designed for each employee according to their level and requirement. 

What do you think are some of the effective ways to retain people in an organisation? What retention strategy has your organisation been applying? 
The remuneration package definitely plays a vital role in the retention of staff. But there are also other factors. People seek job satisfaction through mutual respect and bonding among employees, sensitivity among supervisors, equal treatment in work and sharing of knowledge and learning opportunity. All these are practiced at Vishal Group. Apart from this, we believe in providing competitive remuneration packages to our employees. We also remunerate our interns with a stipend so that they can work comfortably.

What external and internal sources have you been utilising for recruitment? 
We outsource HR companies for processing applications and providing us the final shortlist of candidates whom we interview. We use Linkedin to keep an eye on potential people and also refer to our roster of resumes to fill up our vacancies. Besides this, we also have a staff referral programme. Under this, we give 25 per cent of the salary as cash prize to our staff on referring a resume. However, the person referred by the staff should be appointed and should stay with the organisation for at least three months. 

What challenges have you observed over the years in terms of HR management for companies like yours?
Firstly, Nepal lacks clear regulations for effective HR practice in any organisation. Secondly, trade unions, which actually should work for the mutual interest of employees and employers, are focused on working for political interests. Thirdly, there is a gap between the industry and academic institutions. Academic institutions are failing to understand the necessities of Nepali businesses in terms of employees’ capacity and skills and supply of skilled workforce. Fourthly, there are insufficient HR professionals in Nepal, while many organisations don’t even have a HR department. HR is found to be managed by the administration or accounts department. Lastly, it is hard for any organisation to get talented people in Nepal. Most of the available people are either unskilled, reckless about personal improvements, or migrating. 

What are the most dissatisfying and demotivating factors for prospective candidates and staff of the companies in Nepal?  
The frustration of people is generally directed towards the lack of career growth opportunities. People keep on working but are unaware about the next step for growth. This is so partly because many organisations have failed to design clear career paths for their employees and communicate with them. 


“We have a very efficient HR system in place”​

Sachendra Gurung, Vice President, Human Resource Subisu CablenetSachendra Gurung
Vice President, Human Resource
Subisu Cablenet


How have HR practices in Subisu evolved over the years?
Earlier, HR management wasn’t considered an integral part of the organisation. The role of the HR department was limited to the hiring of staff and maintaining employee related data. Over the last one decade, the HR department at Subisu has transformed itself to become an integral part of the organisation. The department in the recent years has been focusing on empowering, motivating and training people. The use of technology in this department has further helped us manage the organisation better. Today, software like Decision Support System (DSS) tracks the activities of employees and their performance very efficiently. 

What value do you think HR professionals can add to the overall organizational management?
If the HR department is strong, then the overall management of the organisation will be efficient. The HR department should always work as a bridge between the management and the employees. HR managers and executives should be able to motivate the staff and make them understand that the company will grow further with their dedication which will ultimately benefit them.

What types of training and development programs have you been running for your employees?
A training department was formed in Subisu two and a half years ago. We felt that training should be conducted on a regular basis for the capacity enhancement of the employees. Earlier, there was a misconception that the cost of training is a financial burden for the organisation. But this has changed over the years. 

Afterwards, we started the ‘Training for Trainers’ programme and built a team of 25 to 30 of our department heads as in-house trainers. The trainers who go for external trainings disseminate the information to the company’s employees later.  We have organised a range of trainings on excel, leadership, customer service, among others.  And for the head of departments (HODs) and upper management, we conduct trainings outside the Kathmandu Valley once a year. This year we have allocated more than Rs 4 million for training and development. 

What kind of performance evaluation method have you been using? How is the performance appraisal in your organization linked to remuneration increment, rank promotion, incentives etc?
We conduct the appraisal of employees based on two factors of work performance, and attitude and discipline. Work performance accounts for 60 percent of the appraisal, while the remaining 40 percent is based on attitude and discipline. We do appraisal once a year and forward it to the HODs. There has not been any interference from the top management in appraisal and remuneration review. This process goes through the HR Department and HoDs only.

What do you think are some of the effective ways to retain people in an organisation? What retention strategy has your organisation been deploying?
There are no problems in retaining higher level employees. But, we are not able to retain lower level employees and it’s not because of our competitors. There has been a trend among lower level staffs to go overseas for employment or start their own business. Over the years, we have seen that the new generation is equipped with good entrepreneurial skills and they don’t want to stick to a company for long. They come to a company to learn and afterwards start their own businesses. I think salary is among the major factors in terms of movement of employees which has become a challenge for many institutions these days. Nevertheless, many employees who left earlier have rejoined our organisation saying that they weren't satisfied with their new jobs. 

What are the external and internal sources that have you been utilizing for the recruitment process?
Outsourcing of recruitment processes has become a preferred choice for hiring for us. HR companies have been a blessing for many institutions these days to hire employees. We are currently working with 10 outsourcing companies. We have contracts with outsourcing companies like security, cleaning, customer care, and sales, among others. Among the 1,200 staff in Subisu, 300 have been hired through the recruitment companies. The works of HR companies enable us to get the right person in the right place because they carry out all interviews and necessary procedures and select only the capable people. We have also collaborated with some job portals for vacancy announcement. Similarly, a significant number of employees have also been hired through personal references. We have some sensitive areas where we deploy employees hired through references. For instance, employees who go to the doorsteps of the customers for payment collection are hired through references as they need to be very trustworthy.

What challenges have you observed over the years in terms of HR management for companies like yours?
The employees always fear about their future. We have been providing incentives like Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF), Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) and the Gratuity Fund to our staff. We also provide health and accident insurance coverage. Meanwhile, we are also working on introducing a reward programme for those who have spent over a decade in the company. 

What are the most important skills Subisu seeks among the candidates while hiring?
We generally look for good attitude and discipline in the candidates. We also want them to be critical and innovative thinkers. We also see if the individuals are willing to work extra hours for the company if required. Job applicants always seek the best incentives and services from the employers. But most of them never focus on what changes their efforts will bring to the companies. Compared to our competitors, we have been offering higher salaries to our staff.

What are the expectations while hiring fresh graduates? Do they fulfill the demand?
We don’t expect anything from fresh graduates. Nevertheless, the expectations of such candidates are always high. So while conducting interviews, I always tell them that ‘first you guys have to make your hands dirty’ to be better managers later. I think the fresh graduates should focus on learning as much as possible in the first few years of joining any institution. I suggest them not to go after money and focus on learning and gaining experience. I think the standard of our education system is one of the reasons behind the fresh graduates failing to meet the expectations of the employers. At present, very few private colleges give both theoretical and practical knowledge to their students. 


“We motivate employees to align their personal goals with organisational objectives”​

Sharda Rana, Head, Human Resource and Training Sipradi Trading Pvt LtdSharda Rana
Head, Human Resource and Training
Sipradi Trading Pvt Ltd


Sipradi Trading has received a number of national and international accolades for its organisational management.  What are the HR related contributing factors that have helped the company achieve such titles? 
Sipradi is a systematically-run company. But the system does not work automatically. We need a competent HR team to run the system. By and large, HR management has a major role in organisational management and achieving organisational goals at Sipradi. HR department has been hiring competent personnel who can work in the company’s system. We create an environment where the employees are motivated to align their personal goals with the organisational objectives. We are pleased to move forward as a people-oriented organisation.

How does Sipradi ensure that its employees are always happy and satisfied? 
Being one of the leading organisations in the Nepali automobile sector for the last 35 years, people have a lot of expectations when they look to join us. We make sure their expectations are met and that they meet ours. We provide them freedom to work in their own ways that brings effectiveness and efficiency in work. At the same time, we also expect them to be accountable.  Even with interns, Sipradi makes sure that they are allowed to use their theoretical knowledge in the real world scenario and gain on-the-job experiences. We assign them supervisors who ensure that they work and learn. We value the feedback that we receive from them at the end of their internship. We have also many employees who earlier worked as interns.  When anyone joins Sipradi, we try to create a sense of ownership and attachment with the company. We have a tagline ‘Proud Sipradians’ which instills a sense of belongingness and pride for the company among our team members. 

What types of training and development programmes have you been running annually for employees? 
We develop an annual training and development plan to ensure our employees are ready to adopt changes in technical and managerial dimensions. Being in the automobile sector, we basically conduct two types of trainings - technical and management. A major portion of our workforce is in the technical line. We update them to keep pace with the changing technology. For technical trainings that range from basic to advanced levels, we have four in-house instructors and a well-equipped training centre at Naikap, Kathmandu. We also provide management training that includes various leadership, communication and behavioural programs. We connect our staff with external resource persons to provide them soft skills and management trainings. We also send our senior executives to reputed Indian business schools like XLRI- Xavier School of Management and Indian Institution of Management (IIM) for short term trainings with a view to develop their managerial competency for the future. Soft skills are as important as technical skills. Last year, we conducted 10 management trainings that included communication, customer handling and leadership skills. We also provide functional trainings like advance excel training and presentation skills which are crucial for managing the staff. We have in-house experts for providing MS-Excel trainings. 

What kind of performance evaluation method have you been using?  How is the performance appraisal in your organisation linked to remuneration increment, rank promotion, incentives etc?
We have an annual appraisal system in place which is totally based on KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Each year, our staffers are assigned with key tasks and objectives. At the end of the year, they are evaluated on the basis of the achievement of the objectives. We also evaluate their performance based on other measurable criteria but a major chunk of scores is reserved for KPI.  Other skills like judgmental skills carry less weightage. Tasks which need to be finished within the deadlines are measured on the basis of their completion time whether they are filling a vacancy or paying bills within a stipulated time. Sometimes, the completion of tasks is affected by factors that are out of our control, which we overlook and don’t consider as non-performance. Those who fare higher scores in the evaluation are incentivised with salary increment and rank promotion. We also conduct a half-yearly appraisal, which is basically a feedback system. We observe if our employees are able to meet their targets, whether they are lagging behind the schedule and the kind of support they require to achieve the target. 

How do you view the role of succession planning in the success of your organisation? How is Sipradi practicing succession planning?
It is not good for any organisation to keep any vital position vacant for a long time. Sipradi is very conscious about such scenario and does not let any crucial position to be vacant. If any vital position is vacant either due to resignation or retirement of employees, we have backup to fill the position. For that, we provide employees with opportunities for growth. Officer-level employees can compete for any vacancy in the mid-management level. For mid-managerial positions, existing employees are our first priority rather than external recruitment. This way, the company is able to retain staff in the managerial positions. Such employees are already acquainted with the company’s working culture, structure and pace. It helps to reduce staff turnover and contributes to the smooth operation of the organisation. There are many people whom we consider role models in Sipradi. Starting their careers at entry level positions years ago, they have succeeded to reach the top management positions. For this, we identify key talents and plan their growth and development accordingly. 

What are the external and internal sources which have you been utilising for recruitment? 
We publish vacancies in print media for mass hiring but our application process is online except for people who can’t use computer. We also open job listings in recruitment portals, website of Human Resource Society Nepal and even on college websites. Besides this, we also use LinkedIn and Facebook for vacancy announcement. We keep scanning and screening for appropriate candidates in LinkedIn, but we don’t totally depend on it because most of the professionals in Nepal still do not update themselves in the social media sites. Headhunting is also used to employ senior staffers. 

What are the most important skills Nepali companies in general seek among the candidates while hiring?
Companies look for a variety of soft skills depending upon the role you are looking for. In our case too, we have benchmarked criteria for different positions. The criteria include not only qualifications but also additional skills. For instance, hiring someone for accounts will ask for skills in accounting and using general accounting software too. Candidates are also expected to be positive and a team player and possess the learning attitude.

What challenges have you observed over the years in terms of HR management for companies like yours?
Getting skilled people and retaining them has been a major challenge for us. It is getting difficult to get people with skills. On the one hand, organisations are searching for talents. On the other hand, there is a problem of unemployment in the country. The lack of competency and skills in people has arisen due to the poor education system and brain drain. In addition, students have a separate view about professional life during their college days, and are disappointed when they actually experience the reality where skills are tested than knowledge. There is a lack of understanding in educational institutions and students about the kind of skills the market is looking for. Meanwhile, many competitive students opt for overseas opportunities immediately after their studies. The scope is getting wider in Nepal too, but the availability of qualified and skilled employees has failed to grow at the same pace. It is also very difficult to retain people. The pool is small and companies are behind the same person which makes it difficult to retain people. This is why human resource development is our major focus at Sipradi so as to develop internal resources than constantly searching for a competent person outside.  

What are the most dissatisfying and demotivating factors for prospective candidates and staff of the companies in Nepal?  How do you think these issues can be addressed?
Among the millennials, high expectation and impatience is a major challenge. For instance, at times we ask our interns to do rudimentary tasks, apart from their regular work, to test their attitude towards work. Due to this, most of them decide to leave their work on whim. We try our best for employee motivation and satisfaction. But sometimes, candidates set high expectations without understanding our work culture. When their self assessment and our assessment don’t match, it makes them disappointed. Therefore, we regularly visit different business colleges to share our thoughts and know their views as well. Our internship and trainee programme has been helping students to get a sense of the real world. It is important for someone looking to work in sales department to know that they need communication skills, proficiency in using software and two-wheeler license. 

What are the qualities that HR managers should have?
The job of a HR professional doesn’t finish once a person is hired. As HR management is primarily about people management, he/she should have good PR skills and emotional intelligence to deal with people. Managing people requires understanding people’s emotions and sensitivity and acting accordingly. He/she should be able to create an emotional attachment between employees, management and the organisation.  HR professionals should also have the financial knowledge to calculate and analyse the linkages between employees, their productivity, output and costs and benefits for the company.  The HR department should be able to initiate a good work culture in the organisation by introducing policies favourable for both employees and employers. It should ensure smooth implementation of the policies by using their soft skills and persuade  the employees to follow the rules and policies.     


“Fresh graduates in Nepal need further training and industrial exposure”​

Sarju Ranjit,  Director of Human Resources Soaltee Crowne PlazaSarju Ranjit 
Director of Human Resources
Soaltee Crowne Plaza


What benefits does the HR management system offer to the overall organizational management? 
The HR management system is a planned effort to facilitate employees' learning of job-related behaviours, skills, knowledge and attitude in order to improve their performance. It is a continuous process basically designed to enhance the employees' performance and satisfaction thereby improving organizational efficiency and effectiveness. In the present context of competitive and dynamic business environment, the role of human resource in the overall management of an organization has become vital and is gaining prominence day by day.

What types of training and development programmes have you been running annually for your employees? 
While planning our training and development programmes, we focus on future challenges that we may face in terms of human resource management. We believe that our programmes should strengthen the capacity of our employees. Usually, we provide training and development in the areas of finance, marketing, production, productivity improvement, food safety, problem-handling, food wastage management, store management, hygiene and grooming. Besides these, the topics prescribed and materials supplied by the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) are mandatory for us in terms of training and development of employees.

What kind of performance evaluation method have you been using? How is the performance appraisal in your organization linked to remuneration increment, rank promotion, incentives etc?
Performance evaluation is a key technique to assess the employees and it is linked to their salary increment, rank promotion, incentives and taskforce assignments. There is a uniform policy in place across the IHG South West Asia hotels including Soaltee Crowne Plaza for employees’ performance evaluation. Our Overall Performance Rating (OPR) is measured on a score of 1 to 5 based on one's performance over the Key Job Responsibilities (KJR) and Winning Ways.

How do you view the role of succession planning in the success of your organization?
Planning is all about meeting the future demands of an organization. Succession planning is, thus, one of our major focuses. We view it as highly important and regularly update our succession plan for the key positions, once a year in each department.

What do you think are some of the effective ways to retain people in an organization? What retention strategy has your organization been deploying? 
Employee motivation and engagement, their growth and competitive remuneration are some of the most effective ways to retain people in an organization. Soaltee Hotel follows these retention strategies strictly. We keep into account the employees' work-life balance, health and wellbeing and their passions.

What are the most important skills the hospitality sector in general looks for in the candidates while hiring?
The hospitality sector considers education and experience, attitude of the people and their personality as the most important skills in the candidates while hiring.

What challenges have you observed over the years in terms of HR management for companies like yours?
Low productivity among employees, low effort in developing human resources, weak managerial competency, interference from trade unions, and weak information system are some of the internal challenges to the human resource in the hospitality sector. The lack of skilled manpower, increasing domestic competition for qualified manpower and the overseas attraction among the youth are the external challenges to the human resource availability for Nepali companies.  

What do you think are the reasons behind the brain-drain happening in Nepal?  
Lucrative job prospects outside Nepal and poor infrastructures in transport are the most dissatisfying and demotivating factors for the Nepali youth. For example, it takes three hours in a hell-crowded public transport to scale merely six km distance on a popular dusty highway – Kalanki to Thankot checkpost - for instance. Low salary, higher rate of unemployment, unethical practice rampant among the service providers, inflation etc. are other factors for the brain-drain.

What is preventing the Nepali youths from applying for jobs in Nepali companies?
Of late, Nepali youths seem to be attracted towards the public service as it provides job security and good salaries. Hassles arising from activities of the trade unions are other demotivating factors that have prevented deserving candidates from approaching for jobs in Nepali companies. Also, a large number of Nepalis are abroad. What they earn there seems way higher than what a relatively more qualified person in Nepal could earn ever. In addition, there are more opportunities abroad for talented people that Nepali companies may not be able to provide. This has given birth to different expectations among youths who are naturally inclined to overseas opportunities. It is difficult to say if Nepali companies are able to meet their expectations.

What do the companies expect from the fresh graduates? 
Companies expect to gain maximum from fresh graduates because the youths have fresh ideas, skills and energy. But the state of Nepali educational institutions and infrastructure is such that fresh graduates need further training and industrial exposure. While graduates from overseas prefer to settle abroad, those who start career back home and have developed their skills are continuously searching for overseas opportunities.      


“Succession planning is absolutely important for sustainability of organisations”​

Aquil Busrai, Aquil Busrai ConsultingAquil Busrai
Aquil Busrai Consulting


What trends are emerging in human capital and human resource management?
Automation, data analytics and big data are the major global trends in human capital at present.  There has been a lot of emphasis in collecting and analysing data at present maybe for current or predictive analyses. Collecting existing data and forecasting individual behaviour is a new trend in human resource management. With predictive analysis, for instance, institutions can analyse and record the behaviour of their staff such as unannounced leaves, incomplete projects, absenteeism, declining performance and coming late to work. This helps institutions to assess whether or not such staff are interested in their work or want to leave the organisation and helps the management take preventive measures so that the operations do not get affected. 

Similarly, there are new trends in employee engagement. In today’s world, new people joining the workforce have few but specific demands. They look for instant gratification and respect at the workplace. They expect regular increment in salaries. They are not interested in working in the same organisation for a long time if such expectations are not met. Similarly, they are also concerned about their professional growth and are afraid of becoming obsolete. Another thing is knowledge which they do not necessarily get from a college or formal training. They prefer being trained online rather than face-to-face and want it in customised ways. The advent of newer technologies has changed human resource management in the last 15 years.

It is important for the management of institutions to handle employees in such a way that makes them feel more independent in today’s world. Rather than pointing out processes for work, they want proper guidelines from the management. The new generation of employees wants the management to become their mentor. They want coaching, but not supervision. For example, they appreciate communicating online and don’t want to attend face-to-face meetings all the time. Many managers who were born in the 50s or 60s are finding it difficult to manage the employees of new generation.

Meanwhile, flexibility should be another factor of consideration for the modern day HR departments as a new generation employees want it to become a part of their routine. They generally don't want to follow the daily routine of 9-5. We can see that in most of the families that husbands and wives are both working and they don’t want to sacrifice the career of one spouse for the sake of another’s.

What are some of the lessons in your own practices relevant to Nepal?
There are several challenges in the business sector in terms of human resource management at present. In the banking industry, for instance, poaching of employees has become common. However, this is not healthy and only increases the cost of hiring. A dilution of skills is happening because of a lack of resources to produce skilled workforce.

Businesses in Nepal are looking for professionals in middle management. So, effective training and executive coaching must be done within the organisations. This will help organisations to retain their professionals. In the meantime, there is also a need to engage low-skilled, semi-skilled and fresh graduates in skill development programmes. The major challenge for Nepal is the lack of talent due to reasons such as the brain drain. So, creating opportunities through skill-oriented activities will create a talent base in the country. 

Upgrading the HR community is seen as another challenge in the management scenario of Nepal. Administrative jobs are done by HR departments in most organisations here. The management should comprehend that the departments in HR and administration have different sets of responsibilities and hence work differently. It is also important to provide HR skills to the respective departments of the organisation for acquisition and retention of talent.

CEOs in Nepal mostly complain about the lack of a working culture here. Higher salary and benefits do not seem to help organisations retain people. What do you think are the effective ways to retain people?
There is a gap in the understanding between CEOs and the staff. Due to this, CEOs get frustrated thinking that people are not working hard. If HR executives are skilled, they can work to improve the working environment and retain employees in the organisation. They will act as a bridge between CEOs and staff thereby making interaction between the different level executives positive which will ultimately impact the overall productivity of the organisation. 

Some people become indispensable over time for institutions. How should organisations handle this? 
It is risky for the organisation if anybody becomes indispensible. Therefore, succession planning must be an area of focus for organisations. In the absence of succession planning, an individual occupying a critical position will become indispensable and the organisation will fear losing that person. This will create an environment where the person is treated in a more special way which is unhealthy. However, with good succession planning, the organisation won't fear losing a person in that position as there will be a pipeline of people who are trained to fit in that position. 

What is the best model for succession planning? Succession planning costs more because you need two people in each position. Is the cost worth it?
Organisations need to have plans for critical positions as these are the places which should never be kept vacant. Any company should identify 50-60 critical organisational positions and have a plan in place where trained people can immediately take the position if needed.  Succession planning is a factor of absolute importance for the sustainability of any organisation. There must be successors who will immediately fill in the critical positions and there should be plans for bringing other people as well who can come to the position in the next two to three years. So, this is a process of continuous training for institutions to have skilled and qualified professionals. This is definitely not costly. It saves time and expenses instead. It also benefits the staff as their promotion within the company is assured.

Organisations now-a-days are facing problems from white collar unions as most of the people are more educated and can read the balance sheets. What types of management skills do you think are required to handle them?
We have been ignoring the threat of white collar unions as people earlier used to think that unionisation only happens with blue collar employees or workers coming from lower economic levels. White collar employees are the people who don’t go to demonstrations or industrial strikes. They are educated, informed and know what they want. As a result, conventional dealings such as negotiations are not much effective in this regard. Dealing with blue collar unions is generally in the form of collective bargaining but the demands of the white collar unions are not just confined to monetary issues. Such groups raise specific issues related to governance, work ethics, fair treatment, employee engagement etc. So, the management needs to maintain a higher level of transparency while dealing with them. However, many present day managers are trained to deal appropriately with new generation employees. 

White collar unions will pose a big challenge to the management. They understand what they and their companies are doing and demand to become proactive in order to move faster in the market. New generation employees are fearless and they rely on technology and social media frequently. Due to this, they form opinions in a fast manner and can circulate information quickly. Such situations can be challenging for the HR departments. Proper skills are required to handle the challenges diplomatically created by the white collar unions.   

What are the most important things to look into when companies interview someone?
Employers need to be vigilant about certain things while hiring someone. They should assess if the individual will adapt with the work environment or not. Likewise, the willingness of the applicant to learn and meet the expectations of the organisation are other important things to look at. It is important for the HR departments to evaluate the overall attitude of the individuals who want to join the organisation. 

Some companies tend to hire people with more skills and qualifications.  This creates a problem as such people usually don’t fit into the company’s culture. People should be selected so as to fit into the company’s culture and later they can enhance their skills. It is because polishing their skills will be easy if the staff are interested in learning. But the skills won't create any positive impact if the staff are not interested in learning. Though the process of selecting the right person for the right job can be complicated, organisations will do well if they are more careful and put more effort into hiring.   

Also, the emotional quotient or intelligence is becoming an important factor at present. Most of the work is getting routine due to the advancements in technology. However, interaction with people is still important.  Dealing with people with empathy and good communication skills has a special place in the organisational behaviour. 

People nowadays want to feel comfortable in workplaces within a short period of time after they join. Nonetheless, unless people have emotional maturity, they can't communicate with others effectively. Unfortunately, companies generally don’t train people in terms of emotional intelligence. However, many good organisations that have been investing in emotional maturity are contributing to such awareness. 

Once a company hires an individual, it wants immediate results because an organisation spends large amounts of money in the hiring process and salaries.  New people joining a company may deliver but can also create damage sometimes if the emotional maturity is low. So, organisations cannot underplay the importance of emotional maturity in employees. 

(Reprinted from NewBiz July 2017 issue)


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