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BPO Journal

Friday, March 23, 2007

All in the family

"Don't ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever."
Michael Corleone to Fredo

Last week, I was chatting with a friend of mine, who recently relocated to India as the human resources head of a leading US-based technology firm. In the first few months of her new job, she found that acquiring talented human resources in India did not just involve making a pitch to the pertinent candidate - it often involved wooing the entire candidate's family. “Helicopter parent,” a tag coined in the early 1990s in the U.S. and made popular by the media, refers to a parent who hovers over a child of any age, and “Blackhawks” are extreme examples of this. However, "helopats" are ubiquitous in India and are in fact, the order of parenting. Parents and children live under a single roof in many Indian families, and often engage in cooperative decision making in both social and economic matters. Consequently, individuals well into their twenties and thirties typically defer to the authority of their parents who, in turn, take on significantly influential roles in directing individuals' careers.

My friend went on to say that what seems a mere cultural difference is now institutionalized in her firm as a recruiting strategy that addresses concerns of employee churn and attrition. Employee perks such as health insurance or club memberships extend to family members, the latter are flown in for company tours and events, and candidates are encouraged to bring along with their résumé, a family member who might well be the audience for the organizational pitch about culture, benefits and career potential. Since the company actively started wooing employee families in early 2006, its annual attrition rate has dropped to below 10%, significantly lower than the 15% industry average for software programmers in India (Source: Hewitt Annual India Salary Increase survey 2005).

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