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Pain of a Considerate Employer

This is a story of how inconsiderate and unprofessional employees wreck the goodwill that well-meaning Entrepreneurs want to build through their culture.

Having worked at an MNC for 2 years with a financial bond, we were clear that at our company Gyrix, we don’t want to keep a bond. Despite the overwhelming suggestions from senior entrepreneurs having experience of the work culture and mindset of the work force in Indore, we were very sure that Gyrix will never bind an unwilling team member just for the sake of it. It’s better to let the person go rather than staying without adding value to the company and himself.

The objective was to build a free and open culture with minimum obligation from the team members. Hence we have kept the employment conditions simple: Minimum employment expectation of 1 year. If the candidate leaves before 1 year, we won’t (and cannot) stop him, but would not be giving Salary Slips, Experience letter and will not entertain reference calls. Fair enough, right ?

We had selected a fresher, let’s call him Mr. Prabhas (name changed), through our normal recruitment process and gave an offer in Oct 2015. He accepted the offer. Being a company with limited resources we did not perform background checks, reference calls and went ahead on good faith basis.

Prabhas showed promise with his technical skills. Internally we chalked out a grooming plan for him and assigned challenging projects. He delivered on many of our expectations. He lacked in following instructions and processes – we provided feedback and suggestions on how to overcome them.

As things progressed, we had to assign him to a really difficult project but on a supposedly “inferior” technology – PHP. He was unwilling to switch technology despite the functional and managerial exposure he would get on the project. We suggested if he does justice to this project, we will consider his technology switch request soon.

Then the pain started !

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Prabhas started working on the project with no application of thought and heart. He was taking longer to work on very simple tasks and it was baffling that a good performer suddenly had so many issues in delivery.

We still persisted with him on the project, gave him the required guidance and occasional reprimanding wherever necessary.

We were struggling to match the delivery expectations and on 21 June Prabhas informed that he was selected in a company, wants to leave before completing 1 year and will not be able to complete one-month’s notice period. He wanted release on 10th July. We were fine with him leaving but needed to decide on the release date. We informed that he will get a confirmation on the resignation on 22nd June.

Internally, we identified a resource for the project and decided to release Prabhas earlier i.e. by 30th June and he should purchase the remaining notice period of 20 days. The Knowledge Transfer will be managed in 8 days.

Then things started to go from bad to worse.

In the meeting on 22nd June, we informed him about our decision. He asked what will be the implications if he does not come from the next day, 23rd June. We were shocked !

We said as a professional courtesy, you need to give bare minimum time to the company to manage project continuity. It reflects on his professional etiquettes for asking to serve 20 days of notice period on one day and on the very next day decide to leave within 2 days. We tried to enquire the reasons for such sudden changes and below were the factors:

  • The package in the new company was much higher. Joining that company early means getting an extra week of salary with higher package

  • Supposedly, the company had promised to give him the experience letter of 10 extra months, for the period when he worked with Gyrix

  • Supposedly, the company has also promised to purchase the notice period

To be clear, we are completely fine with the tactics of the company. These are common practices and there are no objections to it.

What was revealing to us was the blatant misuse of our open policies by Prabhas. A professional with good ethics and courtesy would have negotiated on the notice period and agreed to a compromise.

Furthermore, it was Prabhas’ arrogance that struck us. He enquired about the possible actions that Gyrix will take in case he discontinues from 23rd June. We listed salary, legal and public declarations of his actions as possible options. Then it started getting interesting!

He informed that he has already broken a bond with the second biggest Indian IT company and no action was taken against him. So what will Gyrix, a 20+ strength company, do.

Before joining Gyrix, he had an offer from another MNC but did not join it also because they had a bond. He joined Gyrix because we have no bond and he is joining the next company also because they have no bond.

Then it started dawning upon us – the problem is much bigger than the symptoms we were seeing.

We were experiencing the pain behind the suggestions given by senior entrepreneurs. If they are reading this, they will have a smug grin on their faces saying “I told you so !”

However, introducing bond to captivate the team member still does not appeal to our vision. It will be like beating the stick after the snake has crawled away.

So what are the options in front of us?

  • Pursue him legally and set an example for the current and future team members of not being so arrogant about the opportunities they have

  • Hold off the salary – materialistic step but significant to a person who is chasing money while compromising on Ethics

  • Public declaration of his actions that might impact his future employment

We have decided to do all the above and more in this particular case.

To be sure, Prabhas is not the only person in history to do this and will certainly not be the last. His actions may not be the worst case scenario to happen between an employer and employee. So why are we pursuing this so much ?

The answer lies in our vision of creating an open and fair company which treats the team members with respect, but also expects and deserves the same level of respect from them.

Prabhas is not willing to respect his obligations towards the company and we are not the ones to take punches lying down. We are going to retaliate and retaliate hard !

Sharing the story here so that Entrepreneurs can safeguard themselves from our experience. Kindly share if you have similar stories.


Postscript: After another team member started working on Prabhas’s project, we found out all the intentional issues created by Prabhas while working on it. Thankfully due to the processes set at our company, we have avoided any impact on the client and are able to continue working on it properly. But the malicious intent is clearly visible from his actions. We are taking additional efforts to identify other such issues induced by him to safeguard ourselves and our clients.

My social media connects are: Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

This article was originally published on Gyrix Blog

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33 Comments

  1. whoa! what a horrible experience. thanks for sharing this. hope it helps other founder rodinhooders.

    reminds me of an old post akhil wrote long back – http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/how-to-quit-your-job-an-employers-opinion

    good luck on the legal action. the prabhas’ of the world need to be taught some basic quitting etiquette! 

  2. Dear Kunal,

    You are not alone who is grappling with this problem. There are lot of bad apples in the industry who score the lowest on the most important behavioural aspect – Integrity. 

    One suggestion – Don’t change your beliefs irrespective of the experience. At Verinite, we also have “No Bond” policy and there have been similar 4 bad experiences in last 5 years but those have not made us change our value system.

    What we did – Didn’t process their current month salaries. Sent out official letters to their homes addressing their parents (both in English and local language). In 3 cases, the guys came back, apologised and paid us in lieu of the notice period. We didn’t pursue anything legally if someone didnt react to the official warning letters. We preferred to spend time building our business than chasing these guys who have already wasted time/effort.   

    What it meant – Surprisingly all the associates who have continued to stay with us and are aware of these 4 cases are extremely proud of way we handled the whole thing. Some of them were the ones who pursued guys to come back and complete the process formally. Our decision to not pursue the case legally wasnt considered as weakness by them. 

    Hope this helps.

    Regards – Ashish

  3. awesome share ashish! really nice of you to tell us what you did. totally loved it!

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I think your experience highlights the need of background and reference checks for any hire irrespective of size of the organization. 

  5. Thanks a lot Ashish.

    It is great to learn from your experience and the way you handled it. Kudos !

    Will certainly use some of the inputs here in our process. Many thanks !

  6. Thanks for sharing the article Asha.

    The article should be read by the professionals out there to understand the other side of story. 

    The Legal actions are being considered, Ashish’s inputs will help us improve the approach.

  7. Yes Karthikeyan, it should be done.

    Unfortunately the costs of these additional activities are too high and many not justify the outcome. Hence, we are still not jumping onto them immediately. Will wait to see how it turns out for sometime and then proceed with it.

  8. I had a quick question.

    If you were ready to relieve him in 8 days, then why have him “buy-out” the remaining 20 days of notice period? You were comfortable with completing the handover in 8 days, right?

    I’ve seen a few companies harass their employees to an extent that they leave it in frustration. How it is handled is a different game altogether.

    I’m not sure about the current company in picture, but still would like to mention that there can be an other side to the story. My fundamentals are simple, if you don’t like an employee, fire him. In case he wants to leave before you fire him, let him leave. (Don’t make any employee ‘buy-out’ notice period, especially if you want to be a fair employer.)

  9. I am sorry, but I have different thoughts here. This whole article is one sided story, and therefore cannot be judged. The idea of buying out notice period is one of the indication that its one sided. Startups are meant to break/make things fast, and so a similar culture comes to employees’ mindset as well. I have seen startups being direction-less and illogical sometimes which adds to employee’s frustration, and hence they want to get out of it ASAP.

    In this particular story the same level of immaturity has been shown by the company as well, where they talk about declaring this incident’s detail in public forums (and buying out notice period, IMHO). And therefore I believe that the actual conversation between the employee and company would had been taken in a different tone and note. But might have been sugarcoated here to make things look justified from Company’s perspective.

    PS: I have never had such an experience as an employee, but have experienced the other side of story from friends (/of friends). But, it does not meet that employees do not commit such crime; few do, but companies deal with it maturely.

  10. This is a one sided story, also the ‘minimum expectation and it’s consequences’ are illogical, except not entertaining reference request. When the management decided to relieve him by 30th June, the max they can do is not pay him salary for July as he is not ready to complete his notice period.

    Yes the employee is wrong by not serving the notice period, but if he or the organisation recruiting him are ready to buyout the notice period what is wrong.

     

  11. Hi Kunal,

    I have faced similar kind of situations in the past. And what I’ve learnt from those situations is – they are bound to happen, no matter what you choose to do!

    We have same employment policy – expecting an employee to complete 1 year – no bond – 1 month notice period. But we don’t force 1 month notice period harshly, its very loose. We still give salary/ experience certificate or any necessary documents they want even if they don’t complete notice of a month.

    Why do we do that?

    1. I think when an employee is leaving the company, generally he doesn’t feel much responsible for your company and he is already dreaming about the “supposedly” good time/ good money he’ll have in another company.

    So, the sooner he leaves, the better it would be.

    2. I think ending the relations on the right note is very important. If you don’t pay him/ don’t give his document – he will always bad mouth you. No matter how well you treated him when he was working with you. And any money is not worth the company’s reputation.

    And you never know, you might need to ask him few things – and if you are not on good terms, forget about getting any replies 🙂

    3. Generally when you are being good by paying your employee his salary (even when he is not completing notice period)/ giving him all the documents he wants, he feels moral responsiblity to complete your work (if you have any) and might be willing to complete his work in your company before leaving.  

    4. I think its useless spending time on legal stuff which generally leads to nothing. I would rather spend my time on something worth.

    In your case, I think switching of technology might also be the reason of your employee leaving. Many people are very stubborn about the technology they want to work upon and don’t want to switch even if the work is good.

    Having said everything, I know this is not the solution to your problem but I think this is the biggest huddle of the business we are doing and we have to live with that.

    Thank you. 

    Regards,

    Tejas

  12. awesome comment tejas! thanks for sharing 🙂

  13. I wish more companies understood this.

    As founders we have a higher moral responsibility towards the value of our company.

  14. Great thoughts Tejas, 100% in agreement to your thoughts.

  15. Thanks Sampat 🙂

  16. Glad to share my experience 🙂

  17. It takes time to understand the depth of the situation and new entrepreneurs might not understand it in the initial years. But lets hope there would be more positivity in the future 🙂

  18. We have the same issue at Games2win and are pursuing a legal case (for not completing 1 month notice)

  19. Bonds are meaningless! Nothing to be gained from litigation or forced work, since he could just attend work but deliver nothing.

  20. kunal, alok shared your post over social.

    you might want to reply to the comment on his fb 

    Akhilesh Bagri As I read – he was hired as a fresher, so how had he broken a bond with the 2nd largest IT company already? Have I missed something?

    Also the cost of atleast 1 check isn’t too high. Reference checks are essential for who you bring into your company.

    Like · Reply · 1 hr
  21. Hi Sunny,

    Thanks for sharing your thought.

    The company policy clearly state that 1 month’s notice period is to be served. However, looking at his disinclination to contribute productively in the remaining days (which he displayed during the resignation meeting itself), we had to take a stand of releasing him earlier. Hence, it was necessary to attach a cost to it. We could not set a precedence where a team member, who wishes to be relieved earlier would adopt such non-cooperative approach and get away without a cost.

    Completely agree that there will be Prabhas’ side of the story and we invite him to share his point of view on open forum like this and make his stand clear. He is open to share why he took the decision, what were the problems from the Company that he wanted to be released in such a manner.

    However, we disagree with you last point – we had liked this team member and had proper grooming plans for him. He wanted to leave and we were also fine with it. There were no restrictions from our side if he completed his obligations (serving notice period). But, letting team members behave as they want, without taking a firm stand on our policies would be considered as spineless (in our view) and hence buying out was needed.

    Regarding the tag of being a Fair Employer, we would let our Policies & past, current and future team members decide on it. 

    Thanks again for sharing. Will be glad to answer more questions. 

  22. Thanks Arjit for sharing your thoughts.

    It is actually true that it is only one side of the Story (not one sided). We invite Prabhas to share his stand and point of view on an open forum like this. 

    We disagree on some of your points namely:

    • Startups being direction-less – Atleast we are not and neither is the second largest IT company in India (from both of which he absconded). We are a profitable company for last 4 years and are growing at a healthy pace
    • The level of immaturity – If you notice the dates, it happened more than a month earlier and only now we are coming out with this point. We have taken legal opinion, consulted with mentors, peers and only then decided to go public with it. Also, we are mature enough to not name the person is question
    • Sugarcoating of tone – You can observe our tone in this article itself. We have hardly tried to sugarcoat it. But yes, you can judge the incident better after hearing the story from Prabhas. Let him criticize us for whatever his views are. Will be open to reply to them.

    Considering your experience of hearing the other side, would like to know what response would be termed as “mature”. Please note, letting the person go without consequences is not an option.

    Thanks.

  23. Thanks Sampat for the views. 

    Fair point, some may not agree with some of the policies. Hopefully that does not make them wrong. All team members are aware of these conditions while accepting our offer.

    There is nothing wrong in other company purchasing the notice period, we have explicitly mentioned that. The questions is whether a team member should threaten us to leave without a professional compromise? One might have conveyed the importance of the offer at hand, conveyed the inability of serving the notice period and we might have still considered that. The arrogance of having a good offer and not paying heed to your professional obligations shows badly on the person (not on the other company).

    Hopefully i have answered your concern. Would be glad to discuss further if you wish.

  24. Hi Tejas, 

    Thanks a lot for your very relevant points.

    Some of them have been followed at our company in some other cases. 

    • Having a flexible notice period even if 1 year is not complete. There were team members who have been given consideration based on genuine reasons. Not being flexible here was due to the arrogance of the person and his lack of consideration for the company’s interest
    • Ending relations on right note – We complete believe in it, but unfortunately it has be from both sides
    • Being good by paying salary – This is the only incident in our 4 year history that we had to take such a step. In all earlier cases, the entire payment was made

    Agree with your remaining points about, wasting time on legal process, technology switch being the reason for his departure and learning to live with the limitations of the industry. 

    Thanks again for the inputs.

  25. Hi Alok, it is reassuring to know that Games2Win is pursing such ‘bad apples’ spoiling the entire basket. It helps to send a message and if it prevents even 1 more person from doing the same thing, the efforts should be considered as investment for the greater good of the industry.

  26. Exactly Ashok. We wanted nothing but not willing to do nothing either. 

  27. Thanks Asha for notifying. Unfortunately, not able to access Alok’s feeds. Kindly help in posting the below message there.

    @Akhilesh, He was from the batch of 2015 and hired at our company in October 2015. He had hidden the fact that he had joined another company earlier. It was only when he wanted to leave, he himself mentioned that. Probably, he joined that company, went through their training, checked the profile offered, might not have liked it and decided to abscond from there.

  28. You have this for a company policy and yet claim you want to create a free an open culture ??

    “Hence we have kept the employment conditions simple: Minimum employment expectation of 1 year. If the candidate leaves before 1 year, we won’t (and cannot) stop him, but would not be giving Salary Slips, Experience letter and will not entertain reference calls. Fair enough, right ?”

    No, it’s not fair to withhold salary slips and experience letter if a candidate resigns before completing 1 year of employment especially if he serves a one month notice period.

    Tell me, will continue to pay a candidate for a year if you find out after 6 months that he/she is not working out despite guidance / mentorship and a performance improvement plan ? 

    + you say ‘Prabhas’ performed well after he joined but the problems after you assigned him to a ‘really difficult project on php’ – technology he wasn’t proficient in.

    Did it occur that maybe he wasn’t willing to take up php because he wasn’t confident of his ability to deliver ? Or maybe he just didn’t like stuff being forced down his throat.

    Like someone said, there are always 2 sides to a story – We will never know ‘Prabhas’s side.

    Am not really sure what you are trying to convey with this article but am not sure it will go down very well with prospective employees…or it might too, who knows 🙂

  29. Hi Abhik,

    There can be difference of opinions with respect to the policies of any company. That does not make them incorrect. Considering IT Services Industry, having a financial bond for 2 years is a regular practice. So a minimum expectations of 1 year employment is no big deal. But, you can obviously disagree to this also. I respect your disagreement.

    However, any team member is open to reject our offer if they are not fine with the policies mentioned here. But please tell me – Is it correct to agree to the policy while accepting the offer and not keeping your side of the commitment ?

    Regarding the argument of Prabhas not being proficient in the technology – I believe we are better placed to judge it. We trained Prabhas on PHP for more than a month. Seeing his learning potential, we trained him further on other technologies. He showed potential there also. So the argument that he wasn’t confident does not stand in the court of facts.

    But the second argument does, He might not have liked “stuff being forced down his throat”. This is what we have mentioned in the article itself. Yes, he was not particularly happy with it and hence the tanturms. Being an Entrepreneur yourself, do you believe that you can run the company – If all the decisions you take should be agreeable to EACH and EVERY team member. Is that practical? Being Entrepreneurs we have to take decisions that some might not agree with. You try to make sure that the concerns of various stake holders are addressed and a suitable solution is found. We did exactly that. We explicitly told him that his technology switch request will be considered soon, if he performs well on this project. So do you want your company to be held hostage if an adjustment is not ok with one team member.

    What we are trying to convey with the article is:
    1. We are a considerate employer. Our current team members are the best people to tell about it and our policies attest to it (would be glad to share the details separately)
    2. We respect our team members, but expect equal respect in return
    3. We are not a company whose policies can be violated in the way mentioned here
    4. We will be open to compromise for genuine reasons but do not expect us to be a walkover

    Considering the fear of not going down with prospective team members, that was the biggest risk we considered thoroughly over a month. It finally came down to this – We either risk that or risk being a soft-company that few ‘bad apples’ use as a stop over in progressing their careers. We want to build great careers for our team members, but not willing to be ‘free trainer’ for people who don’t respect us.

    I really really hope that Prabhas actually reads this and provides his side of the story. Let him disagree with our policies and decisions but i would be interested if he disputes any facts we have mentioned here.

  30. “Hence we have kept the employment conditions simple: Minimum employment expectation of 1 year. If the candidate leaves before 1 year, we won’t (and cannot) stop him, but would not be giving Salary Slips, Experience letter and will not entertain reference calls. Fair enough, right ?”

    @Kunal: You do not need to respect anyone, until you start respecting people who work/worked for you. IT companies have 2 year bond for freshers, but they do not hold salary slips/experience letter, though they recover training cost from them (and they really spend a lot in their training).

    I can’t believe I am replying to this again, but I couldn’t stop myself after seeing the above quoted para. Good that guy left, I am sure now that he has my sympathy regardless of whatever his reasons were.

  31. HI Arjit,

    Thanks for sharing your disagreement and I respect it.

    Just asking a simple question: Should there be a cost associated with breaking the agreement?

    You seem to be OK with a monetary cost, but not with a non-monetary cost. If so, would you encourage Prabhas to pay the training cost that we have invested in him over the 10 months of employment?

  32. Thank you for the information. This is well written and gives a lot of value for people who are looking to learn.
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  33. Such an awesome post thanks for sharing this.
    Radio.Zone

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