Just the feeling of being employed is very encouraging and motivating, at the start of a career. It gives one the self-belief and confidence to achieve one’s goals in life. With millions of freshers entering the job market each year, however, and India’s potential labor force growing at a rate of one million more workers than the number of jobs being created each month, competition is getting stiff. It is imperative to take all measures to sustain your job.
“Sustain,” in this context, doesn’t mean that you just need to worry about your performance and growth within the organization. It means that you must take all possible measures to stay in compliance with the rules and regulations of your employer.
Here are few generic rules which are inclusive, either directly or indirectly, in almost every IT organization’s policy portal. Noncompliance in any of these areas may get you fired.
Compromising Your Company’s IT Security Policies is one of the most severe mistakes that one can make, and can quite possibly lead to serious legal obligations. Violations range from sharing official account credentials with coworkers, using official email for personal use, or even surfing adult sites — which could corrupt your computer and take down the entire network.
IT companies are particularly strict about information security policies and, irrespective of career levels, typically fire employees who fail to abide by them. Here’s a short but a true story of an employee who was fired for not complying with his company’s IT security policies:
Vivek (not his real name), a senior engineer in a networking company, had just returned to India after successfully completing his CCIE certification exam. He was given a salary hike and promoted to a critical client-facing role. One evening, while staying late at the office waiting for a client meeting, he began surfing adult websites to kill time. This created so much unwanted web traffic that the entire Web Serial link became over-utilized, taking down the company’s network. An investigation revealed his system’s IP address and mac-address as the endpoint. Irrespective of his qualifications and career level, poor Vivek was fired on the spot.
Consuming Alcohol or Other Controlled Substances in the Office or entering the premises in a drunken state will usually lead to termination. I knew of an IT employee with a drinking problem. He often mixed alcohol in soft drink bottles and consumed the same at his desk! Several coworkers knew of this, but since he was the technical lead and there was a lot of dependency on him, no one complained. One day, he left his “soft drink” bottle on his desk. His manager walked up when he was not around, saw the bottle, and took a sip. He realized it was alcohol and immediately reported the issue to HR. The employee was fired after an investigation. Drinking and driving is bad, and drinking and working is also bad.
Sharing Confidential Company Data with Outsiders is always a no-no. IT companies are very particular about data integrity. Sensitive data is anything from client deliverables, client information, software codes, or project billing and costing metrics. Compromised data can cost a company millions of dollars, lost projects, and adversely impact the company’s reputation. In any industry, if the clients start to lose trust in an organization, it can be very difficult to recover. Likewise, for the employees at fault, such mistakes can and do end careers in an instant.
Being a Constant Underperformer is no way to succeed. Companies hire employees in anticipation that the employees will generate revenues above the cost of employing them. As the world’s outsourcing hub, IT companies in India are under constant pressure to perform in a very competitive market. If your company can’t get a job done, then some other company will. With so much competition, there is minimum scope for non-performing employees who act as parasites on the organization — taking a paycheck and giving nothing in return. These types of employees, who add no value to an organization, are at the top of any headcount deduction list and are easy targets owing to their nonperformance.
Additionally, regular underperformance will hurt your future prospects as well. Employees readily identify which team members they can count on. They don’t appreciate laggards, and will remember such if asked for a recommendation.
Integrity Issues. HR policies in IT companies these days are strict and cover almost all possible threats an employee might pose to an organization. Management is vigilant and does not spare employees who have honesty issues. Breaches of honesty include taking unscheduled leaves, being a troublemaker, taking too many and extended breaks, creating negativity about the project and the organization amongst coworkers, or just being miserable at work.
A lack of integrity and accompanying behaviors negatively impacts the overall mindset of a workforce, and has a direct impact on project deliverables. With repeated offenses, these types of employees are usually “asked to leave” an organization. This is the polite way of letting them exit before they are thrown out.
Workplace Misconduct is another fire-able offense. Misconduct can range from a heated debate with a coworker, misbehavior with a client, sexual harassment, or even damage to company property. Depending upon the offense, the punishment can be anything from temporary suspension to termination, or even a police case — depending upon the degree of offense. One bad spot on your character certificate can destroy your career. Always maintain decorum in the workplace and treat everyone with respect regardless of the situation.
Conflict of interest issues should always be avoided. Many employees use office work hours to work on personal issues or private interests. Private interests can include financial endeavors, personal projects, or anything and anyone related to your non-work life. It is important to realize that a conflict of interest is not always obvious. To avoid these issues, some simple questions to ask yourself include:
- Will what I’m doing positively or negatively impact anyone with whom I have a close personal relationship?
- Other than my salary, will my activities result in a financial gain for me?
- Does my relationship with other organizations (this can include outside jobs) conflict with my current employer’s interests?
If you are not sure whether your actions or situations are causing a potential conflict of interest, make certain to ask your supervisor for guidance. Don’t be upset if a potential conflict of interest results in having to excuse yourself from some work duties, or needing to alter your outside activities. You are there to work for your employer, and while you are at work, their expectations take priority.
Negatively Exposing Yourself or Your Organization on Social Media will always end badly. It is impossible for successful businesses today to not have a social media presence. They value this presence and take great measures to protect it.
While even the best run organizations have areas of needed improvement, posting negative comments about the organization, or criticizing clients and management on social media, is seen as a threat to the integrity and reputation of the organization. Before you decide to criticize your employer, boss or clients, there are several guidelines to consider:
- Be careful what you say. Saying things that are inflammatory or threatening are certain to lead to a sacking. Ethnic slurs are always over the line and you will pay for them.
- If you must criticize your employer, do it privately. Doing so online not only ends badly for you, but it makes it easier for your employer to build a case to fire you. If the need to complain or criticize becomes too strong to resist, cry to your mother or spouse — never do it online.
Do not expect to do something against your employer’s interests, post it on social media, and expect to get away with it. Many are the tales of employees who posted egregiously inappropriate behavior online for the world to see. (Remember this “genius” taking a bath in the sink at Burger King? His actions resulted in the whole staff being fired.) In business, image is everything and companies cannot spare defaulters — indeed, they dare not. In some instances, offending employees may, due to their actions, even be sued for a loss of business revenue.
No one wants to get fired. Everyone would agree that it is a shameful and disgraceful feeling being escorted off the premises with your belongings in a box. Today, there are a myriad of ways to get sacked, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Be respectful to your organization, because of them you are able to pay your bills. If you find that you disagree with your employer to the point that it is no longer tolerable, then leave. It’s better than doing something foolish that will haunt your career. It’s also better for your employer and, in the long term, for yourself.