AFTER working for 26 years in a Malaysian company, Mr Sooria Adeikalam was told that it had outsourced its information technology functions. As part of the agreement, he would become an employee of EDS, a global technology services company.
"Naturally, I was concerned," he says. "At the time, I held the position of assistant vice-president. I was used to a certain culture and management style. Suddenly, I had a different employer."
For employees moving from one organisation to another, the fear of the unknown is tempered by knowing they chose to make the move.
But for employees who move from one company to another as the result of an outsourcing agreement, there is added uncertainty, as the move is perceived to be forced upon them.
Therein lies the challenge for employers and employees - how to ensure that the transition from one company to another is completed with minimal disruption to three parties - the employee, the employer he leaves and the employer he joins.
In addition to human resources issues such as benefits, pension plans, pay scales and career development, employers need to consider emotional concerns arising from the transition.
Minimising uncertainty and reassuring transitioning employees of their role within their new organisation will help employees settle in quickly.
Open communication between all three parties and paying attention to individual needs are vital factors in the transition process.
Dispersing accurate, timely communication cuts down on rumours and uncertainty. A strong communication strategy provides a consistent message and keeps all three parties in the loop.
Employees should receive a range of information designed to diminish anxieties and to make them aware of opportunities that become available with the transition.
Each transition must be specifically tailored to meet the needs of individual clients and employees. The transition plan is geared toward helping employees settle into the new environment and establish their own long-term career directions.
For employees, the challenge is in overcoming resistance and looking upon changes favourably.
Having a positive attitude helps. Mr Sooria found new opportunities following his transition.
He says: "I had prepared myself mentally to embrace change. So, I was receptive to new ideas and new challenges. In fact, with these new challenges, I found myself being more enthusiastic about work than before.
"Working for a technology services company provided me with access to new tools and the latest technology. It showed me just how fast technological changes occur."
Mr Teh Tek, another long-time employee who transitioned to EDS, found serving clients in different industries and different countries refreshing.
He says: "Clients from different industries face different issues. Clients in different countries have demands unique to their market. Such diversity exposes you to different trends and demands."
For Mr Sooria and Mr Teh, the transition went smoothly. For others, it was more difficult. Ms Thong Oi Lin readily admits that she had problems adjusting initially. What helped her settle into her new workplace was the support provided by her team and manager.
Ms Thong, currently a BPO request manager, says: "It wasn't just the technical assistance offered; the moral support and encouragement I got from my team was what got me through that period. It was invaluable. You tend to forget the difficulties after a while, but not the encouragement."
The careers of Mr Sooria, Mr Teh and Ms Thong have thrived since their move over five years ago. Along the way, they have acquired different skills, different experiences and different roles. And the changes were not always painless.
When asked what he considered to be the most important aspect in facing a transition, Mr Sooria pointed to having a positive attitude towards change.
He says: "Approach the transition with an open mind. With changes come opportunities."