Winning in the Workplace

Most of the management thinkers have established that the business of business should be service; service to society, community and the environment. The noble act of service is possible only when there is respect for those served. In today’s rapidly changing, uncertain and highly competitive business environment – a result of globalisation and technological advances – organisations have to be extremely agile and proactive in order to even simply stay where they are. If organisations have to grow and achieve competitive advantage, they have to differentiate themselves through constant innovation and adoption of creative management practices. Achieving all these is no easy task when organisations have to operate in an environment characterised by political, legal and cultural constraints.

Organisations take the short cut and end up exploiting the very elements they are supposed to serve. The most exploited ones are the employees. With capitalist models hailed as the best, the philosophy at a large number of organisations is to get maximum work out of employees with a minimum cost. This exploitation is more prevalent in the medium and small enterprises where the working hours are long and punishing with no breaks, no paid leaves. Even rudimentary social security is denied to the workers. Employees are hardly considered human. The situation of migrant workers is still more pathetic.

The exploitation in larger organisations is of a different kind. In the name of leadership skills, where one of the important aspects is taking initiative and being responsible for the outcome and meeting the target, the employees have to devote more hours to meet the expectations. Trying to achieve that elusive extra mile burns them out and hardly there is any time for family or indulging in hobbies. Not to mention the toll it takes on employee health. But the answer given by the organisation is ‘practising time management’. And, of course, stress can be handled by acquiring personal effectiveness and practicing yoga. No wonder many of the highly talented ones quit and find satisfaction in doing things that they like, like writing books, farming, teaching, travelling etc which is more fulfilling. The number of people who are working as free lancers too has increased, thanks to the evolution of information and communication technology. Regular corporate job leaves one no space for personal activities or completing ones duties towards parents or children.

Few organisations have realised the importance of being genuinely empathetic to employees’ needs. McGregor had already emphasized the importance of the Theory Y more than five decades ago, but sadly progress in this management practice seems to be slower than others. A lot needs to change, else organisations will face further talent crunch as most of the employees will prefer to be free lancers which gives them flexibility and money to indulge their life style.

A flexible environment that gives space to the employees to fulfill their other duties and responsibilities and also indulge in activities will make for a happy and dedicated workforce. Opportunities should be given for employee development and employees’ strength matched with their job. If organisations have an effective hiring process, the workplace will consist of employees who understand the organisation’s culture and believe in its objectives and not misuse the freedom. Then much of the time and energy used to monitor them can be saved. It will truly be a win-win situation.

[a blog by Vandana Madhavkumar]