Worklife: How to invest in your present for a better future

Are we doing enough on readiness now to avoid glassdoors and word of mouth that bites us later?

By Sanjeev Pradhan Roy

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Published: Thu 25 May 2023, 7:28 PM

There are very few instances when one comes across empathetic, empowered, fair and evolved organisations, but until that moment comes, let’s keep mourning and shaming the mediocrity of most companies.

With windfall gains, airlines bounced back as if they returned from the dead from Covid-laden times to give out liberal bonus cheques to employees. Emirates Airlines graciously doled out six months’ basic salary cheques to employees in a record-breaking period of profit-making. Delta, Singapore and Southwest Airlines also followed suit with lucrative bonus dole outs to employees.

Should we celebrate the unexpected largesse or calibrate the usual scars, to amend people-centric practices? The very hands that receive the cheques now would have their necks in the corporate guillotine in the next low tide, with much adroitness, if lessons are not continual!

What is the moot point here? Not the bonus amounts but the sheer need to distribute profits back to the people who ensured it in the first place. Sharing the spoils is an age-old phenomenon reminiscent of plundering armies and pirates, but the euphoria is shortlived till the next battle when even massacres are normalised. Therein lies the challenge.

Continual total rewards solution is a lacuna in today’s corporate, where discretion and windfall reactions are celebrated prematurely, only to go back to the usual business way of life.

Picture another scenario. Series of ill-conceived business strategies or lack of it makes the company unviable on declining topline and increasing bottomline. The kneejerk gratification comes from laying off otherwise critical low-earning talent in the departments. Where does the buck stop? In every layoff decision, can we make it mandatory to shave off the cream from the top executive’s compensation pro-ratedly first, before arriving at cost rationalisation for lowly-placed payroll headcounts? It’s a question that has gone unanswered since time immemorial as the generals and lieutenants continue to get shielded and foot soldiers sacrificed on ill-conceived ego and vanity forecast battles.

The exit conundrum is another leaf worth turning, but is glued to the archaic notion of showing the door unceremoniously, as if it didn’t matter. The red carpet laid out at seducing the talents at the inception quickly changes the context of colour at the exit stage for employees. At one instance, all the camaraderie, bonhomie and time spent together becomes a distant memory with the stroke of a pen! Corporate life is not fair, but it’s a fair where skills are traded and emotions get played with like colourful balloons that look majestic and are yet filled with air.

As we veer towards some unavoidable shedding of headcount fat (again misplaced workforce planning), the outplacement support system of helping the displaced with outside opportunities plays dead consciously. Exits are ugly, quick and leave a bad taste in the mouth rather than playing out professionally.

It just takes intent for the collective strength in an organisation to propel the aggrieved towards hope; however, we choose to be selective in being indifferent.

Employees identified as high flight risk in Quantum Workplace’s report are four times more likely to leave their organisation within a year. To best avoid retention issues, we need to look at people analytics tools that give you warning signs when top performers are likely to leave. Ninety five per cent of employees believe they can help leaders understand why they left their organisation. Eighty seven per cent of employees believe collecting feedback from exiting employees will help improve the experience for remaining employees. Pre-emptive measures are a luxury now when it should be a necessity, exit process is a chore rather than moving shores on the right experience.

Sustainable businesses are built not only on market share, but on positive mind share of happily engaged employees. The future of work has lessons from the present that shapes the tomorrow for talents and organisations alike. The question is — are we doing enough on readiness now to avoid glassdoors and word of mouth that bites us later?

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