Worklife: Is acknowledging others’ successes an existential need or a qualified pretence?

How workplaces need to evolve beyond physical places to the positive mental makeup of its talents

By Sanjeev Pradhan Roy

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Published: Thu 2 Nov 2023, 6:43 PM

“Celebrating others’ success opens the door for us to be the next recipients of success” — Susie de Pavia.

Workplaces represent both the genesis and culmination of values, bonding, liberation and self-development of members participating in its success, akin to families. Just like family formations that are sometimes healthy and broken, the impact of a workplace on the psychological state of its subjects are definitively altered by it.

A recent discussion with some leading lights of the ‘people world’ brought out some common sentiments bordering on how workplaces need to evolve beyond physical places to the positive mental makeup of its talents; on how they are treated; how they are led to develop and become better versions of themselves.

While most HR leaders would proudly espouse the DEI index, blare out shenanigans of empowerment and create photo ops in the name of employee engagement, real progress is beyond institutionalised training programmes and CSR initiatives. Progressive organisations are gradually moving towards integrated intranets and platforms that bring employees together on their aggregated content creation, which is widely circulated on social media. While it is a positive step towards both employer and employee branding, the shortchanging happens either on ‘other hustles’ or side passions like musical pursuits, toastmasters, speaking at conferences, podcasts, webinars, articles, public and industry recognitions that are probably not in the corporate menu of agreeable activities to be commended.

With the newfound liberalisation of talents post Covid era, self-discovery assumed epic proportions for many and parallel careers that were passion-led got carved out. They became their new livelihood or sense of fulfillment. It’s now time to realise that work and play can co-exist without trampling the remit being paid for; it just requires an open mind.

Somehow, the rigours and insecure environment of corporates have made celebrating the success of peers and colleagues openly a rarity. It is as if they are under a constant scanner of corporate communication guidelines and HOD opinions on ‘what can be celebrated and how’.

Yet, certain leaders do stand out in their philosophy that we train someone so well and develop them, celebrate their uniqueness consistently, and when they go out to their next engagement eventually, the redemption is in the positive word of mouth that is more organic employer branding than mere ad push measures. This north star approach is tragically missing in most organisations.

Another essence of many HR practitioners at workplace that is ridiculously being justified in content posts is that HR is not your friend or counsel but a strategic stakeholder and a business catalyst. If you cannot be a confidante to an employee, cannot counsel and help them with their grievances proactively or lack purposeful empathy, you have no right to be in the people function prima facie. Period.

It is time that managements woke up to the reality of HR being dubbed as con artists who can paint a canvas of their own narrative, sell the cloud version of optics, and lure a jigsaw puzzle for talents that is essentially a one-way traffic, sans consensus or convergence of real substance. We are capable of much more, being true to our real craft.

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