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The psychology of the Indian workplace

The psychology of the Indian workplace
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First Published: Sat, Mar 01 2008. 12 35 AM IST

Work is worship: Does a “healthy” salary determine your loyalty?
Work is worship: Does a “healthy” salary determine your loyalty?
Updated: Sat, Mar 01 2008. 12 35 AM IST
You’ve all seen the numbers of the recent Hewitt Associates salary survey. But did you get the subtext?
Sure, Indian employees snagged the second highest raise (15.1%) in Asia in 2007. No surprises here — this past year India has been top of the charts on many numerical indicators such as its stocks indices, economic growth, consumer confidence, business confidence, number of new, ugly skyscrapers in any metro (I haven’t seen a survey for the last but I know it’s true).
Work is worship: Does a “healthy” salary determine your loyalty?
I was browsing Hewitt’s Managing Compensation in Asia 2008 findings when I came across a slide titled The New Employment Deal. And this is the deal:
# Talented people need an organization a lot less than organizations need talented people
# The only currency with tangible meaning today is cash
# Leaders today seek loyalty but are unwilling to grant it in return
# Fostering engagement is a huge challenge in a cost constrained, global virtual world
# The emerging workforce challenges, the looming war for talent — focuses attention on the individual not the collective
So, this is the psychology of our work and workplace: Everyone has job options, even the employees you think are not worth retaining; all of us earn more money than we’ve ever earned; stars are more valued than teams; few employers believe in the importance of systems; we’re working longer than we’ve ever worked; employees now come from all parts of the world; in April, everybody’s expecting a great raise.
Sounds messy, doesn’t it?
It gets worse. We are on call 24/7—hey, some employers probably even track our BlackBerry response times. Yet, people who work with us say we spend far too much time doing nothing. In the 16 February issue of Lounge, we asked Bangalore-based employees (and employers) from all over the world to tell us what they thought about the Indian workplace. They said we commit, but don’t deliver. That our concentration levels are weak. Most of them said they don’t understand why we start so late and work so slowly/late.
In a recent discussion, one employer shared how he just couldn’t get his team to come in to work by 8am. He said he had tried everything (a good breakfast too) but employees just didn’t take the bait.
As for the L word, the family retainer is a dying breed and most of us no longer do what our fathers did (i.e. stay in the same organization until we retire). We would like to be loyal to our bosses and the companies in which we work, but in a world where time is money and email is the primary means of communication—and when you know your boss must always stay alert with a backup plan (because who knows when you might quit)—loyalty often ends up being just another word.
And then, as an employer, there’s the inescapable fact that you can pay your employees the best salaries, but you never know whether they will deliver the goods.
Enough psychobabble, read our cover story for the numbers.
PS: I got in to work at 7.45am today but that’s because my television is on the blink and I wanted to see the telecast of the Oscars.
Write to lounge@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Mar 01 2008. 12 35 AM IST