Memo to coddled workers

Memo to coddled workers
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First Published: Fri, Aug 08 2008. 12 16 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Aug 08 2008. 12 16 AM IST
Dear employees,
We would like to take this opportunity to salute the good work you are doing. However, internal and external conditions have forced assessment of our suite of employee perks. Thus, we regret to inform you that due to this past quarter’s results — just 60% sales growth compared with last year, the first drop to double digits in three years — we need to cut back a bit.
In the game room, billiards balls timed to match the colours of seasonal fruits will cease monthly delivery. The attendant at the table tennis table has been asked to undergo a separation from the company; you must now chase after stray balls yourself.
We truly believe your health is our wealth. Thus, the gym will remain open but we are no longer providing two trainers per user. The Supersonic Sweat Removal Machine also will curb hours, as it consumes vast amounts of power. Employees are encouraged to shower after a workout.
Free dosas on Fridays remain but chutneys no longer. Ice cream breaks are unaffected, but in the winter, we plan a shift to the more cost-effective and season-appropriate hot chocolate.
Transportation to the office from strategic points around the city will continue but the latest Hollywood releases will no longer be played on your morning commutes, nor the latest Bollywood on the evening ride. The price of DVDs was inversely proportional to the quality of the movies. After protests of neglect from key south Indian staffers, we will make exceptions to show the latest Rajnikanth.
This year’s corporate weekend offsite — welcome among younger staffers but detested by those with families — has been cancelled. Anyone seeking intense workplace bonding can make use of our guest house in the hills. But we won’t provide ropes for three-legged races. Bring your own.
We also would like to prepare you for the possibility — the matter is under intense negotiation between us and the Young Workers Caucus for a Better Here and Now — that the firm will cease hosting weekly happy hours. Similarly, the monthly dance at a five-star hotel moves to a pot luck system at rotating managers’ homes; Deejay Korporate Kick also will undergo a separation from our company — but not before he mixes 16 hours of music and teaches older managers how to download onto their iPods and utter the words: “Give it up, give it up.”
Effective immediately, pens and markers of all colours of the rainbow will no longer be available. Reflecting the sad times we are entering, blue is preferred for all correspondence.
Luckily, the order for this year’s Diwali gifts had been placed before costs soared, so our generosity will remain intact for the most auspicious season. While we hate to ruin the surprise, suffice to say you will have a place to hold your blue pens soon enough.
Our cost cutting, thus, does not go as deep as our competitors, who eliminate silly things as free coffee and bathroom tissue (our vendor for the extra-soft, two-ply is under a five-year contract). Still, ridding some luxuries allows us to focus on others that might prove more beneficial for work-life balance: longer paid parental leaves and a crèche on site. A training programme for first-time managers and more overseas client visits. Also, less time playing ping pong and imbibing spirits means workers have more time for, well, work.
In our haste to keep employees happy and retained, somehow, we lost sight of the big picture. We hope these testing times allow us to renew our mission and commitment. These steps also attempt to correct a recent spate of out-of-hand spending. We look to our counterparts in the West and see that even after the dot-com bubble burst and business began humming again, companies still did more with less — a helpful lesson when good times turned sour.
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh repeatedly encouraged corporations and their leaders to embrace a more austere lifestyle, the once-booming private sector mocked him. Today, we — like the Samajwadi Party — have come to see some wisdom in his wonky ways. Last year, he encouraged corporate profits to meet the “bounds of decency and greed”. In June, Singh followed his own advice and said public sector undertakings had “a moral duty to cut out all wasteful expenditure in our own establishments”. One ministry’s replacement of plastic folders with paper serves to doubly inspire us — a thrifty action and a green one, too.
If any of these initiatives leads you to feel you no longer want to be a member of our family, please call or email the Senior Vice-President for Human Resources, Staff Happiness and Eventual Separations. No need to print out a resignation, as we are also trying to conserve paper.
— The Management
Your comments are welcome at widerangle@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Aug 08 2008. 12 16 AM IST
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