Month: March 2014

Employee Empowerment Will be the Next Big Thing in India

‘Karoshi’ is a Japanese word that carries with it monumental gravity. It means ‘Death by Overwork’. It is becoming increasingly clear, if not already apparent, that the dynamo for any business is not the equipment, not the top management, not the media; but the managers and the people who do the work. Without altering human knowledge, skills, and behaviour, change in technology, processes, and structures is unlikely to yield long-term benefits. Managing business productivity has essentially become synonymous with managing human resources effectively. To manage change, companies must not only determine what to do and how to do it, they also need to be concerned with how employees will react to it. In this respect, the role of human resource management is moving from the traditional command and control approach to a more strategic one. Yet through all the evolution of management ideas, strategic approaches, research reports and statistics, India still lags in employee empowerment compared to its developed counterparts.

 

A recent study by global travel agency Expedia, has shown that India is the second most overworked country in the world, only behind Honk Kong, working over 42 hours a week on average. India is also ranked as the 10th most vacation deprived country in the world as employees are forced not to go on vacation to remain in the good books of their employer. Alarmingly, even during the times Indians do go on vacation 94% of the people are constantly in touch with work – constantly checking the email or are on phone calls.  While ideally a work week should be 35-40 hours, Indians work for 50 hours a week. These statistics also fail to reflect the realities of a work week. While the employee may leave his/her work place at 8.00 PM, he/she carries some work home and after dinner or a break in the evening, continues to work for another 2 hours. There have been numerous reports all week by various dailies highlighting that 73% of the workforce in the country today wants to change jobs.

 

Statistics aside, the employee sentiment that anyone strongly feels right now is negative. People are not happy with their employers and the way they are being treated at work. This along with the fact that India is going through a very tough phase with high inflation, lower liquidity and lack of opportunities; have led to a high level of unhappiness amongst the India work contingent.

 

A handful of companies and entities have realised the importance of employees and have made many employee friendly policies but these are far and few and are not reflective of the general populous. There is no reason for companies to cut their employees slack as they have realised that most employees are at their mercy and they have nothing to stop them. Directors fire shots across the employee’s bows forcing them to cancel planned leaves, threatening them of rating them poorly. There is a significant part of the senior workforce that is bitter and overworked and desperately want this attitude to percolate to the employees who work under them. Too many times in the last few years have I heard people complain they’ve had to cancel vacations. Too many times have people felt coerced into burning the midnight oil with no compensation received. People are forced into booking lesser time in their time sheets to help Director’s get a better rating and hence a better compensation.

 

There needs to be a consequential shift brought about for a workforce that wants empowerment but doesn’t know how to communicate it. There needs to be laws brought in(which are moderately and subjectively enforced) to help control this ill-mannered and reprehensible lead people dominance. I can see this change happening over the next few years in India. And I can only hope changes are swift and implemented strongly.

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Smoking Really is Cool: Irrefutable Evidence Disclosed

by Robert Davison

smoking

Bahhh – the pleasure police are out to get us for everything these days. Call it the Calvinist / Protestant value system our modern day western cultures are ultimately derived from, but all that’s really expected of us is that we pinch pennies, subsist on lettuce and rain water, cultivate an appropriate glare of righteous disapproval and do our level best to never, ever enjoy ourselves. Never mind the loathsomely puritan obsession western society has with outlawing, demonising and severely punishing the users of any substance known to dispense any kind of gratification. Even the simple pleasure of placing an ignited stick of tobacco in our mouths and inhaling deeply of the rich blend of toxic chemicals, carcinogens and nicotine it joyfully emits, is frowned down upon as if it was the favoured past time of the devil himself.

Hey, you’re still allowed to do it – governments derive a lot of revenue out of those expensive cigarette tariffs – but only in the designated areas. Which is pretty much nowhere apart from locked inside your own cupboard while sitting underneath a ventilation system. The simple satisfaction of sitting in a pub or some other den of iniquity while partaking of your favoured beverage and puffing away contentedly on a death dart is an activity now consigned to the dustbin of antiquity. They’ll tell you anything to get you to stub your tab out. Lung cancer and passive second hand smoke and heart disease and whatnot. Well let me ask you this? Whoever heard of an Aztec warrior with lung cancer? Precisely. They even try to tell you that smoking is not cool. Well, here at The Grand Inquisitor we’re not having it. We’re here to tell you that smoking is, in fact, very cool indeed. Not only that, but we have irrefutable evidence to support our case, as you dear reader, are about to discover.

In order to ensure that our study is as non-biased as possible, we have taken a close look at two subjects. One of them is a smoker, and one of them is a non-smoker. Let’s call them Exhibit A and Exhibit B. Here’s what we discovered:

EXHIBIT A: THE SMOKER

bogart-smoking

This man is smoking a cigarette. He is a smoker. He radiates an inner confidence that speaks to every onlooker: “I am a man of affairs and I am taking care of my business”.  He is surveying his surrounding environment with a steady and astute gaze. He is relaxed and collected in demeanor. His taste is impeccable, and he’s dressed elegantly without being ostentatious about it. He is appealing to members of the opposite sex. In fact, his problem is not so much attracting female companionship, as it is getting rid of womanly attentions when he has important affairs to attend to. As he inhales the heady concoction of burning dried vegetable matter and lethal carcinogens, coating his lungs with a reassuring sheen of sticky black tar, he reflects deeply on the nature of the world and of his harmonious position within it. He has nothing to fear and nobody to envy. He is a smoker and he is smoking. While he doesn’t have to draw any attention to himself, he knows that he looks damn cool when he’s doing it.

EXHIBIT B: THE NON-SMOKER

tron-guy

This man is not smoking a cigarette. He is not a smoker. Everything about this man speaks of malaise and social incompetence. His body language is sending a very clear message to the world. It’s saying “Please don’t laugh at me or beat me up.” He gazes out at the world with a forlorn resignation. He’s a jerk, and everybody instantly understands this. He is devoid of taste, and selects his clothing inappropriately. His choice of apparel stands little chance of attracting members of the opposite sex. It is unclear if he will ever know what it is to enjoy the pleasure of a woman. Even though he has elected not to smoke for reasons of health, he doesn’t present any particular image of radiant vigor, suggesting that the health benefits of not smoking have been drastically over estimated. His disturbing lack of a definable chin speaks of a deficiency in character. He has been brow-beaten into not smoking by a puritanical culture that pretends to be looking out for his best interests, while in fact doing its level best to demean and weaken him. He is not a bad man. Merely a pitiable one. He is a non-smoker, and nothing he could possibly do could ever be cool.

So there you have it. The evidence presented by the case exhibits is not only convincing, but indisputable. We’ve been lied to. Smoking is, in fact, very cool indeed. So next time you’re out and about, spark up a dart. Enjoy the refreshing feel of the burning tobacco rushing through your lungs. Delight as the smoke tickles your throat with a phlegmy tentacle of death. Exhale a lovely, billowing cloud of smoke into the air like a fat, happy magical dragon. You know it’s good for you really. It’s not giving a good goddamn that counts.