Time to Create a Work Culture that Won't Let Employees Burn Out
Published: 24th February 2016 06:00 AM |
The news headlines in one of the national dailies stimulated my system faster than my hot cuppa tea and I sat up to mull over the saga in black and white.
It read, “61 per cent of Indians aged 45-plus want to retire in next five years”, quoting an HSBC survey. It caught my attention because I happened to fall in the same age bracket and secretly harboured similar thoughts. Having the liberty of time, at my pace, and wandering away on an unplanned holiday were my most prominent fantasies, which I blew away as an outcome of my crazy mind. But, it was some relief to see that 61 per cent of those in my age group shared similar feelings and, believe me, it’s time that we looked closer at the problem. For, I am sure that this desire to retire early is a symptom of a diseased work culture.
We Indians may have ‘arrived’ with the multinational companies but in the bargain we have been probably biting off more than we can possibly chew. It needs to be considered that the West, that we ape so much, works only five days a week and packs off for recreation by way of leisure-packed weekends. On the contrary, in the Indian scenario we work full-time through the week and overtime on weekends, as all pending household chores, relatives and family gatherings are lined up.
The 24x7 work culture is the latest mantra but none can deny that it has taken a toll on the mental and physical health of the workforce. Every organisation measures efficiency by way of the number of hours put in and not by the quality of work that is being done.
If I stay back late and miss out on quality time with my family and kids, the boss is happy and my name will be on the list of diligent workers. But, since when did this become relevant? Weren’t late beepers considered to be inefficient? The question to ask then is: Do we have the choice to object to these increasing demands of the work place despite working assiduously day after day?
Incidentally, in a country like India where unemployment is an issue, we simply hang on to our jobs, despite the stress that seeps in and continues till the moolah that the job brings in is taken away by the stress-borne diseases that quietly enter through the back door of our exhausted minds.
It is time that work scenarios were made more flexible and relaxing because the thought of retirement, though impractical, can raise a possibility of underutilisation of human resources. If even those people who can afford to take early retirement opt not to work, it is a loss of productivity, at the end of the day and it would be pertinent to raise a question at this juncture: Can the Indian economy afford to lose its qualified human resources to early retirement plans now that is actually chugging on the path of accelerated growth and development? The answer is a definite no.
Therefore, it is time that work scenarios were made more flexible and relaxing. The employers need not be the slave-driving bosses who need to ensure that everybody is at the grind. Rather, a peaceful, amicable and compassionate work culture needs to be built where productivity is the main agenda. If we compare ourselves to the developed nations from where we have caught the 24X7 bug, the people out there work five days a week and always have the option of working from home. They work hard but also party hard. Whereas their Indian counterpart slogs for six days and works overtime on Sundays.
One doesn’t even realise how the joy of living is being reduced to an incessant juggling between professional and domestic responsibilities, not to mention social obligations! They never allow us to break free from the shackles of boredom and it’s not a surprise that at 45 we feel stumped. There is no room for a hobby or recreation activity other than the occasional movie on the tube. Health only gets attention when the doctor confirms that you have walked headlong into a health hazard, all because of your routine. It is such a shame that even after inheriting good genes we are unable to sustain our health and no wonder the thought of packing up and retiring sounds so great that even the moolah cannot motivate us!
So it’s high time that policy makers and employers took realistic measures and created a work culture where 45-plus persons continue to contribute with all the visionary prowess that they gathered over the years instead of shrivelling up and failing to give the ripe fruit of their experience to society. Let us not lose them early in life due to the rigours of the professional journeys that they make.