From frustration to delight....

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 When does an employee feel frustrated and how can an organisation change it into delight....


Find out from Mr. Srinivas Kandula, Global Head of HR at iGATE Global solutions. His contributions culminated in iGATE winning CNBC-Watson Wyatt Best Employer Award-2007, securing 3 rd rank in Dataquest-IDC Best IT Employer Survey and 6th rank in Business Today-Mercer Survey in recently concluded best employer surveys.srinivas-kandula-pd-84


Excerpts From Mr. Srinivas's Talk:


For a change let me give you a glimpse of employee frustration. I have been working for 18 years now, and still have not been able to figure out the moments when I was delighted and when I was frustrated. After some introspection, I realized when I made myself dependent on the organization and people, I was frustrated and whenever I was independent I was delighted. Hence Employee delight is more of an inner attribute rather than an exterior quality. Unfortunately, most organizations think that employee delight is an external phenomenon and struggle with it. There is no formula to create employee delight.


Your employees should be convinced they are working for a cause.


As per NASSCOM, there are a million software engineers in India. If you go through annual reports of major tier 1 IT companies, their attrition rate is 14-15%. Tier 2 companies attrition rates are between 22-23% and tier 3 companies are at 30%. So an average in the Indian IT industry is about 20%, which means 200,000 software professionals change jobs yearly. We all thought we had created magic, by adopting many "progressive" HR policies in the past and yet we have such high attrition rates.


An organization has to align its cultural ethos, to the way society is transforming.


After working in a public sector company for 14 years, I moved into IT, and realized that though the salaries are 10 times more than the public sector, the misery is 100 times more in private sector. The IT industry in the last decade, has given compensation revision of almost 200%. Using statistics I can interpret that there is a significant positive correlation between enhancing someone's salary and their frustration. A 13 years study carried out by "Great Places To Work", USA, said that 82% of companies that featured in one year, disappeared in the other year. Similar is the experience of Indian companies as well.


So why are employees delighted at one moment and frustrated the other? It's like a love story. Until you are married you are extremely happy with your boyfriend or girlfriend, after you are married you are not that happy. The reason is that your psychological construct goes through a transformation.


HR people have changed a lot of the human management model over the past 15 years. In those days a good HR person was one who could quote the Industrial Act, Trading Act and so on. The entire workforce was "collective" at that point of time. When I was in NTPC, I have not seen a single executive walking into my room for a compensation revision. They come once in 5 years, saying that "collectively" they needed a pay revision. In IT, out of 30 visitors to my office, 28 are individuals asking for pay revision!


Employee delight is more of an inner attribute rather than an exterior quality.


So the question is, do we pay more money to create employee delight? There was a professor in HBS who found that, we all struggle in life to make more money, so as to live a better life. Therefore logically, more money should result in more happiness, but he was not able to end up with such a conclusion. Money is required to a certain extent for happiness, beyond which it will bring misery. For instance, in many western countries, when they have to get married, they write the divorce agreement first.


In my career I have come across institutions in which employees are highly motivated. None of them pay really high salaries. For instance, consider Aravind eye hospital where thousands of cataract surgeries are conducted. I used to think that cataract is the easiest in the ophthalmology discipline, but the reality is that the most complex surgery is cataract, which they do for Rupees 160. The same surgery in USA would cost you 80,000 $. The compensation of doctors and para medical staff at this hospital, is not even 30% of what IT people are paid. Another example worth mentioning are the Bombay Dabbawallas. My conclusion is that "pay unlimited" can be a policy for those companies who don't want to exist for a long time. You can't create employee delight by giving more money, because it will create more misery.


Incidentally, IT companies are realizing why the Indian government has been far superior in management techniques. Institutions such as Indian railways & national banks have existed successfully for several years and several centuries. Today, most software companies struggle everyday to deliver software projects on time, whereas Laloo Prasad delivers lot of trains on time in this country. The Indian postal department is far superior in their service, than courier services who charge a lot more. So we can conclude that, money is not the factor that can create employee delight.


Also, if anyone thinks that he can create employee delight by having an air conditioned office, he is mistaken. What we need to create, is meaning for each employee. Each employee should be allowed to play the game in which he is good at. Another vital ingredient is that feeling of togetherness. For instance, if your family has togetherness, then the delight is highly independent of financial status & materialistic achievement. The togetherness will come only if you are working for a cause. Your employees should be convinced they are working for a cause.


Sadly, every organization wants to recruit super humans but the truth is that most of the country is run by unemployable unskilled workforce. For instance, Dhirubhai Ambani did not technically understand much about chemical engineering, but he setup one of the largest petrochemical complex in the world. In Bangalore City, thousands of crores of real estate business happens everyday. Many real estate people, are undergraduates and most of the architects, civil engineers and chartered accountants work for them. Hence, my point is that our whole definition of skill and employability has to undergo a change.


What we need to find out is the inner talent in people, and organization should put in place systems to nurture that talent. Organizations as of today have systems to figure out what people are not, rather than what they are.


The skill or employability is something that a person brings naturally, rather than through any degree or tests. Its foolishness, to say that academics are the only way to measure a person's capability & aptitude. Please take a person with basic attitude, basic inclination, basic commitment and basic value system and nurture him.


Organizations that spend lots of money on culture building, do not necessarily achieve that. The reason is that people are not wedded to the cause and have not figured out what they want to do with their life. An organization has to align its cultural ethos, to the way society is transforming. That is the culture which will hold people together. Essentially, organizations in India have to reduce the toxicity. The kind of competition they have created & the kind of materialistic motivation structure that has been created has to be changed. It has made employees thick skinned, and they are unable to realize what their potential is. As HR people, we will do a great disservice to professionals, by blocking them from realizing their inner potential for growth.


Srinivas Kandula is rare combination of academics and rigorous practice. Doctorate in HR from AHRD-XLRI and authored 8 books in the area of strategic HR, Performance Management, Self Management published by Prentice-Hall and McGraw Hill International in multi languages. He has also published about 60 papers in National and International Journals. Srinivas comes with 18 years of hands-on and minds on experience designing and executing HR systems in corporate organizations.


He was speaking at a Panel Discussion organized by Businessgyan and TASMAC in association with Cynergyis, on the topic ‘Creating Employee Delight'. 


Compiled by Mr.Rajiv Mathew for Businessgyan


Issue BG84 Mar 08