By Rakesh Raman
Tough times. At a time when the economic plight in most countries has gone topsy-turvy, there’s an immediate need for corporations recovering from the recessionary onslaught to change some critical rules of the game at workplace.
This change is inevitable because now enterprises want to do more with less. They want to operate on shoestring budgets while keeping their eyes on healthy bottom lines.
Here are the five changes that they’d like to see in their companies:
1. Fun Culture
In the good old days, companies wanted to spread this message among their employees that they offer a fun-filled work environment. What they meant was they will engage employees in jobs that they would like to do. But over the years, this fun thing has taken a totally wrong turn.
Now people want noisy pleasure all the time – not to do their work but at the cost of their work. That’s not all. Right at the beginning of every week, they’ll start waiting for more playful weekends. How can you expect such disturbed minds to focus on their work and contribute toward the growth of the company?
Change 1: Companies must put an end to this freewheeling fun culture and inculcate a sense of discipline and responsibility among their employees.
2. Workers’ Presence
Generally, it’s estimated that companies end up spending nearly 40 percent of their total operating expenses (OPEX) on infrastructure maintenance, including office space, transportation, electric and computer equipment, food, and so on.
And in most big industrial cities, employees spend close to one-third of their time in commuting. In New Delhi and Mumbai, for example in India, an average worker is on the road for about four hours in a day. Thus, their productivity gets affected, as people are wasting time in commuting and are mostly tired at workplace after travelling so long.
Since mobile working has actually become a reality with the advanced technologies, companies can monitor their workers’ performance remotely. Workers’ physical presence will be needed in the office only in a few professions like medical, call center, hospitality services, etc.
Change 2: Most companies can easily conserve infrastructure costs by allowing their workers telecommuting facilities and asking them to be available for work for more number of hours everyday. This will help them gain competitive advantage in the market.
Companies that really want to grow in the current time of financial difficulty must not burn their bucks on employees. They should rather encourage them to earn their money.
Traditionally, workers have been thriving on fixed monthly salaries and periodic (say, annual) increments. So they tend to become lazy because they’d always get the fixed salary irrespective of their output, which is generally not measured.
But now there’s a need for employers to devise empirical processes to measure a worker’s performance every minute. And the fixed part of their salary should be very low – not more than 20 percent of the total pay. The rest should be variable strictly based on their output, which could be measured objectively.
Change 3: The salary structure of employees should be changed by introducing a large, performance-linked variable component. Fixed part should be very small.
4. New vs. Old Employees
Gone are the days of perceived “loyalty” among employees. Today, most loyal workers are, in fact, corporate parasites who are scared to change their jobs. Companies must encourage such old ostriches who have their heads in the sand to leave the company because they lack freshness and dread innovation.
The totally fresh lot of youngsters can also be equally bad because most are neither serious nor focused. And they lack skills in most professional fields. Companies must not hire freshers simply because they’re cheap.
Sometimes even old, retired people can bring fresh energy into the system and can prove to be extremely productive workers. So companies should not ignore aged employees, as in today’s knowledge-centric white-collar jobs, you don’t need physical strength in a worker; rather you need seriousness and willingness to work.
Change 4: Now the average length of service for an employee should not be more than 5 years or so. Companies looking for rightsizing must get rid of employees who are sitting for a longer period of time. That will also give the opportunity to such employees to work in more challenging environments, which will be new to them.
5. Top Brass
It’s observed that the professional limitations of the top bosses in a company become the limitations of the entire organization. Such top heads invariably stall the growth of a company because they never allow any good idea coming from juniors to prosper as they themselves are clueless about that.
Moreover, they don’t want to upgrade their own skills because their minds are almost dead though they physically appear in their workplaces. They find it extremely difficult to learn new skills that are required to meet the changing market requirements.
Change 5: Such top management people should be given an iron handshake and shown the door. That will also allow productive people to emerge in the open and work for the benefit of a company.
You’d agree that in the current high-pressure, high-stakes corporate environment, there’s no room for any letup. So companies need to break the traditions and take corrective measures to stay ahead in the marketplace. Trust me, the above changes will quickly deliver some good results.