Business Today

Democratic Republic Of Work

The corporate workforce in India is young and wants more freedom in work.
Prakash Rao   New Delhi     Print Edition: April 7, 2019
Democratic Republic Of Work

This column is not a commentary on upcoming elections, or an attempt to be a political expert. This is what the young workforce of India is asking from the business leaders of today. And considering that we are talking about the "Born-free" generation that believes in the power of DIY technologies, this shouldn't be shocking. So, what does the Democratic Republic of Work mean and what are the key asks from the people of this nation? While there is a long list, here are the most popular and prominent ones that we heard in this year's Business Today-PeopleStrong Best Companies to Work For survey.

Ask #1: Lesser Boundaries

The first ask that came out loud and clear is that all the boundaries in and around work should be shattered. Be it the restrictions on the type of work, timings, quality or the compensation around it. The workforce of tomorrow demands 'Democracy' where nothing but outcomes and deliverables matter. Almost 60 per cent of the people who participated in the survey mentioned that hierarchy towers are one of the biggest roadblocks keeping their company away from being the best place to work. In fact, 80 per cent of the 'gig workers', debutants in this year's survey, said they chose 'gig' work instead of mainstream roles for the quality of work and the freedom to operate without restrictions. On top of it when asked if the policies at work make sense, only one in six employees felt that they do. The others felt that most of the systems were irrelevant and more restrictive than enabling. This is a wake-up call not just to the people function, but to the leaders as well.

Ask #2: Jazz Up Communication Channels

For the past three years at least, employees have been vocal about the need for communication in an organization, and they don't mean occasional townhalls where they get to see their leaders, but a 24X7 non-restrictive channel where they can reach anyone without having to go through a process. Employees feel that if they are important for organisations, their views should count, and they should get an opportunity to bring forward their views on matters. Interestingly, employees have feedback on the modes of communication too. As per this year's results, only one in 10 employees are satisfied with the modes of communication currently used by organisations. Almost 85 per cent of the respondents mentioned emails or no specific tools; 10-12 per cent claimed to have access to tools like webinars, Skype, etc. A mere 3 per cent had access to new age messengers or productivity tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams. These numbers broadly explain the reason for discontentment people feel.

Ask #3: Equal Opportunities

Last year, for the first time, women employees were vocal about the difference in compensation they see at work. The ask is here this year too. Of the women who participated in the Best Companies Survey, only 13 per cent were satisfied with the linkage between pay and performance. Another interesting trend to emerge was about quality of work. While women survey participants were relatively satisfied with the kind of flexibility, growth opportunities, and the recognition they got at work (more than 20 per cent women said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied), only 14 per cent seemed satisfied with the quality of work allocated to them. This is an alarming trend and needs a lot of focus from leaders. If we don't groom our teams to move away from biases, especially in something as basic as work allocation, having a gender-inclusive workplace would always remain a dream.

The asks mentioned above are in line with the essential characteristics of the born-free generation as at the bottom of everything is more freedom and fewer restrictions. The choice is: either be part of this new 'freedom revolution' with them, or try and stop them till you can.

The author is Founding Member and Chief Experience Officer, PeopleStrong

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