The Employer’s Dilemma
COVID 19 is still hampering everything from farming to education, from cars to cycles; everything seems to have slowed and shows no sign of abating. Despite the lifting of Lockdown, life still has not gained due momentum to bring normalcy. At times like these, even the New Normal has become an undefined, perplexing phenomenon. The organizations are also reeling under the impact of COVID 19 and the employers are at a loss for creating constructive employee engagements while maintaining the employee morale.
COVID has suddenly changed everything from work culture to workers. All of a sudden we have been transported from the high tech, high profit ideas of Globalization, driving the whole world with western capitalist notions, to more equitable socialist pattern of economy where state becomes the key driver of enterprise. This naturally leaves the entrepreneurs in utter confusion regarding the road ahead. Per quarter profits have plummeted, income has gone down, and the only people, whose income seems to be less adversely affected, are the farmers and kirana stores owners who already had meager incomes and the current situation did not affect them too badly.
It can be suitably agreed upon that even if people earn less, they will not stop eating, though it will be plain Roti and not Mac D nor Dominos which are likely to satiate the hunger. Dwindling incomes are going to impact other facets of life in current times of one and all, and that would include the organizations too.
Simplicity is the key
The above example provides probably one of the answers to employer’s dilemma, who will have to accept that the most basic operations which serve the simple human needs, alone will survive. We have the example of Tata’s who on the one Hand they are handling the niche areas like TCS and on the other hand they have the products of mass consumptions like TATA Salt, in neither of these two enterprise the work would have been too adversely affected, because the demand in both these areas did not perish. Yet to imagine that Jaguars’ or TISCO, TELCO sales could have been pushed up, during the last quarter, simply because it was a TATA product, would be like going on a wild goose chase.
Trim, Trim & Snip
This takes me to the second aspect of that example with lesser incomes we spend less. The trappings of organizational expenditure have to be reduced; the money has to be spent on core functions and not on the cherry on the toppings. The Globalization era had introduced western super-structures with huge offices, creating superfluous jobs at the middle management level which have been called the BS Jobs by anthropologist David Graeber. In his book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, published in May 2018 by (Simon & Schuster) Graeber argues that these jobs give rise to a lot of inefficiency in organizations making them more akin to the slothful socialist patterns of running an organization. This theory whether relevant earlier or not can definitely provide some of the answers for the beleaguered employers for their future course of action.
Management practices of Job Rotation for enhanced learning and skill building of employees, are also not likely to serve much purpose these days, because the amount of money spent on, up-skilling and re-skilling the employees has becomes cant, thus it would be more fruitful to let the individual workers build his or her own capabilities at their own suitable pace and expense, while respecting the core competencies of employees in their key deliverable areas.
Marrying the technology???
The very idea of marrying the technology may not suffice. While the organizations may be married to technology, but in a country like India with such scarce Digital Access, the customer or the client may not be married to the technology. Thus shifting of all the focus to digital medium by organizations may be a self defeating exercise. It will be wise to still rely on the old mediums like print and audio –visual media for the spread of awareness regarding their business operations.
Investment vs. Expenditure
At difficult times like these, it is for all of us to make use of one thing that we have surplus of that is TIME. Each one of us has to make the best use of Time within the constraints of monetary resources. As is the case with individuals, the organizations too, cannot take up cost intensive activities, they will have to accept that this year has gone waste and they will not have the cash registers tingling as in the years of yore.But this Time can definitely be utilized for best preparation for the next year and the next business cycle. This is the year of investment and not of expenditure; employers have to delineate the difference between long term investments and short term expenditure. Buying a car in remote area, for ease of travel is an investment, but buying an Audi becomes expenditure. It’s wiser to follow the eastern practice of frugality at a time like this.
With reduced pay cheques and remote working, it will also have to be understood that employers will have a reduced control over their working personnel, however strong organizations with a kinship approach will be able to overcome this loosely bonded Employer and employee relationship. The importance ‘Of Human Bondage’ to overcome adversity cannot be denied.
Some ideas will work while others are simply destined for failure. As in case of human capital, Employers and organizations are beset with tremendous uncertainties which cannot be simply wished away. However ever since the Genesis, Man’s mind has been a powerful machine to unearth the solutions for overcoming the obstacles in the path of progress, so the search for answers is bound to continue………