Workspaces are the ‘second home’ of most employees as manager-reportee relationships blur

“The only thing that ever sat its way to success was a hen. The rest of us need to slog hard to earn our bread and butter,” says Delhi-based journalist Rajani Sen in good humour. True that. She, like others of her ilk, tend to spend more time at work than at home because colleagues who are more like a family make it fun. “The rule that has stood me in good stead is to work hard, and party harder, of course with my office colleagues. Be it sharing a cup of tea in between breaks, or sharing the workload, we do whatever we can to make it easier for each other,” adds Sen.Abhishek Chatterjee, Associate Vice-President, who heads the Mumbai operations for Talentrack, couldn’t agree more with Sen. “I believe the workplace is like a second home. One tends to spend more time with office colleagues than with one’s family on weekdays. We at Talentrack pay equal attention to see that a person is in sync with the company culture as much as we look at his job competency while hiring him or her,” he says.

Changing dynamics

Every organisation has its own culture and dynamics, and no two places are the same. "Each person contributes to it — good, not so good. The news/ rumours have got wings to fly. The relations amongst employees are very nuanced and mostly transactional. The race to get ahead adds to stress level and having ‘buddies’ at the workplace goes a long way in handling it. Even in the most enabling work environment, the voice of disconnect is not uncommon. There is nothing like a perfect workplace. Healthy banter, a bit of gossiping are all part of a regular workplace," says Kalyan Ranjan, who works with a Gurugram-based MNC. Explaining the concept of workplace dynamics, Delhi-based Mansi Gupta, Founder & Principal Consultant, Core Connect HR Consultants, says, “It is referred to as ‘how’ of the workplace. It is a combination of personal, team and organisational relationships at the workplace and based on this are the major management policy decisions taken in an organisation. To keep today’s workforce motivated and engaged, companies need to understand their pulse and devise methods accordingly.”

No doubt, the terms of engagement have changed over the years, and that is precisely to make employees more involved in the success process and help them contribute to the progress of an organisation. There is a significant change in the workplace in terms of policies, infrastructure and management procedures. “Traditional office hours have changed, and there is more focus on productive hours rather than just spending hours in the office. Policies are updated to be more focused on healthy work environment by giving the flexibility to work from home, open door policy, connect with employees. More and more, especially with tech companies it seems, the culture is more laid-back and fun than what you would have seen a few years ago. Focus has shifted. Everything is online, saved on the cloud, or in another digital format that makes it easily accessible to employees and reduces paper use,” quips Hyderabad-based IT professional Sonam Pandey, who is a senior manager with Zensar Technologies. Adding to the thought of the changing dynamics at the workplace, Katyayani Krishna, Area HR Head, Maersk, Mumbai, says, “In this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, the workplace is rapidly changing and often getting disrupted. To keep pace, we need to make our workplace adaptable and inclusive. For individuals, the key is to unlearn and learn constantly.”

Challenges galore

A large portion of today’s workforce comprises of young professionals, and explaining the aspirations of Gen Y, Gupta says, “Millennials bring in new ideas, a different perspective, energy and diversity to the workplace. They look for jobs that not only provide work satisfaction but are also high in engagement levels. They look for associations wherein there is a sense of self and career development. Companies will need to cater to this aspect while discussing prospects.” Their constant urge to up the engagement level makes stability a point for discussion, and companies are constantly devising strategies and working hard to attract and then retain the talent pool.

Krishna adds, “Intelligence is randomly distributed across an organisation. Companies can leverage this collective strength by empowering individuals and teams. A culture that nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit is likely to be more successful. The complex issues that are emanating in various industries may need collaboration with vendors, partners and even competition.”Also called the smartphone generation, Gen Y looks for flexibility and work-life balance options, and organisations that value their contribution, listen to their concerns, share and take feedback become their first priority. According to Gupta, “The key for organisations is to understand the requirement in terms of main motivators for young professionals, introduce effective, flexible policies, have a progressive R&R system, and have continuous discussion and feedback sessions.”

But it is easier said than done for a working woman. “It is a challenging task to balance professional and personal fronts. We, as women tend to battle a lot, from gender discrimination, pay gap, sexual harassment, to issues related to motherhood and raising kids, and at the same time. And it is no mean feat. Situations are improving at the workplace, but a lot still needs to be done,” says Sen highlighting how 26 weeks maternity leave is a boon for new mothers, but the lack of creche facility in most organisation defeats the proposition. All these efforts are bearing fruit. And employees are happy with the score of initiatives being taken to make their happiness a priority. Summing it up, Chatterjee says, “Things have become more democratic. Manager-reportee relationships have also blurred. While the hierarchy exists, even a junior expects as much respect and accountability from his/ her senior. Employees are also looking for factors beyond compensatory benefits to stick around a place. The work culture and enjoying what they do is an important part of their loyalty and dedication.” The onus to make the workplace a happy community lies with the employee, as well as the employer and their equation, set the tone for a successful workplace.

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