Thursday, March 01, 2007

THANKLESS JOBS

Job satisfaction is a myth and at best only an illusion. At one time I used to envy the tennis professionals because I thought they are earning millions of dollars for doing something they enjoy most. But soon I realised that it happens only during a brief period at the very beginning of their careers. Playing Tennis soon becomes a high earning job for them rather than a game to enjoy. The associated expectations and shortfalls make it just as worse as any other job. They will soon start looking at winning and losing games in terms of millions of dollars. Dissatisfaction, delusion and demoralisation set in. A game for pleasure becomes yet another reason for his or her BP to go up. The job in hand becomes a thankless one and turns out to the main reason for grievance, rather than self-gratification.

When we look at any job, there is always another entity that is at the other end viz. the employer. If it is an individual we are totally at the mercy of his or her whims and fancies. But most of the time it is impersonal in the form of a company or a corporation. None of the employees own the company but all the employees have a stake in it. And all those who hold company positions are only temporary occupants doing their part in the running of the institution. The character and characteristics of the individuals do matter in the company operations, but what will matter most with regard to satisfaction of employees would be the company policies and tradition. That is why we find very enthusiastic employees in medium companies making minor profits and highly unsatisfied ones in giant companies making huge profits. Let us take two typical scenarios in which employees, especially the white collared ones, find themselves most of the times.

Record and Remuneration

In an impersonal setup the individuals are not very important and there are companies with their policies exactly in line with this. In such companies you and me are just ‘identified working bodies’ in the company records. Our roles and responsibilities are well defined and we are expected to know our bosses, sub-ordinates, colleagues. Our attendance is recorded and our performance is recorded in terms of our output against expected work. Records are maintained for efficiency and productivity. Our bosses assign works to us and our subordinates expect the same from us. All these efforts jointly make up the company records for a period of profits or loss. And all employees are paid remunerations for the efforts they have put in.

Any remuneration is actually a compensation for the losses incurred. If employees are paid monthly remunerations, it means that the employer is acknowledging the ‘losses’ incurred by them. What can be the loss of an employee other than his or her time that could have been employed in more enjoyable but un-remunerative efforts? The employee is continuing to be in company records out of compulsion rather than liking. It is definitely not a case of criminal exploitation but one of tying down the individual in the records of a company. He or she is not enjoying the work but has no better alternative to earn a living. Or the individual is too timid to upset the status quo and explore better avenues.

Recognition and Rewards

The other extreme in an employer-employee relationship is that of recognition and rewards. In place of recording the presence and actions of employees, it is possible to recognise their presence and actions. Such concepts and companies may be utopian, but there is plenty of scope for experimenting with newer types of organisational structures for making impersonal companies much more personal. The olden trusteeship concept of Mahatma Gandhi and ultra modern virtual companies that can be operated on the net offer enough food for thoughts on organisational structures that can be run on the basis of recognition and rewards. The crux is on recognising the contribution of individual elements and rewarding them.

Rewards invariably mean recognition and that is what makes it nobler than remuneration. The same amount given to an employee as remuneration or reward will bring about totally different effects on performance. Companies that reward their employees for their contribution in addition to remuneration for their efforts are the best that can survive any threat. The multiplier effect of reward on top of remuneration can reach exponential levels. Many of us must have watched the effects of token rewards on our children. The results will be as good, if not more, if the same technique is played on us by our own employers, provided it is a little more money in addition to the remunerative salary

Any cursory look at the companies in our neighbourhood would easily lead us to the conclusion that most of them follow the ‘record-remuneration’ model. The reasons are very simple – robots are easier to manage than humans who need motivation and rewards for performance. Bigger and more established a company is, chances are higher that it follows only a record-remuneration policy towards its employees. It is enough that the individuals in such set-ups do only what is expected of them. There will not be recognition for attempting anything positive outside one’s scope and chances of a punishment cannot be ruled out also. In such a scenario, it should not be surprising to realise that most of us are doing thankless jobs and that too for companies that are too impersonal and insensitive to the welfare of the employees.

1 comment:

Swami said...

I dont know how to define the co-relation between job, remuneration, job satisfaction etc. from the angle of an enterprenuer. I got a few people with me to assist in my job. They are well paid also for sure. Since we are in the field of Computer Hardware Servicing, the term - Thankless Job - is relevant in our case also.

Today morning I faced a couple of incidents. Those made me think that the job what I am engaged is a Thankless one. No wonder. I face it for past 8 years. But the initial drive of mind to avoid such cases and to keep brilliantly silent to these kind issues has come to and end, and mind says to respond.

Basically I think I am not fit for the present job; the circumstantial pressure forces me to continue in this. Some say of a mid-career-correction sometimes, don't know how far its possible?

Anyway, I am still continuing the same Thankless Job!!