In the quest of happiness index – 21 Dec 2010

Indian workplace is changing. India’s business leaders are changing their look and outlook.No more are they willing to keep copying American our European business leaders. There were times, just a few years ago, when Indian business leaders emulated their American counterparts. In the US business, human  component came as part of numbers. If one went out, another filled in. Profits mattered, not people. Quite a few Indian companies also followed that model – profits made the difference, not the people. But, better sense seems to have prevailed in India in the past few years. Indian business leaders are beginning to realise that human values are as important as profits. And this is changing the cultural pattern in Indian business to a large extent. And the world is taking notice of this transformation.

Deans of business schools in Europe and the US, many corporate leaders and authors are beginning to feel that global business can learn a thing or two from Indian business. The points being noticed relate to the way Indian business leaders are stressing the importance of holistic engagement of employees in the company’s broad mission and purpose, human- centered capability-building, establishing new definitions of leadership. International business thinkers call this ‘The India Way’. (This is also the title of a very well-researched book by Peter Cappelli of Wharton Centre for Human Resources; Harbir Singh of Wharton School; Jitendra Singh of Wharton School; and, Michael Useem of Wharton Centre for Leadership and Change Management – Harvard Business Press. The book discusses various ways Indian business leaders are adopting to revolutionize management.)

All these changes, thus, have a clear message for the people inhabiting the Indian workplace of today: Give up the cut-and-dried American approach to  fulfilling employee-duties, and adopt more humane, more value-centric behaviour. For, if Indian business is going to return to Indian value system, then the Western dryness at workplace will soon become a thing of the past. What will matter will be how the individual employee empowers himself/herself, how he/she prepares himself/herself to acquire a competitive edge, how he/she positions themselves as a person with helpful ways and solicitous manner – in short the soft skills upon which there used to be an ever-decreasing stress in Indian business in the past decade or so (no matter the apology of their peripheral inclusion in university curriculum in India). Of course, in good businesses the world over, human values always enjoyed a place of great honour. Ask Indra Nooyie and she will tell how much she values that aspect of human personality. Ask the question to Anand Mahindra and he will tell you how much importance human dimension has in a person’s work behaviour. A warm, helpful, grateful, useful, multi-tasking and humane employee is always welcomed not only by peers, seniors and juniors but also by the top leadership.

Business, no doubt, is all hard numbers – investment, market capitalisation, profits, turnover, quarterly results, balance-sheets. Yet, in this jungle and jumble of numbers, what is valued more is the human-value quotient employees have been able to invest. This is, of course, not a one-sided affair, and many Indian business leaders are beginning to realise this. They, too, are trying to step up this human-value quotient in their management plans, asking their employees to abide by human sentiment even as they ask them to take care of hard numbers.

This is, of course, only a recent trend becoming visible in Indian corporate workplace. But soon, it will grow into a tide which nobody will be able to stop. One of the most critical realisations of Indian business leaders these days is that they will have to rework their workforce utilisation – not just for maximising monetary gains but for maximising happiness index of their workplace.

This realisation also has a business angle, nevertheless. Indian business leaders now understand the importance of a happy workplace that produces greater gains for the business as well as reduced work stress for themselves and their workforce. Looking at things from a personalised point of view, individual employees would do well to realise how good it will be for them to add to their credit side of their value balance-sheet stress-free existence at work place and remove from the debit side the stress factors that lead invariably to repercussions like diabetes or hypertension or higher cholesterol levels….!

This is all happiness index is about, to put it in the nut-shell.

Published in The Hitavada Future – 21 Dec 2010

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