Working under stress no longer a challenge

Last Updated 06 July 2010, 13:15 IST

Where the mind is without fear: In the ever changing corporate world, one can be certain that anything is possible. All we need to do is to be prepared for the worst and not fear. Contrary to the words of Rabindranath Tagore, we constantly live in a state of fear. At the time of recession, we have heard of downsizing and pay cuts.

Recession was just an excuse for many organisations to offload people. Incompetence and mismanagement of business have resulted in professionals getting stressed to make their ends meet. With the ups and downs in the business world nowadays, we live in high levels of fear and job insecurity. Today, most of us have doubts about our jobs being secure and live in a constant state of confusion and anxiety. Job insecurity has made us think twice to even consider a better offer in the fear of being nowhere. Let us analyse, why the prospect of losing a job frightens us. When we lose our job we are angry and shocked. We feel unworthy of ourselves and lastly, unable to handle reality.
Acceptance is the only solution against whatever we would go through.  Our job gives us social, psychological and material benefits.  The fear of losing these benefits has a huge impact on us. In other words, the fear of losing a job is greater than losing the job itself. The idea that an employee may have to forgo all the comforts without a job, has more at stake in his life.

 Apart from this, some people feel getting another job is not difficult, but they would not enjoy the same benefits in their new job. They are compelled to accept whatever is available. All of us have put in hard work to achieve a certain position. None of us would like to restart our career in a different job and a different role.

Recently, when I met a former colleague of mine, her husband, a software engineer in a reputed company was recently shown the door. Though he was good at work and had created a place for himself, the management took this decision to lay him off along with a few others. Now he works for some other company with insecurity and fear. In the private sector, there is no control over the policies to retain people and we find people being laid off mercilessly. Today, no industry can boast of giving its employees job security.  Laying off employees would compel them to lose trust on their management and building trust becomes difficult for all companies. Lack of trust affects the growth of the firm.

A study by Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that more than 40 per cent of employees think that the management can be trusted only a little or ‘not at all’. It also revealed that the more insecure people were at work, the more likely they were to experience stress at home, irrespective of whether the affected employee was a man or a woman or was working full or part time. Asking an employee to leave is much easier for the management than to understand actual problems, in turn avoiding implementation of reformation strategies or even reducing the incentive or privileges of senior managers.  To reduce the stress caused by job insecurity, the employee needs to do the following:

- Regular meetings with the boss or the team leader regarding progress of work and performance reports. Be open to suggestions and do not defend any mistake committed.

- Presently, there are several professional groups available, which you can join. Internet would also help you to connect to likeminded people and may be of great help.  Contribute your expertise to the group.

- Involve in other activities outside work. Improve your communication skills. We can do a lot with our colleagues. Exposing our talent would create a new path for us. Be innovative and creative at work. Be a good team player. Give your support to people at work.

- Analyse yourself. Your skills, potential, interest, values and goals should match the job you do. Create a career plan.

- Above all, get people to notice you. Make your manager feel that it gets difficult without you in the organisation. You need to create a niche for yourself in the workplace. A few words to all the managements would be- if your employee is insecure then there is an overall loss of trust and faith in your organisation. When the trust and faith is lost, productivity and interest to perform is also lost.  

Earlier we were blaming it on ‘recession’ but now; we hear people being thrown out of their job as a measure, to cut costs in organisations. Some organisations follow primitive human resource policies and would not like to change for the better. There are a few who have blinkers when it comes to implementing healthy HR policies.   

There are organisations that still have an unstructured pay scale, absence of good performance appraisal system, lack in career planning and growth for employees. Vital resources are given away to the competitors by downsizing employees. Some important clientele are lost, making the organisation weak, eventually crashing revenues in the longer run.  The actual problem here is that managements fail to boost confidence and trust in their employees and this distracts them from the big picture.

If the management decides to relieve employees, it should consider and distinguish performers from non-performers. A non-performer should be given the feedback and put on corrective measures before being considered for removal. The knowledge of the employee and his contribution to the team should not be ignored while sending him off.

HR Practices

Innovative HR practices build competencies. The practices should bring together people and build morale. They create strong values and cultures in the organisation.
Nevertheless, when managements fail to practice these principles at the expense of people and organisations, the consequence is destructive. This leads to unprofessional conduct, creating distrust and disrespect that harm the morale of the employee. Some senior managers resort to layoffs to hype the financial results and there by getting their incentives for the job done. Organisations claim that all employees are like family members to them. Do we layoff a member in our family to reduce the household expenses? It may sound funny, but the truth is we try to work out ways and means to increase our income or reduce the expenses. Organisations need to grow and think in a big way. They should change their strategies and consolidate to tap better opportunities.
All employees bring in some value to the company. Instead of calculating the financial value gained by layoffs which is temporary, they should focus on the actual value of retaining a good employee. 

Managements need to realise this and work out ways to retain their employees. A good recruitment policy that states the actual manpower required would prevent layoffs in the future. This would remove the fear and insecurity in the minds of the employees and the organisation would be revered for all the good actions. 

“The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people”-Thomas J Peters
The writer is Director-Post Graduate Department of Management Studies, Adarsh Institute of Management and Information Technology (AIMIT)

(Published 06 July 2010, 13:15 IST)

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