By Surabhi Nijhawan
15th August 2018 will be India’s 72nd Independence Day. In the last 72 years, our country and its people have witnessed both ups and downs. We are the world’s seventh largest economy and our GDP growth is one of the highest in the world.
As adults many of us spend the major part of our day at work, and spend our most productive years, working. But how independent do we feel at the workplace?
Think about it – Do you feel that you have the freedom to make decisions at work? Do you have the space to choose flexible schedules? Do you worry you may have to quit your job after you have a baby? Do you feel free to voice your opinions? Of course like freedom in any other sphere, workplace independence also requires a balance. But isn’t it time that we try and achieve this balance – both as organisations and as employees?
In this first of this two part articles we share some ideas to enable organisations to create a sense of freedom and independence for its employees
Providing work flexibility leads to greater freedom for an employee. Work flexibility could involve independent decision making, keeping non-traditional work hours, providing the option of working from home or simply allowing employees to manage themselves & their time. One of the examples is Google India, that allows its employees to have a flexible working schedule along with several other perks including a facility for indoor outdoor games & recreational activities.
Encouraging employee fitness
Motivating employees to lead a healthy lifestyle will lead to better performance at work. Thus, it is a essential to include fitness as a part of their work culture.
This can include creating and encouraging weekly workout, having workstations designed keeping in mind the health of employees – for instance, there can be higher desks where people can stand and work. Some organisations have dedicated rooms for resting, taking a nap at work which helps in reducing stress. Additionally, as many millenials are battling with mental health – it is necessary to have an inhouse counsellor or therapist that employees can talk to. Companies such as RMSI have zumba classes, and counselling sessions for its employees. Google India has sleeping pods in their office where employees can take a nap and freshen up.
Supporting & encouraging women in workforce
According to the World Economic Forum, India ranks extremely low when it comes to women’s labour force participation, and is only behind Yemen. There are several reasons contributing to this trend such as personal responsibilities – including raising a child and managing home alongside safety at work. Since 2005, there has been a decline in women joining the workforce, and many chose to stop working after they are married. Companies can encourage maternity leaves, and implement policies to encourage and support women who return to work after their pregnancy. Allowing childcare provisions at work, or building a mother friendly organisation are trends that many companies are taking seriously. Film Companion, a media company, proudly calls itself a mother-friendly organisations where employees can bring their little ones to work.
Learning & Development of employees
Organizations must develop a culture of learning, and development at workplace. These could be in the form of regular workshops, skill building or simply higher education for employees who are keen to pursue degree courses while working.
Culture and diversity
A workplace should place its highest value on hiring and building good talent irrespective of caste, colour, religion, ethnicity, gender, creed or disability. An economy will flourish, when people from everywhere can work hard and contribute to it. A way forward for organisations is to institutionalize diversity in hiring In 2015, Manabi Bandopadhyay became India’s first transgender college principal after facing years of discrimination. However, there are still prejudices concerning hiring transgenders. A recent case of the Kochi Metro is an example where all the hired trans women quit within a week – feeling scared and unwanted.
The above few points are just some suggestions that can help organisations we can include to become better employers and contribute to the independent India we all want to see – without discrimination, with equal opportunity and happier & stress free workplaces.
Freedom at the workplace however, is a two-way street with both organisations & employees unifying to make happier, healthier and truly independent work environments. In the next part of this article, we illustrate how employees can utilize the freedom that organisations provide them – responsibly and productively.
(With inputs from Mahamaya Navlakha)