Vice President-HR, DLF Pramerica Life Insurance
Ritesh Agrawal is a Human Resources professional, currently working with DLF Pramerica Life... more>>
A nearby deployed security personnel came running to me and empathized "Car ko chot lag gayee hai(The car has suffered a bruise). I was puzzled... Chot Lag gayee hai.....! ("Chot" means injury in English) While I am cursing everybody for the damage and calculating the likely expenditure to get it repaired, here is a guy- who is so very concerned about an injury/ minor damage to a non living creature- an automobile!
While I just shook head grudgingly-with a "Oh- That is OK" attitude and vroomed on, I kept thinking about it and soon my mind traveled to an incident that took place in a Manufacturing Plant where I used to work ten years ago. A worker had met with a minor accident while working on a machine and ended up injuring his right palm. One of his fingernails got severely injured and the blood oozed out of the bruises on the other two fingers. As the First-Aid box didnt have the requisite medicines (Unfortunately, it was a month-end and consumption may have been higher- and the replenishment frequency was monthly!) and the Occupational Health Center was closed for a day for renovation, the section supervisor asked him to approach Personnel Department Assistant to make the necessary arrangements to get him sent to the nearby hospital for the treatment. The Personnel Assistant took his own sweet time to complete the formalities- insisting on the accident report and calling for Plant ambulance, whose driver had gone for some personal work for ten minutes.
Well, the idea is not to lampoon the poor emergency preparedness systems and medical facilities of the unit, but to put in perspective the "callous response" that the workman received from the system as a whole! Not only was the support infrastructure against him, but also the people. Nobody- right from the workers peers to his supervisor to the Personnel Department Assistant- showed any genuine concern for the bruises he suffered. No one showed an inclination, professional obligation, duty, need or a desire to travel that extra mile to lend him the comfort, which could be in form of his supervisor sending a fellow employee along with him or offering his own vehicle in absence of the Plant Ambulance or even Personnel Department vowing to take corrective steps in future.
Everyone had his own explanations, but the point remains that the worker was left alone and uncared for, at the time, when he needed help the most. While the security personnel back at my housing complex was sensitive even to the minor scratches on a Steel body, here, all of us failed to be sensitive to injuries to a fellow colleague- a human being.
The issue of "Sensitivity towards employee " is not only restricted to the blue collared workmen, but is all-pervasive. Usually, the most widely felt but least expressed grievances among employees at all levels are built around two simple questions: "Is my manager truly concerned about me" and Is the Organization truly concerned about my growth and development". And the negatively perceived/ interpreted/ assumed answers to these questions can kill engagement level of an employee - a measure directly linked to companys sustained growth and profitability.
Havent you scoffed at a Manager, who enquires about your ill childs health in the morning and conveniently leaves in the evening, asking you to stay back until the papers for the next morning meeting are ready!
I recently read a very inspiring account of an incident at a high profile HR convention, where Mother Teresa had been invited to deliver the keynote address and proffer advice for enhancing engagement. Apparently she uttered only two short sentences. She said:"Do you know your people and do you love them?" It took a while for the delegates to fathom this. Of course, it led to a thunderous applause later. Perhaps the shortest and arguably one of the most impacting keynote addresses to date, that it was, points towards the existing lack of sensitivity shown towards employees- by the people managers and the HR professionals alike. The solution is simple: Become more sensitive to your people- genuinely.
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VP - HR