Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dignity of labour

How many of us have been victims of 'Oh my job is so boring'? Inspite of prevalant practices to boost employee morale and 'engage' them, things tend to get monotonous 'coz most humans like change (although change comes with letting go and sometimes trusting - two things we don't really like).
Ever wondered what keeps 'chottu' working at the road-side tea stall or the canteen guy at the office engaged?
When we talk of engagement, until my first class of Human Behaviour in Organizations, taking the E word to all the employees involved the management cadre. Looking at engaging the non management section didn't even cross my mind! An instance was pointed out in which a coffee serving guy, inspite of doing the same thing (i.e. serve coffee - in case my previous sentence was too long-winded) at meetings all the time, does his bit cheerfully. That actually got me thinking about how we take those guys for granted.
On more than one occassion, while talking to friends who've switched jobs, the quickest and fondest memory of an old job involves the non-management class'. For instance an ex-colleague remembers this of her old workplace (a global bank) Hectic work schedules didn't leave her with time to eat and invariably at 4 P.M. the canteen guy would make sure there was hot 'vada pav' (a Mumbai burger, served hot and spicy with sauteed green chillies if you so liked) and 'cutting chai' (a typical measure of piping hot roadside tea) at her desk!
Wonder what keeps people like him going most if not all of the time? Makes me wonder if the unengaged are missing something simple yet essential?Makes me appreciate these guys more and re-enforces that everybody has his own place in this Universe. Makes me realize that the concept of 'dignity of labour' should be explicitly stated... maybe therein lies the key to engagement?

5 comments:

Kunal Khatua said...

Very nicely put. My hunch is that most people who find their jobs boring are those who don't get any appreciation for it. And its not just appreciation.. there has to be a small level of self-satisfaction thats reinforced by this appreciation. The street vendor is happy coz he knows he's doing a good job, and the appreciation is genuine. The folks who arent happy are, IMHO, missing that appreciation, and hence the drive, which further reduces their chances of getting it, if its due.

Horacio said...

You and Kunal are on to something here. Later in the course we will be looking at the theory of Flow, which will shed light on the insights you've gained in this thread.

simmeringeternity said...

I totally agree.

Natasha K said...

one must have a vision. vision defines the self. so if you have a hum drum job but see it as stepping stone towards your vision the job may not seem that boring. motivation to do the job well so you can move to the next level (whatever that may be) seems key to avoiding the "my job is boring syndrome". self motivation and vision. we had a young chap in bombay who washed cars from 4 am till 9 am everyday. the gusto with which he tackled the job was humbling. today he works at a fortune 500 company as a professional. i suspect he saw washing cars as a stepping stone towards his vision.

Bhavisha said...

makes sense... so then what sets apart those guys who have a vision from those who don't? motivation stems from how much you believe in yourself to fulfill your vision...
what say tuta.. is that a function of genetics and the enviornment you grew up in or maybe the effect of doing something for someone you love?