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Productivity Beyond Business Creating a conducive environment where employees are encouraged to be responsible citizens

By Sameer Wadhawan

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As India goes through its biggest democratic activity yet again this summer, 900 million voters are supposed to exercise their right to choose. Just to try and get a perspective, the current population of entire Europe is 740 million and a few hundred!

As a person who's responsible for over 70,000 people in India, and part of a system that connects hundreds and thousands of people across over 80 nations, one is bound to look at anything that includes "people', very closely. And what can be a bigger people-driven activity than the general elections of the largest democracy in the world?

India, a country with the largest youth population, has witnessed a surge in the number of people coming out to vote. In fact, a recent study reflects that the Indian youth is most upbeat about the positive effects of elections. Along with this, there is another very positive trend of private organizations taking active participation in this democratic process by encouraging people to vote.

Impetus and Incentives

As much as it is important to help them enhance their work-related skills, it is also our responsibility to create a conducive environment where employees are encouraged to be responsible citizens and their other duties can be fulfilled. How many times have we come across this situation where we want to vote, but the multiple voting-related time-consuming activities make us skip elections altogether.

Therefore, it doesn't end with just encouragement. The organization has to send out a clear message that it holds national duties in high regards and its employees should see it similarly. Giving paid leaves to out-station employees or having region/constituency specific offices closed on election dates are just some of the activities that organisations are undertaking to encourage their employees to vote -- without worrying about missing office.

Social for Sustainable

It wasn't long ago that people-managers drove the narrative of keeping "work and life separate'. However, in the wake of globalization and a rapid deviation from conventional careers and work hours, today the world is progressing towards finding every possible way to a more sustainable future. It is now understood that the biggest investment a corporation could make was in its human resource. Policies now look at employees as a core factor that influences business and the growth of an organisation.

While the right skills and educational qualifications is still the pre-requisite for all positions, however, the output can't be guaranteed with things on paper. In fact, it can't even be equated with the number of years a person has spent within the system. The only factor that can drive a qualified workforce to perform in alignment with the organizational vision is to optimise the employee experience.

Also, in a "young' country like India, the millennial workforce isn't just looking for a place from where they earn salaries. They want to excel in what they like to do and enjoy the workplace too. They are looking to grow and be at par with their global peers. And thus, in order to sustain such motivated and ambitious workforce organisations have to be dynamic too.

Convey the Importance

While conveying the importance of getting one's job done, it is also important to educate that person about the duties that one needs to perform as a responsible citizen. A developed nation, a global workforce, a conglomerate or a small family – nothing can function if the stakeholders aren't aware of their responsibilities towards their nation. The prime education of "participation is contribution' has to be instilled, because only an informed individual can think, analyze and be equipped to make decisions. And these are the exact qualities that any organization would want to have in their employees.

Thus, along with the state, private organizations also realize the need to instil this sense of responsibility among everyone. In fact, with their multi-channel social campaigns, organizations today are not only encouraging their own employees to become responsible citizens, they are also creating a conducive environment where the society as a whole is being encouraged to do the right thing – be it keeping the neighbourhood clean or going to vote.

The encouragement, and facilitation, to vote also ensures that the organization is sending out the right message in terms of fair employment practices. Elections are the biggest people-driven equalizers, bringing citizens irrespective of the socio-economic background together to participate in a process that is fair, transparent and reflects the richness of a Democracy. This sense of equality is in itself a powerful statement and reiterates the power of each individual vote.

So, while it does require on the organization's part to go an extra mile in facilitating everyone to practice their democratic rights, this is one social responsibility that should be done for the greater good – for a more sustainable future with an educated, empowered and responsible citizen as its workforce.

Sameer Wadhawan

Head, Human Resources, Samsung India

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