Is It Too Much To Ask For A Dignified Exit?
Blog :Mothering Multiples.........
Date: 9/12/2012 7:37:01 AM
I come from an IT background. Nearly 10 years in this field (though not planning to cross 15) and I’ve seen the way IT companies have evolved over the years. When I first got placed in a London based shipping firm whose IT operations were handled from Pune, I entered, literally, a different world. The plush office, the multiple employee benefits, the all-time plethora of eatables (don’t even get me started on it!! This was the place where I first gained 8kgs in 7 months ). I was charmed. I was petrified. For the first time, I had calls and discussions with people outside of India. It took some time to adjust to their pronunciations and speed, but after a while, I was pretty much settled. For the first time, I learned how it feels to work for a multinational company.
I’ve changed a few companies after that (only two, actually) . We see the same things everywhere…namely, the work-culture, the erratic work-hours, the dangling carrots (onsite opportunities) and the whipping sticks (sad appraisals).
In all, I would say that all IT companies are more or less similar, except for the tiny difference of them being service based or Product based companies. The first one depends on other companies for projects/work, the latter works on its own products/projects. The scale of functioning is also different, with product based companies having a smaller employee base than service based ones.
Anyhow, this post isn’t about the companies. Its about the policies that govern some of them.
Since most service based companies cater to the western world, there is a deep urge to maintain the western standards in almost every aspect of the companies’ functioning. It may start with the flexible work-hours to the Saturdays off and so on. Some policies are employee friendly and some are plain flummoxing.
My company has maintained a very Indian outlook in spite of having a very vast and varied western clientele. It is a fact that makes me secretly proud of it. So we don’t have unnecessary wall to wall carpeting or automatic projector screens which scroll down with the press of a button . We are rather basic in our functioning and we get the work done. Suits everyone as it is
The one thing that the company ensures, is job stability and security. This is something which is very rare in IT companies. If one is on-bench or doesn’t get a project because of ill-fitting skill sets, he/she is given a chance to upgrade skills, there are mock projects, POCs to work on. I had friends who were on-bench for nearly 6 months to 1 year!! The only time my company asks anyone to leave is when there is a disciplinary action against the person.
Other than that, the only way to get out of this place is to resign
Needless to say, very few people here do that. The same isn’t the case everywhere. For instance, the BF’s company. They strictly adhere to the western model of
functioning, with rampant lay-offs(they also pay more, so apparently, the laying off is a constant sword-dangling-over-the-neck kind of scene).
Anyhow, so a couple of weeks back, an ex-colleague of the BF was laid off. She was on bench for 8 months, there were no new projects in the pipeline and though she was with the company for 6 years, clearly, the company fell out of love with her . But it is not the actual lay-off that ticked the BF the wrong way. It was the way in which it was carried out.
She was called to the reception by the HR. There, she was given a notice stating that her services were being terminated with immediate effect with 2 month’s salary to be given in advance. She was asked to leave the premises immedediately. The worst part was that she wasn’t allowed to go back to her desk. A security guard was sent up to collect her purse and belongings. The girl frantically called up the BF, who was her last manager. She asked him to request the HRs to let her at least go back to her desk once. The BF called up the HRs, but they refused the request, stating that it was the standard ‘process’.
I have never met that girl before, but I know, that if I were in her place, this kind of humiliation would be tough to bear.
When the BF narrated the incident, I felt real bad. For the girl and for the BF ( who was wallowing in the guilt of not being any help to his ex-colleague. The practical part of him understood the office policies, but the sentimental part of him was disturbed at the implementation).
“Why didn’t they let her go back”? I demanded.
“It the US process. Once you’ve been given the pink slip, you become a security threat. What if she had gone back and corrupted the databses or the other systems in spite?” His practical self countered.
“But she was on-bench, right? How would she have access to any project’s data?”
“Thats true, but what if she did any damage to her desktop or other infrastructure?”
” Get real!!! What about her personal stuff on the machine?”
“Well,she shouldn’t have kept any personal data on the machine anyway. Its against office rules”.
“Oh God!! You’re talking like a typical, khadoos manager”.
“I’m not. I’m just saying what the HRs told me. All these terms and conditions are given in the offer letter. Unfortunately, I doubt any one of us reads it line by line, word for word “.
“But she was with the company for 6 years!! Doesn’t a person become a valuable employee after all this duration?”
“Yes, you are, but only till you are billable. Once your billability stops, you are a liability”.
“You know what?? I don’t care if my company pays me less. I’m just glad that they treat me with respect and dignity”.
“You’re right. If one cant have a dignified exit after all these years…” and here the BF veered off to think about the impermanence of his own job.
The point I want to make here is that in the endeavor to ape the west, I think somewhere the IT industry has lost the link to treating employees like human beings. We are the money-making people. If we are billable, we are valuable. If we aren’t , we’re dispensable.
We are just commodities, not really employees, is what I feel.
Laying off an employee is fine, but it could have been handled in a more humane way.
How about you?? Do you have any such experiences/instances to share??