We are quite used to a democracy, where politicians make innumerable promises. However, what is said is not really what is meant. More often than not, what is said is rarely implemented.
Juicy carrots are dangled in front of employees in the corporate world too. Companies make big claims to gain publicity, attract talent or build some proposition in the minds of their customers. The actual benefit that accrues may not be as extraordinary.
Every day, we at HRKatha receive numerous mails from companies big and small, and their communication partners making tall claims on employee benefits and welfare. It ranges from unlimited leaves, to hefty bonuses, to stress free work life, to free vaccination, to Covid-care centres, to 24X7 medical facility, to extended benefits for employees’ family members, and what not.
When one company makes an announcement, there will be 10 others following suit claiming similar benefits for their employees. It’s a big media propaganda. The question is how much of it is finally implemented.
“These organisations have very sharp sight. Like vultures they wait for an opportunity to take advantage of the situation, and show off what can only be described as their gimmicks”
Sunil Singh, former CHRO, Cadila Pharmaceuticals, India and HR consultant
Recently, a tech company announced unlimited mental-health leaves for people. How practical can that be? Isn’t that going a bit overboard? Not all appears in bold. There is the fine print too. All the terms and conditions related to such policies are not revealed in the press releases and social media posts that go viral.
Last year, a large global IT firm amended its leave policy in the month of April. The firm asked the employees to refrain from taking even a single leave till June end. If they did, they would have to face a pay cut. According to the original policy, every employee was entitled to a two-day paid leave every month. If those leaves were saved in a particular month, they could be carried forward to the next month. This allowed the employees to club together these leaves and take them at one go. The amended policy was a bolt from the blue for people who had accumulated their leaves to avail of a long break. Naturally, they felt cheated and protested on social media.
Insurance and bonuses
Another example is of insurance coverage benefits. Companies claim that they cover their employees under various health insurances, but in many cases, when the claim ratio increases, they start charging premium from their employees! Similarly, quite often, candidates are lured into jobs with high salaries and extra bonuses, but only when it is too late do the candidates realise those bonuses are all performance linked. Not all terms and conditions applicable to such benefits are made clear or revealed. Employees are kept in the dark about the reasons why they may not be entitled for that extra bonus.
Speaking to HRKatha, Sunil Singh, former CHRO, Cadila Pharmaceuticals, India and HR consultant, observes that most of the companies that make it to the list of Top 10 employers of India, present a very glossy image to the general public. However, they cannot really deceive their employees. A short conversation with some of their employees is enough to realise how different the actual story is.
“I have personally witnessed many companies promising big bonuses and variables, failing to deliver them due to some reason or the other. As a result, the employees feel cheated. There is a breach of trust between the employer and the employee”
Praveer Priyadarshee, former CHRO, Jindal Stainless
In fact, Singh further says that such organisations use jargon to run a media propaganda that will promote a sleek image of themselves as employers. “These organisations have very sharp sight. Like vultures they wait for an opportunity to take advantage of the situation, and show off what can only be described as their gimmicks,” enunciates Singh. Many such companies feature among the best places to work.
Why the publicity gimmick?
What makes companies resort to such gimmicks? Why can’t they present their true selves to the public? The reasons can be many.
The most common objective is to attract ace talent. While the smart ones see through such acts, the gullible ones walk into the trap.
There are also companies that wish to establish some kind of an image in front of their clients and existing stakeholders. This makes them go for cheap tricks and strategies.
However, these acts do not go unnoticed by their own employees. They are aware of the truth.
The repercussions can be many. First, the employee engagement will take a big hit. If the employees feel cheated, they will not volunteer to go that extra mile for the company or try to come up with innovative ideas.
Second, the overall performance of employees will come down drastically, which can harm the productivity of the company.
Third, the interpersonal skills of employees and managers will be impacted. And last, employees will feel that their trust has been broken. They will start looking for other opportunities.
“I have personally witnessed many companies promising big bonuses and variables, failing to deliver them due to some reason or the other. As a result, the employees feel cheated. There is a breach of trust between the employer and the employee,” shares Praveer Priyadarshee, former CHRO, Jindal Stainless.
“Many a times candidates do not do a proper due diligence on the roles, responsibilities, cultural fit and reward aspects while accepting a career opportunity and go with their perceptions which is more idealistic. When their perception does not match with reality, dissonance creeps in and they start getting disengaged. Candidates should ask the right questions and evaluate a job opportunity carefully before taking it up”
Dilip Pattanayak, president & CHRO, JSW
“When employees feel cheated, they retaliate and give it back to the company when they get the right opportunity,” points out Singh.
It’s not that every effort or intentions are questionable. There do exist transparent organisations that offer genuine benefits to their workforce in all sincerity. Singh agrees that many organisations do resort to gimmicks, but there are also some authentic employers out there, who take good care of their employees. He believes that there is a psychological agreement between an employer and an employee, which has some unwritten and unsaid terms. Sometimes, if there is a gap in those expectations, the employees will feel cheated.
Dilip Pattanayak, president & CHRO, JSW, shares that many employees have very unrealistic expectations from the company, which can create problems. Pattanayak believes that there should be full transparency between employers and employees bereft of any unwritten codes. The need for employees to read between the lines should not arise at all. Everything should be clear and specific.
Employees, on their part, should question the organisations on all compensation and benefits policies, to clarify doubts. “Many a times candidates do not do a proper due diligence on the roles, responsibilities, cultural fit and reward aspects while accepting a career opportunity and go with their perceptions which is more idealistic. When their perception does not match with reality, dissonance creeps in and they start getting disengaged. Candidates should ask the right questions and evaluate a job opportunity carefully before taking it up,” says Pattanayak.
Giving an example of his own company, Pattanayak clarifies, “At JSW we believe in Trust, Transparency and Collaboration. All our People policies and practices are built around these fundamental pillars and hence all employees have a sense of pride and belongingness towards the organisation and stay as one family. This ensures that we are one of the few large conglomerates where employees believe in making their career and realising their aspirations, which is reflected in the long tenures in the company.”
Clearly, there is some gloss applied by organisations when they claim to offer attractive benefits. What they actually deliver may be quite different. The best employers are those who can win the loyalty of their employees in the long term, through genuine caring and transparent dealings.