It is a changing scenario where both employer and employee are working towards the perfect work-life formula
One big happy family Cognizant employees take a break with children at the Cool School summer camp activity
There are a hundred other things to do in the evening — learn music, learn a foreign language, try a sport, take your girl friend or boy friend around town or try cooking for a change! Take a tip from the Smirnoff ad: Life’s calling, where are you? Please pass on this message to all your colleagues… don’t stay back till midnight to forward this!” — this was taken from a mail sent by Narayanamurthy to all Infosys employees.
For sometime now, demanding careers have dominated the lives of many young Indians, leaving them with very little time for their families. But the trend seems to be changing, going by the biannual global consumer opinion survey by market research company The Nielsen Co. The Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey was conducted in April 2008 among 28,253 Internet users in 511 countries from across Europe, Asia-Pacific, North America and West Asia. The financial turmoil and slowdown might be worrisome globally but Indians seem to consider work-life balance their bigger concern.
More to it
And, employers are putting in that ‘extra’ effort to help employees achieve that balance. “It is no longer only about flexi working hours,” says Ashok Srinivasan, Vice-President-Operations Support of Expertus, an HR consulting company. “What we construe as work-life balance is educating employees on skills for life,” he explains. Bringing in financial experts to help them plan investments, conducting workshops on business and cultural etiquette and sessions with doctors on healthy lifestyles are just some of them. Companies also insist on ‘leave on time’ and ‘never put in extra time unless really needed’.
Ensuring a happy workplace has become important. At Expertus, employees practise ‘laptop yoga’— simple exercises for eyes, neck and fingers from their seats, and have an XBO club, to appreciate movies and music.
“The talent pool is the same, so even small things matter. Such as an extended maternity leave for our women staff members. And, they stick to the company for a longer time,” he adds. At Oceans Connect, a BPO based in Pune, the focus is on strengthening the ‘kutumb’ culture. “We create an environment that one gets while staying with family,” says Sagar Naik, Vice-President of Social Club, which plans fun activities beginning with games involving families and friends of employees to acting and dancing competitions and laughter challenge contests. “We affiliate with Spas, shopping malls and restaurants and give family discounts where families can shop, eat and relax,” he says.
The message is don’t hamper work but have as much fun as possible. As Udai Singh Solanki, COO, eRev Max, an IT company in Kolkatta, puts it: “The idea is to promote work as a stress-reliever. ‘Do justice to time’ is what we insist. We look for reasons to celebrate together and build a better understanding with the families,”
Bhaskar Das, Vice President of Human Resources, Cognizant, says work-life balance is all about harmonious and holistic integration of work and family.
The extra mile
“The psychological contract between the employer and the employee has undergone a transformation. The emphasis is on an exchange that involves a broader sense of self-fulfilment. How well do work and employer enable one to become the person one wants to be, is among the key questions on any employee’s mind these days,” he adds. At Cognizant, a flexible work culture is considered the starting point of work-life balance. And, the employees are encouraged to engage in rejuvenating pursuits. For instance, activities such as Cool School, a 22-day summer camp with a lot of fun-filled activities such as dancing, self-defence, aerobics, dramatics, story-telling, calligraphy, clay-modelling, magic shows and movie screenings, was organised for the children of the associates recently in Bangalore. Cognizant’s family day celebrations bring parents, spouses and children to the workplace where employees spend quality time with their families within the office environs.
“Work smart is the buzzword. Some companies even compel their employees to leave office at a particular time and weekends are made a compulsory holiday. Outings and adventure treks that encourage team-building efforts are encouraged,” says Pradeep Yuvraj, director of Finerva Financial Education and Wellness Consulting Solutions.
When there is no balance, work takes over and life takes a backseat.
“That is when creativity gets stifled and they look at other sources of joy such as going on a shopping binge,” he adds. Engaging in one creative hobby is vital to achieve balance. “Make it a compulsive habit. Collect stamps, learn music, go on long drives or play the violin. Taking time off to nurture relationships, family, friends and hobbies works wonders,” he says.
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