The software professional Indian is today making more money in a month than what his parents might have made in an year. Very often a 21 year old newbie software developer makes more money than his/her 55 year old father working in an old world business . Most of these youngsters are well aware of this gap and so work under an impression that they are being paid an unreasonable amount of money. They naturally equate unreasonable money with unreasonable amount of work.
Another important factor is this whole bubble that an IT person lives in… An IT professional walks with a halo around his or her head. They are the Cool, Rich Gen Next… the Intelligentsia of the New World…they travel all over the world, vacation at exotic locations abroad, talk “American”, are more familiar of the geography of the USA than that of India and yes of course, they are the hottest things in the Wedding Market!!!
This I feel is the core problem because if employees felt they were being exploited, things would change. I speak about this to some of my friends and the answer is generally “Hey, what you say is correct and we sure are suffering, but why do you think we are being paid this much money? It’s not for 40 hours but for 80 hours a week. And anyway what choice do we have? It’s the same everywhere.”
So can we make things change? Is there a way to try and stop an entire generation of educated Indians from ending up with “no life”?
1) Never complement someone for staying till midnight or working 7 days a week.
Recently, in an awards ceremony at a software company, the manager handing over the “employee of the month” award said something like “its unbelievable how hard he works. When I come to office early, I see him working, when I leave office late, I still see him working”… These sorts of comments can kill the morale of every employee trying to do good work in an 8hr day. Companies need to stop hiding behind the excuse that the time difference between India and the west is the reason why people need to stay in office for 14 hours a day. Staying late should be a negative thing that should work against an employee in his appraisals.
Never complement someone for staying till midnight or working 7 days a week.
If time estimates go wrong, the company should be willing to take a hit and not force the employee to work crazy hours to bail projects out of trouble. This will ensure that the estimates made for the next project are more real and not just what the customer has asked for.
3) Employee organizations / forums
NASSCOM (National Association for Software and Services Companies) and CSI (Computer Society Of India) are perhaps the only two well known software associations in India and both I feel have failed the software employee. I do not recall any action from these organizations to try and improve the working conditions of software employees. This has to change.
I am not in favor of forming trade unions for software people, as trade unions in India have traditionally been more effective at ruining businesses and making employees inefficient than getting employees their rights and helping business do well. So existing bodies like NASSCOM should create and popularize employee welfare cells at a state / regional level and these cells should work only for employee welfare and not be puppets in the hands of the companies. If the industry does not itself create proper forums for employee welfare, it’s likely that the government / trade unions will interfere and mess up India’s sunshine industry.
4) Narayana Murthy, please stand up
Top bosses of companies like Infosys, TCS, Wipro, etc. need to send the message loud and clear to their company and to other companies listening at national IT events that employee welfare is really their top concern and having good working culture and conditions is a priority. Employee welfare here does not mean giving the employee the salary he/she dreams of.