“People are our real assets.” “We value our employees and their well-being is of paramount importance to us.” Do these statements sound familiar to you, or do they sound too good to be true? I am sure, at some point of time, these clichéd statements must have given you a feeling of disgust, nausea, and sheer cinch of double entendre! Many companies today still pay mere lip service when it comes to caring about their employees, and MNCs are no exception to this rule either!
Welcome to today’s world where hype is the only reality, whether you accept it or not (but I am damn sure you will accept it!). External brandishing of a quality that is inherently devoid seems to be the order of the day in many organizations, including MNCs. There is a world of difference between what an organization ‘portrays or claims itself to be’ and ‘what it actually is.’ And, this chink is only getting deeper and wider with the effluxion of time. Sometimes, the chink gets so deeper that it seems to be an abyss.
Perception is what matters in today’s world for any organization. But perception is more a function of what you portray/publicize about how you want the outside world to view you. Perceptions can never make reality. They are always very far off from the reality. In fact, I say that perceptions are ‘biased realities’ or rather parallel to each other, implying they can never meet! Perceptions are created by ‘how you show things’ to people – positive or negative – not as ‘how things are.’ If you show things in a positive way, people will perceive it to be positive and vice-versa. So, sometimes, perceptions can be influenced and ‘manipulated’’ at will, but, however, reality can ‘never’ be.
What do customers think about our products? How do prospective employees (not existing employees, because they are always taken for granted and are disillusioned already with the company they work for!) perceive our company? What do investors or shareholders think about how much value the company can further generate through its brand in the market? What and how do media write about our company? How can we influence the media to write positively about us (and thus enhance our brand image)? These are the kind of questions organizations are now thinking of constantly. So, perception plays a big and very vital role in creating and influencing the brand, which in turn, consciously or unconsciously, woos prospective employees and investors.
Ask any employee of what he/she thinks of the existing organization that he/she works for, and you are more likely to get a negative response than a positive one! This is because the employee is already disillusioned with the company, having worked for it, say, for about two or more years. If an employee says something positive about the company, then that person may either be blatantly lying, trying to be diplomatic (this is one way of having the cake and eating it too!), or fearing some kind of retribution/disciplinary action (in terms of being given the pink slip) from the company for saying the truth. But, you will find the same person, during informal conversations, saying that the company he/she works for never practices what it preaches, and would even go to the extent of ranking it No.1 in double entendre and hype.
The moot questions here are: do companies really realize, and are seriously concerned, about what the existing employees think of them, or are they bothered only about what the outsiders think of them? Are these companies taking any definite measures to change the perception, attitude or behaviour of the employees positively towards the company, or are they taking the employees for granted (and ultimately, for a ride)? Do these companies understand what impact it would create on employees’ morale, and ultimately, on their performance, if employees hold a negative view of the company in their minds, and more importantly, in their hearts? Is it not the responsibility of companies to make their employees proud of what they are doing, and who they are working for, by living up to what they claim to the outside world? Isn’t it time for these companies to bridge the ‘inveterate hiatus’ between hype and reality? Isn’t it time for these organizations to stop portraying/claiming what they aren’t? Isn’t it time for them to stop living in hype and start living in reality? Indeed, it is time…..time to do something worthwhile, meaningful, and pragmatic. Now, think about it: isn’t it true that hype is a reality today, and probably the only reality, too?
© 2007. P. Mohan Chandran. All Rights Reserved.