Equality & fun at work


Employee gets tired of work in an organization where there’s yawning, almost stupefying gap between the two worlds that is him self and his bosses. Employee struggles to find parking space every morning while the bosses breeze in conveniently late and yet find ‘reserved’ spots waiting for them.

The gap between superiors and colleagues is there for all to see and it is manifest primarily in physical or ‘visible’ conveniences and comforts, such as air travel or parking spaces, large cubicles and even larger paychecks. All this seems unfair to the subordinates.

It only makes sense that within the four walls of the office, every employee should be treated as an equal citizen entitled to the same rights and privileges, gadgets, accoutrements and conveniences. This is not pure fantasy any more. Companies are trying very hard to be seen as fair employers today. With some of their equal citizenship policies, they are sending out a very firm message: if you want special treatment, you’ve got to share it with the others! No wonder almost all of them have been rated as India’s best employers on a regular basis.


In the olden times, your tax regime was such that if you’re situated at a higher level, you had to pay very high amount in taxes. Therefore, senior people in the company were given perks to save money. Even a qualified engineer or an MBA fall in a high-income group, therefore the perks for senior executives have become redundant.

This truism has another facet to it. In a market that pays highly even for qualified entry-level people positional authority becomes important i.e. ‘You may be smart but I’m still your boss!’ And it’s this mindset that has to change before anything else does.

But one need not lose heart because India has already got one foot in the door of the ‘knowledge economy’ and the major overhaul. Rigid command-and-control organizations are making way for knowledge-based companies where employees reign supreme especially in sectors such as IT. Positional authority must necessarily yield to flatter structures. When experts are respected, the balance of power will shift. All symbols of exclusivity will go away and ones contribution to the organization will decide the rewards. Some of the adamant symbols of power will be jettisoned by organizations, as they have realized that these things create negativity.

The extraordinary facilities to top management makes no sense especially since shareholders gain nothing from it, and neither does the organization.


Companies like Sasken and MindTree have in-house policies that strongly endorse equality and democracy. MindTree offers stock options to every single employee. When flying, all MindTree employees travel economy class. Sasken too does not believe in giving people special treatment merely because they have been around longer.

Employees have the same work spaces, dining spaces and computers. The focus was on creating a world-class environment where intelligent people can achieve more effectively. Sasken has also introduced a cafeteria approach to deciding compensation. Everyone, from the senior-most employee to his junior-most colleague, can put a certain percentage of his or her salary in different baskets according to the way they choose to spend their money and their needs.

P&G’s employees, right up to the CEO, share the same work space and use the same mobile communication handsets. At Sapient, when their worldwide CEOs come visiting, they find themselves a workstation which is free to work at. Sapient also holds an annual charity auction where people cross the company bid for services offered by other staff members Some examples of offers that come from within are: a director offering to be a chauffeur for a team for the whole day, or a VP cooking breakfast for another team. However informal these measures might be, they’re indicators that each and every individual has received the message clearly that the organization is in favor of doing away with the dividing line between bosses and juniors as far as unnecessary hierarchical extras are concerned. These are organizations that have realized that setting people apart by their position in the company only creates a ‘them-versus-us’ feeling. And in organizations such as these, ‘empowerment’ is taboo word, since it signifies a handout from powerful to the not so powerful.


In traditional organizations, that ratio between entry level compensation and remuneration at the top end remains approx. 1:25 or more, while in some newer companies, it is closer to 1: 12. The important thing is that organizations have to be ready to give up some of their age-old practices.

Finally, fairness goes in pushing trust a long way. Not only are traditionally run organizations living in the past; they’re also falling prey to the momentous misconception that things are fine. Tightly compartmentalized hierarchies not only slow down an organization, but also generate total absence of loyalty towards the organization. Employees are highly sensitive to the messages that they’re receiving consciously and subconsciously from their superiors. It’s not just about sitting in the same kind of cubicle, it’s about organizational equality.