Human resources or commodities

Out there is an ocean of restless young professionals with low tolerance and high skills, ready to leave one organization and join another at the drop of a hat. They are angry with their bosses, frustrated at work, or simply not satisfied with their pay packets. They feel that loyalty does not pay, that passion is no longer rewarded.

These feelings are not new. They have always been there, in every organization since time immemorial. But now, thanks to the growing economy and the shift from socialism to market liberalization, there are many job options available. It is easier to jump ship now than ever before. And to cater to this ‘jump ship’ generation, there are placement agencies like or and which are advertising like never before.

Human resources is the new ‘product’ in the market and vast corporations both Indian and MNC are the new ‘consumers’. Only this market is unique. Here both, the ‘consumer’ and the ‘product’ have the right to choose.

Fully aware that those they employ can leave shortly and realizing that retarding attrition is a rather tedious and expensive proposition, many corporate houses are preferring ‘commoditized human resources’ rater than ‘branded’ ones. In other words, they are focusing not on highly talented people but on averagely talented people whom they can align to highly efficient and effective processes. This decreased dependence on highly talented people and more dependence on averagely talented people created a vicious cycle.

Processes are created to manage the high attrition rate of people. But they make the workplace so impersonal that they end up contributing to the attrition rate.

When people go, creativity goes, initiative goes, vision goes Processes cannot give direction, or motivate people.

Realizing the dangers of depending on processes, realizing that soon the market will shift from processes towards people, Microsoft, in its foresight, has announced its “people Ready� business vision. In its TV ad, we find a bunch of people trying to figure out what makes their company different. It was Microsoft that brought the Excel spreadsheet to every desktop, making it easier to measure everything, and everyone, reducing all things to tiny impersonal numbers that all-powerful corporate dashboard.

There is no denying that both people and processes are required for sustained growth. People bring magic to the table: Creativity, entrepreneurship, passion. But they also bring disorder. Processes, on the other hand, bring logic to the table: predictability, measurability, and manageability. But they take away from the organization its ability to cope with change or crisis.

In the international market, Indians are seen as poor team players and terrible at following processes. Yet, it is precisely our creativity that makes us valuable in the software industry that demands extreme creativity in debugging problems. Unfortunately, the very same software industry, as it grows in size and creates centers for outsourcing business processes, is increasingly relying on systems and processes and shying away from individual talent.

There is, as always, need for balance. That is why in ancient India, the king was given a bow during his coronation. If the bow is too tight, it breaks. If it is too loose, it is useless. Likewise, too much of people power can lead to chaos and too much of process power can lead to suffocation. The CEO, king of the new business order, has to create that right balance, that perfect organizational bow with passionate people aligned to key business processes, if he wants to shoot the arrow of constant, predictable and sustainable growth.

Comments are closed.