Reliance is Creating a New Workplace. What About You?

ID-100152538‘RIL Adopts GeNext Practices’ is the front page news in The Economic Times today. The RMS (Reliance Management System), part of a larger transformational drive, embodies delegation of power, adoption of next gen workplace policies and processes, focus on innovation and institutionalization of risk management. It claims to change many aspects of the earlier approach based upon building loyalty among the top select 100 executives, which have been in practice for almost 4 decades now.  How successfully can the new RMS be put into practice is a matter of time but there are important lessons to be learnt from this case.

The need to respond to the changing needs of the contemporary work force is prevalent in many other organizations. A new work place is emerging. It is extremely important for the HR (and business) leaders to be conscious about the shifts and the implications.

So what are these shifts? We hear a lot about shifts regarding technology adoption fueled by smart phones and omnipresent internet. But this is accompanied by shifts also in behavior, attitude and values. The shifts are much deeper than what is visible. There are five waves, which are shaping the new work place.

Let’s understand what these five waves are.

1. Changing social norms

The society is changing in terms of nature of relationships and the prevalent institutions. With growing number of nuclear families, increasing rate of divorce, single parenthood, live-in relationships, office romances (and break ups), changing legal paradigms, individuality and individual needs are assertively put forth.  The social needs are expressed more in lose set of office and college friends and through social media. The diversity in the organization in terms of age, gender, region etc. is making things even more complex. There are also instances of younger person rising fast and older ones being sidelined.

How can these changing norms be accepted and accommodated in the work place? How do the cultural norms be transformed for the acceptance and accommodation? How can meritocracy be separated from seniority and age? are the relevant questions.

2. Learning and self expression

Learning is a constant part of one’s career evolution and the organization is expected to provide an environment where learning is institutionalized in its processes and practices. In fact, opportunity to learn and grow both personally and professionally has been found as a big reason for retaining talent. Another aspect is that of self expression. Each individual wants to emerge as a thought leader, one with a voice of her own.

How does an organization provide ways to learn and grow? How do individuals self express and fulfill their higher needs? How do they feel higher self worth?are the questions whose answers can help an organization create new work place.

3. Omni connected

With smart phones and tablets and internet connectivity options, each individual today is always connected with others. There are always updated (real time) on what is that the friends and family friends doing, what is happening in the world. This omni connectedness is reshaping the definition of the organizational boundaries, earlier defined by the walls of the office building. This is also blurring the line of divide between what is work and what not is. One can do many things from anywhere, anytime, which earlier was possible from office only. Like anywhere, anytime banking can we create anywhere, anytime working? Remember, banking is a highly regulated industry, hence if they can do it, why can’t the HR leaders?

Though organizations are adopting technology and defining policies to contain the impact, it’s never 100% effective. I am sure each one of us must have experienced employees fiddling with their phones in meetings, training sessions and conversations. How does one deal with this situation? Is it better to accept it and embrace it as a way of life rather than find ways to counter it? How does one embrace it?

4. Multiple choices

We have multiple choices for almost everything, be it LCD TV or car or mobile phone. Employees have the choice of jobs today and more often than not they make use of the choices available. Life time employment is a very rare phenomenon today. On one hand, organizations are accepting this as a way of life and responding accordingly but on the other hand, they are also struggling to attract, retain and productively utilize the right talent.

Like the brand manager, can they create differentiation, which the employees value? Can they leverage the work place and the associated aspects like policies, processes and practices to create this differentiation?

5. Consume, consume, consume

Amid choices, the propensity to consume has really shot through the roof. Look at any food court in a mall or in a commercial hub, consumerism is visible at its best. Young boys and girls earn well and do not mind to spend equally well on food, clothes and life style accessories. They love the ambiance of a mall and desire for that. We can see that the concepts of ‘shop while you work’ are gaining increasing adoption in the work place.

Can the desired ambiance be created inside the organization? Can salary structures support the increasing consumerism? Can the work timings be made flexible to accommodate this need? Are there ways in which this need can be fulfilled? Many IT parks have these facilities, how can they be adopted by increasing number of organizations?

The discussion above also makes the point lucidly clear that the new workplace and new HRD are not just about technology or the physical aspects but also about a new mindset, new values and new attitude and behavior. Without a holistic transformation, it may remain inadequate to address the emerging needs of the new gen work force.

<Image courtesy of adamr at>

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