Thursday, July 06, 2006

On Salaries and workplaces

Rashmi points out in her blog that the hotel industry is stingy and does not pay its employees very well, definitely not in the early years. That came as somewhat of an insight to me. I was under the impression that the hotel industry is booming and like every booming industry (IT/BPO), these chaps would be paying well.

Actually, the concept that employees have to paid a decent salary is a recent thing and in part due to the IT revolution in India. I remember, post engineering, I met this chap who owns a factory somewhere in Maharashtra telling me, "I cannot pay you much, but I can offer you a job that gives you good learning." This for many years was the paradigm that our subsidy eating small scale sector or the licenced capacity monopolising private enterprises lived by. Indeed this was always the story throughout the 70s and 80s. Companies, would, as far as they could, pay the least possible and then proceed to extract the maximum juice out of the employees. After all, it is about margins too.

Ditto about offices. Offices, until recently (and there are quite a few even now) were just cubbyhole rooms with a few tables and chairs strewn about (except for the big guys cabin). No company thought they should invest in good office space to keep their employees happy - surely nobody beyond the glitzy offices in CBD Bombay.

If the hotel industry is losing out people to IT and BPO, well, thats their problem and not the problem of the IT/BPO and that last thing people should do is point fingers at them, since they are actually improving the quality of life of these graduates. Today, the number of "decent" offices is high. In one of my earlier workplaces even our office boy had a small desk he could call his own. Companies have seen that a good place attracts people to work there. And why not?

I used to wonder why architects, mining engineers join IT companies. It is because of working environment and salaries. After all, passion works only upto a certain point. You cannot fill your stomach on passion - you need money to pay your room rent, daily expenses and you need to save too.

Aha, that triggers a new thought on passion and careers and stingy misery private enterprises. Someday I will expound on that too.

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