|Please don't leave: Attrition has become
a big problem
competition in the market place got stiffer and stiffer, smart
marketers came up with a slogan to tell everyone who they felt
was the boss: Customer is King, they said. Profitable and loyal
customers are still awfully hard to get. But there's someone else
proving far more elusive: a good employee. Not surprisingly, then,
the competitive slogan-at least at some of the companies covered
in our Best Companies to Work for survey-has been stood on its
head. "Employee First", cry these companies, cocking
a snook at their customers. This signals a dramatic shift in the
balance of power at organisations. Not too long ago, employees
were expected to be grateful for getting an opportunity to work
with, say, a top bank, a manufacturing company, or an FMCG giant.
The very fact that one had managed to secure employment was expected
to be taken as part compensation.
Try recounting these stories to the modern
day hr manager and you'll hear her groan. Finding and keeping
employees has become the single-biggest challenge for organisations
around the world. And it's an issue that has grabbed the attention
of top-most leaders at organisations. As a result, human resource
management has become a board-level job at major organisations.
It's not surprising that employers are rediscovering the importance
of human resource. After all, organisations are not so much about
plant and machinery as people. Everything else, and we mean everything
else, flows from that. People are what differentiate a Toyota
from a General Motors; a Wal-Mart from a K-mart; an Apple from
a Sony. Ideas, innovation, and execution all come from the people
and the culture an organisation has.
But when and how did people become the most
precious resource? In general, talented employees became important
when companies no longer had captive markets. The US has always
been a free market internally, but it became vastly more competitive
when the Japanese and Chinese started invading their markets.
India, too, had closed markets until the early 90s, but the opening
up thereafter brought hordes of new competitors. Perhaps more
fundamentally, employees became important when the nature of wealth-creating
industries changed. When manufacturing was the money-spinner,
rising wages could be tackled by increasing productivity or automating
processes. But when brain power is what drives an industry, it's
that much harder to find substitutes. The scramble for top-notch
techies in America's Silicon Valley and India's own it industry
proves that. Will the employer's infatuation with the employees
end? It will, when supply catches up with demand or demand slows
down to match supply. The problem is, neither seems likely in
the near term. So, employers had better get used to the idea of
Open Up Education
|A new chapter: That's what
our education system needs
prime minister's recent emphasis on the need for greater penetration
of education brings to the fore the need for a comprehensive policy
on education. One that genuinely provides all universal access
to education at the primary level; lays out standards for education
at various levels; and regulates private sector in the education
business. Clearly, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the sector
must follow once the house is set in order-government identifies
segments where education can be recognised as a commercial activity.
For instance, pursuit of fine arts or philosophy will require
state support and commercialisation will restrict universal access.
However, FDI in management education must be allowed, as it can
be encashed in the market place. Here again, the government must
regulate the quality of foreign institutions, since, otherwise,
such schools will only add to the unemployment count in the country.
While the higher education system needs to be tweaked, the primary
education system requires an overhaul. The palpably inefficient
delivery system of the state is to blame. One solution lies in
the model pursued by Kerala, which boasts of the highest literacy
rate in the country. In this southern state, schools are largely
in private hands-managed by the private sector. However, the state
reimburses the cost of service. Public-private partnerships of
this sort need to be explored by other states and replicated where
While state funding of primary education
is a Hobson's choice, the same does not hold for higher education.
In fact, greater private participation, backed by recognised foreign
institutions, is an optimal prescription to sustain growth and
employment in the country. Here's why. It is an acknowledged fact
that the manufacturing sector provides the maximum 'knock-on'
effect in terms of employment generation, owing to its linkages
with other sectors. At the same time, sustaining the present pace
of robust growth in the manufacturing sector on the back of low-cost
labour, as has been the past practice, is not a sustainable option.
Hence, the need for a large basket of institutions that can provide
Surely, such debates cannot be lost between
government departments like the Human Resources Department, which
is opposed to FDI in education. Time, the government gets educated
He Who Pays The Piper Calls The Tune
|Money matters: And BCCI
is flexingits muscles
is it about the chemistry between the International Cricket Council
(ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that
makes their relationship so volatile? There's no easy answer to
that-the reasons range from prickly personal equations between
office bearers of the two bodies to disputes over money, and,
indeed, control of the game to allegations of bias and one-upmanship.
It wasn't always like this. Till the early 90s, the ICC, and more
specifically, two of its founder-members, England and Australia,
were pretty much monarch of all they surveyed in the cricketing
world. Granted, there wasn't really that much to survey-cricket
was (and is) played by only a handful of Commonwealth nations;
cricketers, with the exception of Englishmen, Australians (and
some West Indians who played on the county circuit) were poorly
paid; and ICC itself was a chummy, albeit cash-strapped, club
of mostly white, Caucasian males of Anglo-Saxon descent.
Then, the television explosion in India changed
all that. Money started pouring into the game. The BCCI became
the richest cricketing body in the world; and the ICC, led by
Jagmohan Dalmiya, leveraged the game's following in India, and
began selling the rights to its events (the World Cup and later,
the Champions Trophy) for astronomical sums. The point to be noted
here is that the ICC gets about 75 per cent of its global revenues
from India. The tail had started wagging the dog.
Given this background, the BCCI justifiably
feels that it should have a greater say in the way the game is
run. It also feels, with equal justification, that ICC-which is
run by an Australian-is still guided by a mindset that seems to
place the interests of its founder members over those of others.
The ICC, on its part, makes politically correct noises but continues
in its set ways. Commercial disputes apart, this invariably leads
to allegations of racism (which this magazine would like to believe
does not exist in cricket) and official bias against Indian, and
other sub-continental, cricketers. Result: a running battle between
ICC and BCCI.
Lalit Modi, Vice President, BCCI, has made
it plain that the Indian board will not settle for anything less
than a complete overhaul of ICC's existing equations. He says
the executive head of the world body should be an Afro-Asian.
It is an accepted convention the world over that he who pays the
piper calls the tune. There's no reason why cricket should be