Monday, February 18, 2013


The world is kinder today. It is expected to be at any rate. Witches burn, children starve, civilians perish in wars, women are raped but not without protest. There is a strong pretence at civil liberties; an educated progressiveness that is synonymous with a repugnant horror at inhumanity and injustice; to that extent we have evolved as a species.

Some beliefs persist nevertheless, unchallenged and unquestioned.

No one is indispensable! This is the golden one at the workplace. There isn’t an employee who has not had this unappetizing negation hurled at her or an employer for that matter, who has not flourished it with the swagger of Salman Khan at some time in their respective careers. I would say these infamous words reverberate across board rooms, offices and corridors of power. No one is special, we are told. One pair of hands is as good as another. An employee’s absence does not mean a hiccup to her company. Just about anyone can replace her at any given time. Her personality, her background, her ideas, her strengths, her convictions are as easily substituted as a pair of pencil cells in a torch.

This is the biggest ever bluff that needs calling.

How come in a world so full of talk about human rights, there is not a squeak about a good worker’s professional self-respect? Truth be told, every golden employee at a place of work is indispensable. How very regressive is it to speak of people in terms of holes that merely needed plugging! A company is the sum total of its employees and every solid piece in the puzzle adds value to the jigsaw. Take away one and there is sure to be disturbance to the group dynamics.

The world has long moved beyond the assembly line production days of initial industrialization. Job opportunities and requirements have metamorphosed to include a mind boggling skill set; it is no longer about just a pair of hands. Work involves personal integrity, value judgement, and risk evaluation, sense of loyalty, creative solution, professional investment, and willingness to learn and grow in addition to basic and relevant competency. Surely the range involved here begs the demeaning insistence that one is just as good as another. It even sounds callously inhumane!

People are unique. They bring a very special value to their work spaces. And companies stand to gain huge returns by acknowledging this immutable but long denied truth.The reluctance to acknowledge signature contribution has been a convenient mind-set that has saved employers bother and effort. Imagine what would happen if they were to admit people were indispensable! How would they dismiss and control in a culture that viewed employees as individuals, needing sensitive handling. It would involve acknowledging their exclusivity thus admitting their value to the company. Perhaps business heads are wary of losing negotiating strength thus.

It is time though! Is it not time leaders began to care more deeply? It is high time they thought more, applied more and took the trouble to keep pace with an employee’s growth. This destructive cliché has placed productivity in a self-fulfilling downward spiral. Bosses refuse to admit people are indispensable and so crushed does this make the employees feel that they begin to act dispensable.

In the complex and modern work place that we literally live out our lives in, every single worker stamps the company's growth story in her personal way. People are crucial, central, cardinal.

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