Changing The Indian Work Culture

By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

I visited a Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch last week in Noida, for those who don’t know PNB is a big govt. bank in India that is among the top few banks that make the backbone of our banking system. One would expect things to be streamlined at PNB but the branch I visited was far cry from the ones we see in ads. There were wires hanging from the ceiling, office renovation was underway, and carpenters and workers were working side by side with bank employees. There were only two women to handle bank customers and the guard was nowhere to be seen. There was dust on pretty much everything, laptops, files, desk, everywhere and I doubted if they had a clean bathroom for staff let alone drinking water.

The woman in charge was surrounded by bank clients and she was handling their requests with utmost courtesy and respect. There was a jerk who was kind of rude to that lady but what really surprised me was that despite working in a practical junkyard-like situation, she did not lose her cool with this irate customer. One customer did appreciate her work ethic under such tremendous pressure but it made me wonder if the situation can be so bad in Noida just imagine the circumstances and the kind of work environment bank employees have to face in general. Not to forget the stress of everyday life. Government should look into conditions how government offices are being run.

Even in the corporate sector of India, in big multinational firms, the work environment can be very challenging, I did work for a firm in the past where senior management use to yell at people in meetings. I was reading about a big mobility service app, which is also trying its luck in e-scooters, and its CEO tore up presentations while hurling abuses at his team. Many managers and CEOs in this country think that somehow, they know stuff better than others, and rubbing people the wrong way will keep their employees motivated.

I think the significant reason why organizations, businesses, or governments fail is that they fail to retain good, talented people. Unlike the private sector where people can switch jobs, govt sector in India has a deeply entrenched problem of toxic work culture. In a situation like these, people tend to just do enough to survive and there is no motivation to perform better. I think, many people know how to handle failure but very few know how to handle success, authority, or power, it goes into their heads.

I think we can do well to treat each other with respect and professional courtesy. I read somewhere that a smile is free but you can buy a lot of things from it.

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