Yesterday, an associate expired. He had sudden cardiac arrest.
This morning, the news trickled in. He was playing cricket with his friends in Bangalore when he felt pain in his chest. Subsequently, he fell unconscious. In a matter of minutes, he was gone.
Normally such events are met with uncommon sympathy and concern. The Company that never seems to care on a daily basis comes up with oft-repeated words of admiration for the victim. A few pictures are posted and the same ol' emotions exchanged. We expected atleast that.
Until afternoon there was no formal communication about the event. Around noon, the in-human resources sent out an email (really, how hard is it to type 2 lines?) and subsequently came over for a 2-minute condolence meeting.
The meeting ended and work resumed, amidst some controlled sniffles from the folks who were his cubicle-neighbours. Then we went off to lunch and then my friends broke the news.
The friends were battling for hours with the HR to get this email sent. The condolence meet was out of the question - they were extremely hesitant to even send out a formal note to the associates in the centre. And why? Because he was a contract-based employee.
Alright, so we have staff and contractors. Obviously, the contractors are recruited via an agency and are hence paid lower salaries than ours.
Now here's the part that I don't understand. What if the man was on contract? What if he wasn't on our regular payroll? What about the two years he worked for this company at lower wage? What about the happy customers he created by his good work?
And what makes his life any less valuable than ours?
This sparked off debates all thru the day. My friends are mostly seniors with more than 7 years of experience. What if anything happened to anyone who has been with the company for so long? Would he get an email (which he was never going to read), or a 2-minute silence? Just 2 minutes ??? For over five years of life that generated umpteen revenues for the employer?
Organizational behaviour talks about projecting one's image. All organizations are quick to project themselves as the best in the industry with the latest tools, processes and skilled people. 'Our most precious assets come in at 9 AM and leave by 6PM everyday' says an industry mogul. And when it comes to barebones....
I am just a number. I have come to realize that over the years.
It is time to move on.
On a sidenote - is it going to be any different elsewhere?