By Tilak Chowdhury The Author is a seasoned communication, branding and marketing professional
Maslow’s Pyramid of need hierarchy that defines human behavior – from fighting for survival to seeking nirvana, is very much applicable in the corporate world too. After all, corporates are an ecosystem within a larger ecosystem called society and it shows the same characteristics of the original ecosystem.
The companies and the work force has undergone evolution over the last few years. Earlier, companies were like big assembly units, where every worker contributed to the final product. They were like the parts of an automobile, standalone they meant nothing, when arranged and organized together, they gave life to their companies.
But as the economy became more information driven and the companies started adapting themselves to the change, the companies started taking the shape of shopping malls. Now every unit and employee was a self-sufficient unit and yet together they added value to the overall entity. And, the individual units depended on the whole for better visibility and to offer something they lacked on their own. It was more like a division of labor in the beehive, where every worker has a role to play independently and the queen; yet, they depend on each other to fulfil a larger purpose that they individually are incapable of achieving.
The rise of social media and the waning power of the mass media only complicated things. It empowered individuals even further and made them integral to the reputation of the bigger ecosystems – the corporates they represented. Earlier, mass media had all answers, a simple one-way communication that had no one to challenge/ criticize publicly but social media changed that. It was possible to challenge anyone and everyone no matter how powerful in a matter of seconds and all hell could wreck lose.
The information age also divided the workers into two categories – entrepreneurs and employees. Entrepreneurs were the mavericks who wanted to take risks and gamble on their ideas to win big whereas employees continued to be the ones who were content with low risk high security life.
But, it was highly possible that they could switch places depending on their risk appetite and their vision of what they wanted from life.
So what changed after COVID? Nothing and everything.
Nothing, as there was no change in the characteristics of the entrepreneurs and employees as individuals. Everything, because the world around them changed.
COVID saw global recession of large scale. The liquidity was at an all-time low. Major economies of the world shrank, and so the opportunities they represent shrank with them too. The risk appetite of the world today is at an all-time low. Everyone is trying to play safe.
So, now companies and individuals both need to work with their optimum resources. The entrepreneurs need the opportunity presented by the corporates and the corporates need the stability offered by the employees.
In these uncertain times, we find that the two kinds of professionals – employees and entrepreneurs – are beginning to merge.
Companies need to identify this and as work from anywhere rises, try to harness the entrepreneurial instincts of their employees. Now is the time for companies to understand and modify the outdated processes and systems that encourage entrepreneurism in their employees. And yet how do companies bring in a sense of entrepreneurship in their employees?
It is like nuclear fission. In an uncontrolled manner, it can cause the atom bomb, and in a controlled manner it can light up cities offering us unlimited source of power.
Companies need to adapt to these changing times by offering the freedom of entrepreneurship and the stability of employment to their employees so that the work force is free to follow their dreams and yet contribute in making the companies formidable. A win win situation where the companies get what they want and the employees get what they desire. As we are aware that people just don’t work for money anymore. They work for achieving a higher calling through their work. The work they do is a means to the end not the end in itself. So how can companies groom the emtrepreneurs and harness this trend?
How can companies and individual employees benefit from a mutually beneficial arrangement that can serve both the entities reach higher levels of growth and ambition?
The next few years will witness these growth pangs for companies and individuals as they try to coexist and cooperate to a mutually beneficial way of life. A life full of meaning and purpose towards a better and more meaningful existence.
How well they manage to achieve this harmony will decide the future of work. There is a huge opportunity for companies to shape the future and create happy societies where they themselves can be the catalysts of positive change.
How things will pan out? Only time will tell….