The movie Up in the Air explains it all
Ryan Bingham works for an HR consulting firm that specialises in termination assistance – basically firing employees.
Ryan is called back to office to be familiarised with a new program promoted by a young employee Natalie Keener, who now has a web based program to do the termination, to save costs. Ryan opposes it because he considers the process insensitive.
The Tech Mahindra audio clip that went viral has seemingly made the HR lady the cause of all the trouble. I think the issue is much much deeper. And the movie explains it quite elegantly.
If we think more deeply, several realities and questions will hit us hard:
- In the IT industry, employees are not considered employees. They are often and unfortunately viewed as inventory hired for deployment to clients. That is why, in the great days of growth, we adopted supply chain management techniques for managing the hiring process. Now organisations are wondering how to deal with the excess.
- Employees in the IT and other modern businesses liked the “market oriented philosophy” of free movement and and competitive pay for skills when the going was good. Now, a bit of protectionism and a socialistic and benevolent approach seems favoured by them but organisations are not listening.
- Given lack of attachment to any ideology or collectivism, trade unions never took off. What we see is the formation of “interest groups” in small numbers around specific issues using social media.
- Asking an employee to resign or face termination is one of the oldest methods adopted by HR professionals for decades. It was not invented by the IT industry. Only difference is that in the past the HR profession had more Ryans doing it, with experience and maturity. Today, there are very few Ryans left. Young Natalies with scripts are expected to do this. The audio tapes clearly reflect the lack of experience and conviction, a poor reflection of HR leadership, not that individual.
- The issue is certainly not about whether organisations will stop restructuring and laying off. Of course they will. That is the new order. They question is, how will it be done.
- This brings me to the last point. In the coming years, will organisations develop this skill and value or will they outsource the task to firms like the one Ryan worked for or will the wave of technology that is sweeping all of us, offer an automated solution to make this devoid of human contact, like the one that Natalie was promoting?
What is your take?