Professionalism with a human touch

My driver has been with me for more than two decades and is now like a family member.

When I had more than 6 months to superannuate, I had alerted him about the need to find a new job for himself. For one, I had no intention of picking up any job post retirement, had plans to swich over to smaller, fully automatic vehicle that’s easier to self drive and was already pretty used to using Ola/Uber, whenever he was not around.

In spite of our warning or alert in advance, I saw him making no effort towards finding a new job. Whenever we coerced him, his standard refrain was that as long as he was in our service, nobody would offer him a job as everyone required a driver with immediate availability. Also, due to his long association with us and regular annual increments, his salary had increased substantially in comparison to the one he was hired on and such a high salary was not available in the market, especially as he had aged also over a period of time and was already 50! Most importantly, he owed us money that was deducted from his monthly salary, something that he feared he might not be able to honour out of lower salary! Lastly, his two sons were at a very critical juncture of their scholastic life and he could ill afford a dry month when he had no earning!

When I returned from office for one last time on the day of my superannuation, there was perceptible tension on his face. However, I and my wife had already decided that looking to our comfortable finances post retirement and the very need to support an old loyalist who gave his best years and efforts to us, at this critical juncture of his life, we would continue with him. The happiness and relief on his face upon knowing our decision is something that I would carry with me all my life!

This real life incident is in fact in continuation to my earlier article on the HR practices in organisations, wherein I had discussed the trauma being faced by employees who face severance under a retirement option. This purportedly happens as some of the on roll staff become redundant as their skills are no longer required or on such other similar grounds. While as HR experts we can talk about the need for people with better skills, management education, more energy , offering flexibility of options etc and continue with the churning, I think we need a social support system that takes care of all such people that are affected by such circumstances at an age when it’s too early to hang the boots and too late to start afresh! I don’t want to sound very charitable by showcasing my personal experience with my driver, but all of us, including the organisations, need to brainstorm about balancing the extreme professionalism with some humanitarianism.

7 thoughts on “Professionalism with a human touch

  1. Arvind it’s a very topical issue for all who have already retired or approaching retirement. It is a similar dilemma for all. There are several points to be considered by everyone. You have already touched upon the humanitarian aspects, subject to availability of sufficient finance to continue with the same level of payouts without any difficulty. As you mentioned, salary of old timers is already fairly high due to regular increments and similarly well paid jobs are difficult to come by. But what if you were relocating to another city or country? Or what if the finances were not as comfortable to continue with high payouts even when reimbursement was not available? These are problems that are difficult to solve in spite of best intentions. My driver in Mumbai was very efficient and he had a professional attitude. At the time of his joining he asked me about my likely date of retirement in order to be able to plan out his next career. About three months before my retirement he asked for a certificate from me about his competence and character which I was very happy to provide. So he had already lined up his next job by the time of my retirement, adjusted his loan and we had a seamless parting. Just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can imagine. My friend Kakoli Mazumder (ex SVP, Axis Bank ) is in a similar dilemma. She can hardly walk from one room to the next. Her aged driver reports in the morning and does not do any driving, or anything else for that matter, on most days. But she continues to pay him on humanitarian grounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s difficult to get good people who cares and serve you blindly without exploring the other opportunities. It’s an asset . Skills can be upgraded to do a certain job but a good skilled person’s service without having ownership may not deliver the best . So do not detach your own people. A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. Good Arvind Sir . 👍

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