Attrition- The other perspective

In response to my previous post on attrition, several people opined that there was an employee side to attrition too. I am not denying that employee driven attrition is not significant. Millennials and youngsters today have a different view on career building and they look for more holistic contents in their jobs rather than mere promotion and money. I remember the time when I joined State Bank as PO and had dreamt of making it big there itself and retire as a DGM or GM. But today, youngsters don’t look at such longevity but get attracted by more substance in their jobs that includes challenges posed to them, work life balance, rapid career progression and chances of reaching to the top by mid 40s so that they can retire early and pursue other passions of life thereafter. So employees do atttite in search of better opportunities for the above considerations.

But individuals are individuals and organisations are organisations. The comparison between employee and employer driven attrition would be grossly unfair. Don’t we always say – “ An organisation is much bigger than any employee, howsoever critical or important he or she may be and that employees come and go but organisations are perpetual.” And, therefore, when we talk about organisations, we talk about organisations that aim for their existence in perpetuity and not fly by night organisations. We talk about organisations that aim for achieving greatness, immortality and an all round excellence. And we expect them to build a culture that’s inclusive, tolerant, equitable and fun filled! An employee leaving an organisation for better prospects is a matter of great pride for the organisation relieving him or her for that’s a demonstration of its inherent strength in development of its resources as per the market requirement and its culture of investing in its employees’ growth. Some organisations investing heavily in training their staff for some niche skills do pose restrictions such as indemnity or bond to deter their employees to treat them as a training institute or a springboard for further leap. But employees leaving in distress, under pressure or being forced are something that are cause for concerns. And this should not be confused with employees leaving on a happy note for better opportunities.

Non stop attrition – A cause for concern

I am told that attrition is worldwide and industry wide phenomenon and none is really untouched or unaffected by it. While I believe the statement, I also believe that a few organisations face this issue more severely than others.

When the news of youngsters, whom you believed to be future leaders, seeking change hits you, you know that the problem is not simply what industry or other organisations face but certainly more serious, meriting deeper introspection by the affected organisation. Those who have great going in an existing organisation and are being developed for future leadership roles should normally have no complaints or qualms with the organisation to be demitting office prematurely. This is also borne by the fact that many such people find it difficult to continue and leave their present organisation without waiting for an alternative opportunity. This shows their desperation or frustration.

Without pinpointing any organisation, I sincerely feel that all right thinking and right meaning organisations should deeply analyse their respective attrition rates and reasons and address the issues that are observed to be unfriendly. There’s no merit on in sweeping such issues under the carpet, attributing the same to be due to some prevalent trend. Good organisations should value their manpower resources and make themselves great place to work with or without any certification.

Strengthen, supervise and protect

One thing that mortally scares me is run on any bank. Such a run on any bank could either be on account of a rumour or hearsay about its likely failure or for the genuine reason of the bank’s failure to honour its commitment towards its depositors and borrowers. In either scenario, outcome is horrendous.

As I understand, failure of SVB may not be attributable to any mismanagement of its affairs by the executive team or the board or to any fraudulent or corrupt practices prevailing there at. The failure happened due to the bank’s inability to honour its commitment by encashing its T bills or bonds due to pressure on MTM value in an increasing interest rate scenario.

As last heard, UK operations of SVB have since been taken over by HSBC ( for an enterprise value of £ 1) and Government has assured protection of depositors money. This is a great move and let’s fervently hope that larger US operations of SVB can also be rescued to protect the interests of depositors and scores of start ups that have been funded by SVB in its capacity of venture fund.

In one of my early posts. I had strongly suggested the need for consolidation in banking sector that results in emergence of 3-4 Public Sector and 2-3 private sector banks, all very large and SIBs ( systematically important banks) that are too big to be allowed to fail. This learning from SVB’s collapse should be imbibed by everyone and banking sector around the world should be strengthened ( further) , supervised ( more closely and proactively) and protected ( from failure or bankruptcy either due to mismanagement or market forces – both beyond the control of hapless bank customers). Let there be no further such instance anywhere in the world.

Vaibhav weds Shivika

Being closely related to the captioned couple, we were invited to Udaipur for their destination wedding, along with 400 other guests. The venue was one of the most picturesque and famous resorts in Udaipur. The celebrations were spread over three days and everything was so meticulously planned and with such grandeur that after attending one function, the participants were looking forward to attending the next! From the travel arrangement ( pick up and drop from/to railway station or airport) to staying arrangement at the resort to the decoration of event venues at the resort to the dress code, to the food and drinks and music and dance, everything was perfectly organised with not even a single instance of any slippage. And it was all very creatively planned – the dress code, food menu and the contents of the event. While dancing to the catchy numbers played by DJs was a common feature at all the events, performances by the lead couple, parents, brothers/sisters and friends and two professional performances by a rock band and a qawwali group were like icing on the cake.

We generally use the term “ big fat Punjabi wedding “ in a rather derogatory sense that generally reflects of massive waste of money on crude and crass show of boisterousness bereft of any artistic or cultural finesse. But this event planned by my beloved Vaibhav and Shivika, Vaibhav’s gracious parents Mohan and Ruchika, his ever exuberant and very genial brother Lovey, Lovey’s pretty and petite wife Myra and our very own, my beautiful sister-in-law, Shallu, who was the force behind this union of two beautiful people and families, proved that big fat Punjabi wedding can be extremely tasteful, graceful, entertaining and memorable!

I carry back with me very fond memories of this event, apart from welcoming a super boy, Vaibhav into our family and making acquaintance with his family members. As per a common refrain, “ marriages are made in heaven, but solemnised on earth.” In this case, even the solemnisation of the wedding seemed to have happened with blessings from heaven and I hope this spirit will continue and the new pair will traverse the future together in a manner that’s truly blissful – in fact most heavenly!

Happy women’s day 2023

A woman is a mother the giver of birth,

And she’s motherland too, the country of our birth! 

A woman is a sister, a relationship most loveable;

A lifelong comfort who’s always available! 

A woman is a companion in the role of a wife;

A relationship most enduring lasting our entire life! 

A woman is a daughter, a relation most affectionate;

Only those get her, who are immensely fortunate! 

A woman around you can be in any form – a friend, colleague, acquaintance or just another human; 

Whatever be her role, she’s always equal, it’s a sin discriminating her as a woman! 

Won’t put her on a high pedestal, treating as a Devi or Goddess; 

For even that’s a discrimination, unworthy of her natural prowess! 

If Ram, Krishna and Jesus are incomplete without a woman ;

How come we have this sense of superiority, we representing the ordinary man! 

So let’s celebrate presence of woman amidst us whether in one or all the above roles or none;

International women’s day then comes the each day, making our world a living heaven!

Festival of colours and gaiety

If Holi is festival of colours

Let it be colourful and not botched;

If it’s a festival of brotherhood,

Let it be so as that’s what has been taught.

If it’s a festival to forgive and forget ,

Let’s do so and move ahead,

For what’s better occasion than Holi,

To forge bonding and reconnect.

If water is indeed a precious resource,

Let’s conserve it this Holi.

That will only make the festival

More purposeful and more holy.

There are folklores galore around Holi,

And so much to learn and imbibe,

Let’s not forget the underlying values,

By indulging only in playfulnesses and gibe.

Ram played Holi in Awadh and Krishna in Mathura,

Making the occasion so pious so pure,

Let’s celebrate this festival with purity of heart in our own towns

And the happiness of this festival shall always endure!

Happy Holi!

Acquisition of Citibank’s domestic consumer and retail business

As an Axis banker, who spent almost 28 years with the organisation, it’s a matter of great delight that Axis has completed its take over of the Citibank’s retail business in India. Notwithstanding, attrition of business and employees between the dates of announcement of the deal and the actual acquisition, which was expected, the acquisition has made substantial contribution to the Axis’s existing franchises of CASA, credit card, wealth management and SME.

A bit of an inorganic growth push was long overdue for Axis Bank. We all know how its immediate rivals widened their lead over Axis through inorganic growth. After the failed attempt to merge with Global Trust Bank and a few marginal acquisitions such as Enam and Freecharge, which added more to the Bank’s capability than to balance sheet, Axis Bank chose to tread the path of organic growth only. We, as old staff of the Bank used to pose this question to our CEOs- “ when are we going to make an acquisition that gives us immediate growth? “ – and at last this opportunity came Axis’s way when Citibank decided to hive off its retail consumer business in line with its global strategy for certain markets.

Being no longer part of the system, I don’t know what’s feeling inside the organisation, which I presume will be euphoric. Citibank was indeed a pioneer as far as credit card and wealth management businesses in India are concerned and this acquisition definitely boosts these franchises in Axis bank, where Axis already has significant presence.

Whenever two organisations merge or business of one gets acquired by another ( as is the case in Axis- Citi deal), some issues cannot be completely ruled out and may require ironing out. But given Axis’s inclusive culture, I have no doubt that incoming Citibank’s employees as well as customers will feel at home in Axisbank.

Welcome Citibank’s employees and customers to the world of Axis! May this bring the best out of both – the existing and incoming employees of Axis Bank!

Great place to work

Quite often, I come across posts by employees of various companies, celebrating their respective organisation to be a Great place to work. I am not quite sure of the process of certification by and what all goes into it, but stray interactions with a few of the people working in some of these certified organisations, reveal a gap between the certification and the actual working conditions prevalent in these companies. It’s true that corporate world is not a democratic world and no organisation on the earth can really boast of 100% satisfied staff and customers. But without getting into numbers, I am sure the certification must be ensuring a meaningful sample size; otherwise outcome may not be representative of the actual state of affairs.

My belief is that it takes more than an excellent product or state of the art service for a company to become a great place to work. Even if the product or service offering is unmatchable, the trust and confidence, of internal ( employees) and external (clientele) customers can get built up only after the company has traversed the path for sufficiently long period of time with consistency. It’s not an overnight or quick phenomenon. In fact, a few companies achieve such an iconic status that even if their products are subsequently found to have some flaws, they are unaffected. A case in point is Coca Cola. Though its sweetened carbonated flavoured drink is found to have health hazards, the company continues to have huge fan following and attract new customers into its fold by tweaking its product portfolio. I read somewhere that Coke and Pepsi also contribute their bit to conservation and they help in recharging ground water to the extent of water drawn out by them for their production, something that needs validation. Of the new lot, I have heard great things about Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple as employers. All these companies must be certified great places to work, but they really need no certificate as their satisfied employees and customers bear testimony to this fact. On the contrary, may need these iconic names in its list to be a relevant and reliable functional site.

Let organisations first strive to achieve greatness internally – and who knows better than an organisation itself regarding its internal state of affairs- certifications are important but these should come naturally as an outcome rather than striven to be obtained.

Javed Akhtar- A Poet of hope and optimism

It was a pleasure listening to Javed Akhtar’s views expressed by him at various platforms during his recent visit to Pakistan, where he had gone in response to invitation extended to him to participate in Faiz festival 2023.

Whether it was recital of his poetry at the festival or his candidly expressed views during various interactions and interviews, it was a sheer delight to witness his grace and persona. How he grew up in a family comprising communists and congress supporters, but all puffed up with the pride of Indianness, fighting for its freedom, his rebellion and his initial days of struggle in Mumbai, his life is inspirational to say the least. And here it’s futile to talk about his talent as a story teller and a poet, fields in which he has touched an acme in excellence.

His interpretation of why secularism is the basis of democracy is something that’s extremely noteworthy and deserves to be adopted as the right definition of democracy. According to him, a party in majority forms government and then brings acts and bills to implement its policies. These bills get passed by a majority vote. However, this majority and minority get redefined every 5 years and is not perpetual. This, according to him, is the right definition of minority and majority as it’s redefined every 5 years. On the contrary religious based majority and minority are non changing and hence not secular.

As he ends one of his interviews with his own couplet:

Kabhi to insaan karega zindagi ki izzat

Yeh ek ummeed aaj bhi dil main pal rahi hai!

Hats off to you Javed Sahab! Please do continue to spread this hope, optimism and happiness.

Odisha- India’s best kept secret

One of the wishes in my bucket list got completed now – to visit Odisha and seek blessings of Lord Jagannath. And when your visit is not only facilitated, but fully organised and accompanied by a native, my friend Manoj and his very affectionate and petite wife Mousumi, the experience is simply ethereal. That’s how I sum up my week long visit to this beautiful state rich in heritage, culture, cuisine, art and above all that houses one of the char dhams – Puri!

From the time we landed at Bhubaneswar airport to the time we were dropped there exactly one week later – we neither needed to know the itinerary nor worry about logistics. Our friend and his wife had planned everything meticulously to the last mile.

Starting with well planned and smart city of Bhubaneswar, Odisha’s capital, we were simply mesmerised by its fine roads, disciplined traffic and hospitality in general. The incomparable Mayfair provided the perfect stay and mouth watering seafood and meat dishes were simply incredible. Nandan Kanan, about which I had read in my NCERT text book, had seen better days, but still provided a great experience. The high point our Bhubaneswar stay was delicious bamboo mutton, where soft mutton pieces, marinated and boiled are filled inside a bamboo and then left to cook slowly inside a tandoor or oven. It’s one of the finest and most delicious dishes eaten by me. Apart from certain temples and a quick visit to the commercial city of Cuttack, Bhubaneswar left a lasting impression on the mind.

It was time for visit to Lake Chilika, the massive brackish water lagoon spread over an area of 1100 square kilometer. It’s the second largest lake of India after Vembanad. It was surreal and the food at the resort most sumptuous. In fact, I would stop making any mention of food herein after as across wherever and whatever we are – vegetarian or non vegetarian, eating food was a great gastronomic experience. After a night’s stay at Chilika, it was the time for most awaited visited to Konark and Puri. Once again we were booked in a resort right on the confluence where river Chandrabhaga seamlessly merged into the mighty Bay of Bengal. Konark’s ruins bear testimony to its architectural excellence and one needs hours to fully appreciate the thought that went behind its construction. And as aforesaid, then came the high point of our trip – visit of Lord Jagannath’s Dham – a surreal and spiritual experience. The visit also included consumption of Mahaprasad within the precincts of Jagannath temple and this was one of the most delicious meals. Next day happened to be our 35th wedding anniversary too and this couple friend ordered traditional odiya food, specially customised for us, served on a specially decorated table. What else could one ask for to celebrate one’s anniversary? The heady mix of great place, great food, great company and above all blessings of Lord Jagannath provided everything!

Time to leave for Bhubaneswar airport for return back home was filled with déjà vu, but armed with Odiya delicacies – Chhena Podh and Rasgullas, we reconciled our heart with the age old wisdom- “ All good things come to an end.” But our joy is endless, memories lifelong and gratitude deep to this couple for revealing India’s best kept secret, Odisha tourism’s tagline, to us in the most incredible manner.

Another close Odiya friend, Raman Mahapatra, who was guiding and following our Odisha sojourn closely also added a bit of mysticism to the entire scenario. Unknowingly, I completed visit to the third Shakti Peeth after Kolkata and Guwahati two years ago ! As per Raman ( Quote)

“The great mythological texts including the Shiva Purana and the Kalika Purana (the Asthashakti) recognize the four major Shakti Peethas. Like

  1. (Bimala, Pada Khanda) inside the Jagannath Temple, Puri, Orissa,
  2. (Tara Tarini) Sthana Khanda (Breasts), near Berhampur, Orissa,
  3. (Kamakshi, Yoni khanda) near Guwahati, Assam and
  4. (Dakhina Kalika, Mukha khanda) in Kolkata, West Bengal originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati. In a hymn, the Kalika Purana (Asthashakti) clearly says:
    “Vimala Pada khandancha,
    Stana khandancha Tarini (Tara Tarini),
    Kamakhya Yoni khandancha,
    Mukha khandancha 7Kalika (Kali)
    Anga pratyanga sangena Vishnu Chakra Kshate nacha……..”
Yummy cuisine
Majestic view of Lake Chilika
Traditional odiya cuisine customised for us