A few months ago, a friend went to a self-serve restaurant in Bangalore, a metropolitan in the southern part of India.
He ordered a masala dosa as was his routine. (A masala dosa is South Indian delicacy, where a savory pancake is stuffed with mashed potato and served with a spicy chutney.).
There was radio silence from the usually-chaotic kitchen. He simply assumed everyone was busy in morning prep. Not wanting to lose out on time, he approached the cashier:
Friend: Could you please ask your cook to hurry?
Cashier (barked the order loudly,with one hand up in the air)-
One masala dosa. C’mon, fast fast.
He then hurriedly excused himself and walked to the empty kitchen to make the dosa..from scratch.
The friend started laughing in incredulity, even as the cook fired up the pan, spread the batter, poured copious amounts of oil.. waiting for the dosa to take on that golden roast.
Meanwhile, the friend struck up a conversation.
“Are you a cook? Or a cashier? Or both?”
“Both saar.” (stressing on the one-syllable word, inspired by the local lingo)
“Why the drama of barking orders then?”
“Out of habit saar. What happened is.. I had two cooks. They were brothers. Both of them quit yesterday. Their mother was..”
The cook outlined the entire history in a span of 5 minutes and handed over dosa.
“Is this common here ?” The friend suddenly asked.
“No. Cooks quitting jobs for money.”
“Ah! Yes saar. They go where money is. Common problem..”
The cashier was referring to the fact that the problem was common across restaurant. What he perhaps didn’t know was that it was prevalent across retail, real estate, hospitality and other industries.
Blue-collar workers in these sectors have always always been in flux, sprinting across jobs, in search of higher pay.
If you’re reading this, you’d realise the truth in this statement. What then, can companies possibly do to solve this?
If competing for higher pay is not an option, maybe the approach to the problem should be slightly different.
Keeping aside these workers for a moment, how about you pose the following question to yourself: “Would you change your job if you got a higher pay?
More often than not, the answer is going to be a “No.”
Maybe because you have a workplace where you feel like you belong, you have peers who respect you, your manager knows what a great asset you are, and you see a good career progression in a few years or so.
Well, your guess is corroborated by research as well.
SHRM says that employees stay because they become embedded in their jobs and their communities. Leaving a job would require severing or rearranging these social and value networks. Something far more valuable than what money can buy.
If these factors are working out so well for you and me.. how come it isn’t for the blue-collar workers?
Maybe because they don’t have the environment to execute all this?
Maybe companies have the intention to extend the same comfort to their employees, but don’t have the bandwidth to put it to practice?
It’s not easy to replicate practices that work so well for a white-collar workforce into distributed teams that are always on-the-field, and are customer-facing (like salesmen, delivery staff, housekeeping staff or cab drivers).
Remember all the aspects that make your current job more lucrative than the next salary?
- Peer recognition ☑
- Connect with the top management ☑
- Outcome-driven training to get better at their jobs ☑
- A career progression in place ☑
They now have it too.
Thousands of delivery staff across companies such as Myntra (India’s largest fashion etailer), Pepperfry (India’s top furniture etailer), Grofers (prominent online grocery firm) use Noticeboard to do all this. And more. Employees stationed across a thousand miles wish each on their anniversary and birthdays, get a peek at various training sessions, compare performances, connect with managers directly to resolve issues.
For the first time ever, these companies are empowering workers with tools that build their social and value networks. And in effect, nurturing loyalty and improving retention.
The reality is that blue-collar ones, like all other employees, stay for reasons more than money.
Noticeboard makes that happen.
PS: If the cashier becomes a little more enterprising and creates a restaurant chain or two, remind me to write to him as well, won’t you?