When the very affable, 32 year old Priyanka snapped at Suryanarayan, the HR head, the young 23 year old Arjun put in his papers, when the 48 year old accountant Paresh was rushed to the hospital with a mild heart attack all during the normal working day for Suryanarayanan the new smart HR head he did not see a pattern.
Prima facie there seemed to be no pattern to the 3 separate incidents. However, there was a connection!
Priyanka was going through a tough divorce – the bum she married was at last leaving her. But he was unemployed, and the house belonged to him. She had a job, a kid, and no house. Her parents were partially dependant on her. She was getting no alimony, there was no balance in the bank, and she was a financial mess.
Arjun had committed himself to some EMIs hoping for a decent raise. He was now paying of an education loan, a car loan, a vacation loan and an occasional credit card spend. Seeing the pattern of the past 2 years, he “assumed” his raise would be Rs. 4000 per month. It turned out to be Rs. 1700 per month. Arjun was devastated. His immediate reaction was he thought he should find a new job. He had no clue where, how, when the new job would happen. He had no option of going back to the nest – his parents had smartly shifted to a smaller house to avoid the boomerangs! They did not want the kids coming back and eating into their nest egg. Very un Indian thought Arjun, but that was the rule. Arjun was a financial mess.
Paresh was a very meticulous man and had nicely saved a lot of money. It was in safe avenues – post office, ppf, voluntary pf, national savings certificates etc. He had a decent house, handed down by his father, and was financially well off. Well sort of. His spouse and 3 children were a source of joy only for the first few years of their lives! They had made him an ATM and made impossible demands on him. His eldest son had flunked college, trained as a cameraman spending Paresh’s money, had got married, and was unemployable! Paresh used all his resources but his 2 sons, 1 daughter, wife and an ailing mother had sapped him. He was underinsured, severely stretched, had no medical insurance. Paresh was a financial disaster.
When Surya saw the cases in detail he asked himself a classic HR question:
When does the company step into the personal financial lives of its people? He had no clear answer.
On a Thursday evening, finding his CEO in a good mood, Surya brought up the question of the company’s role in the financial lives of its people. The CEO told Surya “Remember Gaurav Shah, our operations guy who joined a BPO? Last week he died of a heart attack. He was all of 38.”
The CEO was very clear that personal financial learning, stress busting, yoga are things that the employee needed should come from employee’s own time and cost. He went on to add “Surya we hire good, smart, aggressive guys who can bring business. If they are so smart, let them take care of themselves”. Surya felt a little defeated.
He thought to himself if 99% of my staff here is working for money, and I am willing to teach them how to talk, how to hold a fork and spoon, which hair oil to use when in US of America…how come I am not teaching them Money Management?
He had no idea.
But by now it was 9 pm. He had to head home. Another 1 hour journey. But as he hit the car he thanked himself for one good decision. He now had a driver!
He sat down in the back seat and chuckled at his designation! He was wondering whether the words “human” and “resources” had any connection to the English words he knew!
He also remembered what his CEO told him “Do not ask me whether I have a heart. I don’t know. Ask my shareholders. They are Americans, their lives and their dollars are measured by Quarters!”
The 4 quarters in an American dollar are Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4
His eyes closed.
Jagjit Singh poured out his heart on the 5 track CD player.
Tomorrow was another day.
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