Magazine 2012
Emerging Work Culture in  
Corporate World  
Ms. Sharmila Jajodia  
Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College, Mumbai.  
India as a nation has come a long way from an agricultural society to an information savvy society with nuclear  
power. Globalisation, advanced technology, the vagaries of the world markets, innovations and emerging  
concepts like intellectual capital, knowledge workers, e-business and so on are riveting the attention of managers.  
So much has evolved and transpired in the business environment during the last decade that the work culture  
is constantly and continuously being reshaped and re-embellished. Therefore, this paper is directed to analyse  
the emerging work culture in the corporate world.  
Research Paper  
India as a nation has come a long way from an agricultural society to an information savvy society with nuclear  
power. Globalisation, advanced technology, the vagaries of the world markets, innovations and emerging  
concepts like intellectual capital, knowledge workers, e-business and so on are riveting the attention of managers.  
So much has evolved and transpired in the business environment during the last decade that the work culture  
is constantly and continuously being reshaped and re-embellished.  
According to Keith Davis, b Organizational culture is a set of assumptions, beliefs, values and norms that is  
shared among the members of an organization.b   
Therefore, work culture refers to the culture at the workplace, where the members of a group share a particular  
system, a practice code to transact various types of business.  
Culture is something collective and includes the expectations of the group as a whole; a social product, always  
idealized and having connections with the past. It has a boundary at work place so differentiates one organization  
from the other. It gives a sense of identity, belongingness and enhances social system stability and facilitates  
the generation of commitment to something larger than oneb s individual self-respect. It serves as a shaping  
power, sense making and controlled mechanism as it helps hold the organization together by providing  
appropriate standards, norms and values to the employees for their behaviour and actions. Thus it enhances  
organisationb s commitment and increases the consistency in employeesb  behaviour. It proves valuable for an  
employee as it reduces ambiguity and enables the workforce to achieve its objectives. Therefore, some  
organizations are more successful; touch the pinnacle; exist for decade; become the market leaders while  
others are not so.  
Mostly, the source of any culture is its founders and it is shared among employees in the form of stories,  
anecdotes, rituals and languages. Thus organizational culture nurtures, encourages or discourages certain  
type of behaviours among its members. In the past, workforce was treated as a commodity and was exchanged  
for wages. They were considered as cogs in machine and hired and fired at will. Traditionally, organizations  
were characterised by centralized decision making at the top; a rigid hierarchy of authority; well but narrowly  
defined job responsibilities, especially at lower levels and extensive rules and regulations that are explicitly  
conveyed to employees through written documents believing that it brings the greatest efficiency. In 1990 the  
Denko Group had been suffering growing attrition as the number of mid and senior level managers were leaving  
to join other MNCs although the (Denko) Group paid well and had increased salaries in the recent past. b But  
outgoing employees cited stifling authority and layers in the decision-making process as major flaws.b 2  
In the traditional pyramidal structure it seemed natural to use a carrot and stick approach based on material  
incentives and penalties, but nowadays, due to increasing application of the behavioural sciences to labour  
management relations, the decline in number of production workers accompanied by an increase in knowledge  
workers is distorting the pyramid. So instead of Taylorism, total quality management, Kaizen or continuous  
improvement and the direct participation of workforce is necessary. It was felt that organisational culture needs  
to be one that values human resources and pervades the organization from top to bottom so that all members  
of the organization work together with a shared purpose.  
Japan and Sweden experimented with b democratization on jobb . Japan emerged as the number 2 in world  
economy, next to USA as it recognized the b human valuesb , developed the creative spirit of the employees by  
empowering them. Thus it was proved that industrial climate and creative work culture play a decisive role in  
economic growth.  
Globalisation of economy and liberalization of trade have enlarged the scope and scale of operations of  
organizations. Resultantly, multinational corporations emerged, which gave way to transnational corporations.  
As the employees of such organizations form heterogenous groups belonging to different countries, dissimilar  
culture, philosophy and value systems, the present culture is totally different from traditional culture.  
A) Globalisation has brought following significant changes at the workplaces:  
. Flexibility of Labour: It can be qualitative or quantitative. The first affords multi-tasking and is achieved  
through training of the most talented employees while the quantitative is achieved by engaging unskilled  
temporary employees with little training to perform relatively simple tasks.  
2. Outsourcing: Business process outsourcing has become the order of the global market as to remain focused  
on the core business, the companies are converting their other divisions into independent businesses. It improves  
performance and profitability of companies besides help them achieve operational excellences, leverage proven  
methods and innovation technologies, beat competitions in the market; respond quickly to market demands;  
tap experienced pool of global resources to achieve cost savings without compromising superior services ; and  
ultimately, enable the companies realign core talent to market-distinction strategies. Thus outsourcing has  
moved from being a niche technology management tool to a mainstream strategic weapon for many global  
businesses. MAFoi, India Life Hewitt and Cross Domain Solutions are some of the companies which provide  
outsourcing in some processes such as pay-roll and administration. AT& T Corporation outsourced its HR  
functions to Chicago based Aon Corporation. Maruti Udyog Ltd. decided to retain its IT people, high skilled  
employees by deciding to outsource its IT support and management to Compaq Computer Corporation now  
known as HP. Noida based BPO Xansa has signed a mega deal with Llyods TSB to supply financial and  
accounting services to the bank.  
. Lean and Mean Organisation: To tackle the global competition, companies are resorting to reduction of  
hierarchical levels besides reducing the total number of employees. Consequently more and more responsibility  
is being pushed down to the floor level and employees organized into autonomous task-teams.  
. Fading out of Fixed Business Hours and Places: With the setting up of plants in different countries to  
maximize their production and market reach, the multinationals have resorted to multiple shifts. As a result, the  
number of people working in each shift has also gone up. Similarly, trading hours have undergone a sea  
change. Subsequently, the stress on full-time employees has increased in terms of extended hours of work,  
excess travel, frequent changes in tasks, ambiguous goals and ultimately adverse impact on the private and  
public lives of individuals.  
. Shortage of Human Talent: Human talent is reported to be falling short of demand. Although capital is  
readily available for investment, matching technical and managerial talent to manage such investments is found  
wanting. This phenomenon has driven companies like IBM to commit investment for primary and secondary  
education all over the world. As per an HBR survey, education has become the top social priority universally.  
Depending on the complexity of the market, in-house education has become the critical input for sustaining  
B) Besides, this age of information and communication technology with its emphasis on telecommunication  
has transformed workplaces in such ways:  
1. Electronic Organisation: The advanced technology has converted business organizations into e-organisations  
and e-business is the current trend, and the emerging wireless technology is likely to bring about further  
. Virtual Organisation: Here groups working together through networked computers are on increase.  
Outsourcing is increasingly resorted to and organizations operate only in areas where they have distinctive  
competence as it gives them a competitive edge. For instance, Mahindra and Mahindra utilize outsourcing and  
vendor upgrading as their manufacturing strategy.  
3. Telecommuting or Teleworking: It is a flexible work arrangement especially for women and disabled whereby  
the employee does work from a location other than the workplace, typically from home or from a remote place  
by using computers, telephones, facsimiles and other equipments. So offsite workplace is fast emerging as  
business reality. b AT & T, Ernst & Young, IBM and many other forward looking companies have embraced  
telecommuting as a true workplace alternative.b  It deceased job hopping.  
. Knowledge Sharing: Knowledge sharing has become easy with the help of internet, intranet and extranet.  
So a culture of fostering knowledge dissemination through encouragement and rewarding knowledge workers  
for information sharing is gaining attention as it gives organizations a competitive edge through enhanced  
member performance. For example, Buckman laboratories and Texas Instruments have seen enormous gain in  
revenues while Dow Chemical and Chevron have reported tremendous savings on pioneering knowledge sharing.  
. Learning Organisation: E-learning promotes the ideals of learning organizations- where the members have  
the capacity to adept and change on a continuous basis are frequently cited-for their capacity for growth even  
under adverse economic conditions. The employees have a common vision for the organization. They realize  
that old methods of problem solving do not work and have to be discarded and replaced with new ones. They  
are also aware of the interconnectedness of all activities in the system, openly communicate with one another  
and sublimate self-interest to those of organizational goals. The organizations are committed to change and  
innovation and willing to break down the departmental boundaries by creating a decentralized structure to  
facilitate free exchange of information and knowledge among members at a workplace. Risk taking, rewarding  
creativity despite unavoidable failures and learning are encouraged in such systems.  
. High Performance Organisation: They have as their hallmarks-total quality management (TQM)- where  
continuous improvement and satisfaction of customer needs assume priority; quality circles- where members  
meet regularly to improve quality; organizational learning; knowledge workers; self-directed work teams; process  
reengineering-where obsolete processes are done away with and a fresh start is made. Tata Engineering and  
Locomotive Company, now renamed Tata Motors started reengineering and right-sizing organizations in 1997.  
C) Innovative and Imaginative Approaches weave work with leisure to keep the employees stress free and  
motivated, to raise their morale, to give them job satisfaction, sense of identity and belongingness besides  
inner connect.  
1. Concierge Services: It ranges from travel arrangement to restaurant advice, attending to any kind of mundane  
requests, virtually all lifeb s distraction at work likeb booking flight/rail tickets, house keeping to managing events-  
birthdays/parties, laundry chores of the employees. It reduces their distractions and helps to maintain a good  
work-life balance. It also reduces absenteeism and employee turnover; retains talents. Indian companies like  
Infosys, Wipro, IBM, Godrej, TNT, Purvankara Group etc. also have concierge help desks in their premises.  
. Better Work Environment: Industry research has proved that a good working environment can make for an  
almost 10 to 25 % difference in an employeeb s productivity. They are not only content and comfortable at work  
but also have a sense of pride to step into a state-of-the-art facility. It was also endorsed by a recent Hewitt  
Associates Best Practices study conducted in the US, covering close to 43000 IT employees. So most IT  
companies ITES, BPO companies like Oracle, Daksh try to blend better facilities with fun which reveal vibrant  
work culture and a strong emphasis is on colour co-ordination, designer and ergonomic furniture, relaxation  
facilities like gymnasium, yoga centres, libraries, locker rooms for personal storage, 24/7 cafeteria in a round-  
the-clock environment, home pick-up and drops etc. Some of the companies have even invested in state-of-the-  
art fitness centres, bathrooms and building separate ramps for disabled.  
As Milind Jadhav, the vice-president of human resources at Patni Computer System says, b A happy worker is a  
good worker.b   
Padmaja Krishnan, the director, marketing and business development at Xansa, India agrees and adds: These  
centres of excellence and the continuous initiatives by companies to enhance their employeesb  sense of belonging  
will be the key to success for employee retention, attraction and performance.b   
. Flexible Work Options: It plays a key role in maintaining balance between professional and personal life of  
the employees, addressing the different and unique needs of the individuals working in an organization. It  
means all types of employment practices other than the conventional b 9:00 a.m to 5:00p.m.b  jobs.  
(A) Flexible Location: It includes working on move using laptops, notebooks, palmtops, desk top replacement  
PCs and other types of portable computers; working from home and telecentres or satellites offices.  
B) Flexible Time: It includes flexi-time (work for a fixed number of hours during any part of the working day);  
annualized hours(where employer and employee agree upon the total working hours per annum excluding  
public holidays and annual leave); zero hours/on call arrangement (employees are called for work when required);  
time accounts(a flexible form of compressed working week or annualized hours and employees can take  
compensatory leave against the extra time they had worked for); restructured hours(a compressed work week  
option, wherein an employee has to work for 10 hours for 4days and gets off on 5 day. Other forms of reduced  
work hour options include part-time (working for a few hours per day/week), job sharing (two or more employees  
share one job), phased retirement (an option offered to employees a few years before retirement, when they  
would start working for fewer hours per day and postpone the date of retirement. The flexible time work options  
include maternity/paternity leave, sabbatical (for upgrading oneb s skills either academic or technical), bereavement  
and marriage leave.  
Hewlett Packard India offered all types of FWOs. Sameer Wadhwan, G.M., HR explained: The issue is not  
control, but facilitation and of motivating our independent knowledgeable and creative employees.  
Besides Indian companies P&G India, ICICI Prudential, Global Corporations, IBM, JC Penny, AT&T, PacTel, US  
West, Pedigree Petfoods also offered FWOs.  
4) Unconventional & Mobile Conferencing: These conferences break off from conventional venues and move  
out into the outdoors, spiced up with interesting themes and spruced up with team building activities, especially  
to break away from the drudgery of work and to make it more interesting. Ranjit Raina , COO, Encompass, a  
Delhi based Entertainment Solution Provider, says-a sales conference was organized for ICICI Prudential on the  
INS Vikrant. For employers, it is a work; and for the employees,it is a fun. Mobile conferencing is also gaining  
popularity. It includes cruise liners and luxury trains equipped with state- of-the-art amenities including business  
centre, cyber cafC) and conference coach and the USP of the coach can be converted into a disco-cum-pub  
after the conference is over. Other trends are skiing holidays in Himalayas, sponsoring on an Africa Safari,  
clubbing overseas destination with some kind of entertainment or an event on tour like shopping carnival,  
Formula one event. So adding fun with team building activities make a conference perfect. Get Lionel recently  
organized a sales conference in Kaula Lumpur to coincide with the formula one event.  
) Succession Planning: Succession planning and life time employment are no more a prevalent practice.  
Kumar Mangalam Birla the young business leader also discouraged succession planning and life time employment  
when he took over the charge of Aditya Birla Group. Tenured and contractual appointments are taking its place.  
Generally the person who puts in maximum tenure with the company was appointed as the next-in-command  
but today there is an aberration to this practice. Two big giants Nissan and Sony have hired expatriates from the  
West to help them reinvent themselves.  
) Employee Recognition: It boosts employee morale, performance and commitment. Traditional recognition  
awards- jewellery, clocks, tableware or flatware do not appeal to the employeesb  sense of satisfaction. Rather  
greeting personally each employee and offering a cup of coffee, appreciation for their work, paid holidays,  
sponsorship for their higher education, seminar, power and cash incentives are the best possible ways to  
motivate. Increasingly companies use stock options as a reward tool but b ESOPS: A Case Study on IT firmsb  that  
stock options are no longer a matter of interest to the employees, the reason being people need more free  
cash today rather than ESOPS. Companies innovate methods like presenting a T-shirt with a company logo at  
one side and an encouraging caption such as-b The Achieverb  on the other. Price Water House Coopers rewards  
its employees with b scratch and win ticketsb  for quality work, best innovation and best suggestion.  
) Employer of Choice Effort : Indian Companies are fast joining the EOC bandwagon. EOC is used by  
recruiters to categorise a company that is considered to be a great place to work in due to its reputation and  
status. According to Ashok Pande, CEO, NetAfford Technologies, an IT executive search firm, b The expression  
. . on the whole signifies corporate character and culture.b   
Reducing employee turnover and becoming employer of choice are the two immediate goals of companies  
today because both these aspects impact their bottom line.  
A recent research done by Grow Talent on 180 companies and 24,750 employees had employed a unique  
employee centric methodology to measure the levels of trust, pride and b camaraderieb  in the organization.  
Work places were ranked on a point scale in combination of quantitative and qualitative data based on the  
options of employees. b The first 5 includes Federal Express, Sapient Corporation, National Thermal Power  
Corporation, Honeywell Technology Solutions Lab Pvt. Ltd. and RMSI Pvt. Ltd. 14 of the top 25 firms are  
privately held. 13 MNCs figure in this list. 16 companies offer flexible work hours, 4 offer fully paid sabbaticals,  
and 13 offer paternity leave and 9 companies have a profit sharing plan. 13 companies offer telecommuting  
Thus by becoming an EOC, company is capable of attracting a more productive and talented category of  
employees ensuring a right fitment as well.  
. Spiritual Connect: Big corporate organizations have also realized that business and spirituality canb t be  
segregated at all as spiritual connectivity makes workplace much happier and healthier. Thus, to inculcate  
body-mind-intellect-spirit phenomenon has become the part and parcel of leading organizations. Therefore the  
organizations are conducting workshops and sessions on yoga therapy, power of positive thinking, personal  
energy management to create self awareness and spiritual connectivity besides stress and time management.  
This results in the change of employeesb  inner outlook, better work environment; creation of spiritual culture in  
the organization as it enhances the inner connect as well as interconnect; it raises the morale of the employees  
and leads to betterment of organization including its workforce at all fronts because quality work, quality  
product, quality service and most of all higher quality of life are its output. Recently, T-Series also arranged a 4  
day trip to Vaishno Devi Pilgrimage for its staff.  
Besides these techniques, modern appraisal methods-Management By Objectives,360 degree feedback, BARS,  
running Assessment and Development Centre, HR Process Mapping, Balanced Scorecard Approach, using  
various Competency Mapping Models- MBPI, MAP, KIEI are the renewed approaches for selection, promotion,  
diagnosing, training requirements, downsizing, development, job analysis, information and performance analysis.  
FedEx Corporation has risen phenomenally due to its PSP (People Service Profit) philosophy and HR Practices  
such as Survey Feedback Action and Personal Records Information Systems in the areas of recruitment, selection,  
training and development and performance appraisal.  
Traditional approaches fail because they are flawed in implementation, de-motivate staff and are often perceived  
as forms of control, which are inappropriately used to b policeb  employeesb  performance while the new work  
culture, adopted by many pre-eminent organizations, proves that in this mechanical age too, there are increasingly  
hopeful signs that men can use machine to relieve his burden of physical and mental drudgery without making  
it his master. In addition to this, it transforms the relationship between managers and workers; workers and  
workers; workers and machines into a new and more satisfying relationship.  
To conclude, the new work culture, like its counterpart the traditional work culture, has also its pluses and  
minuses. However, it tends to present itself as employee-friendly and humanistic and facilitate employees to  
scale the ladder of their potentials.  
. Nair N.G & Latha , Personnel Management and Industrial Relations, p.486  
. Business World, Special Collectorb s Issue, April 2004, p.91  
. HRM Review, March 2006, p.12  
. <>  
. ibid.  
. Reddy Sumati, Human Resource Management: Best Practices and Cases, p. 114  
. Power Jobs, The Hindustan Times, Mumbai, Tuesday, 14 February2006, p.1  
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