The Panorama newsletter is sent to Moneycontrol Pro subscribers on market days. It offers easy access to stories published on Moneycontrol Pro and gives a little extra by setting out a context or an event or trend that investors should keep track of.
Some white-collar types seem to have paid close attention to that call of ‘workers of the world, unite!’
There is a sort of knowledge worker revolution brewing which is evident from trends such as a refusal to work from office, quiet quitting, demands for allowing moonlighting, the Great Resignation and so on.
Employers can’t seem to catch a break and have mostly been resigned to whining on social media about employees ghosting them (i.e. not turning up to work after accepting a job offer), equating moonlighting with cheating and two-timing, or sermonising about working 18-hour days.
Young workers, especially those belonging to the cohort called Gen-Z, would have none of this. These recurring differences of opinion also seem to point to the balance of power between employers and employees shifting towards the latter.
"The equation has changed to a large extent for the more connected, more skilled employees. They have better exposure and more access to different possibilities," said Prof Biju Varkkey, faculty of human resources management at IIM Ahmedabad, who is also a board member at several companies. "Employees are gradually taking control of their careers in their own hands, they want to be the architects of their careers."
There are multiple factors that have fuelled this trend.
For one, there is a shortage of talent in several industries, especially in the knowledge and tech economy. That naturally gives workers more power, at least for now.
Two, in the initial days of the pandemic, companies laid off several employees and found that they could get by. But on the flip side, employees find themselves overworked and are pushing back.
Three, the definitions of success are changing.
A concept like moonlighting, which is not new by the way, is being embraced by today’s workers not only for making an extra buck, but also as a way to express themselves and build a portfolio of their work which will help their careers.
"Socially, too things are changing. There is more acceptance of these new forms of work such as work from home and gig work," said Varkkey.
A big part of this shift has been owing to the pandemic and the realisation that technology can actually help. As this column in The Spectator crisply puts it, unlike the Luddite demands of the past, what we are seeing now “is a campaign to allow technology to deliver its promised benefits to the quality of working life”.
What does this mean for the future of work for employers and employees?
One big caveat is that trends such as work from home are applicable mostly to the knowledge economy. There is still a huge segment of workers out there which is forced to take any job that comes their way.
That said, changes are afoot.
"We are going to see more non-standard contracts and work arrangements. They will be very different from our conceptualisation of work as a 9-to-5 job," said Varkkey.
Employers will have to approach these changes wisely and give more flexibility to employees while defining their obligations with more clarity.
As TN Hari, former chief human resources officer at BigBasket and co-founder of the Artha School of Entreprenuership, writes in this column, “Employers who take a restrictive and punitive approach will find it difficult to attract talent. They will face a high level of attrition, and high attrition in turn would get them to probably clamp down even more, leading to a vicious cycle of high attrition and dissatisfaction. It is time to think and act wisely.”
Investing insights from our research team
Harsha Engineers International IPO: Is this worth betting on?
Yes Bank — Is it fit to enter the long-term portfolio of investors?
Jyothy Labs: Can it add colour to the portfolio?
What else are we reading?
Quiet quitting when doing nothing at all is serious work
Will Indian markets decouple this time?
Can Colgate’s new chief pull a growth rabbit out of the hat?
Can India play a role in the battle for influence in Central Asia?
OECD leading indicator shows India, Japan as only major economies with stable growth
How many jobs will it cost to bring down US inflation to 2%?
Marketing Musings: Simply South and Star Spouses
Martin Wolf writes: Globalisation is not dying, it’s changing (republished from the FT)
After the tech sell-off: will growth investors keep the faith? (republished from the FT)
What reinstating Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s legacy means to India
What message does India send by opting out of IPEF trade policy pillar?
Technical Picks: Copper, Vedanta, HPCL and Polycab (These are published every trading day before markets open and can be read on the app).