Countless times we will have read about the importance of human resource and ensuring their well-being. Without a shadow of a doubt, the team is the most valuable asset any company will have. Great leadership obviously comes into the equation but without a team backing the vision, the magic simply won’t happen. Through this article, the intent is to start a conversation in Pakistan, or at least the startup ecosystem about how we can help deliver a change in company values to reflect the significance team members hold.
For any entrepreneur, the art of analysing strengths and weaknesses is imperative; whatever business one is in, there will be a team which delivers your vision. They are carriers of your dream and are helping keep your vision alive. We all know and understand this but in Pakistan we seem to have a culture of trying to underpay and overwork the team. I mention culture because I think even some of the ‘innovative’ leaders still apply the old-style approach. It’s entirely possible that the process just comes in form of a habit or auto-pilot rather than a thought-out one.
The most important element is salary and understandably the problem is ‘market-rate’. Pay is according to market salaries which makes sense but is there another way of ascertaining how much salary should be given? Can another way be discussed? Companies are making millions through overseas clients, yet paying at local market rates — the inequality is clear from this. I fully understand not every company works with overseas clients but a lot will. Profit margins may be a good metric that can be used. Obviously not all details can be released into the public domain so the onus falls with the company leaders to do what is ethical. Just think, it could be that your disproportional high profits are coming from the sacrifice of your team.
I noted salary as the ‘most important’ because it’s what puts the bread and butter on the table but it is important to consider that a lower salary and a better morale is also possible. The caveat being that the alternative benefits must be significantly improving the team’s life in or out of work. As an example some companies offer to pay gym memberships, training bursaries or for days out etc.
Each company is different in what it can give, but one thing is for sure — if a familial environment is created, the team will always show empathy to the company situation and not expect the world to be given to them. For a leader, the skill is in managing the team and their expectations. Boost the morale however possible, it will be appreciated.
Sadly, Pakistan has an extremely high unemployment rate which gives the power to the employer. Those in employment are extremely lucky to be in the given circumstances and hence the culture of internships is rampant. Yes, it happens worldwide and a lot of the time unpaid but I would argue the internship should be used sparingly especially when unpaid. Maybe I am going against the grain, here but it feels that internships are being used as a way of getting a free member of staff.
If an intern is taken on, maybe a detailed roadmap of training with regular reviews can be put in place so the intern feels valued and learns according to a plan which will yield better results. Wherever possible, a stipend would go a long way in growing the confidence of the individual but more importantly providing them with a sense of achievement.
Normally it would be wise to offer alternatives but there are too many variables to consider this. The solution however, lies within us all, especially those who employee a team. A request can only be made to think on these matters. You know your company better than anyone and you know what ever you may be able to offer, be it little or a lot. The hope is that there is a proactive and open-minded dialogue on the issue leading to wider societal change.
There are many good companies, but far more companies which don’t have the vision of changing the issues mentioned. None of Pakistan’s issues can be changed overnight, but by focusing on them and playing our parts individually, the group of people that aim to change the landscape of the nation through business and development, can also become the harbingers of a change that goes beyond individual problems.