Hiring a peon – A billion dollar HR question

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Hiring a peon – A billion dollar HR question

“How much involvement should an HR have at lower level employee hiring?” came a question from an inquisitive student as we discussed on the question of the effects of hiring employees on the culture of an organization.

Another student pinpointing to the peon, who peeped in our classroom through the transparent window asked “Should the HR show high involvement even while hiring at the level of ‘peon’?”

As other students chuckled at the question, the questioner wanted to keenly scrutinize it. The class was advised to inquire in the direction and to firstly start with finding how a peon could affect their training.

One of the students initiated, “The peon takes care of student food management. If he doesn’t manage it well, this will create issues”. The other student chuckled and said, “As goes the saying: ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’. And if we don’t get proper food at right time, that can lead to a bad mood and thus affect our training”

The other student added, “Not only food but the office stationery, and most importantly the cleanliness of the training center.  And we very well know how aesthetics of any place affects our work. And the onus of cleanliness goes to the peon”

“Not only the aesthetics but the customer service. When I had come for the first time to this place, I was glad by the service of this peon. He offered me water, switched on the fan and AC. Maybe that might have unconsciously supported my decision to join the program” remarked another student.

“Just as the hearty welcome of our new peon is more rejuvenating than other’s cordial reception” said I, sarcastically.

We moved on to dig deeper. We remembered a recent case where in our old peon would intrude into our classrooms to collect the student names to provide food tokens. His very presence and attitude would disturb the whole session. Our cold reception antagonized the peon and he gave this task to a new peon.

The new peon understanding the need would communicate in non-verbal cues. He would seek permission in gestures, pass on the student booklet, heap the tokens on the sides of the table and leave quietly. He would try his level best in maintaining the decorum of the session. Sometimes if he witnessed an involving session going on, he would wait outside till we would call him. Not only this, he would gaze through the transparent class window and would keenly observe the sessions. His keenness made me sometimes to call him inside the classroom and make him a part of my sessions. I quoted him as Michael Faraday, after the famous scientist who educated himself while working at a local bookbinder’s shop.

I would tell my students, “We need to be thankful to him because had he not been as he is, my delivery and your reception would not have been as it is now. He has stakes in the delivery of my session and even your learning.” His presence doesn’t create ripples in our minds and that was the biggest help.

Consequently we observed that every small thing that is around us is affecting us. We are inter-related. And as we have moved from the times of industrialization, where the employees faced problems with the basic amenities, today the problems that surround organizations are more people-oriented. And with time, the problems are becoming complex.

So, coming back to the question of hiring employees & the culture, we concluded that every member of the organization builds the culture, affects the culture. And as we saw in the above case, this is across all levels of an organization. The effects of right hiring can be analyzed and even monetized. If all avenues – present and futureare been properly analyzed, even hiring a peon will mean a billion dollar HR question.

As we were concluding this discussion, our peon gestured to be permitted in the class. As he entered and passed the student booklet, the students spoke in chorus, “Thank you Bhaya”. Unaware of the discussion and its resultant effect, he left the class hastily thinking that he had disturbed us:-)

-Based on my student interactions during NSDC training at Mount Talent Consulting

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