Employee Salary: A Place of Pride
In an entrepreneur’s life, especially during the Start Up Phase, when his earnings are less than his expenses, payment of salaries to his employees and that too on time, has always been a discussion point. Many of these discussions, unfortunately do not throw the true picture about an organization or its owner, but some are and it turns to a good ‘coffee shop’ discussion for job seekers. With the advent of social media and the no holds bar communication followed, this for the entrepreneur, hits where it hurts. So to some, who want to score points with his erstwhile sensitive entrepreneur, this could be a moot point to score. But payment of salaries to his employees, for a sensitive entrepreneur who is building an organization is a place of pride. He is very proud of being responsible to run so many families in some ways, having provided employment to many and I as a first-generation entrepreneur decades ago, also retained that pride as much as possible.
In my case, in the early days, cash flow was always a problem, salary never was. I had observed a simple policy that payment of salaries is linked to the product we sell or the services we offer to our clients, so its mandatory. I remember those days, when payment of our salaries were totally dependent on month end collections and to pay salary on the 1st of every month was always turning to a tight situation. So, I took a decision — that our salaries would be in the Bank on the 5th of every month for employees to encase. Yes, the first month was somewhat of an issue for 4 days, but I addressed an all-employee meeting, to tell them why I was doing it.
Everyone instantly agreed to what I had proposed. From that day onwards, our collection cycle used to end on 31st of the last month and salaries paid on 5th of every month. Now of course, with the growth of the enterprise, this is not that relevant, as collections are not always linked to salary payment. Yet it has turned a culture with all our companies.
An organisation runs on its culture and this is one such thing. But the question is: ‘Have we ever failed to pay our salaries on 5thas promised? If we have, how did we handle it?’
The answer is ‘Yes. We have failed on 2 or 3 occasions. Every time, I failed for reasons beyond our control, I used to write a note to the employees, apologizing for the delayand giving them the date for the month when they would get their dues, which would be 2 or 3 days later. Again this sets a culture and defines the importance the organisation gives to such issues. Most of the times, problems arise due to such issues in any organization, for lack of clarity in communicating effectively to the employees. If the communication process follows the culture of the organization, employees mostly respond positively. Such issues came up with me some 15+ years back. Now it is no longer relevant to me.
But I wanted to raise this issue, for people who raise such loose communications over a coffee cup and try mud-slinging against an organization or its culture. I always tell everyone, if ever anyone has such issues, please take it out with data and a complaint and not as a gossip monger. An entrepreneur’s life is difficult. He spends many sleepless nights to build for the society and for himself, something he wants to be proud of. Give him that time. Be a bit more kind to such entrepreneurs, who are sensitive, good innovative entrepreneurs, who are genuinely trying to contribute to their employees’ lives and also to the society at large. Pulling them down casually, may hurt or impact their journey. Be the watchdog, not the rumor monger.
Maybe, the same thing one cannot say, when it comes to supplier payments, but they are mostly getting cashless these days. Good luck.
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