Last week I had occasion to talk to a few people from the hospitality and retail sectors.
First up was a youngster from Himachal Pradesh, who happens to be working in Pune as an order taker-cum-server (or a waiter). Many youngsters from the remote mountain states of India (Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, among others) come to the big cities to work in retail outlets, hotels and restaurants. And Pune has its fair share of these young Indians.
It was a good chat but what struck me about it was that the young waiter wasn’t looking forward to the long weekend. None of the servers were.
“Bore ho jayenge sir. One day a week is enough for rest and personal work.”
“But don’t you miss the easy pace of the mountains?”
“The city is different and I like learning this way of working, this culture. Before Pune, I was in Goa and that was very different as well. When I go back home, I go back to the pace there.”
Pune has been home or served as sojourns for youngsters from different states for as long as I can recall.
Earlier, most of them came as students to the city’s colleges. Now, they also come to work in front-line roles in the rapidly expanding retail and hospitality industries.
Much of Pune’s work force comes from the districts and smaller towns in Maharashtra, including Yavatmal, Solapur, Satara, Kolhapur, Akola. Pune is also home to a smaller but significant workforce from several other urban cities such as Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Indore, Kochi, Varanasi, Chandigarh, Kolkata, and thusnworkforce is distributed across industries and departments, including of course the IT and ITES industries. The IT and related industries have very different job profiles, different job environments, offer different skills and working conditions. Headlining the differences is the 5-day work week (theoretically, at least).
In most industries in Pune, you will see a workforce as diverse as the cultures of India.
But speaking to people in hospitality and retail is different and special. It always reminds me of my roots, which are in industries that work almost round-the-clock, in 2 or 3 shifts and in 6-day weeks.
In fact, the 5-day week isn’t the norm for most people, even in urban cities. As I was reminded by senior salespersons at an Apple store.
“This is a long weekend, aren’t you guys taking off somewhere?”
“Long weekend?!” All three frontline sales staff laughed. They were half incredulous that I thought they worked 5-day weeks.
“We get one off every week and it’s never on weekends. Usually, any day Monday to Friday.” said the senior salesperson.
After a pause, she added, “I have been working 6-day weeks for more than 5 years now and I get very restless on long leaves. I would rather be at work because
I enjoy my work.”
One of her team mates, added a thought: “This industry prepares you for hard-work, frontline and efficiency.” He qualified it, “There have been times when I have taken an extra leave with the weekly off, but two days off makes me lazy and lethargic!”
Having lived and worked in both worlds (5-day and 6-day week), I have my own thoughts on the matter, but that’s for a different day. The 5-day and 6-day Work Week Worlds will (and are) colliding and will produce significant changes much beyond the control of the HR and L&D think-tanks, but that too is a story for a different day.
For now, I am just conscious of yet another churn in the country’s workforce, led by a young and mobile population and one that is willing to travel and see the country and learn.
Sanjay Mukherjee is a Pune-based business consultant. He is Founder of RedstoneSummerhill and The Mountain Walker and also serves as Chief Strategy Advisor for the Hong Kong-based learning technology company, Peak Pacific Limited