Why has the Worm Turned?

Sep 6, 2022

The salary man worm in the workforce has turned in the last few years. Direct and indirect impact of the pandemic has forced employees to reconsider their options, and to place life before work. We work to live, they seem to be saying, not live to work.

The leadership community is still in ‘absencing’ mode of closed mind, closed heart and closed will. Unless they transform very soon to a ‘presencing’ mode of open mind, open heart and open will, leaders and their organizations will collapse. Scharmer’s Theory U paradigm through the medium of coaching could be one of the most powerful ways to transform organisational culture to this new workforce reality.

From the jargon used by social media in recent times, here are a few that indicate the mindset of the ‘turning worm’.

  • Work from Home was first a necessity thanks to pandemic lockdown. This has since been voted with their seats by the workforce. No one, save a few who wish to escape reality, want to work 6 days a week like the Chinese, or even 4 days as in affluent societies pre-pandemic. 2 days a week at most from workspace, travelling torturous hours in traffic in metros like Bangalore, Bangkok, and Bay Area, is what women and men would now prefer. Raf sighted companies have adapted to this reality and have found it to be far more productive and cost efficient too. Real estate business will suffer as would business travel, till they restructure. 
  • Great Resignation was the next movement, when employees discovered that they are better than what their organisations told them they were. Here they voted with their feet and moved to newer pastures or more and more often to entrepreneurial gig work, which is more soul satisfying. Salaries in many spaces have increased 3-fold for new hires, in turn putting pressure on those who are under paid. Companies would need to find more creative ways of engaging, evaluating and energising employees.
  • Quiet Quitting is the latest buzzword, and the most pernicious reality, which undermines the very fabric of the capitalist corporate structure. Employees are finally showing the ‘middle finger’ in defiance and contempt. Passive aggressive resistance as the British discovered through Gandhi in India is far more dangerous than anything active and violent. A new chapter is how to engage with people with respect has been opened.  

I recently read about the 3 smart questions Google CEO is posing his workforce. 

  • What would help you work with greater clarity and efficiency to serve our users and customers?
  • Where should we remove speed bumps to get better results faster?
  • How do we eliminate waste and stay entrepreneurial and focused as we grow?

These questions are not about how the workforce can offer more sweat and blood to the organisation. They are about what the organisation can do to leverage the workforce strengths and passion. They add meaning to work. 

These and similar questions need to be asked by every CEO and CXO. In a recent conversation, CEO of a multinational company in India told us that his focus is to create a systemic culture of awareness of Self, Team, and Organisation, in that order, across their workforce. Their family life would come first, their team at work next, and  organisation last. Ironically, this approach would benefit the organisation most in the longer term. 

Coaches with a systemic approach can contribute significantly in helping organisations develop such cultures where employees are not merely engaged but respected as equal partners.

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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