Bajaj Group Chairman’s categorical assertion on employee job security

I have not heard about Kushagra Bajaj since the more famous Bajajs – Rahul and Rajiv – have the penchant for being in news more often.

Recently, the Bajaj Group’s corporate page has undergone a change – this was in mid-April, I believe. The page for ‘Chairman’s Profile‘ does not have the actual profile of Kushagra Bajaj but a personal letter from the Chairman!

It’s not a very well-written or well-articulated letter (with sentences like, “He is a leading entrepreneur of the nation has put the business records on the mark” and “I will like to let you know…”), but it is highly emotional and makes an impact from that sentiment alone.

The penultimate line is the clincher: “I shall like to assure you that you all will remain protected NO ONE WILL LOSE THEIR JOBS. THIS IS MY ASSURANCE TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES. Please do convey this to your family members”!

What was on this page earlier? This.

For a Chairman to make such a vocal and visible promise is an amazing feat in leadership communication. Considering this was in mid-April (and the page remains, has been written about (see BusinessWorld), I don’t know if it’s thought-through or bravado.

Even Airbnb, that announced a massive layoff of 25% of its global workforce and also won praise for the way CEO Brian Chesky had framed the communication around it, had made a statement mid-April that they are ‘working hard to keep all 7,500 employees’. It was a statement made in caution, without an explicit point.

I clearly recall a friend and colleague’s story from the early-2000s when I was new in Bengaluru. He had been laid off from Cisco when they announced a big layoff in 2001.

Many of his Indian colleagues, who had also been laid off, literally left their cars (bought on EMI) in the train stations/airport parking lots and walked away. Cisco had also made available for 3 months a huge space with internet-enabled computer terminals for all the retrenched staff to search for jobs!

The equivalent of that may be what Airbnb and Chesky have done! Chesky’s letter included one interestingly similar line: “A computer is an important tool to find new work, so we are allowing everyone leaving to keep their Apple laptops.”

Airbnb had thought of 5 things to help employees find other jobs, incidentally.

The first one is up and running!

All this indicates quite a bit of planning, and restraint in communications when it comes to layoffs.

While I really like Kushagra Bajaj’s confidence in asserting something like job security, I really hope enough thought has gone into making this announcement so categorically.

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