Being happy at work / Improving employee engagement

A whooping 87% of workers worldwide who, as Gallup puts it, “are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive”, in India the number goes up to 91%. What this means is that the employees remain unhappy, the company fails to attain efficiency and the country as a whole under performs.


But why is this happening?

  • Employees feel that they are not adding any value to the society. i.e. their work has no real or tangible impact to the world
  • They want big money and quick. Lives have become too materialistic.
  • Social media which is biased towards ‘my happy life’ posts

The above three are very much interconnected. Many people join big companies where they are made to do jobs which are mundane, tiresome and have customers which are located far, far away. When they join, they are really active and believe they will be able to ‘manage’ their way out as they are compensated with a handsome pay; however reality triumphs in no time.

When they take their temporary refuge from reality in the form of holidays and treks they question their materialistic way of living envying the happy lives of the locals. When they log on to their Facebook account every evening after work, they get frustrated by seeing everyone else living a happy life. They then question the worth of their very existence and their importance to the society and the world.


What can the employer do?

  • Put forth a realistic job purview. Upload “A day in the life of _____” videos on your website and let your future employee know what exactly to expect. High and unrealistic job expectations can end up being disastrous. It will either lead to high employee turnover or extremely low employee engagement.
  • Chalk a path towards making your company a boundaryless organisation as was envisioned by Jack Welch for GE. Remove the horizontal barriers – let the employee interact with the people in high echelon; remove the vertical barriers – let the employee freely interact with his colleagues and make strong relationships, and broaden his/her skill set; and most importantly remove the external boundaries – let him/her interact with the final customers, let him/her see the impact his/her work is creating. Once s/he feels that s/he is being heard by the top management, bonds and learns from his/her colleagues and sees the impact s/he is making towards the society, s/he will begin to believe in himself/herself, feel motivated and thus will not hesitate from doing more work, even if it may be outside his/her Job Description.
  • Employ a counselor and ensure every employees’ access to him/her.


What can the employee do?

  • Understand that materialistic life, more often than not, will breed unhappiness. One has to realise that money is only the means to a happy life and not the ends.
  • Facebook is an unrealistic world where people only share the happy instances of their life and thus creating an illusion of having reached the top of Maslow’s pyramid. They too have a huge set of problems and more often than not, they match with that of yours. Approach your counselor at work or talk it out with a friend in case it continues to bother you. Best thing to do would be to quit Facebook and leave a happy social life – offline.


(The above analysis is based on my interaction with a comparatively small sample of people and hence may not truly reflect the universal situation)



Do it today, do it now

07 January 2017

Life is so unpredictable. Even the small things that we think will DEFINITELY happen tomorrow, might not. Till yesterday, I was supposed to outlive Pratik in the Himalayas and enjoy my Himalayan Odyssey. However, things changed so fast and quick that I am currently on my way back home; with Pratik having many more days to enjoy in the mountains.

Similarly, my Aunt. She is just over 40 and just like anybody of her age, she had been looking forward to enjoy the rest of her life. But now she is so sick that her huge bucket list has been cut short to one single wish – “I want to live”.

We often take life for granted and promise ourselves that we will get back to living the life we had dreamed of once we get done with our tough times. But the tough times never get over and we forget how to love. And one day when we turn back, everything seemed to have changed so much that we wonder “whom did I live the past few years for?”

I am reminded of what Mahmud Shabistari once said –

Make the most of today. Take your risks. Do what you love. For “IN THE END.. We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”

My Himalayan Odyssey are a series of posts from my travel to the Himalayas which took place between 30/12/2016 and 07/01/2017

Tiny point in the present

06 January 2017

“Chill, Pratik! We have so much time. We can figure out the rest of our trip later” is what I had told my friend only a few hours ago. But now, suddenly, I am running out of time in the Himalayas. What changed in these few hours?

Rishikesh is still here. My Aunt is still in the ICU. I am still in my hostel bed. The only thing that seemed to have changed are my priorities. No longer is my holiday important. My presence in Chennai to lend a shoulder to my younger brothers seems to be more important now.

What have I learnt? Do whatever you can, as and when you can. Do not delay. You never know what tomorrow holds for you. Jump off that lazy mattress and do the things that have been lying on your bucket list. Tick all off them off. Tomorrow does not exist. Today and now is all you have.


PS. I was to stay back in the Himalayas till about 28th of January and venture out on an unplanned and adventure packed trip. However I got a call from my parents on the 5th of January and that’s when they broke to me that my Aunt is in the ICU.

PPS. My Aunt is recovering now, however her health continues to be at a critical state.

My Himalayan Odyssey are a series of posts from my travel to the Himalayas which took place between 30/12/2016 and 07/01/2017

Mountaineering Institutes in India


Tenzing Norgay’s ascent of Mount Everest (8848M / 29,028ft.) along with Edmund Hillary, in 1953 provided the desired impetus to mountaineering as an organized sport in India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru then Prime Minister and a visionary, wanted to channelize the abundant energy of the youth of the nation into a constructive field of mountaineering and hence planned to open a Mountaineering Institute.The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) was founded in Darjeeling on 4th November 1954 by Pandit Nehru himself. In this manner Late Pandit Nehru ignited the spark of a new spirit for young Indians. The spark has already developed into a dazzling torch, lighting the path for those who accept the challenge of the Mountains and aspire to climb high.

Formation of Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF)

  • A Sponsoring Committee of the Cho Oyu Expedition was formed in 1957, the success of which on May 15, 1958, encouraged the Committee to sponsor…

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Do what you love?

04 January, 2017

When we take our temporary refuge from reality in hikes like these, we come across people who are really happy with life. We see them doing what they love and then we compare their work with our hate-filled work life.

But are they really happy doing what they love? Shravan was my trek leader during my Kedarkantha (KK) trek. He has trekked the KK summit over 100 times now. While he still loves trekking, the charm is no longer the same as it used to be when he first started. Similar is the case with Abhirup, another trek leader who has hiked Kashmir Great Lakes a dozen times.

These people do what they love but not when, where and why they love to do so. In the ideal world such distinction should not exist; but in reality it does. The best thing to do, maybe, is to separate what you do from what you love. You do not want your intrinsic motivation to be replaced by the extrinsic motivation of money.

So the next time you are motivated to quit your job and do what you love, do not.

Or…. maybe not. Things might get better if you do what you love and have almost complete independence over it.

Deepak is another trek leader I met during the trek. His story is quite different. He was born in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand. He works as a freelancing trek guide and so far has traveled over half of India and is acquainted with over half a dozen Indian languages. Being a freelancer he ensured that he entered into contract with private agencies only on short term basis. Though that meant he would earn a little lesser, he chose independence over money (kuch paane ke liye, kuch khona padta hai).

Playing cricket with my trek leaders and friends at Hargaon


My Himalayan Odyssey are a series of posts from my travel to the Himalayas which took place between 30/12/2016 and 07/01/2017

The Himalayan Law

02 January 2017

It was the first day of the year when we kicked off our trek with a climb to Juda Ka Talab and witnessed out first snowfall. As we reached our campsite, the snowfall increased and in a few hours thick snow was piled up almost everywhere. Pratik and I got excited and took out our poncho and tried sliding down the snowy slopes. After a few unsuccessful attempts, we finally found a foolproof path where we could glissade our way to happiness.

After getting tired, we ventured out to making our own snowman, and once we were done, I was asked to take out my phone to click a photograph. It was then when I realized that my phone was no longer in my pocket; which must have slipped out while I was glissading down the slopes. After hours long search, we acknowledged Murphy’s law – “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, and gave up on my phone assuming that the phone would either me many inches under the snow by now thus being way too difficult to find or would no longer be in a working condition anyway.
The next day we left Juda Ka Talab campsite for the Kedarkantha base camp. We reached there by noon and had a quick, hot, yummy lunch. After an hour of rest, we left the campsite for a short walk to get acclimatized and prepare ourselves for the summit day. The beauty that unfolded during that walk, and the adrenaline rush that we came across when we crossed a dangerously narrow cliff trail, is a story for another day.

When we were back at our campsite, something unimaginable happened. Our trek leader (@shravanrawat) received a message on his wireless instrument that his friends at Juda Ka Talab had found a phone near the campsite. My happiness knew no bounds, notwithstanding the fact that the phone might no longer be in a working condition (however later it turned out that my phone was working just fine).
That evening I sat outside my tent while I saw dark clouds approaching us. What I also saw was a few mountains which were earlier under the dark (because of the shadow of the clouds), were now reflecting the bright light of the sun. This was because the clouds were not static, and thus no mountain remained in darkness forever….When we look at the mountains from the Kedarkantha base camp, we see that a few mountains are in the dark and a few have light over them because of the clouds which pour their shadow upon these mountains.

This phenomenon and my experience with my lost phone made me formulate a new law..

The Himalayan Law – Anything that goes wrong, will turn better and brighter, sooner or later.

My Himalayan Odyssey are a series of posts from my travel to the Himalayas which took place between 30/12/2016 and 07/01/2017

Blind adventure?

01 January 2017

Taking the route of ‘adventure‘, I slid down a snowy slope at Juda Ka Talab (JKT). Hell, it was fun!! However, hours later I realised that my phone was no longer in my pocket.

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It was highly probable that my phone fell off my pocket while I was sliding down. It had been snowing heavily and thus when my friend and I went back to search for my phone, we could not find it.

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Taking the road not taken is definitely the best thing one can do. However one must take sufficient caution. It is similar to trading on the stock market. Assessing your path (stock) and taking sufficient safeguards (by hedging) is the way forward….. maybe.

My Himalayan Odyssey are a series of posts from my travel to the Himalayas which took place between 30/12/2016 and 07/01/2017