One month into my MBA at IFMR, the thing that fascinated me the most was the way housekeeping staff worked at IFMR. They handle the cleaning and mopping work in hostels, dining area and the faculty residences. Most of my friends were amazed by their work. One guy left his wallet open on the bed and left for classes. By the time he returned to his room, the wallet was folded and kept on the study table with no money missing. Another guy was amazed when he saw his shoes arranged in an order. He even chuckled saying “dude, even my mother doesn’t do that”. Instances like this show that there is a sense of virtue among the staff.
The very next day, one of our faculty cited an example of a Harvard case called “Terror at Taj Mumbai: customer-centric leadership” explaining how the staff sacrificed their lives to save the customers. I somehow ended up relating it to the staff here and was eager to know what made them so sincere and ethical towards work. I have decided to talk to people around and know the entire story.
Firstly, I met Mr. Murali who is one of the two managers that take care of the 40 strong housekeeping staff. I asked him the daily routine of the that the staff goes through. There are some defined time slots for each work and people are assigned to it in batches. Most of them reside in nearby villages and get to the campus around 7.15 A.M. They have a briefing around 8.00 A.M where work is allotted based on rooms, floors and hostels. Other than the hostels they also clean path areas and roads. There are random briefings in the evening where they share opinions and ideas to better the work on the campus. They leave hostel campus by 4.50 P.M. There is checking of their belongings while entering and leaving the campus.
When I asked him whether there are any instructions given to them about theft, he said that they do it only once when the staff joins. He even proudly said that they organize a small cultural activity for themselves on Aug 15th of every year. There are performances including singing and dancing.
Then I met my senior Anjula Singh from Food and Hostel committee and asked her experiences with the staff. She said in the 10 years that she lived in the hostel, she has never seen such sincere and dedicated staff. She said that the staff never let the language be a barrier when it comes to helping the students. She narrated an instance where they were extremely helpful in cleaning up the mess after an event, even when it wasn’t their duty to do so. The best part is that they did it with no complaints or requests for extra pay.
Then I spoke to the staff directly when they were having a tea break. I told them that my friends were extremely happy with the way they worked. Among the 30 people who were there, I could see smiles on most of their faces, it shows how proud they are of their work. Then I sheepishly asked them whether they get any instructions regarding the theft in rooms. One of them was quick to respond saying, “You are just like our kids. How can we steal from you? We want you to be comfortable while you are here and study well." I can see the kind of satisfaction she had in her eyes while she said these words. Maybe now I finally know why they have such high values and ethics. The key to happiness is the satisfaction and pride you take from the work you do.
All we need to do to appreciate their work is smile back at them and say thank you. Can we do that? Maybe that will alone give them immense pleasure, knowing that their work matters to us.
1st Year MBA Student at IFMR GSB Krea University