Panelists at the FMCC Human Capital Forum took a close look at the corporate environment fuelling a gold rush for higher salaries among today’s professionals. Another panel comprising editors analysed whether there was an adequate mechanism to evaluate editorial performance.
The panelists discussing ‘Salaries: The Gold Rush. Is It for Real?’ included Ajay Upadhyaya, VP-Corporate Affairs, Percept Holding; Anurag Batra, Group Editor-in-Chief and MD exchange4media; Samir Verma, Director, Myriad Consulting; Sarabjeet Sachar, CEO, Smart Aspirations; and Geetanjali Pandit, Director-HR, India Today Group. Meenakshi Madhvani, Managing Partner, Spatial Access moderated the panel.
Smart Aspirations’ Sachar said, “People may not be solely motivated by money to take up a job, but money is definitely a key consideration. Compensation is very important for retention. If the compensation is lower than the market standards, then it should be corrected by means of added performance-based bonuses and work reviews that need to be conducted more often in the year. If, however, the compensation is not at par with what is offered in the industry, then the gap should be padded with incentives.”
Sachar added that sometimes designations did make a difference to candidates even though the salary offered might be high.
According to Madhvani, the difference between jobs and careers needed to be understood properly by young candidates. She cited the example of GroupM, which had stopped hiring young candidates from Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad, because, despite the high salaries being doled out, candidates often left the organisation within six months.
Upadhyaya admitted that there indeed was a gold rush and that the media industry should have noticed it approaching when all other sectors were beginning to hike salaries. “In the long run, an individual is paid for adding value to the company. Also, people usually have to spend a considerable amount of time in an organisation to get high salaries. This is one of the reasons why many youngsters today jump from one job to another in the hope that it would fetch them higher salaries sooner. But when organisations notice the high attrition, they ought to try to decrease the same by increasing salaries. However, there is definitely a limit beyond which salaries should not go higher. But there is no denying that the gold rush applies more to those who are skilled and committed to their work.”
Pandit remarked that it was necessary to look at the grey areas within an organisation as well as the work culture that often led to disengagement between the employee and the organisation.
According to exchange4media’s Batra, the absence of any benchmark or data on salaries was responsible for creating a skewed pattern in compensations being paid today. He also added that it was not always necessary that salary hikes alone made employees happy.
In the concluding panel discussion of the day on ‘Evaluation of Editorial Performance’, the panelists tried to probe this critical issue confronting journalism. Moderated by Kalyan Kar, Editor, exchange4media.com, the panelists included Arun Roy Chowdhary, ex-Resident Editor of The Times of India and Hindustan Times; Shefalee Vasudev, Editor, Marie Claire; Shashi Shekhar, Chief Editor, Amar Ujala; Rahul Dev, Senior Editor, Janmat; Pawan R Chawla, Editor, i-Next; and Vishnu Shankar, Editor, Zee News.com and Zee Punjabi Khabraan.
Kar said that in media, editorial was always at a disadvantage vis-à-vis its counterparts in marketing, circulation and ad sales. While these departments had numbers-driven data to show achievements, “editorial always suffered as it is a subjective and creative job”. The credit for a successful product would always be hijacked by marketing and circulation.
Dev stated that the skills that were required in other industries were very different from that which were required in journalism. “I would not hire someone who is a careerist and is looking for royalty in journalism. The person should be able to understand the vision of the organisation and be able to deliver what the reader wants. Good journalism cannot just be assessed through the length of an article, but the understanding of news sense and its relevance is significant,” he said.
Chowdhary, however, was uncomfortable with the way appraisals took place. He said, “The editor’s prejudices might reflect on a journalist’s appraisal. Hence, how a journalist is evaluated is as important as who evaluates the person’s work.”
The panelists agreed on the fact that the HR department assessing the editorial’s performance was akin to a task of measuring the immeasurable. “If the readers or viewers are happy and satisfied with what they are being given, it proves that editorial content is good and effective,” said Chawla.
Chowdhary gave the example of the US where senior journalists were now handling HR functions since they understood the field and the nuances of evaluating editorial work.
But Vasudev had a very different perspective. According to her, the idea of evaluating creativity in journalism was unnecessarily being compared to an immeasurable map. “People who make a difference in their work stand apart, irrespective of which sector he is working in. Editorial content is about ethics and authenticity. All editors today stand for different editorial ideas and thus assess the work of their journalist based on that parameter. Between a journalistic product and the audience, the life of an editor is that of renewed fulfillment, and not disillusionment.”
FMCC Human Capital Forum was presented by Timesjobs.com in association with Nai Dunia.