Bikram Vohra My tycoon friend (everyone has one) has rejected the job application of a senior executive on the grounds that he stayed on in the same company for 16 years. I would have thought that such a length of tenure would be an excellent recommendation. But my tycoon friend says, no way, a person who hangs about in the same place that long, what career moves is he making, the man has no thrust, no ambition, he is a floater. I say, not so long ago sticking in there would have been interpreted as loyalty and dedication and here would have been an acknowledgement of these virtues. He says, loyalty shoyalty, those are old values. Loyalty is just a lack of option, where do you live, these days people are to be treated like fruit, you squeeze what you can out of them and you let them go elsewhere, that way you make optimum use of your manpower expertise. Like oranges and lemons, my friend. I say so that is why you have such a swift turnover, not that I agree with your theory, I think it is too clever. He says thats because you are a sentimental liberal, you havent got the gravel in your gut, stick to being a writer, in business you have to realise people are expendable, dispensable and, most importantly, highly interchangeable, just the name outside the door needs replacing. You are disgusting, I say, how come we are friends? Thats because you arent in business, he says, I admire your romantic approach to life. Look, it works both ways, I have 300 people in my office, you want to check their loyalty factor, take it from me, one itsy bitsy little better offer and theyll scoot out of here so fast it will make your head spin, wheres the gratitude for favours done, now someone has offered him a couple of thousand more and hes out of here. At this very moment at least 50 of them have applied elsewhere secretly, another 50 are stopping over to gain experience they will trade with on the open market and all 300 would dump me, the company and all the corporate morale if they got a more paying deal. I say, a team is important, you cant dismiss it that fast, it needs time to get cohesive, you cant keep changing the components. He grins and says, whats that quote from the movies, the worlds graveyards are full of indispensable people and what are they doing now, they are fertilising the daffodils, grow up, it is a deal, the rest is sentimental claptrap, you work you get paid, either party wants out, five minutes bother at most, that is all. I say, even if that is true, why hold it against a long serving employee, may be he liked the job and was good at it. He says, sure, maybe he couldnt get anything better and had no choices, why should I risk my money on him, give me a mover, a chess player, at least he is on the ball, he is plotting a course, well use each other as long as it is mutually satisfying, then thats it, off he goes, no problem. We ping pong the debate a while longer and Im left with a niggling doubt that his 21st century approach of undervaluing people reflects a sleight of mind in its cleverness, but it is just a bit too clever. I think people count more than we give them credit for, I think 16 years in the same company deserves a salutation, some courtesy and yet...how come there are fewer takers by the day? Khaleej Times