I had a great time this week with the HR team of Grameenphone, Bangladesh’s largest telecom operator and most preferred employer for the last three years, in helping them on their journey to implement their new HR operating framework.
Dhaka is really an amazing city. Depending on the way you look at it, you can either agree that it is the least livable city in the world (according to a 2012 study of the Economist Intelligence Unit) or one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities of South Asia. Being the ‘glass-is-half-full’ person that I am, I loved the energy and spirit of the place. However, there is no way to circumvent the fact that the infrastructure is unable to keep up with the influx of 600,000 new inhabitants every year, making Dhaka one of the fastest growing city in the world. People work and live in crammed office blocks and apartments, and the traffic here is probably the worst in the world.
It was with this background in mind that I entered the amazing world of Grameenphone. The GPhouse: A new state of the art U-shaped building, created around a huge water body with waterfalls, adorned with spectacular Bengali art, with a huge auditorium and cafeteria. To top it all of – open work stations, with the CEO sitting at a same desk as any other officer in the company. I had to pinch myself, am I still in Dhaka?
Obviously the people who work there love it. The GPhouse is a fantastic selling point in attracting and retaining talent. There is no office facility that comes close, so much so that they have a special team in the company that gives, almost daily, office tours to high placed government officials.
Whilst I sincerely applaud the vision of the leadership of the company to build such an amazing facility, I also realized that being so far ahead of the curve could potentially backfire as well. Standing out from the crowd as a progressive company is one thing but shiny facilities and offices also increases your exposure and attracts all kinds of desired and undesired attention.
However, there are always positives and negatives when it comes to pushing limits and going against what others feel is the norm. Grameenphone is an example of moving forward in troubling times and should be rewarded for standing out like a bold beacon of progressiveness. While the organization is still growing, they already have a significant lead over their competitors. This comes from investing in their employees the way they do, understanding the importance of business development and paving the road for other local and foreign corporates to follow in their footsteps.
– Paul Keijzer
Photo Credits: Sarkar Protick