Are you Superstitious at Work?

Lynn Lobo

From donning their lucky stones to wearing auspicious colour, HR managers find themselves broadly dealing with superstitious employees

A man entered an office cubicle occupied by four persons and announced that the annual appraisal assessments were about to begin. Upon hearing this, one of the employees without delay knocked twice on his wooden desk and threw some salt with his right hand over his left shoulder snubbing away any evil omen that could negatively shape his fate during the assessment interview.

Many of us may not only relate to this narrative, but also consciously or subconsciously find ourselves giving into such superstitions at some point. Whether we refuse to cross paths with a black cat or tremble at the inauspicious twitch of our eye, no matter how absurd the superstition, it has cast a spell on the minds of many, whether in belief or mirth. And while one may attribute such folklore solely to the religious folk, a survey conducted by TeamLease reveals that India Inc is just as much a casualty to such superstitions as anyone else. The study found that a major segment of the Indian corporate workforce still finds sanctity in their superstitious beliefs to herald success. “A majority of the Indian workforce who has grown up in a deep rooted religious environment, tends to harbour such beliefs as a part of their ecosystem, which naturally gets carried over to their workplace,” justifies Amit Das, sr. VP group HR, RPG Enterprises. While such beliefs are purely based on faith and can help in boosting confidence, they can also become crutches without which one cannot function if followed too seriously, feels Dr. Sriharsha A. Achar, CPO, Apollo Munich Health Insurance.

 If India Inc has forayed into a modern-day realm, why do we still harbour such beliefs? “I believe there is nothing wrong in harbouring such beliefs as long they don’t hamper work. When an employee wants something badly, these beliefs may help the employees in the long run by boosting their self-confidence and esteem,” opines Rajesh Nair, CEO, Top Gear Consultant Pvt.Ltd.

For the modern-day HR manager who is not in favour of superstitious beliefs, what advice should be given to him/her in order to better manage a workforce that is heavily dependent on faith and such beliefs? “An HR manager should show by personal example to his/her subordinates that if he/she could succeed without being superstitious, then they could too. In the case of those superstitions, which are at a personal level, the manager should take a neutral stand as long as the work is not affected,” advises Nair.

In a nutshell, your employees’ cultural and personal ideas are their own; as long as they do not cause inconvenience or discomfort to others, or affect performance, feels Sudhanshu Pandit, director HR, Symantec India.

While some of us may forward that seven-day chain mail, others may jokingly irk the minds of those who chose not to. Regardless, a superstitious mind isn’t a rarity in the corporate domain. Is it a panacea or a century long farce? The debate continues; till then, watch out for that black cat!