Common thread between awesome jobs and fulfilling relationships

All of us want great relationships. We wish for amazing friends, awesome dates and a job that gives us fulfilment. Fulfilment in either job or relationship, however, remains a challenge.

Recently, I read some of Dan Ariely’s works. Dan Ariely is a psychologist who also conducts research in the area of behavioral economics. Besides his fascinating work, what I like about him is his ability to explain things in the simplest way possible.

In one of his works, he muses over why, in today’s world a fulfilling relationship with a significant other, especially a partner, is so difficult to find. When we live in the age of Tinder where we can find a new partner at a swipe of our phone. The abundance of choices should allow us to find better and more suitable partners, yet this seldom happens.

He reasons this by drawing an analogy with renting a house. He explains that if a person had to rent his/her apartment on a daily basis ( almost like a hotel), then, the tenant and the landlord both would need to decide if they want to extend the lease for one more day or not (and do it every single day!) In this scenario, would the person (and the landlord) spend any time on making the apartment better? Would they decorate the apartment, buy better furniture, would they invest in it? In other words, would the tenant make this apartment his/her home? Dan explains that modern relationships are just like these daily rental agreements, we don’t have any motivation to work on them to make them beautiful. This video explains his findings in a beautiful animation.

his research made me wonder if the same phenomenon can be applied to another significant area of our life? Our work? Since we spend a significant portion of our lives at work and define a large sense of our identity through it, it will not be surprising if findings (as above) on relationships can be applicable for our work life as well.

Today’s job market is almost like Tinder. There is always a better option available at your fingertips. There are Tinder equivalents of job finders as well. In such scenarios, the candidates (especially with good brand names) have opportunities to switch jobs in a very short span of time (typically a few months). Many companies anticipate such moves and do not invest in the candidates and start planning to backfill. This effectively reduces the job to a contract. Such jobs are increasingly seen as something that lasts for a short span of time or only until specific needs are fulfilled. Neither the employer nor the employee are committed. Both know that they can move to another employee or employer depending on the huge pool of resources.

When we had started Thrymr, we hired freshers (that’s what we could afford at that time). Initially, the freshers would be happy to join, but just in a few months, with some experience and it is consequent confidence, they would feel that they could find another job with much higher pay and would quit. We, to an extent, would prepare ourselves, at least mentally, to meet such requirements. With our limited resources, we were hesitant to invest in them because the first thought that used to come to our mind was this investment would go bad as they would quit soon.

It was all a part of the day’s work. But then, were we creating a home? From where I stood, it looked like a room on a lease where people would come and go but not attempt to invest and make it their home. We wanted people to not only have the desire to stay with us but also to accept and imbibe Thrymr’s goals and vision.

After much thought, amongst many other things, we tried changing our outlook and policy. We planned on earning the commitment of those who worked with us. At the beginning, we asked candidates to give us two years (we started with one, extended it to two) where we promised to work equally hard with them, provide ample achievement opportunities, training and resources, unrestricted access to the clients, meaningful role in decision-making and a lot of mentoring. I personally saw to it that we had as few hierarchies as possible and that social interactions would flow as fairly and smoothly as possible.

To our amazement, the results were encouraging. Once the daily rental problem was thrown out of the window, both of us worked really hard to make the apartment beautiful. The team worked really hard. Some QA engineers became developers, some developers became architects. We were able to ship out amazing products in a very short span of time and it was a win-win for everyone.

I am not implying that we have solved all the issues related to retention, but a change in our outlook towards those who work with us has produced amazing results. We are a part of a large family, it feels like home when we come to the office and many people have continued to work with us, even after two years, with more enthusiasm and attaining exponential growth rates.

I guess, commitment and investing resources (time, patience, energy in particular) to make things work are important for developing a new relationship, be it with an individual or a job in a company. When joining a new job or getting into a new relationship, take a moment and think about what kind of a relationship are you looking for. If you are courageous enough to ignore the lure of Tinder, a beautiful home & workplace, in the long run, would definitely be worth it.

About Rishi Khare

Rishi Khare is an IIT Kanpur graduate and has an experience of over a decade in the Tech industry. He is also the Founder and CEO of Thrymr Software. Thrymr is an outsourced product development startup. They primarily work with startups from all across the globe to build their products. Their product development covers complete lifecycle, starting from ideation to production deployment, including UI/UX, development, testing, and dev-ops.

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