The difficult times of Covid-19 have made furlough, retrenchment and lay-offs the buzz words in the corporate world, but the iconic Glenary’s in Darjeeling has stood out like its delicious confectionery as the eatery has decided to carry on with its no-retirement-no-retrenchment policy.
“Our business is not about putting sugar and flour in a machine and coming out with cakes. It is about people. If people are happy, motivated…if there is camaraderie, they like to work,” said Ajoy Edwards, the owner.
The staff strength at Glenary’s is 130, of whom 15 are over 60, which is the normal retirement age. The seniors still come to work for “two-three” hours a day and go home with the full cheque.
Bala Krishna at 79 is the oldest and commands one of the highest salaries at Rs 30,000 per month. Earlier, he used to take care of the stores and double up as a “handyman to repair all electrical machines,” but now, he leisurely comes after a morning walk, sips tea, meets his friends and goes home.
“He has been working with us from the age of 16-17 years, since my grandfather’s days. I can’t tell him to leave after he has given his entire youth and energy to the Glenary’s family,” said Edwards, who came up with the no-retirement policy after he took up the reins of his family business in 2000.
Krishna, a resident of Kerala, is settled in Darjeeling. He goes to the southern state during the three winter months but his salary is never deducted.
“He hasn’t turned up for six months now as he is in Kerala. But it is fine with us. We deposit his cheque every month,” said Edwards.
Keeping old employees does add flab to Glenary’s but its benefits outweigh the cost.
“I have an employee Sukbir at the restaurant. He has been with us for years. He is slow and old. The young customers complain about delay in service but old customers absolutely like him and he often gets the highest tips,” said Edwards.
Suk Bahadur Thami has been with Glenary’s since 1975, gets a salary of Rs 12000 a month and continues to work for eight hours a day. “I want to work for as long as I can,” said Thami.
The other benefit of the management’s policy is that hardly any employee leaves Glenary’s. “I don’t have problems like employees leaving us during tourist season. I can vouch that if I tell all my staff to be present tomorrow, all will be there,” said Edwards.
Employees accused of indiscipline are told to stay at home for four months but with full salary and decide whether they want to carry on with Glenary’s.
“They come back regretting and wanting to give their best,” said Edwards.
Can this policy work for long?
“As long as I am in charge of Glenary’s, this policy will remain. I do not know what the younger generation (of his family) will think when they take over,” said Edwards.
The policy does hit the eatery’s income as younger staff would mean more efficiency. But such thoughts do not find space in Glenary’s business model.
“If you are doing business in a place like Darjeeling, where you have 100 days of strike and agitation and so many disturbances, it will be foolish not to keep aside your savings for rainy days,” said Edwards who added that he could continue paying 100 per cent wages to his current staff in today’s business environment for the next three years.
Source: The Telegraph