About 15 years ago, I used to work at Infosys. It was my first (and last) job at a corporate company. It was a fun job, but it wasn’t for me. I have drifted into a lot of different kind of jobs before settling into whatever I have right now, but I digress.
The company, like most companies, gave an identity card to be worn around the neck. It won’t win any design awards, but it was decent and did its job well – which is to show the name, employee number, blood group and an emergency contact number.
Here’s the thing that fascinated me. People who had been in the company for many years had an identity card which was faded and yellowing. They could have gone to the ID card department (or whatever) and had it replaced with a shining bright white one like mine, but they didn’t. I used to wonder why. Took me a year or so to realise that the faded yellowing card held a certain charm. It represented seniority and experience. It represented pride and loyalty. It represented growth and stability.
When I (and many freshers like me) saw someone who had a dilapidated looking card, it immediately signalled to us that this is someone worthy of respect. Someone to look up to. There was a certain old-world charm to them. That they had some "back-in-my-days" story to tell.
I know of many senior folk who when they quit the company kept their faded yellowing card as a souvenir of sorts. They would report their old card lost, get a new one re-issued and then surrender that when they left.
Employees (and people in general) invest a lot of their life and time in companies that they work for. Something as mundane as an identity card becomes a part of their identity. Companies that understand this do well to create a culture that is more fulfilling for the people who work with them. They create moments and learning that becomes a part of the employees identity, and stays with them.
While I didn’t work at Infosys long enough for my ID card to start fading, I have some very fond memories of being an Infoscion. I don’t know enough about how the company works now, but back in my days it was a great place to be at.
If you are at a corporate company in any form of leadership role (or can influence the leadership in some way) start thinking about what aspects of your early career years have stayed with you in a nostalgic way. Try to create something similar for your team. Equally, if there are bad experiences, with people or processes, see how you can eliminate some of them for your team. It starts with you!
‘Powered by intellect. Driven by Values’,