Friday, December 17, 2010

The Root Cause

It has been a family outing. To the dentist. I would like to blame it on the genes. At least that is what the last dentist I visited told me, probably to make me feel I was not wholly responsible for the condition of my teeth.

They say all our problems started once we evolved to standing on our own two feet! And then discarding the neem twig to adapt to the modern 360 degree angled toothbrush, with ultra designed bristles, curved handle, cheek and tongue cleaners and the different flavoured mouthwashes. The ‘get close’ has only been with the dentist.

I get one of the best smiles from the dentist. And I must admit he has a good set. It does instill confidence. I remember a visit to a dermatologist who had bad skin, and we discarded the prescription she gave us.

This guy is also suave and sophisticated. Just the right age. Not too young, to make us feel like guinea pigs, nor too old to wonder about the steadiness of his hand. I have been clinic hopping the past few years, and very critical of the guys who peer into my mouth. There are some who do not wear a mask or gloves. I mean if they do not care about their health safety , they probably care even less for ours.

The clinic is neat and clean. Not even the faint sign of dust on his shelves. The spouse is also a dentist. And you have posters of how good teeth should look. This also for me is a plus factor. I hate sitting in the waiting room looking at framed pictures of ugly stained and broken teeth and bleeding gums.

His chairs are comfortable too. If they were not so huge and ugly, they would make ideal ones for home. Adjustable to different levels, the little side tray for small eats and a beverage, the adjustable reading light…. I guess I had time to take it all in after the anaesthesia set in.

I did panic a little though. When he said, lift your left hand if you want me to stop. I have this problem. It takes me a while to figure out left from right. A difficulty I face even while I give directions. I quickly settle that issue and keep my left hand on top.

The dental procedures so far have been painless, marring some slight discomfort. Far different from the visits to the dentists in the past. And they all of course come for a price.

I would have to be taking my younger one when she comes home this month end. Her stay is short. The doctor tells me to bring her in as soon as she comes. She might need repeated visits, he says, you never know. But I say, you must be closed for Christmas. He says ‘no’. But she may be tired the day she arrives. He assures me he is working on Sundays too. Whaaat?

I feel a little sorry for him. I mean he is making money. My contribution to his wealth has been substantial. He must be laughing his way to the bank. But no holidays? I should try and peer into his garage the next time and see if he has a swank new car parked in there.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Motivation Factor

I was reading an article about motivation for employees, and was reminded of the carrot on the stick story. I also remember reading about the carrot and the stick . When you say carrot on a stick, it is likely to mean an incentive, as it was supposedly dangled in front of a lazy donkey. The other carrot and stick approach was used by the British when they finally got hold of Quebec . They knew they were outnumbered by the Canadians but had to be careful about how they had to keep them in control, yet keep them without rebelling while still enforcing the law.

Either way, the carrot and stick refers to achieving the goal with one of them - the reward or the threat.

There are those who look at it philosophically too. How with every step one took towards the carrot, the carrot moves forward too! To say, that with each step, the destination moves ahead and so on…
The stick remains the same. As punishment. The carrot could be a motivation, a reward, a bribe, a perk… and it starts early in life. Even though Dr Spock was very critical about using a reward in enforcing discipline, at some point in time, every parent would have tried the reward approach. You do this, I will give you that…. And tried to pass it off as motivation rather than a bribe.

As, I said the whole thing started when I read this article – For a Thin Employee, a Fat Bonus. It appears there are only two things that keep the human race going. One is getting rich and the other, the obsession with getting thin. And employers are aware that healthy employees can mean only good things for the organisation. They tried providing a healthy environment. A good gym. Flexible work hours to get you to use the gym and so on. I guess it did not always work.  You can take the horse to the water....

A survey found that it is more likely that an employee will join lifestyle management programs when offered some incentive.  And soon the incentive programme evolved.

GE offers employees money to quit smoking.

IBM employees who participate in wellness programs get cash rebates.

And so, corporates gained more productive employees and lower health care costs..

It’s not just these big companies. Some countries include this approach in their health programmes.

Countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, Jamaica offer incentives for parents bringing their children for vaccinations.

In Scotland, cash for groceries is offered to those who quit smoking

In Tanzania, a World Bank sponsored programme pays young men and women $45 for every negative test for a sexually transmitted  disease

Women belonging to low income group in Minnesota receive a $10 benefit for undergoing a mammogram

A non profit organisation in the US pays teenagers to not get pregnant and to attend school. The money is kept aside for college enrolment.

Well? Some argue that incentives should not be used to induce people to move to a healthy lifestyle. Others feel, this at least gets them started. Some may not feel the benefits of a health programme immediately and may need some motivation to start off.

And all for a healthy cause, it couldn’t be better! And whoever dangles that carrot in front of the stick, would not do it if they did not stand to benefit. Right?  And what about those who do not have these generous employers. I guess one can indulge in some self motivation. Nothing can be more self -rewarding.
Cartoon source -

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's Official

Educational trips that we took when we were in school were not all about fun and enjoyment. We were given an orientation of the site we were to visit. And continuous inputs as we were taken around the place. Assignments to be completed on our return. And of course, we paid for our trips. At least our parents did.

Our city has a Mayor. It appears that some of the other cities in India have one too. Does anyone know what their powers are? And what they actually do? Besides going on jaunts abroad? Our mayor went on one such tour. She came back and said she wanted to pull down all the hoardings. Which is probably a good thing. But that was the only press note that appeared in the newspapers. Was that the only thing the mayor learnt on her trip abroad?

Isn’t it time of our officials went back to school?
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