From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
ESPRIT DE CORPS
: the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group.
This is a value that was taught to me in post-war Britain and later re-enforced in the Royal Navy. It is the spirit that drives people to volunteer, help their neighbor and try to perform well in all their endeavors. More recently it has been replaced by something less complete called “Team Building”. Many bodies, mostly corporate have jumped on the bandwagon to send their staff on these “Team Building” programs. I wonder how many can claim that it achieved any improvement in achieving Esprit De Corps.
As an example, how does Esprit De Corps affect the workplace? There is an employer and an employee, they are tied by contract to each other for the common purpose of creating some output. The employer agrees to pay the employee and the employee provides services to the employer and in return receives payment.
There is Esprit De Corps at various levels. A global one to make the company a success and this includes interacting with customers and suppliers by the Management and Staff, and also Esprit De Corps amongst the employees of the Business, which includes the management..
I remember in Thailand one day I went to a shipping agent to collect an incoming shipment of computer printers. The young woman who was dealing with my job apologised as her clerk was still at the airport and would be late returning. After numerous cups of tea the clerk returned with the parcels but it was about 8PM. I said to the woman that I was sorry she and her staff had to wait so long and thanked them. She informed that no thanks were needed if was their job to complete the task for their employers and the companies customers. “How else could the company succeed and maintain them in employment?” she exclaimed. This is an example of Esprit De Corp.
Unfortunately these days, too often we see employers laying off employees because the forecasts are declining, instead of getting out and about and create more business. A leading Hotelier told me one day at a luncheon in Bangkok that this was a problem with many Western Companies compared to Japanese and Asian Companies that tended to ride the bumps and keep the business intact for the benefit of all not just the shareholder ( rights of the stakeholder/shareholder became very popular in the Thatcher years), even if it meant everyone taking a cut in salary.
At the other end, employees who do not turn up for work for whatever reason and without prior authorization of the employer have broken their agreement. They have not only broken their agreement with the employer but an unwritten contract with their co-workers. Now their co-workers have not only to complete their tasks, but carry out the work of the absent worker. Absent employees create a vacuum in the workflow sometimes to the extent that subsequent processes cannot take place. When absenteeism becomes an epidemic, the business will struggle to succeed and erode the spirit of Esprit De Corps between the various parties.
We are indeed fortunate in Islam that “the contract” plays an important role in our lives and we are warned by Allah to adhere to them. This is one of the beauties of religion we have rules and regulation of Allah making it easy for us. This, as opposed to man-made laws which change over time.