Your employees are your most important resource. Their hard work, ingenuity, loyalty and dedication are critical contributions to the success of your firm. In return, you have to ensure that you are giving them a fair deal in terms of wages and salaries, and compliance with the statutory obligation of provident fund, gratuity, insurance, bonus, etc. The wages and salaries which you give must, of course, be in accordance with the minimum level as specified by the government, but they must also be at part with other firms within your industry. Result or productivity linked bonus and incentives are a way to ensure that your employees can share in the growth and prosperity of the firm.
Apart from wages, provision of a safe, healthy environment which is conducive to work is your responsibility. There must be proper and adequate facilities such as canteen bathrooms, first-aid room, etc. The extent and importance of these facilities will vary from one organisation to another. In an administrative-office with -30 employees; you do not require a full-fledged first-aid room. A small first-aid box with the minimum accessories will suffice. In contrast, in a factory where the incidence of accidents is bound to be higher, a proper first-aid or emergency room with a doctor is an essential requirement. Realising the importance of a comfortable working environment, many progressive companies have canteens which provide hot, wholesome lunch at subsidised rates. Some companies also provide transportation for employees at their own cost.
Instrumentation Limited, Tata Iron and Steel Company and Hindustan Machine Tools have developed beautiful townships in Kota, Jamshedpur and Bangalore respectively with the best possible facilities and amenities for the benefit of their employees. Where the company is situated in a remote,. undeveloped area, provision of housing and other facilities is necessary to attract and retain the required work-force. But in many other cases, development of such amenities is a reflection of the growing realisation by companies that employees are not simply another resource for production, but are human beings with emotions, desires, aspirations and have a life outside the factory too. Only a happy, satisfied human being can be a productive worker. Many firms extend their mantle of responsibility to include the employees’ families too. They contribute towards education and marriage of their employees‘ children.
The thoughts of J.R.D. Tata, Chairman of Tata Steel, expressed in 1943 in a proposal for the creation of a Personnel Department in the company are noteworthy.
“What are the main causes of our difficulties with our workmen? In many respects we have treated our employees exceptionally well. Our rates of pay and bonuses; our hours of work and conditions of service; the accommodation, amenities and medical care we have provided for them and their families, etc., exceeded what any other company in India had done for its employees. Normally, therefore, it would be reasonable to expect that our employees would be appreciative of the liberal treatment and generous terms of employment they get at Jamshedpur. If, instead, they are frequently discontented and mistrustful, and hostile towards us, I think we must assume that the fault lies with us and not win with them. It is, therefore, up to us to find out where we have been at fault and then formulate the necessary corrective.”
Speaking about the importance of human level personal contact with employees J.R.D. Tata laments:
“One of the inherent drawbacks of modern industry, with its large and concentrated labour forces, is the difficulty of maintaining personal touch between management and employees. As a result, many petty grievances, negligible individually but substantial in the aggregate, which might have been eliminated by a friendly word or timely action, are allowed to build up a sense of discontent and frustration among the workers.”
Your responsibility as a manager is also to ensure that all dealings with the employees are fair. Whether it is determining the profit linked bonus that is being calculated or the provident fund of a retired employee which has to be paid, you must ensure that the employees are not cheated, harassed or humiliated.
The fact that we still have child labour, bonded labour, workers suffering from debilitating diseases because of unhealthy, unsafe working environments speaks volumes for our collective failure to discharge managerial responsibility towards our employees.
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