Article: Trust is not accidental at workplace

Employee Relations

Trust is not accidental at workplace

The company has to continuously and consciously create an environment of trust, says P. Balakrishnan, formerly of Tata Motors
Trust is not accidental at workplace

Balancing the needs of the business and the aspirations of people by establishing an environment of trust is very essential


The biggest complexity that is creating turbulence at the workplace is – competition. It creates a lot of pressure on the bottom line as well as the costs. In that scenario, most companies talk about business and not the people and end up spending more time pacifying the unions than talking to their own workers. Many companies resort to short-term solutions to try and achieve those competitive costs by taking shortcuts. When you do that, you are not being fair in pushing workers to the limit. That leads to a feeling of exploitation, which sets off turbulence. Many workers have high levels of awareness and aspirations and hence they do not take this treatment lying down.

The challenge is to train the front line managers on man-management abilities and make them devote more time towards people issues. Normally, when business pressure goes up, companies talk about everything apart from people. So, balancing the needs of the business and the aspirations of people by establishing an environment of trust is very essential. Trust is not accidental, the company has to continuously and consciously work towards creating such an environment.

Attracting GenY to manufacturing

The younger generation is tech savvy, connected to social media and better educated. The background that they come from is very different from the background of workers in the past. Managing them is not going to be easy as it will be about how to channelize their energy and also ensure that their aspirations are met. It is not about managing people. It is about managing the energies of the people.

The way the industry normally managed industrial relations was by force; but it is not how it will happen in the future. It is not about getting work done out of people, but rather getting the best out of them. The challenge here is how to engage the people, motivate them, make them capable and then make them deliver.

When we talk about the newer generation coming to work in this sector, the trend of people joining the workforce from the same family is not that common. The father may not want his son to work as a labourer. There are still a lot of people who have never seen an industry and it is that section of the people who is migrating. The salaries are lucrative and much higher than what they have been earning elsewhere.

Creating a pipeline for fresh blood

I think it is not about communication, it is about cultural change. The responsibility lies with the companies to give an opportunity for career progression of people. It is humanly impossible for a worker to remain efficient for 30-40 years. If we are thinking that a worker will remain a worker all his life, then we are making a skewed system, which will work neither in the favor of the company nor the worker.

Suppose you put an industrial plant in a state. It will provide livelihood to a lot of people and change a number of lives. That in itself will create a pull for other people to follow. If the company can also give a career path for them, it will create more opportunities for fresh blood to flow and create a pipeline for new people.

However, when a worker grows from within the ranks, he can only rise up until a certain point and then he needs a fresh set of skills to grow further. Like all roles at any level in an organization, once an individual has peaked in a particular role, he/she needs to have the capability to rise to the next level. Similarly, for a worker, if a company builds a system where a worker can take higher education, there will be a much higher percentage of people whose aspirations will be met.

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Topics: Employee Relations, #IndustrialRelations

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