In the industrial relations summit organized jointly by NIPM and the Karnataka employers's association in 2015 and also during the talk of Mr K. Ramkumar, National President NHRD in a Hosur meeting on the subject "Future of HR", it was opined that IR will come back in a big way.I have been of the opinion that although in India we have had a wealth of experience in IR matters, there is hardly any documentation of the same for the benefit of students specializing in HR or for the fellow practitioners.In this connection i felt that it would be worthwhile to contact those who have had IR exposure and elicit from them details of how they handled various situations.
In this connection I requested a former colleague,Mr N.Srinivasan , presently working as Manager (HR) to share his experiences.He readily agreed to share his experience and insights on the subject. The account of Srinivasan as related by him is given below:-
“I joined a manufacturing MNC in 1998 as HR Coordinator whose work was mainly maintaining time office / leave mgmt. of the workers and also taking care of employee’s welfare.
I then moved to Industrial Relation Department in the year 2008 and worked there for 5 years. I believed that I had a good rapport with all workers and a natural flair to easily move with the workers at all levels. Hence I opted for a department that had many IR issues and where many senior workers were working. I strongly believed that such a department would give me a lot of opportunities to learn in the field of IR.
After taking up the new assignment, I began one to one discussion with all workers. During the discussion I first told them about my family, native place, my career so far in the company. It was a surprise to me that some of the workers were very open and shared intimate details of their personal life such as father has two wives and hence “I have additional responsibilities and personal commitments in my life”. These discussions enabled me to get to know the employees better.
The period 2007-2010 saw a tough time in IR, since a rival group a CITU based Union was fighting for their recognition. A good number of workers were members of this union and started creating problems. I was able to assertively state the management position without fear in spite of the reluctance of employees to accept the management stand. A group of workmen even submitted a complaint letter against my behaviour. However, I was able to function without much difficulty in a hostile situation mainly on account of the rapport build up earlier due to frequent interactions. Frequent interaction with workmen on the shop floor is a must for maintaining good IR. It is my submission that an IR or HR representative should listen to the views and grievances of employees and respond suitably. If there are shortcomings from the admin side, it should be accepted and corrected.
I had taken action against one of the workers who was addicted to alcohol and frequently absent from work. I thought that taking disciplinary action will improve his attendance. But this did not happen in spite of his being warned and suspended many times. One day he reported for duty after a long period of absence. He stated that he had been ill and I asked him to get fitness from company Chief Medical Officer. Simultaneously I explained to the Medical officer that he was alcoholic and a case of frequent absenteeism. Doctor asked him to undergo a liver function test to get fitness. After two days he came and met the doctor with the report. Doctor immediately called me and before me informed him that his liver is severely affected and his life is under risk.
The employee was scared on hearing this and did not reply for a moment. Doctor enquired about his family, children and other details. He was touched by the personal concern exhibited by us. Subsequently, with his voluntary consent we moved him to a de-addiction center. There, he cooperated well and underwent the treatment wholeheartedly. Separate counselling was provided to his wife. After a month he recovered and reported to work as normal person. Presently his attendance has improved considerably and he makes it a point to often thank the Management. When I visited shop floor, he tells me that he now has more time to spend with his daughter and wife and has been able to begin life afresh.
Interestingly, the employee started counselling his friends working on the shop floor and they also moved away from alcoholism. He also visits the de-addiction center and explains about life before and after stopping alcohol. There are similar success stories of employees who had become slaves to alcohol. In such cases getting the employee to accept the grim situation and creating in them a desire to come out of it is very important. Counselling of the spouse in order to get her support to the deaddiction process is equally important.”
It is worthwhile to note that the examples and experiences shared by Mr Srinivasan is related to aspects that straight away impacts the production.Solving the live issues on the shopfloor which are connected to the day to day concerns of your customer is a sure way to get his appreciation and he will look up to HR to solve more issues and contribute more to his success and success of the organization.I hope to bring more of such live experience sharing in future posts.