For the past few months, Uttarakhand’s Pantnagar industrial zone in Udham Singh Nagar district has been witnessing major labour unrest that has halted manufacturing units of many. Companies like Mahindra, Delta, Pricol, Parle and several other companies are badly hit by labour unrest in the area.
Labour unrest is a highly unfortunate incidence it not only halts company’s immediate production line but impacts its long term profitability and in some cases even jeopardize the business survivability.
Now the question is how to avoid labour unrest in the first place? According to Ms. Kanika Kohli, VP, Trendsetters Facilities & Technical Services (TFTS), largest outsourcers of specialised manpower and licensed labour to northern Indian manufacturing units, says, “labour unrest can happen due to many reasons but the most common reasons are political influence on trade unions and communication failure of the management’s failure to effectively communicate to workers about policies could lead to a stand-off. That could take an ugly turn when managements are perceived by workmen to be insensitive. So, in reality, while companies may actually be following good HR policies on the factory floor, lack of effective communication could lead to widespread dissatisfaction among workers”.
Ms. Kanika Kohli adds that every organization should follow the following points to minimize the chances of labor dispute.
- Good Communication
Effective management requires two-way conversations with employees. As a business owner, you should set clear expectations for staff, intervene when necessary, and recognize good work. Along with maintaining good two-way communication, management should also take a notice that no management member ever clashes their verbal and non-verbal communication while talking to labours. Nonverbal communication includes body posture, facial expression, mannerisms, and any other form of body language. It has been proved that when a labour receives a verbal message and a nonverbal message at the same time, they usually listen to the nonverbal one. In other words, it means – what you say, you should always act like you mean it.
- Shut Down the Rumour Mill
There are few things that can cause more stress for labours than rumors about layoffs and cost-cutting measures. Workers who feel as though their jobs are perpetually on the chopping block may think that their only way of obtaining job security is to quit or join a union. They could also become apathetic about their prospects for advancement, and put less effort into their work.
Hence it’s duty of the management that they should always put an accurate picture of the company’s health. This doesn’t mean they have to share detailed financial statements, but some candor is often appreciated. Similarly also be honest about challenges that could temper growth.
- Plan in advance, prior taking tough employee decisions
No matter how well a manager understands their employees, there will always be times when they have to make decisions that can lead to resentment. When it comes to announcing job cuts, management can soften the blow by making it clear to employees exactly why they have had to make that decision. Try to fob off employees with excuses and chances are that they’ll see right through the spin. Once an announcement has been made it’s important to make time to listen to the concerns of the people affected, he said.
- Select Managers who are empathetic to others
Employee and manager conflicts are quite common in every organization, only when they are ill handled, they get escalated into labour unrest. Hence it’s essential in today’s business environment that companies should hire middle and top level managers who possess good mediation and negotiation skills to control and stop conflicts. The problem is to do good mediation and negotiation a person must be able to empathize – which today a rare characteristic in managers. Empathy helps a person to understand other person’s point of view, their difficulties, their emotions and their pain.
Unfortunately, in today’s time, most managers are very busy people and empathy probably doesn’t come naturally to them. The very qualities that make some people senior-management material — ambition, being strong willed and knowing what they want — can make it harder for them to understand other workers.