WORKERS PARTICIPATION IN MANAGEMENT - Industrial Relations Management

Introduction

Importance of workers participation in Management in Maintaining Good Industrial relation

Workers’ participation in management is an essential ingredient of Industrial democracy. The concept of workers’ participation in management is based on Human Relations approach to Management which brought about a new set of values to labour and management. Traditionally the concept of Workers’ Participation in Management (WPM) refers to participation of non-managerial employees in the decision-making process of the organization. Workers’ participation is also known as ‘labour participation’ or ‘employee participation’ in management.In Germany it is known as co-determination while in Yugoslavia it is known as self-management. The International Labour Organization has been encouraging member nations to promote the scheme of Workers’ Participation in Management. Workers’ participation in management implies mental and emotional involvement of workers in the management of Enterprise.It is considered as a mechanism where workers have a say in the decision-making.

Implications of Workers Participation in Management

The implications of workers’ participation in management have been summarized by the International Labour Organization thus:

  1. Workers have ideas which can be useful.
  2. Upward communication facilitates sound decision-making. Workers may accept decisions better if they participate in them.
  3. Workers may work more intelligently if they are informed about the reasons for and the intention of decisions that are taken in a participative atmosphere.
  4. Workers may work harder if they share in decisions that affect them.
  5. Workers participation may foster a more cooperative attitude amongst workers and management thus raising efficiency by improving team spirit and reducing the loss of efficiency arising from industrial disputes.
  6. Workers participation may act as a spur to managerial efficiency.

Workers Participation in Management Definition

Definition:

  • According to Keith Davis, Participation refers to the mental and emotional involvement of a person in a group situation which encourages him to contribute to group goals and share the responsibility of achievement.
  • According to Walpole, Participation in Management gives the worker a sense of importance, pride and accomplishment; it gives him the freedom of opportunity for self-expression; a feeling of belongingness with the place of work and a sense of workmanship and creativity.

The concept of workers’ participation in management encompasses the following:

  • It provides scope for employees in decision-making of the organization.
  • The participation may be at the shop level, departmental level or at the top level.
  • The participation includes the willingness to share the responsibility of the organization by the workers

Need of Workers’ Participation

Worker’s participation in management has assumed great importance these days because of the following advantages:

  1. Reduced industrial unrest: Industrial conflict is a struggle between two organized groups which are motivated by the belief that their respective interests are endangered by the self-interested behavior of the other. Participation cuts at this very root of industrial conflict. It tries to remove or at least minimize the diverse and conflicting interests between the parties, by substituting in their place, cooperation, homogeneity of objects and common interests. Both sides are integrated and decisions arrived at becomes “ours” rather than “theirs”.
  2. Reduced misunderstanding: Participation helps dispelling employee’s misunderstanding about the outlook of management in industry.
  3. Increased organization balance: If worker are invited to share in organizational problems, and to work towards common solutions, a greater degree of organizational balance occurs because of decreased misunderstanding of individual and group conflict. Participation leads to increased understanding throughout the organization. People learn that others have problems beside themselves.
  4. Higher productivity: Increased productivity is possible only when there exists fullest co-operation between labor and management. It has been empirically tested that poor ‘labor management relations’ do not encourage the workers to contribute anything more than the minimum desirable to retain their jobs. Thus, participation of workers in management is essential to increase industrial productivity.
  5. Increased Commitment: An important prerequisite for forging greater commitment is the individual’s involvement and opportunity to express himself. Participation allows individuals to express themselves at the work place rather than being absorbed into a complex system of rules, procedures and systems. If an individual knows that he can express his opinion and ideas, a personal sense of gratification and involvement takes place within him. This, in turn, fortifies his identification with the organization resulting in greater commitment.
  6. Industrial democracy: Participation helps to usher in an era of democracy in industry. It is based on the principle of recognition of the human factor. It tends to reduce class conflict between capital and labor. It also serves as a support to political democracy.
  7. Development of Individuals: Participation enhances individual creativity and response to job challenges. Individuals are given an opportunity to direct their initiative and creativity towards the objectives of the group. This facilitates individual growth.
  8. Less resistance to change: when changes are arbitrarily introduced from above without explanation, subordinates tend to feel insecure and take counter measures aimed at sabotage of innovations. But when they have participated in the decision making process, they have had an opportunity to be heard. They know what to expect and why. Their resistance to change is reduced

The realization of workers’ need for participation in the management is influenced by the following factors:

  1. Technology adoption leading to complexity in production process calls for increased worker cooperation.
  2. Employees are no longer treated as subservient but are treated as equals.
  3. Growing influence of union prevents exploitation of employees by management.
  4. There are regulations and legislations that facilitate increased workers participation in management.
  5. Higher levels of productivity and efficiency can only come through motivated and committed employees.

Objectives of Workers’ Participation in Management:

The main objectives of workers’ participation in management include:

  1. To establish Industrial Democracy.
  2. To build the most dynamic Human Resources.
  3. To satisfy the workers’ social and esteem needs.
  4. To strengthen labour-management co-operation and thus maintain Industrial peace and harmony.
  5. To promote increased productivity for the advantage of the organization, workers and the society at large.
  6. Its psychological objective is to secure full recognition of the workers.

Essential Conditions for Successful Working of WPM

The success of workers portion in management depends upon the following conditions.

  • The attitude and outlook of the parties should be enlightened and impartial so that a free and frank exchange of thoughts and opinions could be possible. Where a right kind of attitude exists and proper atmosphere prevails the process of participation is greatly stimulated.
  • Both parties should have a genuine faith in the system and in each other and be willing to work together. The management must give the participating institution its right place in the managerial organization of the undertaking and implementing the policies of the undertaking. The labor, on the other hand, must also whole heartedly co-operate with the management through its trade unions. The foremen and supervisory cadre must also lend their full support so that the accepted policies could be implemented without any resentment on either side.
  • Participation should be real. The issues related to increase in production and productivity, evaluation of costs, development of personnel, and expansion of markets should also be brought under the jurisdiction of the participating bodies. These bodies should meet frequently and their decisions should be timely implemented and strictly adhered to. Further,
  • Participation must work as complementary body to help collective bargaining, which creates conditions of work and also creates legal relations.
  • There should be a strong trade union, which has learnt the virtues of unit and self-reliance so that they may effectively take part in collective bargaining or participation.
  • A peaceful atmosphere should be there wherein there are no strikes and lock-outs, for their presence ruins the employees, harms the interest of the society, and puts the employees to financial losses.
  • Authority should be centralized through democratic management process. The participation should be at the two or at the most three levels.
  • Programs for training and education should be developed comprehensively. For this purpose, Labor is to be given education not to the head alone, not to the heart alone, not to the hands alone, but it is dedicated to the three; to make the workers think, feel and act. Labor is to be educated to enable him to think clearly, rationally and logically; to enable him to feel deeply and emotionally; and to enable him to act in a responsible way.


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