Article (September-2020)



Anil Kaushik

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For HR professionals among other challenges, one, that may be a nerve breaking exercise during and beyond Covid environment in business organizations, will be to maintain good equilibrium at industrial or employee relations front.

The Industrial relations or employee relations or IR, by whatever name it is called, is always organization centric. It evolves around the culture, policies and approach it builds, adopts and nurtures.

Because Covid has created huge uncertainty and scare among employees and employers, both are stress driven. Job losses, pay cuts, stoppage of increments and restructuring of manpower are the causes of creating strain in relationship. Improving productivity with employee health safety and rebuilding trust with security among employees would be the new challenge.

Employee relations are not going to be the same beyond covid era as it were. These may be more complex. Adverse impact on business caused by covid �will certainly take a long time to get reverse. The way the business was done pre covid will also change. Organisations will tend towards investing in more automation for improving productivity. This move will create more insecurity among employees because first casualty of automation has always been the reduction in workforce numbers. Changed work behaviours, social distancing at work place, less number of employees deployment at one time, WFH norms will be the possible issues that may trigger dissatisfaction and unrest among workforce in near future.

In many parts of the country, incidences of work stoppages, stay in strike, inside protests by workers because of deferment of annual increment have started pouring in. The indication is not good. At the same time employment terms are going to be reframed to meet the future uncertainties as created by pandemic this time by the employers, may add fuel to emerging dissatisfaction.

In such a double edged situation, what HR professionals need to do while handing employee relations front? They need to be compassionate, reasonable, empathetic and transparent. Any unilateral decision impacting workforce may backfire. Employers need to be involved with consistent fair communication at all levels. Immediate supervisors and managers handing their teams need to be re-skilled/up-skilled in handling IR issues.

In this edition, IR experts make an attempt to understand, visualize the possible IR landscape beyond covid and share their wisdom. Their vast experience at ground zero while handling IR matters will surely provide useful and innovative insights.

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Happy Reading!