Article (October-2021)


Lenient approach brings short term gain

Harish Malik

Designation : -   Ex-Vice president-HR & IR

Organization : -  Ultratech Cement-AB Group


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1. It is well accepted fact that developing mutual trust between Employees & Management is strength of good employee relation in any organisation. Hashmat philosophy of maintaining industrial relation is based on Human Relation approach. However in my opinion the approach Hashmat has followed in managing the employee relation which although paid the dividends but in fact it has no rationalization. Such philosophy provides the company short term gain however does not keep going for a longer period.

Employees sometimes don't believe in or support discipline as such they don't adhere to the rules, regulations & desired standard of behaviour. Disciplinary action forces and constrains such employees to follow the orders & function in accordance with the rules & regulations through penalties & other form of action. I strongly believe that such employees who are involved in any act of misconduct such as dishonesty or Fraud as stipulated under the code of Conduct of the company, strict disciplinary action need to be initiated so that discipline is maintained in the organisation and non-recurrence of such misconduct is ensured. It also has detrimental effect on other employees, although it's management's sole decision to impose the penalty taking in view the gravity of the misconduct.

As the organisation is a unit of multinational company it is more so required that Employee relations are built on the theory of Just & fairness to maintain its creditability & not only based on personal relation with employees. Apart from developing congenial employee relation strict discipline is also need to be maintained which is necessary for growth of the company. Approach adopted by Hashmat is short term and not beneficial for company in a long run. It's a well established fact that Discipline cannot be maintained with soft approach & being lenient towards the employees every time.

2. Although Hashmat obtained confession letter from the concerned employee with a presumption that they would not indulge in such or similar activates in future & on the other hand peace is maintained in the company by not creating a big issue of this incident. However, in my view there is no rationalisation & justification in Hashmat's action of taking confession letter from the concerned employees using his personal influence & not initiating any disciplinary action as per the company's code of conduct. Such action is individuals based & short term which may satisfy factory management momentarily for maintaining.

Industrial peace. Not initiating disciplinary action against concerned employee viz. Prem Singh & Rajendra for their act of dishonesty is not justified & creates a unhealthy practice. It is also suicidal for the company as it shall not have any detrimental effect on other employees of the company. In future also any individual employee involved in such or similar act of misconduct shall be adopting such practices & get absolved from the penal action.

3. I fully endorse the action/approach of Director-HR in suggesting initiating disciplinary action against the concerned employee for their act of misconduct & using their own confession while awarding the punishment of termination from services once proved. It is well accepted that 'if we don't discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us'. It is therefore moral responsibility of the employer not to allow the minority of employees who are undisciplined to affect the creditability & damage the reputation of the company.

There are although different approaches of handling Industrial discipline but if violations of a particular rule are fairly frequent, the circumstances surrounding them should be carefully investigated and studied in order to discover the causes of such violations & disciplinary action as per the severity of the misconduct should be initiated. When a decision has been taken to impose a penalty, the punishment so awarded should be such as would prevent a recurrence of the offence.

In my opinion Director-HR's approach is based on long term vision & undoubtedly in the overall interest of the company and the message shall be clear to all that company respect the integrity of the employees and does not accept dishonesty in any manner, even if it creates some sort of turbulence in the company but it shall set a good example for future. It is well accepted fact that disciplined employees are the backbone of good industrial relations in any company. Such issues which affect the overall image of the company CANNOT BE SOLVED with soft approach rather it needs stringent disciplinary approach. Yes I support punitive disciplinary action rather than soft-peddling in the given circumstances.

4. Hashmat's resistance in initiating disciplinary action against concerned employees as advised by Director-HR is basically on the ground that the personal relation & mutual trust which he could develop with employees shall be shattered once for all if action is initiated & he shall have no face to show before the employees losing his own credibility. It appears that he is more so concerned for his own reputation rather than keeping the organisation's interest in mind. While it is a fact that organisations interest is more important for employees rather than keeping their own personal relations in the forefront, I would advise the Management to initiate disciplinary action against the concerned employees for their act of misconduct which falls under the ambit of major misdemeanor & set an example that company shall not accept any such act relates to the integrity or otherwise. In my view company should handle the matter cogently being just & fair in their approach rather than soft peddling.

Harish Malik - Ex-Vice president-HR & IR, Ultratech Cement-AB Group