Article (December-2019)


Management to empower HR; should be ready to take risk


Designation : -   Head- (Corp.) HR

Organization : -  Kirana King Retail Network Private Limited, Jaipur


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This is regarding the case study titled "Walking on a tight rope" let me rephrased and what I could find that rope is loose and not tight enough for acrobatic which tend to happen or take place by gazing business acumen demonstrated by the South Asia CEO, Head-HR and CEO India. The corporation has few set-ups for manufacturing in other parts of the country and all manufacturing units have employees' union. The unit described in case study seems to be a mother plant. Therefore, any action or re-action would not be an epidemic, therefore, unit HR Heads across India shall be well aligned and tuned to meet any contingency and if any burning issue address well before time.

The first-hand proposal that has been suggested by Unit HR Head is quite valid and in such circumstances, any HR expert would suggest so. However, while executing these proposals it is obvious that Industrial peace should be compromised and to bring Industrial peace for a longer time a lesson to be taught or surgery is being planned as it is cancer.

This is the high time that management to spread a hard and strong message to the employees' union and let me tell you it shall be benefited for both the parties in the longer run.

This is the only unit which introduced contractual employees and now few of them are not only doing the casual job even occupied in the main position. If in case the situation is moving out of hand then it could be a potential risk that contractual workmen may also get united to protect their rights as working being permanent is lucrative in all sense.

1- Both CEOs are business-centric conveyed what is being demanded in cut-throat competition and recession across the globe and for business sustainability, a corrective action and candid message shall be communicated to employees' union. However, being business leaders they also have opinion to resolve the dispute amicably and settling the demands rationally or reasonably. Permanent workers are getting a handsome pay package or what any industry does across India. Since matter is belonging to people and later may convert to socio-political so they must understand the complications especially in the Indian context.

2 -The employee relations are on bomb-shell can be exploded at any point in time. In good time management or HR was doing fire-fighting or more focused toward short term HR/IR strategies. In good time management were liberal and adopted a holistic approach which now union takes it  for granted. If management or HR had done settlement or to meet out union demands on management conditions, introduced variable pay package linked with production efficiency, quality, and quality, good conduct bond, establish a skill assessment centre and implementing hiring model by engaging outsourced, fixed-term, trainees, apprentices and many others, etc. then definitely it would have  made a difference.

3- This is a thumb rule for any HR manager and to address collective bargaining, he should complete his homework in detail and comprehensively collect all available data and statistics, benchmarking across the industry by renowned agencies. Be patient, confident, and logical in negotiation. Here, what I feel and willing to share is that unit HR Head is absolutely a capable.

4 - In these circumstances first and foremost task is to generate trust in the management that the problem is complex and could be resolved but in phases. Be bold to communicate that no other person either internal or external will able to resolve the way I could so, let trust on me. Provide a complete roadmap of plan A, B and C. with possibilities, consequences and ways to address unforeseen. I would take the plant/production people also in confidence to build a team and involve them at certain stages. Single person cannot implement the strategy. Overall when such a situation is there, management should be ready to take risk to some extent.

  • Establish governance for communication by involving key stakeholders and leadership team. Simultaneously a SWAT and QRT in place.
  • Continue negotiation talks with the union as frequent as you can. Prefer to approach Conciliatory authority for intervention for tripartite settlement.
  • Create a chunk of opinion makers or news mongers.
  • To counter the collective bargaining prepare a charter of demand on behalf of management. Incorporate a condition that to appreciate wage revision value management view for separating X number of permanent employees. For example, if management agree on a certain percentage of hike so these Y numbers, shall be separated in the interest of the business. Prepare a list of deadwood from white-collars as well and plan their separation to establish genuineness of issue.
  • Be ready with all possible statistics of personnel of permanent nature (blue and white collar) and identified low hanging fruits for separation.
  • Also, keep ready working on VRS.
  • Plan to introduce a new hiring model and outsourced facilities solution for product manufacturing.
  • Establish strong liaison with Govt. labour law enforcement, administrative authorities, police, legal experts, media, and other influencing bodies who support in contingency and to protect the business interest.
  • Keep aloof contractual workmen from all this chorus.
  • Hire services or on-board an SME or advisor for intellectual and strategic support.
  • Prepare a detailed and comprehensive working sheet which comprises the following:
  • Area of concern
  • Probable outcome
  • Risk
  • Risk Mitigation plan
  • Resources/budget required
  • Apply tactics or strategy meant
for conflict management and try to resolve assertively, amicably or by maintaining industrial peace. However, there are also other possible conventional and non - conventional ways to address the problem.