Hi, I have employees working in a plant in UP. Among the workmen, there is a lot of discontent, complaining, mgr-related issues, lack of teamwork etc.
What are engagement activities that can increase teamwork, collaboration & respect for employees in a factory setup?

From India, Mumbai
Dear member,

Your post mentions the symptoms and causes of the lack of employee engagement. If you know the causes, then why not work on their eradication? However, whatever action you recommend, you need support from the top management. Is there sufficient empowerment at your level, and also at the plant level?

The causes of the employee disengagement that you have mentioned could be the traditional type of management style. In most companies, the top leadership is disinclined to change their management style. Therefore, I recommend you first measuring the costs and ratios associated with each department. Once the top leadership gets visibility of the costs, the solution to decrease the costs would be the removal of the causes mentioned in your post.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Sir,

Thanks for your response.

Not only my top management but also the customer (our plant is based at customer site) is completely in support for this engagement & expecting HR to do an intervention.
Ref to your suggestion, I have already done the cost & ratio analysis & did a bit of restructuring with the reduced costs.

Is there anything specific that you can recommend?

From India, Mumbai
Dear member,

Ground realities cannot be understood by reading the posts written on the public forum. Unless the systems and processes are not understood, it will be difficult to provide you with the solution. Therefore, I will have to talk with you to understand your challenges.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear colleague,

Your belief that by introducing suitable employee engagement activity will mitigate discontent in the minds of workers is my view, putting the cart before the horse.

You need to know what exactly is agitating workers' mind before finding solution. For that, you quickly conduct dip-stick survey by talking face to face with some representative workmen. Then you will come to the grips of specific issues rather than generalised ones. It may emerge that issues are pinpointing to say, unjust treatment, faviouritism, inadequate pay, lack of basic facility like potable drinking water, insufficient toilets hot working environment etc which will point to taking issue based actions rather than generalised employee engagement activities.

The above are illustrative examples and may not be your bone of contention. But the point I am stressing is need to size up the specific issues and work around the same rather than working on costs and ratios which may only please management but will bypass the pain points of agitating workers' minds.

Regards,

Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai
Dear Vinayak, This seems to be a better approach to look at the problems. Thanks for your response.
From India, Mumbai
Dear member,

I had recommended the measurement of the costs and ratios because that is the only language top management understands better. If you talk about the "problems" with the management, how many companies are there whose management is ready to listen? The problems that you are able to see, but your top leadership is not able to see, speak volumes. All the problems your company has are solvable. It is not at all rocket science. Nevertheless, why was the need felt to come to the forum and seek a solution?

The problems that you have mentioned existed even before the birth of management science. If management science provides adequate safeguards to prevent the problems, then why are the companies grappling with them?

By the way, how many HR professionals do not know what the problems in their company are? They know the problems and they know the solutions also. Nevertheless, they just pretend that they do know the problems or they do not show courage to talk to the management.

If the problems are well visible, and in spite of it if the HR starts conducting the dipstick survey, then it is as good as living with the proverb "haath ke kangan ko aarsi kyon?"

A few months ago, there was violence in one of the companies located on the outskirts of Bangalore. The workers had vandalised the company's property. It would be naive to think that HR did not know why the workers were in an agitated state. Nevertheless, when the government ordered an enquiry, the HR professionals of the company were blamed for not having sufficient knowledge of the labour laws!

Worst still, the HR professionals were even killed in Pricol and Maruti Suzuki Motors Limited. At both companies, the HR professionals had illustrious careers.

Anyway, you feel that the dipstick solution will work, and you have given compliments also. In that case, do a favour to the members of this forum. Conduct the dipstick survey and take corrective action against the problems that emerge in the survey. Hopefully, by 2025, when the problems are eradicated, come back to this forum and write a case study. It will be a great education for the HR fraternity as a whole.

Let me reiterate what I had written in the previous post. Nothing sensitises as much as an understanding of the costs and ratios. This is what Taiichi Ohno had done in Toyota Motor Corporation for 20 long years. Now since you say with confidence that you had done the cost and ratio analysis, then would you mind confirming the Inventory Turnover Ratio (ITR) is for the inventory of the materials as well as for the finished goods? Nothing confidential about the disclosure of this ratio as this very ratio is a part and parcel of the balance sheet of the company. Just visit the websites of Economic Times or Money Control and you will get the balance sheets of the thousands of companies. The ITR is mentioned in the balance sheet of each manufacturing company.

Otherwise, you can do one favour to the members of this forum. Conduct the dipstick survey, take corrective action and please confirm whether ITR was increased, or any other ratio was increased/decreased. It could take 3-4 years. However, your confirmation will help to benchmark other companies against your company.

All the best!

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear member,

You may also choose to give it try to the management guru's suggestion side by side dip stick survey and share the results for the benefit of this forum.

Regards,

Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai
Dear member,

For those who have cut their teeth in the erstwhile era of personnel management, it is common for them to pass taunts against HR. They always look at HR that provides basic functions. Nevertheless, management science which includes HR management as well teaches us to measure anything and everything. Look at successful companies like Dell, IBM, Google, Microsoft and so on, and you will find they have instituted a culture of measurement in their companies. Southwest Airlines has gone a step further and made teamwork an organisation's strategy. That is why they have not made losses even for a single year in the last half-century. FedEx has taken the culture of measurement to the grassroots level.

If one wishes to go somewhere, then one must know his/her position on the map. Therefore, our steps should be to:

a) to institute measures
b) decide what we want to increase or decrease
c) make an action plan

If you follow this path, the issues such as discontent among the staff members will get addressed. If the focus is only on addressing the discontent, then we may not know whether the efforts translated into higher productivity or not. Therefore, decide whether to benchmark against the successful companies or against a personnel manager. Your choice will decide the result.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear colleague,

Instituting a measurement culture , in principle, is an approach the learned colleague is batting for . Nothing wrong in it as such. He has also rattled out names of imported companies where it is claimed to have worked successfully. The moot question is, whether the same will work in the poster's organization, when it is in the thick of grappling with employee issues,when hearts of workers are bleeding . If the imported management guru elaborates on how and at what cost it will work successfully in the present predicament of the company, it will be a great lesson to learn for the forum members.

I believe , there is an opportune time for measurement culture to be introduced and taking roots. Not at least when the employer employee relationship is fraught with issues impinging on immediate solutions.

Regards,

Vinayak Nagarkar
HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai

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