Workers’ Participation in Management

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Workers’ Participation in Management : 

Workers’ Participation in Management John Leitch has defined Industrial Democracy as “the organisation of any factory or other business institution into a little democratic state with a representative government which shall have both the legislative and executive phases”. In the same manner as political democracy has converted subjects into citizens, with right of self-determination and self-government, industrial democracy converts the workers from the mere subjects obeying the orders of the employers, into citizens of the industrial world, with a right to self-determination and self-government, that is, representative participation in making rules and enforcing them. This is known as Workers’ Participation in Management. Workers’ participation in management means giving scope for workers to influence the managerial decision-making process at different levels by various forms in the organisation. The principal forms of workers’ participation are information sharing, joint consultation, suggestion schemes, etc.

Scope of Workers’ Participation in Management : 

Scope of Workers’ Participation in Management 1. Information Sharing. Share the information! That says it all. According to this view, participation takes place when the management solicits the opinion of workers before taking a decision. The management ultimately takes the decision. Workers are given a say or an opportunity to influence decisions, they play a passive role in the process of decision-making, but have no final say in the matter. 2. Sharing Decision-Making. This school holds that participation of an individual in something occurs when he actively takes part. The focus here is that there must exist taking part actively. Workers sit with the representatives of management to take important decisions particularly on matters affecting the workers. Workers may be members of Works Committees, Joint Management Council, etc. along with the representatives of management. The decisions are taken through mutual discussions between the representatives of the workers and those of the management. 3. Self-control. The essential feature of self-control (or management) is that management and workers are not visualised as two distinct groups but as active members with equal voting rights. Participation in Yugoslavia is an example of self-control.

Significance of Workers Participation : 

Significance of Workers Participation 1. Higher Productivity: The increased productivity is possible only when there exists fullest co-operation between labour and management. It has been found that poor labour 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. 2. Greater Commitment: An important prerequisite for forging greater individual 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. I am sure you will agree that participation increases the level of commitment and the employees start relating to the organisation. 3. Reduced Industrial Unrest. Industrial conflict is a struggle between two organised groups, which are motivated by the belief that their respective interests are endangered by the self-interested behaviour of the other. Participation cuts at the very root of industrial conflict. It tries to remove or at least minimise the diverse and conflicting interests between the parties, by substituting it with cooperation, homogeneity and common interests. Both sides are integrated and decision arrived at are mutual rather than individual.

Significance of Workers Participation : 

Significance of Workers Participation 4. Improved Decisions. I am sure that you will agree that communication is never a one way process, Also note that it is seldom, if ever, possible for managers to have knowledge of all alternatives and all consequences related to the decisions which they must make. Because of the existence of barriers to the upward flow of information in most enterprises, much valuable information possessed by subordinates never reaches their managers. Participation tends to break down the barriers, and makes the information available to managers. To the extent such information alters the decisions, the quality of decisions is improved. 5. Human Resource Development. Participation provides education to workers in the management of industry. It fosters initiative and creativity among them. It develops a sense of responsibility. Informal leaders get an opportunity to reinforce their position and status by playing an active role in decision-making and by inducing the members of the group to abide by them. 6. Reduced Resistance to Change. Last but not the least, it should be noted that changes are arbitrarily introduced from above without explanation. Subordinates tend to feel insecure and take counter measures aimed at sabotage of changes. 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.

Pre–requisites for the success of Workers’ Participation in Management : 

Pre–requisites for the success of Workers’ Participation in Management I. The overall climate in the organisation should be favourable to workers’ participation. There should be an attitude of mutual co-operation, confidence, and respect for each other. Management, in particular, should be genuinely receptive to the labour’s ideas so that the latter can perceive that their ideas are useful. II. There must be sufficient time to participate before action is required; because participation in emergent situations is hardly advisable. III. The subject of participation must be relevant to the enterprise; it must concern something in which both the parties are interested, otherwise the parties are likely to become indifferent to the process of participation. IV. The workers’ representatives should have the ability such as intelligence and knowledge, to participate. It is not appropriate to ask workers to participate in technical aspects of the machinery; but they can participate successfully in problems relating to their work. The contributions made by the workers should be worthwhile and should benefit the workers in the long run. It should be in the interest of the management as well! Now maintaining that balance is not that easy but that is what experience is all about!!

Pre–requisites for the success of Workers’ Participation in Management : 

Pre–requisites for the success of Workers’ Participation in Management There must be effective system of communication. Both labour’s representatives and management’s representatives must be able to understand each other and express themselves without any inhibitions. The whole idea after all is to be able to speak out one’s mind and listen to the counterpart’s point of view! VI. Participation should not adversely affect the status or authority of the participants. Managers will not participate, if their authority is threatened. Workers will hesitate in participating if they think that their status is being adversely affected. In fact for worker’s participation to be effective, both the management and the labour should get rid of their ego problems and share their ideas. I am sure that you will agree that no relationship can continue for long if there are ego clashes. Both the parties should make efforts to come closer rather than moving away. VII. The financial cost of participation should always be lesser than the benefits-both economic and non-economic-of participation. We all can understand the economic aspect but as far as the non-economic part is concerned, it will depend on the organisations. What I can tell you at this point of time is that the pains and pleasures should be matched! The pleasures should be much more as compared to the pains. VIII. Participation should be within the framework of overall policy of the enterprise in question .I am sure you will agree that every decision has to be in line with the Vision and Mission statements of the organisation.

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