"Strike !", "Strike !!", "Strike !!!" "You're Out"
Sounds amazing for Red Sox's fan in the late 1910s, when southpaw Babe Ruth pitching thunder balls, but not that much for Yankie's fan of early 1920s when he was on the base, trying to hit the ball out of the stadium.
But during the same time, "Strike" took over a huge number of workers in steel plants of America over long working hours, low wages, and harassment by management. The labor unions were quick to respond and actively participated in that. Later that strike failed, and owners became the authority yelling to workers "You're Out".
Why? How? That's the other matter altogether, but what as we all can assume and figure out that unions and union leaders always played a vital role over there.
Hammering a constant feeling of an injustice triggers the revolutions! Be it capitalism, communism, socialism, fascism, or any other of that kind, the evolution of any of those came from such revolutions. However, few things are common in all of those. One that none of them is perfect. And another is that there will always be two teams fighting against each other, doers and thinkers. And both of them are valued differently in any kind of ideologies.
Doers always feel that they have been, in one way or another, forced to live in poor conditions. They do all the toil for their owners, and the owner does not fulfill all their needs which they deserve. They feel distressed and depressed, and then the union comes into the picture.
While Thinkers, who set up all platforms and deals with all high-level scopes and decisions, more or less, the majority of the time suffers from blockage from unions who try to interfere in the process set up by them. This leads to chaos and the battle begins between money power and muscle power.
Such pendulum keeps on swinging in blue-collar jobs. But in white-collar jobs, the scenario is a bit different. They tried to set up a bridge between employee and management, and generally, that is called Human Resource Management.
Most unpredicted resource: Human
Why? Because it comes with the term "Human". And it's the only resource that comes with emotions, and an algorithm to judge the next move of such a resource will always have a scope for improvement.
Here as we know that unpredictability of humans has a direct relationship with an expectation of related another person. If he or she does not respond as expected, they automatically become unpredictable. Be it employee, politician, or Judas Iscariot.
So what's the catch? Is that you need some set of rules kind of things, following which humans can be directed to work and behave in a certain manner. Or else you need a magic wand to run your organization. Generally, most of the companies, across the time, tend to frame such rules (which commonly called policies), to bind employees, and mostly to overview that such rules are being followed by employees, is the job of a Human Resource person.
In the COVID situation, generally, it's been said to be a good practice to hold breath as long as possible. Let's see how many of the job responsibilities of HR can be pronounced in one shot. Here we go...
Manage HRMS, HR budget planning, Training of employee, Payroll, Restructuring of pay packages, Perks reimbursement, Statutory Compliance, Facilities & Hard Furnishings management, Employee engagement, Insurance of Staff & Company assets allotted to employees (HF), Bonus/Ex-Gratia, MIS to Accounts, Provisions, Internal & External Audits, Attendance & Leaves Management, Appraisal, Recruitment, Costing, Onboarding, joining formalities, Induction, Full & Final process. (and there will be many to say that this list is just the tip of the iceberg!)
In the 1950's one movie was released called "12 Angry Men". A nice movie with a good concept, where one person was trying to convince 11 intellectuals to agree upon one point. And as it's said that many cooks spoil the broth, to convince a large group of intellectuals to drive in one direction is not that easy. (but in the end, he succeeded doing so, don't know how !)
And this is one of the foremost reasons why there is no union in white-collar corporate. But in the corporate, you don't have a choice. To get things done with employees, clear out as many things as possible. Be it their job roles and responsibilities or any other things related to their job.
And this is what HR as a regulatory person does or has to do.
Mostly yes, but not always. Yes, the chances of issues which were discussed like poor working conditions, low wages for an employee may not always be there, but there are still other concerns that prevail. Such as harassment, politics, discrimination, stress, layoff, etc.
Employees need someone to whom they can express their difficulties. And they end up contacting the HR person. They are very much correct in their expectation that HR will understand their situation, and help them out by giving voice to their problem and represent it to management. (more or less like their leader).
On the other hand, even after doing all such things, like policies, SOPs, and all that, management also faces tough times with employees like improper attrition, dispute, finding loopholes in policies, politics between employees, etc. They also end up contacting the HR person to resolve things and to make sure that the ball of responsibility should be on the other side of the court.
Candle burning from both ends
An opposition is a must to have. If you like it or not, but you cannot (or should not) ignore HR opposing, be it against employee's concern or some time to management as well. It's HR who happens to be in between two tectonic plates. However, if such a scenario does exist where all processes and SOPs are being well followed, then this thought is not relevant. But as per the mention of the unpredictability of humans, things are bound to happen in an unprecedented manner. And that's why no one can stop this candle from burning. One can only see how nice it burns!
An employee of management working for employees
In 2014-15 there was news regarding mass layoffs in one of India's largest software companies. Approx more than 25000 employees were asked to leave from service. It's a huge number for any company, and especially for an IT company. Layoffs in a company are not new. But every time to provide a reason for such an act is what is expected from management, and most of the time, management wants to preserve that right. What happened in this case that having a good reputation for job security, involuntary attrition with such a big number raised many eyebrows.
The labor law commission and many other organizations tried to involve in this "event" to give justice to employees. But things didn't go as they expected.
Generally, in most of the cases, as we know, unions are for those who are more or less looking for job security and stuck to one company as long as possible. While in the IT sector, this fact is fiction in reality. They say the union is the collective voice of employees, but here to get all intellectual under an umbrella of one thought is near to impossible. And as we all know, one stick alone is easy to break.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Emipro and Emipro does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.