Challenges in employee relations in the current scenario – union and management perspectives towards recovery

Challenges in employee relations in the current scenario – union and management perspectives towards recovery


The Virtual Thought Leadership Monthly Meet of August touched upon the theme – Challenges in employee relations in the current scenario. Speakers were Glen D’Souza of Diageo India, Hirendra Badhiye of ex-Northern Trust and ShanthaKumar of Indian National Trade Union Congress, which was greatly moderated by Girinarayan G of Your HR Buddy.

Girinarayan kickstarted the session by mentioning on the challenges encountered in different levels – employee, business, and global economy level.

The pandemic has impacted global economy and have majorly affected health of individuals. On business perspective, there are many challenges which need attention.

From employee end, fear of losing job, peer who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, fear of going to work, inadequate insurance coverage is few of the many apprehension.

Many companies are leveraging technology to help us work from home productively. Increase in the level of HQ – Hygiene Quotient is key currently. Health of organization depends on employees, so our employees need to be kept very well engaged and connected.

During these challenging times, how are we going on addressing revival of business, was the first question put across by the moderator.

A lot of organizations who were thinking ahead , experimenting , and testing out things without foreseeing COVID-19 was able to do much better comparatively. They were able to set up infrastructure and ergonomic chairs for their employees quickly. Key here would be to experiment and understand how to keep your employees motivated and comfortable in this uncomfortable situation.

Another perspective put across by the panelist was entire industry has come to a standstill because of the catastrophe effects. Following the government norms and regulations were some ways which will help people to get back to work in ease.

It is of prime focus to create confidence and motivate the workforce to get them back to work, especially with respect to manufacturing industries as they were unable to work from home due to lockdown. Some of the ways which we could attain it would be, identifying opportunities in these challenging times and the management as well as  partner (union) , a collective partnership between the two working ahead against all odds. Communication & staying connected is key, there should be frequent communication amongst employees , partner(union) and leadership. Different aspects can be identified to focus on employee well-being as good health of employees yields greater results. Action Teams can be  formed in case of emergencies for employees & family.

Another question which was put across by the moderator, Frontline employees contributes to bottom line of business. How do we create good employee experience which in turn leads to happy customers?

Celebrating small wins and appreciating people when they do a great job, can create wonders. Differences as management & partner(union) are not thought upon and everyone collectively working towards a common goal . A culture of oneness needs to be generously sprinkled on to the people. Engaging employees with fun engagement initiatives can keep them upbeat and enthusiastic. A speaker put across an initiative which he had done in his organization, which is “No Official Meeting Day” , in which people were encouraged to have meetings on different subjects apart from work and hence can give themselves some time to relax. Everyone’s privacy needs to be respected as people are juggling with both their personal and professional life from home , which is the place of all central chores now.

Communication plays a key role – talking about where we stand, where we lack and how can we close the gaps , these are all some ways to enhance employee experience.

To keep ourselves relevant, Multi-skilling is the need of the hour. Pandemic has created a wakeup call to leverage technology for learning and everything is available at the click of a button. Fear of losing job, anxiety factor has all caused people to upskill themselves.

Some of the ways to see Work from Home as sustainable way of working would be keeping our health as the prime focus. Exercise can be done in the time taken to travel to office previously. We have nobody monitoring our chair, so let us not sit for long hours. Let us keep ourselves in the pink of health in these trying times.

Glen mentioned on 4 C’s – Connect, Care, Capability & Customers. We should not bring in our differences and we all need to work collectively towards the common goal . On that note, Cheers to all of us who are working ahead together.

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