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Asset that needs to be motivated

AT THE heart of every business venture is its `human' capital. All the state-of-the-art equipment and sophisticated software cannot match the human behind it. Human resource is the real wealth of an organisation. It is, therefore, abundantly clear why every company needs to focus on its manpower if it has to attain true growth and success. The truly great business enterprises have embraced this philosophy to become exemplary business models.

A good human resource manager has to possess a variety of skills in order to carry out his job successfully. All the knowledge that one imbibes from theoretical dissertations and lofty texts can never really prepare one for the ultimate problem that presents itself at the workplace. Ideally, managing the human component in an organisation requires the right blend of patience, understanding, compassion and a keen insight into workers' thinking. A happy combination of these qualities can effectively help tackle the seemingly intractable and the most formidable of problems.

However, enlightened management is hard to come by these days in spite of all the impressive management jargon that reverberates in the hallowed precincts of powerful corporations. In recent times, too much emphasis has been laid on the technical and technological advancements in machinery and software and this has tended to displace the employee from his pre-eminent position in a business organisation. The importance and worth of the human factor in any establishment cannot be overstated. Employees are the very foundation on which the edifice of a business rests.

Dynamic recruitment policy

Primarily, an organisation has to have a dynamic recruitment policy that will enable the induction of the right people. While professional qualifications are necessary, many companies insist on hiring graduates only from the best business schools, paying them astronomical salaries that are totally out of sync with their capabilities as fresh management graduates at that point in time. It is nobody's case that they should not pay them good salaries but the question is, "Need we create such disparities between individuals within organisations?" Basic economics teaches us that disparities will exist in incomes between different classes of employees in any business set-up but they have to be kept within reasonable limits.

Money is one of the biggest motivators for any employee, so it is vital that salaries are fixed according to individual skills and abilities. A wage structure has to be realistic keeping in mind the nature of the job performed and the minimum wage required for sustaining a family on the basic amenities of modern living.

Many organisations perceive leave as a special benefit conferred on an employee. It has to be understood that work and relaxation go hand in hand. Unless beleaguered employees can rest and recharge themselves their performance will suffer. Mistakes are bound to follow and this will cost the company dear. Therefore, the fallacious management perception that this represents loss of `man days' is entirely unwarranted.

Today, many employees spend as many as 16 hours at their workplace. This leaves them with little or no time to attend to their own and the personal needs of their families. Most companies believe that flogging their employees is the only way of realising the maximum return for the salary that they pay them. Unfortunately, this is flawed thinking. It is not the number of hours spent in the office that is important but the qualitative output that is generated in that time. This begs the question "Should an employee be so overworked and overstressed?" "Is this good human resource management or even good business sense?" I would think not.

In most organisations, work is neither planned properly nor executed on time, in spite of all the Time Management Programmes conducted in-house in companies. Many Indian companies, working for American companies, have deemed it fit to extend their employees' work timings to suit U.S. time zones to garner more work and consequently more wealth for their businesses. The paramount question is, "Do we need to build wealth and success" at the cost of the health of a generation of people? In our overzealous attempts at making India a superpower in the global arena we are actually destroying the very fabric of a happy social and family life.

There has to be consistency in management policies when dealing with workers' problems. Prejudices often colour the judgment of the people who are expected to render justice to employees. Objectivity is a prerequisite in the person who is arbitrating between workers and management. There are too many stated rules and policies (fair and just) in the Human Resource Department of most companies but they are hardly, if ever, put into practice.

In the ultimate analysis, a sound human resource management philosophy is one that sees its workers as the most vibrant and precious asset, one that has to be constantly tended, motivated and inspired to rise to higher levels of efficiency and is willing to spare no efforts in attaining this goal. Indeed, the essence of management lies in the belief that people (employees) are the life and breath of a healthy business organisation.

RUKMANI RAGHAVAN

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