Workers’ participation in management is an essential ingredient of Industrial democracy. The concept of workers’ participation in management is based on Human Relations approach to Management which brought about a new set of values to labour and management. Traditionally the concept of Workers’ Participation in Management (WPM) refers to participation of non-managerial employees in the decision-making process of the organization. Workers’ participation is also known as ‘labour participation’ or ‘employee participation’ in management. In Germany it is known as co-determination while in Yugoslavia it is known as self-management. The International Labour Organization has been encouraging member nations to promote the scheme of Workers’ Participation in Management.
Workers’ participation in management implies mental and emotional involvement of workers in the management of Enterprise. It is considered as a mechanism where workers have a say in the decision-making.
- According to Keith Davis, Participation refers to the mental and emotional involvement of a person in a group situation which encourages him to contribute to group goals and share the responsibility of achievement.
- According to Walpole, Participation in Management gives the worker a sense of importance, pride and accomplishment; it gives him the freedom of opportunity for self-expression; a feeling of belongingness with the place of work and a sense of workmanship and creativity.
The concept of workers’ participation in management encompasses the following:
- It provides scope for employees in decision-making of the organization.
- The participation may be at the shop level, departmental level or at the top level.
- The participation includes the willingness to share the responsibility of the organization by the workers.
Features of WPM:
1. Participation means mental and emotional involvement rather than mere physical presence.
2. Workers participate in management not as individuals but collectively as a group through their representatives.
3. Workers’ participation in management may be formal or informal. In both the cases it is a system of communication and consultation whereby employees express their opinions and contribute to managerial decisions.
4. There can be 5 levels of Management Participation or WPM:
- Information participation: It ensures that employees are able to receive information and express their views pertaining to the matter of general economic importance.
- Consultative importance: Here workers are consulted on the matters of employee welfare such as work, safety and health. However, final decision always rests with the top-level management, as employees’ views are only advisory in nature.
- Associative participation: It is an extension of consultative participation as management here is under the moral obligation to accept and implement the unanimous decisions of the employees. Under this method the managers and workers jointly take decisions.
- Administrative participation: It ensures greater share of workers’ participation in discharge of managerial functions. Here, decisions already taken by the management come to employees, preferably with alternatives for administration and employees have to select the best from those for implementation.
- Decisive participation: Highest level of participation where decisions are jointly taken on the matters relating to production, welfare etc.
Objectives of WPM:
1. To establish Industrial Democracy.
2. To build the most dynamic Human Resources.
3. To satisfy the workers’ social and esteem needs.
4. To strengthen labour-management co-operation and thus maintain Industrial peace and harmony.
5. To promote increased productivity for the advantage of the organization, workers and the society at large.
6. Its psychological objective is to secure full recognition of the workers.
Importance of WPM:
- Unique motivational power and a great psychological value.
- Peace and harmony between workers and management.
- Workers get to see how their actions would contribute to the overall growth of the company.
- They tend to view the decisions as `their own’ and are more enthusiastic in their implementation.
- Participation makes them more responsible.
- They become more willing to take initiative and come out with cost-saving suggestions and growth-oriented ideas.
Essential condition for WPM:
The success of workers portion in management depends upon the following conditions.
- The attitude and outlook of the parties should be enlightened and impartial so that a free and frank exchange of thoughts and opinions could be possible. Where a right kind of attitude exists and proper atmosphere prevails the process of participation is greatly stimulated.
- Both parties should have a genuine faith in the system and in each other and be willing to work together. The management must give the participating institution its right place in the managerial organization of the undertaking and implementing the policies of the undertaking. The labor, on the other hand, must also whole heartedly co-operate with the management through its trade unions. The foremen and supervisory cadre must also lend their full support so that the accepted policies could be implemented without any resentment on either side.
- Participation should be real. The issues related to increase in production and productivity, evaluation of costs, development of personnel, and expansion of markets should also be brought under the jurisdiction of the participating bodies. These bodies should meet frequently and their decisions should be timely implemented and strictly adhered to. Further,
o Participation must work as complementary body to help collective bargaining, which creates conditions of work and also creates legal relations.
o There should be a strong trade union, which has learnt the virtues of unit and self-reliance so that they may effectively take part in collective bargaining or participation.
o A peaceful atmosphere should be there wherein there are no strikes and lock-outs, for their presence ruins the employees, harms the interest of the society, and puts the employees to financial losses.
o Authority should be centralized through democratic management process. The participation should be at the two or at the most three levels.
o Programs for training and education should be developed comprehensively. For this purpose, Labor is to be given education not to the head alone, not to the heart alone, not to the hands alone, but it is dedicated to the three; to make the workers think, feel and act. Labor is to be educated to enable him to think clearly, rationally and logically; to enable him to feel deeply and emotionally; and to enable him to act in a responsible way.
Management should be prepared to give all information connected with the working of the industry and labor should handle that information with full confidence and responsibility. The workers should become aware of their responsibilities. The leaders should initiate this in them. Similarly, the top management should make the lower echelons to show a new attitude in the light of the new relationship.