Employers should show a human face
MANAGING employees is not about following the law alone but the application of labour laws has to be supported by excellent human relation skills if organisational goals are to be met.
Mary is a tea lady and also provides cleaning services and has been with the organisation for the last 10 years.
There is a new Finance Executive who wants things done differently. One morning as Mary walked into his office to return an empty bin, she was met by an angry boss who told her his office was not her bedroom where she touches everything and where she walks in and out as she likes.
Further, she was given a verbal warning not to touch anything in the office without permission if she still wants her children to have bread on the table and was also insulted in unprintable language.
Mary was taken aback and left the new boss’ office literally in tears.
There are many workers who have gone through such insults by their managers and the effects of such insults is usually resentment with workers withholding vital information from the boss to assist him function effectively. Further, workers rarely forget the insults thus creating a poisoned atmosphere.
Cases of death or loss of loved ones by employees have resulted in damage of relations between managers and workers due to insensitivity by employers on matters of death to the extent that there are known cases where workers have celebrated when a manager loses a close relative, arguing that the manager is at least feeling what they felt and maybe he could be a changed person after that. Things should not go this far if managers have proper human relations training.
We have heard of (crazy) actions by some employers where toilet tissue is rationed. Workers are allocated time to go to the toilet and prior to going to the toilet they are asked dehumanising questions and when a worker takes too long in the toilet, the boss knocks on the door. Such conduct by employers completely collapses human relations as employees feel their dignity has been trampled upon.
Even in cases where the employer does not provide food for the workers, there is a need to locate an area where the employees can sit and eat in a place that is clean and away from the toilet and other health hazards. This goes a long way in showing that the employer is humane and cares.
Management of absenteeism also needs to be dealt with a human face as some employees will genuinely be sick, needing time to rest and recover but the employer’s language further complicates their position. I recall a case of a Head of Department who told a sick worker that he was not running a clinic and as such, sick ones would risk losing their jobs.
For fear of losing jobs, workers would thereafter hide their sick leave notes and matters came to head when one worker collapsed at work with workers downing tools demanding the removal of the Head of Department. While we are not advocating for handling sick workers with a velvet glove, mangers should use their human relations skills in dealing with each case.
Intrusion into workers private lives can also sour human relations as what is private is peoples’ lives should remain private and workers would resent any attempt by the manager to intrude in their private lives through actions such as long working hours taking away private lives or the boss sniffing personal private information about workers.
I recall a case of a female boss who would go through female employees’ handbags in search of personal information about their lives and that resulted in serious conflict with employees.
In conclusion, it is critical for all managers to be trained in human relations so as to be able to treat subordinates with a human face.
Davies Ndumiso Sibanda can be contacted on: email: stratwaysmail@yahoo. com; or cell No: 0772 375 235