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Job Security

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Industrialists (owners) that define the corporate culture in Pakistan have many things in common. Exceptions apart, corporate leaders in private sector ruthlessly eliminate any one who is not totally behind them. This trend breed job insecurity in the blue as well as white collars incumbents at all levels. Result: lack of commitment, involvement by the employees and not putting in their best that in turn results non-standard work environment and poor productivity. In a private survey restricted to some specially chosen industry units in Lahore, Manga, Bahi Pheru, Raiwind, Chunnian, and Shekupura reveals involuntary job loss, for any reasons, as a most common concern of the employees. Survey also shows an increase in unemployment duration and decrease in job tenure (the average length of time workers spend with one employer). Every one seems to be having a long list of experiences, different concerns they have been working in.

Job security is "a collective agreement clause which prevents or ameliorates the detrimental effects of job loss due to such factors as technological change, economic downturn, and or contracting." But this is not about job loss due to any stated reasons. What is being discussed here is losing a job on the whim of the owner employers. That is one of the major concerns of the employees in industrial sector in Pakistan.

Psychological research on the industrial management suggests that trust is vital to maintaining a sense of job security. But trust is what is lacking here. Employees do not trust their employers and vice versa. "I am working fine, I like my job and the work environment, I have good opportunities for professional growth, Mien sahib (as the owner chief executives in spinning sector are usually called) likes my job, but I am not sure how long I will be working here," says a technical manager in a large spinning unit who has already served in four units since he graduated for Agricultural University in Fasilabad and does not want his name here; obviously. Majority of those who were asked were already looking for new places to work just in case when they are shown the gate, or when 'gates are closed on them' as it is called. The technical manager narrated an incident when Mian Sahib fired another manager: "How much time will it take you to reach the factory gate? Five minutes. That is all you have to leave the premises. Your pay cheque will follow. Out," that is exactly how a manager who had served the unit for five years were fired. “No exaggeration here,” narrated the technical manager.

A circulation manager in one large publication house was fired one fine morning. “Leave the office immediately,” came the orders after he had served 30 years in an organization. “I picked up my cigarette pack and moved out quietly,” told the fired employee.

Not surprisingly, most senior managers surveyed are found deeply concerned about this uncertain situation and its effects are visible not only on production but also on morale, motivation and physical health. Most organizations do not have comprehensive job security agreements. Even where agreements are in place, many managers who were contacted for their opinion were not convinced that their employers would actually stick to them.

The survey confirmed a significant correlation between job insecurity and poor performance. People do not adjust to job insecurity. Productivity of the employees continues to deteriorate the longer employees remain in a state of insecurity. Moreover, the more insecure people felt at work, the more likely they were to experience tension at home. Conventional economic theory often assumes that security breed complacency. By contrast, the survey found quite clearly that the relationship between job insecurity and self-reported motivation levels is a negative rather than a positive one.

The industrialists are alive to the situation. But surprisingly, instead of taking measures to revert the situation they use their authority to hire and fire as strength. One owner of a large unit says, "That is all I have to control the large work force of 11 hundreds in my concern. I do not want to go into lengthy and difficult legalities in court kachery. It is much easier for me to fire any one who is not up to my requirements."

In the short term, firing any unwanted employee, for any reasons, may avoid an unhealthy situation and put all the others on guard and may increase efficiency as well. But, in the long term, the trend currently driving Pakistan private industry has worrying implications not just for individual employees, but also for nation's industrial growth and the health of its social and work environments.

Whilst there is much that individual employers can do to uphold their duty, there is also a pressing need for polices aimed at regulating the corporate sector. In fact, reservation in the corporate sector could have been legislated in Pakistan from 1947 itself. And after all, a state claiming to be a welfare state, concerned for the poor, regulating at the time every aspect of the way companies carried on their business, including adoption of new technologies and hiring and firing, could well have pushed for hiring and firing policies that included jobs of all kinds and levels.

More than the policies, the corporate warriors should take advantages of modern management and human resource development principle and should try to win credible commitment of their employees. The researchers and analysts say that, over the long term, such commitments can only be established by fair and open regulatory policies, which would allow for creative, rather holing back work force. How secure is your job?

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, November 01, 2012,


At 10:16, Anonymous Kat said...

Sometimes it is really scarry what is going with jobs and so on. You never know sometimes how long you still will stay in your job. It's mostly all abot capitalism meanwhile what is sad.

At 19:09, Anonymous crude said...

Yup, thats the common management practise in most of Asia. Solution??? Let them evolve at a natural pace. Drastic changes in policy without a culture change can have severe negative effects on corporate growth.

At 19:58, Anonymous Syed Sibgatullah said...

A real bad face of crude capitalism. However, this is natural in a society which boasts of a lot of good looking business laws, but which is really devoid of any implmentation of the same. Industrialists want cost minimization and profit maximization. This is one tool they use for achieving their ends. Improper safeguards against such practices and kneeling down in front of faceless capitalism will obviously result in such happenings.

At 21:55, Anonymous SHA said...

What is sad is that skills dont guarantee job security. Plus the employees are always ready to change jobs whenever they can get their hands on a better job which has now resulted in contractual jobs. What can guarantee job security anyway.

At 22:29, Blogger Raheel said...

tusi chaa gaye!!
And Sha have already said everything that I wanted to say.

At 02:16, Anonymous crude said...

Hmmm, i disagree with Syed. I wouldn't say kneeling down.. Too harsh perhaps. Improper safeguards have come about as a result of the cultural norm. Rising up from the knees, i.e. a revolution in the natural evolution of growth would cause further conflict between management and lower levels. This is so because management in these countries are still living in the stone age and lack the will to enforce such laws. And it is difficult to replace these managers since the availability of highly experienced managers is still limited in these countries. Therfore, such an immediate change is not possible. However, as those asian companies grow further and the stone age managers realise that a culture change is required to survive, it will naturally arise and coincide with the developments in fresh management expertise and ways of thinking. But do agree that there should be stricter g'mnt control in the implementation of company level laws.

At 02:17, Anonymous crude said...

my God i wrote a whooper long comment.. Sorry... Haha

At 12:32, Blogger AsianSmiles said...

Not sure how I would comment here Shi. I think it's unfair too. In the US, the same thing happens. If the boss wants you out, boom, you're out of the office.

Is it mandatory in PK to have long term, employment-based fringe benefits like retirement funds or unemployment funds?

In the Phils, it's really not that harsh. We have security of tenure, the labor law is very much pro-laborer & pro-employee (in all its actuality). But the bottomline is still the performance.

I guess we should integrate the idea that working includes building up our own security. Perform and redesign our workplace in a manner that makes us indispensable. Build networks. Make it a career goal.

I know its difficult and borderline ridiculuous, but until PK labor law changes, I guess that's all the job security that we can have in PK.

Goodluck to all PK workers.

At 21:51, Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

Job security is a thing of the past, here in India too and especially so in the private sector. The situation in the smaller and family-owned businesses is exactly as you have described.

In the more organised companies, where professionals run the show and a substantial number of shares are held by the public, the situation is better, but only slightly so.

Legislation favouring better corporate governance and transparency in operations should be of help in improving the situation, I believe. However, even within the ambit of existing laws in India and Pakistan, things could be a lot better if the judicial system is improved and cases do not drag on for years on end.


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