Workers participation in Management

Meaning of Workers participation in Management

Participation refers to the involvement of people or groups of people for a common objective. It will be effective only if there is an interaction among people or groups.

For workers, participation means sharing decision-making power with management as co-partners. A worker looks upon it as a tool for gaining equal control over the decision-making process within the organisation. 

For management, participation means joint consultation before decision-making. It looks upon participation as a tool for ensuring better overall performance of the organisation.

The concept of workers’ participation in management or participative management is based on the Human Relations approach to management which brought about a new set of values in managementIt is regarded as a mechanism where workers have a say in the decision-making process of a company. Workers’ participation in management is an important component of industrial democracy.


Definition of Workers Participation in Management

According to Davis, “Participation is a mental and emotional involvement of a person in a group situation which encourages him to contribute to goals and share responsibilities in them”.

According to Sawtell, “Participation is any or all the processes by which employees other than managers contribute positively towards the reaching of managerial decisions which affect their work”.

According to the International Institute for Labour Studies, “WPM is the participation resulting from practices which increase the scope for employees’ share of influence in decision-making at different tiers of organisational hierarchy with the concomitant assumption of responsibility”.

According to Clegg, “Participation implies a situation where workers representatives are, to some extent, involved in the process of management decision-making, but where the ultimate power is in the hands of the management”.



Features of Workers Participation in Management

Features of Workers Participation in Management are given below:

  1. Features of WPM
  2. Willing Acceptance of Responsibility
  3. Association of Worker’s Representatives
  4. Employee’s Influence on Decision
  5. Effect on Policy Formulation and Execution
  6. Auto Management


1) Willing Acceptance of Responsibility: When an employee is included in the decision-making process of the management, it makes him more responsible because he feels it is his own decision. He looks after the successful implementation of that decision and accepts the responsibility willingly. This is possible only if the employees are fully engaged in the decision-making process of the management directly or through their representative in general and especially the decisions that concern them directly or indirectly.


2) Association of Worker’s Representatives: In larger and bigger organisations, the direct participation of each worker is not possible. Hence, participation is conducted through the mechanism of the forum and practices that provide for the association for workers’ representation. It can be in the form of unions, associations or the majority. However, there are different ways, like calling general body meetings to discuss important issues and policy matters.


3) Employee’s Influence on Decision: Participation increases employees’ influence in decision-making at different tiers of the organisational hierarchy with a commitment to an assumption of responsibility. It is felt that it is through the employees that the ultimate increase in productivity is generated. It is the human resources that organise and utilise the plant, machinery, and technology effectively. Hence, the influence of the employees on the decisions is natural and necessary.

Workers Participation in Management


4) Effect on Policy Formulation and Execution: Participation has to be at different levels of management. Decision-making at different levels would assume different patterns in regard to policy formulation and execution. In joint consultation, the participation remains till consultation, in joint decision-making, it gives power for decision-making and self-management, and it gives equal power in every sphere of the organisation. Similarly, the effect on policy-making as well as on its implementation is natural and necessary.


5) Auto Management: Participative management involves the transfer of management functions completely to the employees, which will result in auto management. This will lead to a decline in voluntary absenteeism, sickness, accidents, turnover, and other maladjustments resulting in smoother management. In the modern industry, it is not possible to eliminate management and therefore, self-management in the industry can only exist where a function can be transferred from the management to the employees.


Scope of Workers Participation in Management

Scope of Workers Participation in Management is explained as follows:

1) Information Sharing: According to this view, participation takes place when the management solicits the opinion of workers before taking a decision. The management ultimately takes the decision. Workers are given a say or an opportunity to influence decisions, they play a passive role in the process of decision-making, but have no final say in the matter.


2) Sharing Decision-Making: This school holds that the participation of an individual in something occurs when he actively takes part. Employees work with the representatives of management to take important decisions, particularly on matters affecting the employees. Workers may be members of Works Committees, Joint Management Council, etc., alongwith the representatives of management. The decisions are taken through mutual discussions between the representatives of the workers and those of the management.


3) Self-Control: The important feature of self-control (or management) is that management and workers are not visualised as two separate groups but as active members with equal voting rights. Participation in Yugoslavia is an example of self-control.



Objectives of Workers Participation in Management

Objectives of Workers Participation in Management are given as follows:

1) To Increase Productivity: The area of the most common mutual interest, where labour and management may cooperate consciously to the advantage of both, consists of promoting efficiency and productivity, eliminating waste, reducing cost, and improving the quality of the product.


2) To Promote Industrial Democracy: Workers’ participation in management is also advocated as a means of promoting industrial democracy. It is said that workers should have a voice in the administration of the enterprise to which they belong. Industrial enterprises which furnish the material needs of the workers will also start giving non-material human satisfaction if workers acquire a say in the determination of the conditions, under which they work and live. This will lead to the achievement of industrial democracy which is a logical corollary of political democracy.


3) To Avoid Conflict and Friction: The success of schemes of workers’ participation can lead to the elimination of many sources of friction between workers and employers and may be conducive to the promotion of industrial peace. It is claimed that workers’ participation reduces their resistance to changes in industrial methods, the introduction of new products and work re-organisation, and so on. 


4) To Improve Communication: It is seldom possible for managers to have knowledge of all alternatives and all consequences related to the decisions which they must make. Because of the existence of barriers to the upward flow of information in most companies, much valuable information possessed by subordinates never reaches their managers. Participation tends to break down barriers, and makes the information alters the decisions; the quality of decisions is improved.

5) To Encourage Workers to Accept Responsibility: Participation increases workers’ sense of responsibility and employees adopt a responsible attitude towards their work, they become emotionally involved.
6) To Provide Psychological Satisfaction: Workers participation in management seeks to bring about a change in the attitude of workers. Through participation, they will consider themselves an integral part of the company rather than mere working hands. Participation provides the employees with an opportunity to express themselves thereby satisfying their non-economic needs. It provides them with a sense of belonging, pride and accomplishment.
7) To Improve Quality of Work Life: It also aims at improving the Quality of Working Life (QWL) by allowing the workers greater influence and involvement in work and satisfaction obtained from work.
8) To Secure Mutual Cooperation: It aims to secure the mutual cooperation of employees and employers in achieving industrial peace; greater efficiency and productivity in the interest of the enterprise, the workers, the consumers and the nation.

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