EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The turbulent and complex working environment in today’s world has uplifted the requirements of being highly competitive and customer oriented. As far as the term “Survival” is concern the validity of the above requirements are similarly apply from large scale companies to small business owners. In this context workforce acts as the most precise resource of a company compared to other physicals and financial assets. Hence attracting the best talent, empowering them and retaining them within the company is a crucial factor of success. Meanwhile yield the best contribution from them to accomplish the company vision, mission and objectives is required. Both Human Resource Department and leaders would able to have the higher impact on that. Human Resource department can formulate and implement policies, procedures and practices along with promoting team work and usage of new technology within the company. Further an effective communication method is considered as the bloodline of the company. Remote working has identified as the new trend in the highly technologized world. Moreover selecting the best leadership style accordance to the situation, will ensure the success of the overall HR activities. This article attempts to analyze the above trigger points referring to real life examples.

COMMUNICATION PRACTICES

Definition of organizational

The most critical corporate communication aspect is internal communication or employee communication. It refers to the process of swapping information and through those generating employees’ understanding and/or a specific behavioral pattern that directs to achieve organizational vision, mission and objectives. Hence an effective employee communication procedure is an essential factor of corporate success. The general rule of effective communication is providing right information to the right person at the right time in a right (clear) way. Moreover it should be two ways; instantly or lately combine with a feedback or a response (Smith & Mazin, 2004).

Benefits of effective communication to organizations

Corporate communication or more precisely internal communication is the lifeblood of a company. Organizations can gain many benefits from a systematically established and well-functioning internal communication.

Mainly it eases the coordination of activities within as well as among the departments. During the observation it was found that specially renown apparel companies ( Eg: MAS) highly use high technologized communication policies and channels to coordinate activities in their factories. An effective communication will ensure the accuracy and timeliness of information. Further this works as a mean which the management can maintain control over the employees. Then a strong and reliable communication can motivate employees specially by building a healthy relationship among superiors and subordinates. Hence superiors can uphold a proper, supervision. Two way communications gives the opportunity to employees to raise their voices in corporate decision making process. It will obviously ensure not only the quality of the decisions but the effective implementations as those are the ideas generated from the employees themselves. When it comes to employees’ perspective an open and reliable internal communication aids to enhance the mutual trust among superiors- subordinates, superiors- superiors and employee- employee. All in all these benefits will create a satisfied employee who is highly committed to the organization. Ultimately this will leads to reduce the labour turnover significantly as well.

Communication acts as the mean of establishing a long lasting customer and supplier relationships. Two way communication methods will direct the company to new markets through the feedbacks of customers. A supplier who is frequently being communicated with, will give recommendations and some priorities over rivals.

Policies and procedures used to enhance communication

Most of well-organized company structures possess their own set of policies and procedures related with corporate communication. Among above the policies and procedures that are formulated for internal communication has the highest influence for company’s workforce. The primary aim of communication policies and procedures is to enhance the employee understanding and commitment to their work through conveying a consistent, clear message. Apart from that employees adherence with organizational strategies, Reduce, miscommunication, enable an efficient information flow also expected. Moreover this policies and procedures should consistent with organizational mission, corporate identity and strategic, priorities. The policy is similarly applicable to directors, officers, all employees and independent contractors.

As an example the laughs company which was researched; held monthly department meeting to give reviews and to convey new managerial decisions to employees. All the managers and executives in that department are compulsory to attend that meeting as a policy. As a procedure in advanced to the meeting all the employees, managers receive an email reminding the meeting venue, time and date. Moreover especially knowledge companies have strict policies regarding with their confidential information that is applicable for employees. They are discouraged to disclose nonpublic company information to any person except it was required and authorized by management regarding with performing their duties. Eg: Competitors, Family members, peers etc. Only the trusted and authorized have access to register with the company newsletters, only internal parties are allowed to use company protocol solitary for the business matters.

As a policy some companies privately communicate individual performance evaluation combining with gaining their feedback along with necessary advices from superiors. When it comes to new recruitment as a policy some companies communicate it within the company before it publish to the external parties Eg: Notices in notice board, Google hangouts, Intranet etc. Some companies are highly adhering about adapting to a formal use, of language in corporate communication. When dealing with media some companies have a specific policy to be followed. Eg : Should not publish anything which will harm to the brand reputation.

Legislation of communication and their impact on people

There are some accepted legislations which are applicable to corporate communications; few are form by the statutory while most of legislations are form accordance with the norms and values of the general society. Among the above two type of legislation, companies must accordance with the legislations which are imposes by the statutory body of law in a country, the legislations are differ in different industries. As an illustration when it comes to companies that are in to e-commerce activities need to compulsorily follow terms in Electronic Transaction Act specially regulations of privacy and electronic communication (Eg: Kapruka); regarding with the communication practices “electronic signature” has been able to enhance the trustworthiness of corporate communication. This has impacted on employees to trust only the messages that they get through via authorized channels or addresses. Moreover Data Protection Act 1998 is highly emphasized on protecting individual privacy. According to terms on it misuse of individual personal information is a punishable offense.

Then there are some legislations impose by the industry practices, community practices; it is not required by law to adhere with these legislations by companies are force to follow them because of industrial and community pressure. First the law of candor, which assumes all employees are adults who deserves for being treated with honesty, truthfulness, openness and similarly. This will cause to establish a long term mutual trust among parties. Then the law of participants employees are participants of the decision making process not mere the followers. They should have an opportunity to raise their voice in decision making process which is going to enable on them. And the parties should adhere to secure the confidentiality of information that they receive, generate, send and use.

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Organizational structures impacts on the communication methods used

The level of employee communication strength and methods used are varying in different organizational structures. First a structure with strict hierarchy will discourage the two way communication; employees in those organizations are similar to military persons who obey with all rules imposed by the superiors rather effectively engaging in communication even if they disagree with the managers’ decisions. Authorities may use more formal one way communication methods such as formal meetings, documents, reports, publications and guidelines etc.

A flatter organizational structure is recommended for companies which are highly intended to promote an innovation culture. It promotes open communication. Employees are encouraged to actively participate in internal communication. Through more informal communication methods such as discussions, online collaborations, brain storming etc. There are two types of informal communication methods as technology mediated and no technology mediated. Technology mediated methods such s teleconferencing, tweeting, social media groups like Whatsapp, email hangouts, telephone calls etc. Non technology mediated methods are like casual conversations to discuss team matters as well as individual likes and dislikes etc. Further in a flatter organizational structure clear messages can effectively convey to employees as lines of authorities are less. Such a supportive culture employee productivity and commitment will be gradually increased. But regardless of the structure gatekeepers; the persons who are in middle of top management and employees play a vital role in enabling an effective internal communication. They should be well trained, unbiased personals.

Employees are required to report more than one manager in a matrix, organization structure. A dotted line or solid line reporting relationship can be seen in such companies. In a solid line relationship managers have more formal right over setting individual goals, performance evaluations and dispute handling. But in dotted line relationship is not strictly formal and manager is only engaging with setting goals of individual collaboratively. This shapes more like a team work and effective, hence most companies follow it. Again informal communication methods are promoted in a dotted line relationship. Below shows an illustration of a reporting system of a matrix structured company. Figure 11

Companies who follow regional structure may promote virtual communication methods as they have a broader geographical area to cover. Eg : Phone calls, Teleconferencing, E-mails etc.

Figure 1 1

TEAMWORK

Teamwork refers for working collaboratively with a group, of people, intending to achieve a common goal. Impact of teamwork on organizations is being recognized as a crucial factor in today’s turbulent environment.

Benefits of teamwork to employees and to the organizations

Well organized teamwork attracts the maximum potential involvement from team members while effectively utilizing their unique skills, strengths and fields of expertise. It works as a natural mechanism to boost employees’ moral and productivity. Synergy is the most important benefit of teamwork. The logical formula behind this is 1+1 < 2, the more people combine their skills, knowledge and experience they can do more. Then organizational and individual learning and knowledge sharing can be increased through team work. As a result employees who have less skills, knowledge and experiences can rapidly develop themselves with the support of other team members; until they give the same contribution s other members. Hence organization can automatically cover the employee training and development aspect as well. This will reduce the time, effort and cost associate with conducting orientation, training and development programs.

A well-established team can tailor customized solutions for problems and ascertain the most suitable options from alternatives through discussions and interactions. It has proven from the organizations that were observed as an example MAS held monthly team outs and meetings to enhance team member interactions and management tells that the decisions take as the collective effort from team is more likely to correct rather individual decisions. Some companies even use the term of “collective wisdom” as the secret of their achievements.

Moreover as individuals experience the security and supportive culture in a team they are more likely to become risk takers. More risk means more opportunities and innovations to the company. A team consists with individuals who have expertise and knowledge in different fields; hence they can easily address complex phenomena and client requirements. They can complete tasks quicker than individuals by allocating main task in to sub tasks an assigning them considering individual capabilities. As an example especially in apparel sector (MAS) they use this method as a mean of increasing productivity. Another best observed example for illustrate teamwork benefit is event organizing companies, who assign a team for each event consisting with expertise in HR, Finance, Marketing and ER. Eg: 3N Events.

Teamwork itself works as an effective communication mechanism. Organizational changes, new decisions and progress remarks can effectively communicate in teams while giving them a sense of requirement for being actively involved. Finally it was observed that the employees find it more fun work within teams; with the sense of belongings, appreciation and job satisfaction they are less likely to leave the organization.

Factors affecting to failures of teamwork

There are many factors that affects to failures of team work. First and mainly lack of coordination among team members. Team Coordination is mainly driven by an effective communication, hence inefficiencies of communication methods also indirectly caused for team failures. As an example as evidenced from the event organizing company (3N Events) for a particular event they have ordered chairs from two places for the same requirement by two members in the team unknowingly. This has occurred mainly due to the absence of team updates in a collaborative platform. Eg : Slack Workspace. Being unaware of the team objectives and it’s contribution to organization make employees to distract from their individual tasks. If employees are not aware about the team objectives they could not able to find a destination or combinations of their own works leaving incomplete or/and unaccomplished team goals and objectives.

Then the fact of having team members from diversified backgrounds and fields can act as a pros as well as cons to achieve team objectives. The presence of conflicting personalities is the major obstacles to distract the team from their goals. As an example personality who seeks recognition and authority carries negative impacts to the team. Eg : a team member may claim a team innovation as their own thing in front of the management. Further some team members may discriminate another team member based on his/her social class, nationality, race, physical disabilities etc. This may force the particular team mates to feel as excluded hence will reluctant to give the maximum contribution to the team This can be mitigated from a well-organized disputes handling procedure. Moreover inability to define the individual role is also a disturbance to team success. Each member’s role should be clearly identified and understood, by all, team members. Especially inability to define the person who takes accountability of each task will make an atmosphere to point out each other as excuses.

Another critical factor for team failures are lack of leadership. A leader will ensure a well-functioning team which will be in track and focused. Further poor planning and operating strategies also leads to team failures along with the lack of encouragement. Absence of procedure to fill the skills gap in the team and extra training are the major reasons for it. This should be taken in to grant the team mates strength, weaknesses and capabilities as well. Then other factors like lack of resources, lack of reinforcement and feedbacks were also observed as factors for team failures. Then the lack of incentives and support from the company also act as external factors which affects for team failures. Moreover frequent replacement of team members due to high employee turnover of the company affects to disrupt the team’s regular work flow. Finally the team fear of failure itself will be a real cause to a team failure. This can be avoided through well-established team motivational programs

Impact of leadership styles on teamwork

The topic will be analyzed considering four different leadership styles followed by organizations as shown below. But prior to adapting with a leadership styles leaders should aware about the followers whom that they are going to lead. According to Herzberg’s two factor theory different stimuli are involved with different people. Some seek for hygiene factors such as salary, job security, supervision, status etc. But some are not satisfied with those and what they seek for are motivations such as achievement, career advancement, level of responsibility. (Herzberg, 2003).

  • Authoritarian leadership style
  • Participative/Democratic leadership style
  • Laissez-faire/Affiliative leadership style
  • Dynamic leadership style

Authoritarian leaders use their autocratic or, commanding power to control team members. Fewer opportunities are given for employees to participate in decision making and planning process as leaders themselves take all decisions (Greenfield, 2007). In such a culture they are more likely to demotivate and lose their commitment and sense of accountability to the team. The teams which are driven by autocratic leadership have a higher possibility to failures. But in some circumstances this styles bring advantage Eg : An urgent task that needs to get done in a limited time period. According to McGregor’s theory authoritative leadership style is highly recommended for X type people who are naturally reluctant to work.( (Accel-Team, 2015)

Then democratic or participative leadership style is the most commonly use style in nowadays. Here leaders seek employees’ opinions in decision making process. Hence employees are more likely to feel being respected and belongings. Democratic leaders encourage knowledge sharing, effective communication and collaboration with collective decision making among team members. Eg : Nielsen Market Research Company – All the team members are invited to raise their opinions regarding with a certain project. According to McGregor’s theory participative leadership style is highly recommended for Y type people who are self-motivated and view work as fulfilling.

Technically an absence of leadership style is the characteristic of Laissez-Faire style. The leader’s primary role is to develop a harmonious among team members especially via open communications. All the decisions are taken by the team members themselves hence the sense of accountability of their actions and results increased. But this style is instantly embedded with a higher risk. Eg: Software developing companies.

Dynamic leadership is adaptive, in nature. Here a leader is allowed to bend the leadership style accordance with the situation/team members. Those leaders are more tend to enhance the team moral and supportive work culture. Every team member will be treated with due respect hence will enhance the individual motivation. Those leaders are the one who takes risk and finds opportunities, in obstacles (Pershing, Yoakley, & Associates, 2014).They work with compassion, due care and good understanding with team members hence posess a higher level of influence over their team than the leaders who follow other leadership styles. Eg : Kapruka.

REMOTE WORKING

Approaches of remote working

Organizations can adapt with many approaches for remote working.

First working from home allows employees to stay at home and to fully engage with doing company tasks. But working at home allows them the chance to be flexible with the time they work while balancing their personal works as well. A few physical meeting will be held to get feedbacks and give updates periodically but some companies may even held them via online communication channels. Eg: Entrepreneurial software developers for foreign countries. Then regional officers can adapt to remote working option, as it’s the only option that is available for them due to geographical distances. Eg : Wijaya distributors – Officer in the North province do remote work, connecting with the head office in Colombo.

Then companies may select to use diversified remote working approach. Here employees are required to work some time on the company/site and the rest of tasks, remotely. Moreover company can select remote workers in contract/project basis. This approach is more suitable for companies who are in to projects in different fields. Eg: Employing freelancers for Market research. They might be the expertise in the field and companies cannot find internal employee who possess necessary skills. Freelancers can be further identified as an example for global remote working.

When companies are expecting to adapt with remote working approaches they have to bear a considerable sunk cost in investment of technology, be prepared to face with challenges in communications, time zone differences and strict deadlines. Moreover self-disciplines are accepted form remote workers due to feelings of remote from supervision and lonely.

Work practices of remote working

The success of remote working is particularly depends with a high degree of mutual trust among parties involve. In order to establish a good understanding an effective communication is a must. This associate with teleconferences, frequent hang-outs, e-mail updates compulsory virtual meetings etc. Hence both employees and remote workers are encouraged to develop their communication skills including listening, getting clarifications and friendly negotiations. Consistency and continuity information flow is stimulated by the remote working culture.

As an industrial practice people who are new to remote works are first need to go through a proper training process. Here managers can support them with technical requirements. Moreover their objectives and expectations should clearly set and communicated. Constant supervision and being supportive with their issues are required from the management side. Moreover recognition and career development of remote workers also considered event if they are not physically appear in the company.

Further it was observed that as a best practice in the industry some companies held periodic face to face physical meetings to discuss problems and increase the trust among the parties. Company can set up a location, time and let the virtual team meet in real life with some ice breaking sessions.

When it comes to remote workers adhere with deadlines, securing the confidentiality of information, being self-motivated and developing necessary skills like typing speed and accuracy are expected as best practices.

As an overall example Nielsen Company enables employees to take working from home days, but they are required to available at their desktop all the time and actively participate in team activities in the dash board.

Leadership styles appropriate for remote working

Leading employees in distance is not an easy task as leading them in closely. It can be varies in different remote working environments depend on the remote worker, leader’s experience and personal traits as well. But according to the facts that were found during the observations suitability of each leadership style is as follows.

According to McGregor theory X and Y there are two main styles of management to follow; first authoritarian style for X types of people (who naturally dislike their work, need to supervise regularly, avoid responsibilities) and participative leadership style for Y types of people (who take pride in their work and willingly work, self-motivated, creative). (Accel-Team, 2015). Authoritative leadership style is not necessarily work well in a remote working environment. Because working in remote requires a certain level of independence. Then democratic leadership style can be applied for certain extend but absence of a physical communication will be an obstacle for this. Hence applicability of this leadership style is limited in remote working. But laissez-faire style works well in remote working culture only if the team is strong and possess the required skills independently. Thus the leader can trust the team without any fear. Even if the Laissez-faire, leaders need to get assure that is the tasks are really getting done by respective employees. Even though the transactional leadership does not promote innovation it can be efficient in leading remote workers. If the both leader and the workers know their tasks, the system that they work and there the leadership intervention is not required hence remote workers will responsive for transactional leadership style. As a sum up a more flexible, collaborative and worker empowering leadership style is accepted in remote working industry. A s an example in Nielsen company leaders are highly engage with open communication and frequently communicate with their remote workers to give and/or take updates.

SUPPORT STRUCTURES

How HR departments can provide support to employees

A company’s human resource department provides support to employees majorly in four ways.

  • Dispute resolution
  • Trainings and development
  • Employee relations
  • Information resource

First HR people mediate and support with handling conflicts within the organization. These conflicts related with issues such as bullying, insubordination and other unaccepted behaviors within the workplace. They will give advice to the relevant people or take necessary discipline actions to correct them or to compensate to the victim party. Then training and developments programs will be held periodically by the HRD according to the requirements. Employees can improve their skills and knowledge by participating to those programs. Further employees can gain the help of HR persons in career advancement and career tracking as well.

HR department support to the employees who feel that their rights have been violated specially because of discriminations and harassments. Here they assist employees with legal matters. Then HRD works as an information source which every person can have the access similarly. As an example if the immediate superiors cannot answer for an employee’s question, the employee can contact the HRD and get the clarifications. Like clarification related with getting approval for a leave, remuneration issues and even for personal matters as well Eg: Facilitates for Mentoring. Moreover HR makes necessary actions to enhance knowledge sharing and to establish a supportive working culture.

Policies and procedures designed to support people

HR Policies

Organizational members need to follow a consistent set of principles and rules regarding with specific issues such as attendance, privacy, working conditions, overtime, conflict of interest etc. Thus a formal statement embedded with certain set of principles and rules refers as a HR policy. Policies are designed by fairly considering the legislations as well. Eg: Privacy legislation, Workers compensation, human rights and labor standards. They are further applied to give the maximum support and comfortability for employees. As an example a company’s dispute handling policy clearly mention about the avoidance of harassment and employee discriminations in the workplace along with the consequences that the parties who violates have to bear.. These policies support employees to work in a harassment free secured working environment. Moreover the policy of pay scale gives transparent information for employees about their overtime payments, deductions, incentives etc. Considering the maternity leave policy it was observed that every company give at least a compulsory three months leave on maternity exactly with the payments due. When it comes to employee terminations every organization have a clear distinguish policy for it considering the respective legal aspects.

HR Procedures

HR policies are about “what” and the procedures are about “how to”, procedures are written a instructions with sequential steps to follow. As an example considering the dispute handling policy procedures guide how to schedule complains about harassments or a discrimination that they have to face. Further mention the procedure that the HR will follow to handle it like advising, collaborative negotiations or in worst scenarios to dismiss the assailant. Employees have to follow a specific procedure to get leaves from organizatins, E.g.: Study leave, General leave etc. They have to convey the specific dates and reasonable causes in advanced to respect authorities, they may have to fill a form if it s required by the procedure. Thus both the employer and employee can prevent the inconveniences that might occur due to the absence. Then generally companies have a procedure to follow in recruitment and employee termination. Job description and selections criteria should be clearly conveyed to potential candidates. New recruiters will be given with a proper induction program prior to allocating them tasks. Moreover in voluntary employment terminations employees need to notify it to the management at least prior to a month.

Practices used to support people in the workplace

The practices used by Human Resource Department are varying according to the industry. But some common HR practices were identified during the observations which every company can follow regardless the industry that they are in.

First providing performance evaluations customized feedback and frequently for each employee. Thus the employees can identify their strengths as well as weaknesses to develop their career life with the support of their superiors. This makes them to feel more engaged to the workplace and sense of appreciation/self-respect to them. Feedback will give them the further guidance and motivation that they need. Creating a talent community with regular interactions with training and development programs is another best practice to support employees. HRD identify the best method to give the training by observing individual behavior, some may be provided with online training while others will be offered with offline training programs.

HR department take necessary actions to promote a supportive, knowledge sharing culture. Thus as a practice HRD enable people to share their experiences and knowledge through discussions, online collaborative tools etc. Further as a practice some HRD s personally intervention with employees’ personal and mentally issues, such as granting welfare facilities, health insurances, mentoring etc. Give employees guidance and assistance with work-life balancing.

HR practices like organizaing annual trips, secret Santa events, employee talent shows will help to enhance the employee engagement with the orgnizations. Further it gives them an opportunity to have an entertainment off the desk while strengthening their relationship with peers and superiors.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Workplace practices have a severe impact on people within an organization. As a sum up of the practices mentioned in the above topics; effective communication protocols works as a bloodline of a company and as the major trigger of an effective teamwork as well. When it comes to team work, to uplift the team mates morale and maintain the co coordination virtual or/and physical meetings are required. A carefully selected leadership style is a huge advantage for a company. But it should select only after analyzing the followers mindsets, motivations, personal traits etc. But in the present context participative leadership is recommended considering technology advancement and trends toward remote working. Remote working requires huge investment on technology and communication channels and self-discipline, and adherence with timelines from the workers side.

Furthermore it’s considered as a privilege for a company to have a well-functioning supportive Human Resource department. They should formulate customized HR policies and procedures which do not clash the company and employee interests along with the required legislations. Then a frequent review of current practices of a company and making necessary adjustments or adapting with new practices (only if required) would be a good move toward assuring the corporate health. Employees’ opinions and attitudes should be taken in to consideration in this decision making. Promoting open communication within the company will eliminate the employees’ reluctances in participating decision making process. Employees’ representatives on the board can speak and raise voice behalf of all employees particularly. Further HRD can conduct periodic staff surveys to identify requirements of employees, to fill skill gaps, formulate HR policies etc. Further should take necessary actions to mitigate the outside interventions to company internal works. Then establishing mentoring or consultative group will assure the support needed to the in-need. Free exchange of views and opinions are required in consultations the topics would be regarding with health and safety, redundancies, discriminations and disputes etc. A well formulated disputes and conflict handling procedure is a compulsory requirement for organizations.

Above recommendations are similarly valid for all type of companies including “Century Ltd”; a medium sized local company.

 

REFERENCES

Accel-Team. (2015). Douglas McGregor. Theory X Theory Y employee motivation. Retrieved April 9, 2018, from Accel-Team.com: https://accel-team.com/human_relations/hrels_03_mcgregor.html

Elovitz, & Leonard, H. (2010). Finding Your Leadership Style. Retrieved April 9, 2018, from FindArticles.com: http://findarticles.com/?noadc=1

Greenfield, D. (2007). The enactment of Dynamic Leadership. Leadership in Health Services, 20(3), 68-159.

Herzberg, F. (2003). One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? Harvard Business Review, 23.

Pershing, Yoakley, & Associates. (2014). Dynamic Leadership for Dynamic Times.

Smith, S. A., & Mazin, R. A. (2004). The HR Answer Book: An Indispensable Guide For Mangers and Human Resources Professionals. New York: AMACOM.