Industrial Social Work: What to do with Organisation?


By

Prof. Dileep Kumar M.
Ex-Professor
Symbiosis (SCMHRD, SCDL), IIIT, SCMLD, SBS
Pune
 


Introduction

Social work is a profession for those with a strong desire to help improve people's lives. Social workers help people function the best way they can in their environment, deal with their relationships, and solve personal and professional problems. Social workers practice in a variety of settings. Hospitals and psychiatric facilities they provide or arrange for a range of support services. In mental health, community centers, and private practice they provide counseling services on marriage, family, and adoption matters, and they help people through personal or community emergencies, such as dealing with loss or grief or arranging for disaster assistance. Industrial social work is one of the area in which the social worker extend their skill and expertness in helping personnel managers in the industry directly and organisational development indirectly, by intervening the employee management.

Industrial Social Work

Industrial organisation forms a secondary setting for the proactive of professional social work. It is different from other secondary welfare setting due to its primary orientation to production and profit rather than to the welfare needs of the workers. There is a growing recognition of the fact that the human personality is influenced by and influences the organisation. Hence it is necessary to have a basic understanding of organisational structure of the industry in relation to its communication pattern and its system of authority. The workers and the problems can be better perceived against the holistic background of his work place, his work family, and his community. The industrial social worker whose work covers an intangible out put can work with conviction and commitment in a profit oriented setting only if his/her functions are balanced with the primary interest of the organisation. A clear understanding of the social workers role responsibilities and status in relation to the concerned department of great relevance. Although it was felt earlier that a personnel or welfare programmes need not have any connection with the economic potentials of the industry. It is increasingly felt that "A well formulate Social Work Practice," is as much as economic proposition as production or sales programme. It helps to improve the attitude of employees towards their job. As in the ultimate analysis it is the attitude of employees, which control the quality of production, quantity of the production and the productivity. Improvement in the attitude improves productivity and there by increases profit.

Role of Industrial Social Worker

It is essential to understand the areas of responsibilities associated with each functionary, so as to gain a clear perspective of role and status of the industrial social worker.  The development of the industrial social work in India is recent. It is primarily voluntary and is influenced by the emphasis placed by the government on certain programmes in organized sector.

The place of social worker in an industrial organisation is within the administrative preview of Personnel or Human Resource Management department. Occasionally is under the direct control of the line managers. The workers are occasionally involved in the decision making in the development of the welfare services. However, since he/she is enjoys autonomy in their day-to-day functioning, they are in a position to build a purposeful relationship with the operative employees. This will enable them to relate freely to the social worker with trust and confidence.

Professional Social Work Ethics

It is at this point that the issue of professional social work ethics assumes importance, both for the social worker and the employing organisation.

They are:

1. The social worker should be outside the chain of command of the management, even though officially she may have to operate from the personnel or administrative department.

2. The worker should not have any responsibility involving his functionary, directly controlling the work life of the employee in so far as it affects the production process.

3. The worker should maintain the professional confidentiality. This does not mean that the worker should not share the workers problem with staff at other levels and management.

His work necessarily demands contact with different levels of management in the industry for effective discharge of his functions.

It is equally important for the workers to note that 'the strategic role of social worker in industry stem from his intimate contact with the rank and file workers as well as the access he has to in decision making channel and the upper echelons of the power structure in industry… but he should be very cautious of the dangers involved in his multiple identification with people in a variety of status of roles and in having his skills used manipulatively.

This is particularly true of his role in enhancing positive communication between workers and managers. This is highly complex, due to the growing importance of the trade unions, which now has great influence on the management. It is primarily delegated to the Personnel Officer and rather than to the Labour welfare Officer, or the social worker. It is the personnel officer who has to act as spokes men of the workers and advice the management on the action to be taken on their problem. He also have to strive to maintain a neutral stand to hold the balance between the management and employees and the situation which can arise possible conflicts between the trade unions and the management objectives. Here the positive and the neutral stand of the industrial social worker can be of great value to the personnel officer.

The responsibility of the social worker fall mainly in the category of non statutory services such as:

1. Family individual and group, counselling and home visit in relation to adjustment of the work orientation, personality and other problems at preventive level.

2. Active participation in corporate social responsibility activities and community development initiatives of the industry.

3. Employee management and effective intervention of labour management problems.

4. Industrial counselling.

5. Case work interventions.

6. Health and educational help, which would involve referral to other agencies.

7. Coordination of welfare services with other welfare agencies.

8. Workers education.

9. Family planning and Family life education.

10. Workers recreation management.

Although personnel officer welfare officer and the industrial social worker are all concerned with the human relation aspect in the industry, a comparison of their rights and duties reveal that the former are organisation oriented and the social worker is essentially employee oriented. He/she can effectively sustain her working relation with other specialist for implementing the social welfare policy.

Qualities of Industrial Social worker

The knowledge and personality traits deemed essential in a social worker in the industry are:

* Maturity
* Warm and genuine interest in people adjustability
* Good communication skills in dealing with people at different levels
* Resourcefulness
* Sound physical health
* Effective intervention skills
* Knowledge of industrial psychology
* Knowledge of labour laws
* Expertness in corporate-community interaction
* Expertness in industrial counselling

Conclusion

The industrial social worker with his basic knowledge of human dynamics and her skill in working with individuals at different levels will be a great asset in individualization service. The industrial social worker has to project his or her role as helper/moderator/facilitator rather than management appointed person. An ongoing coordination between training in social work institutions and industries is necessary and useful for effective feedback. Industrial social work should emerge as an accepted professional filed in India that will enable Human Resource Managers and Personnel Managers in the effective employee management and organisational development.
 


Prof. Dileep Kumar M.
Ex-Professor
Symbiosis (SCMHRD, SCDL), IIIT, SCMLD, SBS
Pune
 

Source: E-mail April 17, 2006

    

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