Marginal and Fringe Workers
The word Marginal is given to an employee who has poor record as regards his attitude and whose performance is below average level. This word does not imply to fixed employee who has been giving good record and performance but whose performance now has been temporarily become low or shattered due to certain misfortune happenings in his or her family. Some of the studies have brought to the fact that the behavior of the marginal workers is more towards the comfort unless they are tackled and handled by their managers. But they manage themselves quite adequately in avoiding getting unsatisfactory report and attain the performance level enough for them to sustain themselves in an organization. They fulfill every step of the task on their own terms. But their performance creates indirect influence on the organization. They are unable to complete the task on time and without help and could put others in the organization in trouble. It was found that generally managers would avoid giving attention or training to the marginal workers as it would account to more loss of time for him and for his company as he would always be at risk of getting less productive work than required. Manager would not loose anything if he left the worker at his own pace rather than spending time on him.
Manager would not terminate the employee too as the cost of hiring the new employee could be more than retaining him. Other category but not on similar line is Fringe workers. They are not full time employees rather than are self-employed and work on contract basis. They are both individuals and organizations that instead of working under the domination of the senior in the hierarchical level of the organization prefer to work in a free environment. They get fees for their production and are paid according to the quantum of the work and the quality. They are not restricted to one rather take jobs from various companies and are free to move on to seize the opportunity of better pay and working conditions in the other company on their own sweet will. They have to make arrangements of taxation and pensions on their own. They are seen by the organization as “hired help division”. (Hayden, Thompson & Walker, 2002, p. 165) They have to eke out their living from part time earning until something better comes out. Lot of the fringe workers are women who cannot afford to work on full time basis but definitely want to make a niche for themselves in the area of their work and build up their esteem. They are most commonly known as contractual fringe workers and are quite popularly seen in schools too. They are educational professionals who are hired for short and fixed term contracts. But they have to put in lot more efforts to compete with the full time employees and also have to avoid getting stereotyped.
(Hayden, Thompson & Walker 2002)
Both marginal as well as fringe workers contribute towards the national income and any hindrance in the path of their growth could have a deterrent effect on the economy. Fringe workers have to bear the burden of several problems like minimum wage laws. This law is not a criterion for motivating the workers in the enhancement of their skills rather than it is just another system of payment whereby minimum wage is fixed for the workers and employers become choosier. They would not hire the inexperienced workers like teenagers and those who are not enhancing their skills. It is therefore fringe workers who had to bear maximum burnt of the minimum wage laws. There is both the job security and social security for the permanent employees, which cannot be said about fringe workers. They are devoid of all the benefits including health benefits. The clause in the Employee Retirement and the Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 also delineates differing conditions whereby marginal workers have the right to apply for the tax benefits and pension plans but excluded are workers who are employed for less than 1000 hours every year or those who are working for 17.5 or lesser hours per week for complete one year. The lack in the protection of workers raises the following generalization:
“Owing to the tradition of the institutional factors such as uncoordinated economy and more lax employment protection laws, we anticipate that overall mobility in the United States will be high. Furthermore we expect that mobility will have increased over the past two decades owing to the intensification of the globalization over this period.” (Blossfeld, Mills & Bernardi, 2006, p. 336)
There are certain differences between marginal and fringe workers and so their training process also needs to be distinguished to utilize their creativity to full potential.
Marginal workers should not be terminated but should not be given an easy go either. Instead there should be leadership and managerial changes to reengage marginally performing employees. But this should go beyond the original conventional approach of addressing their issues like promise of good pay, checking how the employee perceives the work by setting certain standards for the workers, communicating with them and setting expectations. At this time, managers need to check the cost productivity. He has to be available at every step of functioning to make ensure that policies or procedures employees are adequately following. Marginally workers should be supervised at every step and managers should give feedback at every performance of the worker. But the poor performance should not be allowed to affect the whole team’s performance and if the cost is becoming unbearable, he should be given notice.
Motivation is a magic word that spirals enthusiastic level of the workers to give the best output. It is an inner strength raising the person’s powers and capabilities and pushing him towards the achievement of his goals. Motivation is a prerequisite element to remove the emotional and psychological upheavals of marginal workers and induce in them the drive towards learning and enhancing the skills.
Swedish experience is an example in itself and believes in the value of seeking alternative solutions rather than removing marginal workers from the job market itself. It believes in the dignity and productivity of the individuals and enhancing their skills. In Sweden, the training centers are run by government agencies and they involve business and labor at all levels particularly during the process of kind of training required. They also have a system to provide contracts, information and support. (US Congress Office of Technology Assistant, 1986)
The proposed objective includes:
Identifying the problems
Understanding the problems and causes of the below average performance.
Identify deeply the problems and methods in the way that organizations, leaders, and co-workers contribute for jaded performance among others.
To identify what are the things that had made top producers exceed and the ways to encourage the marginal workers to follow them.
Intervention in the stage of performance and the ways of confronting the employees in the need of help.
Assess on regular basis your own training process.
Conducting personal interviews and asking personal interviews on their habits of working, reaching the goal levels and solving the personal issues.
Perform performance checklist to help determine where the marginal workers need most of the help.
1 The training should be skill based meeting the changing requirements of the company. The records show that many companies spend 80 per cent of their funds to impart new skills to managers while ignoring prospective marginal employees.
2. The initial knowledge on the task had already been given to them but information and training on the latest developments and technological advancements in their area of work should be imparted to them on time-to-time basis. Mechanized and computer aided systems if provided to the marginal workers would act like a helping hand to boost their morale and increase their potential to pursue their goals in a more professional manner.
3. The previous educational experience of the marginal workers should also be kept in mind while chalking out plans for them. Training should be related to the previous background of the trainees.
4. The conditions prevalent in the organization should also be conducive to the training programs. The persons learning better techniques should be suitably awarded.
Off the Job training Methods:
There are certain off the job training methods too that can be adopted. A real or hypothetical situation or problem demanding solution is presented in writing to the trainees. They are required to analysis the problem, suggest and evaluate alternative courses of action and choose the most appropriate solutions. The trainer guides the discussion and ensures that no relevant factor is overlooked. The trainees try to analyze the problem properly and suggest possible solutions. The actual decision is only known to the trainer and is disclosed only at the end of the session when it is compared with the various solutions offered by the group. The Harvard Business School adopted this method.
Generally marginal workers complain of incomplete messages or messages not clear when conveyed to them. To resolve this problem, team management needs to adopt effective communication method whether it is through telecommunication or upfront. Ineffective communication creates a very puzzling situation. Methods adopted should be conveyed in a simple and formative way. Sometimes the messages get distorted due to interference and it is not clearly conveyed. Some of the types of interferences are: Weak transmission, in other words it means speaking in a very soft manner, in a soft voice without any inflection, not conveying in a direct line with the receiver, or when directly conveying speaking very fast and in a haphazard manner.
These steps would make the marginal workers play an active role in the growth of the company and for their own self-development. Contractual fringe workers have to be tackled on a different platform. They are already trained and take their own initiatives to enhance their skills. The team human resource management hiring the fringe workers for certain assigned tasks should on timely basis provide them information on the companies’ current policies, latest developments in their area of functioning, and changing rates. Their performance should also be evaluated regularly and sent appreciation letters to them to enhance their morale. They should also be provided bonuses and additional benefits and gifts as token of appreciation.
In three months period, I suggest on the job training method of marginal workers. This is required to avoid additional expenses and cost otherwise company has to bear in conventional off the job training methods. On the job training would involve assigning them with the task not of grave nature but related to their area of work. For e.g. to an accountant officer, a data evaluation work could be assigned. He can be told to retrieve current data and compare it with previous one and then evaluate it. In this process, he could also be required to go through the previous files, analyze company’s profile and give his feedback. To further enhance his capabilities, company manager need to first understand the needs and weaknesses of the accountant officer and promise to address them. Then certain time frame should be fixed for him whereby he had to complete the task. For helping and to keep constant checking on him, supervisor should be posted who would give feedback after completion of first step process and guide him accordingly. The check should also be made to make clear that no step is skipped. During this process, he could be given technological aid if needed keeping the cost involved in mind. Side by side he should also be told to give his opinion on the certain aspects of data analyzed. Along with this, his task could be made tougher by imposing certain hindrances in his way and careful watch can be made how the person is overcoming these hindrances. This is done to enable the marginal workers to learn problem-solving techniques. Along with the job, they are also given study material and written guidelines for them to keep afresh their knowledge on the company. This whole project would culminate in three months as the company’s data entails him to analyze thousands of figures, with the profit and loss statements of past ten years.
The objective of this assignment was:
Enabling him to raise his morale.
Make him aware of his inherent potentials.
Make him develop the inherent desire to love company and have him grasp the complete know-how of all the company’s in’s and out’s.
This assignment would enable managers to easily take comparative analysis of the record performance of previous years with the recent years and can make decisions for the future course of action and this task would be beneficial for the marginal worker for longer run. He would be motivated to take initiative himself on taking on much heavier and more responsible task. He would understand the importance of time.
For the fringe workers especially women, affirmative strategies need to be adopted at the enterprise level to take into account specific needs of women. They should be rewarded at equal terms with men for better performance. Set before the women certain standards according to their needs and their culture and background. Fringe workers are working in an environment totally different to the culture and environment of the company for whom they are working, and they would be having their own set of problems and hurdles. It is very important for the human resource management to understand the culture and environment of the worker and act accordingly. Schedule meeting with him on regular basis to discuss several issues related to work and give tips to make him understand the problems.
All in all the setting of conducive environment, proper management, time bound work, quick and appropriate management skills would create a work atmosphere and a drive to exceed.
It is also required for the human resource management team to include what is known as Manpower Inventory Scheme. (Hendry, 1995) The inventory is often used to counting of tangible objects like raw materials, work in progress, or finished product. The process of inventory would enable the managers to know the present and future potentialities of all individuals and their suitability for the various jobs. This job specialization would also enable managers to find out the suitability of persons in taking up this job.
There is no doubt of the fact that it is potentiality of the employee that is the most important aspect but it is also true that it is company’s organizational set up that creates an environment for the employee to cultivate his potential for his growth as well as growth for the company.
Armstrong, M. (2003) A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice: Fully Updated to Reflect Current Thinking, Practice and Research. Sterling VA: Kogan Page Publishers.
Blossfeld, H., Mills, M. & Bernardi, F. ( 2006) Globalization, Uncertainty, and Men’s Careers: An International Comparison. Massachusetts: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Hayden, M., Thompson, J. ; Walker, G. (2002). International Education in Practice: Dimensions for National ; International Schools. New York: Routledge.
US Congress Office of Technology Assistant. (1986) Technology and structural unemployment: reemploying displaced adults. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Press.
Hendry, C. (1995) Human Resource Management: A Strategic Approach to Employment. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.