Many say that an organization’s most important asset is its workforce – its people – that some businesses like Citibank would pay a skilled employee higher than other employers to keep them in their company. This is really important that field for human resource management has become so vast, with the competition growing tight and fierce. I interviewed a manager who handles blue collar workers in a handicraft factory. She’s Jullie Anne Mendonez, my cousin, and currently handles the operations of a family owned handicraft exporting business in Albay. “Maybe the most common motivational problems occur in a factory with low-salaried workers who do generally monotonous jobs,” she told me. Some would opt to chat with their co-workers during work to alleviate boredom. Unwilling to work, some would simply not show up for work – which is the biggest problem for a factory with so many bulk orders to be delivered on time. Although money is a major motivator for this class of workers, the business cannot afford to pay someone more than what they could get from him in the form of labor – any company would definitely not do it either. In turn they implemented some non-monetary rewards such as recognition for a job well done. They would award an outstanding employee the “employee of the month” award or the like. “Even if there is no monetary benefit, people also long for recognition even in the smallest possible way,” she told me. I, myself, can say that this is true. People need things other than what money can buy, and those things include recognition that gives them the sense of fulfillment. “And it [giving non-monetary rewards] really is effective,” she added. It is also helpful to develop the relationship between the manager and the workers, according to Ms. Mendonez. She does this through having a Christmas party, even a simple one will do, and allot some effort to give the workers personalized gifts. Through these the workers will feel that they are valued and they are seen not just as workers in the factory but as important parts of it. “Minsan, aabot sa punto na ang personal na problema nila ay problema mo na rin,” she mentioned. That was the second time I heard that line from an operations manager. There was a case about a worker who skips work frequently. She had a talk with him and found out that the money he’s making for a day’s work is not enough that he would usually have no money to pay for the transportation to the factory the next day. In their talk they agreed to increase the pay provided that he would produce this amount of goods for the day. And surprisingly, the worker came the next day with a greater motivation to work. This is just one of the many problems she has to deal with. “I sometimes [Ms. Mendonez] feel like I am the Ate of everyone there in the factory,” she said with a chuckle. To her, her work is not just meeting the production deadlines. It’s also taking care of those workers who rely on the company for their living. “It’s very fulfilling to see the workers work with smiles on their faces — hearing laughter from time to time during work — and see them grow with us, and these, in turn, motivate me to continue working [with them]” my cousin ended the interview with this line.

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