Tea industry plays a prominent and strategic role in Sri Lanka due to its significant impact on national output, employment and socio-economic status. Therefore, the overall worker productivity in tea industry plays an integral role in terms of national income and foreign exchange earnings. Today, the tea industry in Sri Lanka has been facing the burning issue of declining worker productivity which is the lowest among the tea producing countries in the world. In order to increase the level of worker productivity, simply applying conventional Human Resource Management (HRM) practices are not adequate and a sustainable HRM model is a vital requirement as a strategy for dealing with this crisis and sustains the tea industry in the competitive global marketplace. This research was aimed at proposing human care practices (HCPs) and knowledge management practices (KMPs) as sustainable Human Resource Management Practices (SHRMPs) for enhancing the worker productivity through quality of work-life (QWLs) and quality of life (QLs). The study is specifically focusing on the tea industry, since tea is the key contributor for overall performances of the plantation industry. Un-structured, one-on-one interviews used as the qualitative research technique for this study and 100 randomly selected tea harvesters who are working in well performing tea estates in Sri Lanka reported a list of HCPs and KMPs that enhance QWL and QL and in turn that enhance the worker productivity. The responses of tea harvesters were grouped into pre-defined structure according to comparative importance and validated with the findings of previous research studies. The findings were well supported by the premises of psychological contract and social exchange theories. The study also provides some implications for policy decisions and future research directions on identified HCPs and KMPs as sustainable HR practices which has direct relationship on the worker productivity.
Keywords: Sustainable human care practices, Knowledge management practices, Quality of life, Quality of work life, Productivity