Employee seniority holds a significant position in the history of US labor (Dubofsky & McCartin, 2017). Delving deep into the history of the evolution of labor union, one will be able to figure out importance that it holds. Seniority has always prevailed in the US and has been a major decision taking body regarding employees (Elkouri et al., 2016). Mostly all the decisions like working hours, wages, promotions, overtime incentives and other decisions like training and development programs, benefits and privileges applicable for the employees are also decided by the seniority system in US labor union. Owing to the significance that seniority has in US labor union, it was being ensured by congress that the rights incorporated in title VII won’t make any negative impact on the seniority rights. Seniority rights were recognized and granted under title VII 2000e-2(h) (Louie & Pearce, 2016).
Description of employee seniority:
The term ‘seniority’ generally refers to the span of time an employee has worked for a specific company to attain a certain position through recognition. This seniority brings in a number of factors like higher rank of an employee, acquiring higher status in the organization, getting better facilities and much more. The concept of seniority also refers to additional financial benefits that an employee enjoys like getting higher salaries than the other employees get (Hitka & Balážová, 2015).
Employee Seniority and balance between workers and management:
In the history of US, employee seniority has always been in the working process. However, when it comes to fair treatment of the employees, it becomes a questionable topic. A senior member or employee of an organization without any iota of doubt would now each nook and corner about the internal affairs and the external affairs of the company. As such, a senior employee handles the delicate situations aptly (Swierz III et al., 2017). It is an obvious presumption that an experienced employee would be able to handle situation more tactfully than a new employee would. However, it must be noted that while there are a lot of benefits to the organization in the seniority system there are also a number of drawbacks or disadvantages that cannot be overlooked. Seniority in an organization maintains an equal balance between workers and the management. Owing to the fact that seniors of an organization are the chief body of decision makers regarding the employees, the welfare of the employees largely depends upon the decisions taken by the senior management. Seniority or the senior employees of an organization take the responsibilities of getting the work done, within a team having members of different thought processes. The main task of the senior employees is to maintain a perfect coordination between the management and the workers (Zatzick, Deery & Iverson, 2015).
In the times of crisis and misbalance of harmony within the workplace of the organization, the seniors’ employees of the company take the upper hand to resolve the conflicts or the issues between the management and the workers. Seniority induces a faith among the employees to take in control be the situation of any kind. According to the experiences of the senior members of the company, the employee tries to rule out the differences between the workers and management. The main task of seniority or it can be said the prime advantage the companies takes from the senior members of the organization is the recognition of the fact that when and how the conflict arises.
According to the history of US labor, it has been noticed that the unions were established in the year 1930, when it became a major component of the Democratic Party. In the initial stage, the labor union was unorganized and disrupted. There were no clear segmentations regarding the distribution of works until the concept of seniority crept in the policies of the labor unions. Without the system of hierarchy or seniority in workplace, the work structure remained unidentified and jumbled up. There were no supervisors to monitor the working process of the employees. There was not anybody to address to in case a conflict occurred between the employees or the workers. Further, the critical works were not taken care of. To address all these problems and more similar kind of issues, division of work and division of labor was introduced in the history of US labor. The introduction of the seniority in the US labor system largely made changes in the entire working process and hence created a segment of working class depending on the type of work that employees perform.
The introduction of seniority in the US workplace at large benefitted the work culture. It primarily helped to cope up with the persisting imbalance between the employee and the management with the officials (Lee et al., 2017). A senior employee of any particular organization has the complete knowledge of the workplace politics and issues than the founder of the company. Employee seniority is a key concept that is used by most of the organization in US in the recent times. Employee seniority is used by most of the forms in the US to maintain a coherent balance between the management and the employees. One of the finest examples of the balancing strategies used by the concept of employee seniority in workplace is that management is not let to dominate or exploit the workers in an organizational structure (Osterman, 2014). At the same time, employee seniority also focused on the production of the workers and bestowed the power upon the management of escalating employees in case found faulty. The management had the authority to monitor the work of the employees under the supervision of powers and rights granted by employee seniority.
Impact of employee seniority in the organizational structure and labor relations:
Employee seniority has both the positive and negative impacts on employees as well as the organizational structure of a particular company. The major disadvantages of employee seniority system are that seniority of the employees is directly linked to the greater amount of work production (Marchington et al., 2016). A senior employee is expected to give greater revenue returns to the company than the fresher and the new joiners. However, once an employee attains seniority may not always work according to the company norms. Seniority also endows an employee with power that is misused in most of the cases. On the other hand, seniority among the employees induces the employees with an unapproved power to question the company policies and work according to personal preferences. Senior and long-term employees may question the long living working methods and procedures of the company. Owing to the fact that the concept of seniority of the employees bestows the employees with each strength and weakness of the company, the employees induces a feeling of oneness with the company. It makes the senior most employees question the validity and the requirement of the new initiatives taken by the company. Another factor that makes a negative impact on the organizational structure and work production in the context of employee seniority is that, the system of seniority recognition comes with the span of time an employee has spent in a particular company (Sherwyn & Ritter, 2015). This recognition is irrespective of the quality of work that is produced by a particular employee during his or her tenure. Such system makes employee reluctant to take the new training and development program to enhance their work and make better production. Thus, it is a loss for the company.
On the other hand, there are certain advantages of the seniority system in a particular organization. Adaptation of seniority system by any company ensures the employees with certain privileges and rights (Graff, 2016). These privileges and rights are established upon certain qualities of any particular employee like the span of time a particular employee has worked for the company. That is, when the employees of the company are satisfied and happy with the privileges and rights that the company bestows upon them, the production level increases. This results in fetching greater profit margins of the company. The additional benefits are the recognition of the company in the global context and the inflation of market share. The company also is fetched with an increased brand value (Naff et al., 2017).
Impact of employee seniority on labor relations in US:
The seniority of the employees in a particular company, or the maintenance of the hierarchical structure in a company ensures the power in concentrated within the high ranking officials in the company. The labors are escalated into higher ranks only when the superior rank officials are convinced of the abilities of any particular employee (Disch, 2016). Thus, employees can reach onto the position of high-ranking officials only when they can convince the upper strata of superior employees through their work and dedication. Keeping such kind of control improves both organizational hierarchy and seniority. Managing employees effectively involves maintaining a proper responsive produce from the management towards the employees. Effective communication is a imperative factor particularly in this context to maintain a healthy relation between the labors and other co workers. Effective communication helps the labors to get a proper understanding of the intentions of the supervisor or the employer. Misunderstanding the directives of the employer or the superior class can lead to massive damage to the production and can harm the labor relations as well. Inefficient communication strategies can also lead to ineffective management over the labors. In many cases, reports have analyzed that misinterpreting the instructions of the seniority have led the labors to form union and work against the company objectives and goals (Dencker & Fang, 2016).
Impact of employee seniority in development of labor relations in US:
Employee seniority has effectively developed the scenario of labor relation in the context of industries and organizations in the United States. In comparison to the history of United States, labor relation in the modern time are much more structured and organized. With the advent of the concept of employee seniority, the assignment of tasks and the allocation of jobs became easier (Cascio, 2018). There were clear demonstrations of pay scale according to the rank with the corresponding work that a particular rank is performing. Employee seniority resulted in the concept of hierarchy within an organizational structure. Quite naturally, hierarchy controlled the employees and divided the work among the employees. Labors were no more left with clusters of work without any idea about by whom the work is to be done and how (Addison & Teixeira, 2017). Another major issue faced by labors before the concept of hierarchy was the type of work that they performed. Works were not assigned or allocated according to the characteristics or so as to say the qualification of the labors. The hierarchy later revised this feature.
Even at present scenario, employee-seniority makes a strong impact on labor and labor relations on the working structure in the US. Employee seniority and hierarchy is unavoidable part of work. Though employee seniority has both advantages and disadvantages, yet it has been seen that since the concept of employee seniority evolved, the advantages has been a lot more than the disadvantages. Perhaps for this reason seniority structure of employees in United State workplace has remained as a permanent part of the working structure. The fluidity of the hierarchical structure has enabled organizations and industries in the United States with a number of advantages. Seniority of the employees continues to influence and influence the labor and the labor relationships even today. Labors in almost all of the organization in the United States follow the employee seniority or the hierarchical structure in workplace at present. However, the only difference that has been made in the hierarchy is the structural reformation. That is, now-a-days most of the companies are technology based that has made the concept of employee seniority subtle. Yet, a closer view of the internal organizational structure of any organization would confirm the strong presence of the employee seniority or hierarchical structure.
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