1.3000 word essay exploring contemporary issues in Employee relations based on a case study or essay question incorporating a critical self-reflection on a skills-based assessment.
In order to pass this module, students are required to achieve an overall mark of 40%. In addition, students are required to:
(a) achieve the qualifying mark for each element of fine graded assessment of as specified above.
(b) pass any pass/fail elements.
Employee relations, is a key element in human resource management field, referring to the efforts of the company to manage their relationships between the employee and the employer. As a result of a good employee relations program, the organisation is able to provide fair and consistent treatment to the employees, which allows them to stay committed towards their job and in being loyal towards the company (Gennard and Judge, 2005). These programs also help in preventing and resolving the problems which are raised owing to different situations at workplace. The employee relation programs form a key part of human resource strategy for making certain that the most effective use of people is attained for meeting with the mission of the company (Aylott, 2014). Through this discussion, an attempt has been made towards showing the manner in which the employee relations influence the productivity at workplace and also impact the democracy. In doing so, the three perspectives of Unitary, Pluralist and Marxist would be used, to show how each of these views impact the employee relations.
A key source of oppression in the industrial societies and in the post-industrial societies as well is the highly authoritarian and restrictive nature of workplace. For a number of people, workplace continues to be source of tyranny which undermines their human spirit. As a result of this, the rewards and the work experience become highly inequitable amongst the people of diversified gender, race and individual merit (Levin, 2006). A possible manner of dealing with this is to democratize the workplace whereby the participation of the workers in the process of decision making is increased, in addition to their participation in choosing and evaluating the managers and in sharing the ownership of the company. By conferring the democratic rights on the workers, they can participate in the decisions which have an impact over their lives (Poole, 2017). So, workplace democracy is the possibility of the employee having a say in their working conditions and in the wider set of policies governing their employment and work. This can be easily attained through employee relations, whereby the relations formed with employees of the employer are based on mutual and amicable decisions, where the rights and liabilities of both the parties are decided mutually. Thus, employee relations do help in attaining workplace democracy, which helps in keeping the employees aligned towards the objectives and goals of the organization, while at the same time, attaining their own personal goals (Gomez and Gomez, 2016).
When it comes to the productivity at workplace, the same can also be attained through employee relations. A strong employee relationship is also deemed as a key to the ultimate success of any entity. This is because strong employee relations help in creating a pleasant environment for working, which helps in increasing the motivation of the employees, which ultimately boosts up their morale (Dastmalchian, Blyton and Adamson, 2014). This is the reason why the companies invest in employee relations programs, as there has been noted increase in productivity, which ultimately translates into higher profits for the company. Due to the strong relationship which is created between the employee and employer, the employees become loyal towards the company, as they get a productive and pleasant working environment. This helps in reducing the labour turnover, improving employee retention and overall cutting down the costs of recruitment, training and hiring in a drastic manner (Daniels, 2013). In the majority of businesses there are high costs of employee turnover, which often overweight the cost of employee relations program which have been put in place. Effective employee relations also help in reducing conflict situations, where the conflicts are solved in an amicable manner due to a happy and productive workforce. Through effective employee relations, the issues of retention and absenteeism are avoided as the employer becomes one of choice of the employee, which makes them want to come and work for the employee, which in turn helps in retaining talent in the company. Thus, the employee relations also help in improving the productivity at the workplace (O'Brien, 2014).
The points put forward above are true from some perspectives, as the other perspectives result in such clashes which make it difficult for the employee relations to result in enhanced productivity and democracy at workplace. There are three key perspectives which would be discussed here, as had been covered in the introductory segment. The first view is the pluralist view where the belief is that the workplace is formed of different set of values, beliefs, behaviours and attitudes. The leadership has opposing sources and conflicts are inevitable as there are inherent competing interests. Management is there to mediate amongst these competing interests. The trade unions are the genuine representatives of the employees and they are accepted in a positive manner as they assist the employees in emphasizing upon their decision making power. In this perspective, the employee relations stability can be achieved by a series of negotiations and concessions which take place between the employers and the managers through the use of collective bargaining process (Kaufman, 2008). An effective set of pluralist perspectives helps in resolving the conflicts in an easy manner and a consultative approach is adopted for these purposes, and at times, the alternative decision making processes are also applied. So, the employee relations help in dealing with the conflicts through participation of stakeholders instead of overlooking them. This view also embraces a number of employee relations policies. The girth of policies of employee relations helps in making this perspective all the more beneficial for the diversified organisational and national cultures (Gennard and Judge, 2005). This perspective is focused on worker interests, which makes them more inclined towards the organisation, as they get a say in the factors that affect them, thus resulting in attaining enhanced performance and democracy.
Another substantial perspective is the unitary perspective which covers several elements. In this view, there is only a single authority in the organisation, which is led by the management and the opposition leaders are almost non-existent (Ross and Bamber, 2009). This perspective holds that the organisation leaders are meant to promote commitment and loyalty amongst the employees. The companies are deemed to be formed of teams who work together towards the common objectives and there exists no conflict of interest amongst the employees and the managers. This perspective also holds that the employees and employers can be a part of the company for common values, goals and interests (Dzimbiri, 2008). The trade unions are not deemed as an intrusion for the objectives of the management and a strong leadership is exemplified by the management for attaining the goals of the company. For managing the conflicts, the trade unions are not deemed as an important part, as is the case with the pluralist view. Any conflict in the organisation is seen as a negative thing which results in disloyalty and the company being dysfunctional, which impacts the well-being of the company (Poole, 2013). This view helps in explicitly integrating the interests of the employer and employee, which results in enhancement of the commitment and loyalty of the employee towards the organisation. This is particularly helpful in the matter of stakeholder management in which the employees are deemed as a crucial part of the organisation and thus the need to be careful about their interests helps in making certain that they are well taken care of, which overall results in the organisation being productive (Singh, 2011).
This view attempts to put emphasis on the role of the managers where a win-win situation is attained for the organisation and the employees and their interests are aligned with each other. The managers are required to go beyond their management styles of managing the employee relations and at the same time emphasise on their leadership capabilities. This view assumes that the stakeholders are the rational individuals who can easily find common interests. This helps in providing a steady foundation for stressing upon the common objectives which allows the attainment of an employee relations system (Betchoo, 2014). Conflict is deemed as a derogatory term under this view where the communication breakdown, agitators and interpersonal friction is deemed as the reason for such conflict. And these are dealt by adopting a paternalistic approach, which is aligned with the Marxist view. Again, where the views are unified and the common objectives are worked out, the productivity is automatically enhanced. However, this approach fails to realize that there is a power of inequality between the employees and employer, which can result in great conflicts. A higher power is exerted by the mangers over the employees where the working conditions are determined by them and the workers do not get any say in it, and have to accept the decision of the management owing to the power held by the management. Thus, unlike pluralist perspective, in unitary perspective, the employee relations have a negated impact over the democracy (Nikson, 2007).
The third approach for looking at employee relations for this discussion is the Marxist perspective. It is broader in scope and has the emphasis over the significance of collective action. This is also known as the radical perspective where there is a basic division of interest amidst labour and the capital. The view here is that there is inequality of power and the economic wealth, which is rooted in the very nature of capitalist economic system (Hann, 2011). As a result of this, conflict is deemed as inevitable result and trade unions are deemed as a natural response of the workers for exploitation by capital. This view deemed conflict as significant and structural, which can be explained through the example of industrial conflict. Industrial conflict is always shown in strikes and in other kinds of collective action of striking, for instance, go-slow rule. As a result of such division and imbalance, the industrial conflict becomes inescapable and continuous and is closely associated with social and political conflict (Leat, 2012). By bringing down the competition between the individual employees, the trade unions are able to improve upon the collective industrial power. This perspective also has certain assumptions, which includes the changes in society to lead to class conflict. Also, the inequalities result in birth of class conflicts with regards to distribution of economic power in the society. This is coupled with the elementary economic inequality amidst the owners of capital and the ones who supply and sell the labour (Walby, 2013). The nature of political and social institutions is derived from the basic economic inequality. This results in selective recruitment being maintained in the organization, which reinforces inequality and this is coupled with differential access to education, employment of government and of the other renowned institutions. Essentially, this view aligns the norms which are present in the society. And as a result of it, there is restricted democracy attained through employee relations as the needs of the employees are heard but not as is done in pluralist view. The productivity is charred due to the inequalities present and in choosing one employee over the other (Williams and Adam-Smith, 2010).
On the basis of this discussion, it can be thus summarized that employee relations are a crucial part of any organization and the success of any organisation depends upon how effectively it is able to manage its employee relations. The previous segments highlighted how the employee relations can benefit the company and the employees, where the productivity is enhanced and democracy is established. When workers get a say in their terms of employment and are made a part of decision making, democracy can be found, and when such happens, the employees stay motivated and work towards the common goals of the organisation which helps in increasing the productivity of the company and ultimately increasing the profits of the company. The three views discussed above of unitary, pluralist and Marxist view show the manner in which the employee relations impact the productivity in workplace and the democracy. Each view has a different impact, where pluralist perspective favours democracy, the unitary and the Marxist perspective deny it.
The workplace productivity is attained in all the three perspectives, through use of different approaches. Even though these approaches have applicability on the employee relations, they can help in increasing the productivity and democracy and in other view, could result in distorting of the same. Before I studied these concepts in perspective of the employee relations, I had only heard about Marxist approach and that too in context of it being a socioeconomic method where the societal conflict and class relations were analysed through the use of materialist interpretation of historical development, along with being a view of social transformation. So, for me it was just a social theory but when the same was integrated with employee relations, it transformed my view entirely. Whatever I had earlier conceived was changed as I never thought that the social and political things could be aligned with employee relations.
The ambit of the employee relations processes was so large that I ended up preparing an essay in which just the employee relations part covered 1400 words. I then scrapped that essay and started again to prepare a more comprehensive view as I also had to write on the three perspectives. So I covered only the main issues relating to the employee relations and aligned these in the best possible manner with the three views. The essay taught me a lot about employee relations particularly when I thought that I knew well enough about this topic. I did have some difficulty in gaining an understanding how the different views applied on employee relations and so I read a lot of books for this purpose. This also allowed me to gain the view of different authors thereby making my content more credible.
Employee relations is a crucial part of Human Resources, before this topic was introduced in the class, I had already had a good understanding of employee relations and how this can help, if robust, any company improve its effectiveness. Employee relations in my view is a key area between the relationships with the employee by the employer managing employee relations successfully will result in higher profits for the company, as effective Employee relations is a key factor in managing people. Organisation who do not manage this well can incur problems of conflict and unhappy employees which results in productivity of the company declining.
From the completion of this assignment, I improved my knowledge of the importance of “employee relations” and how it impacted an organisation in a positive and negative manner. In summary Employee relation is the technique which HR use for creating better relationship with the employees. It helps in keeping the employees motivated towards the goals of the company as the employees are made to feel part of the organisation and their needs are respected. When an effective employee relations policy was present, a company could easily bring down the labour turnover as the happiness and contentment in the employees resulted in them wanting to continue being a part of the company. So an effective plan in this regard can help in linking the employee to the organisation, where they want to work for the chosen employer and this also brings down the level of absenteeism.
In future when I become a HR Director, this concept can help me in retaining my employees. This technique is particularly helpful in context of bringing changes in the organisation in a peaceful manner as the employees can be taught to be amicable towards the change and at the same time their point of view towards the change can be analysed. This helps in making proper adjustments for introducing a major change in the organisation, without the employees turning hostile, which results in conflicts being born. This concept is particularly important in the context of present time where Brexit is posing a key problem in the retaining employees. When an effective employee relation plan would be implemented in the company, the employees would not want to leave the organisation. Thus, effective employee relations is a key ingredient in a healthy and productive organisation.
During the completion of this assignment my views were changed when I came to understand how the different perspective impacted the productivity and the democracy of an organisation. The essay covered in part 1 stated that there were three perspectives which had an impact over the employee relations and these three were of plurality, unitary and Marxist view. This would not only help me when I attain a Director position in an organisation but also as an employee. As an employee, I would know what kind of approach is being adopted by the company and whether my views would be valued or not. For instance, where I would be made to take part in the decision making of the company, I would be able to know that the company adopts a pluralist approach and that in this organisation my views and needs would be given supremacy. Where there is prejudice in the company or where a particularly candidate is given preference without any justified reasons, it would become clear to me that the company adopts a Marxist view and this would result in me wanting to switch to another company which has better employee relations in comparison to this company. Thus, this essay has helped me not in improving my knowledge but also in gaining an advantage in my professional life.