The role of industrial relations in the structural change of organisations | Eurofound
1. a shortage of specialised and skilled labour;. 2. basically, raw materials are produced although some countries have made considerable progress in the. As a branch of HR management, employee relations managers look out for the Depending on the industry you work in, you may need to act as a union rep on. In a specially commissioned article for EIRO, David Thaler of the US Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, presents a personal view of.
On the one hand, it could be based on trust, appreciation, and mutual respect, while it could just as easily be based on the lack of transparency and fear. Employee relations are also about the efforts that the HR department takes to make the relationships between employees and their managers as amicable as possible. Usually, this will be done in the form of an employee relations program, where the program will seek to ensure the relationships between employees and their managers are strong, that employees receive fair treatment, and that any issues arising between employees and management are solved quickly and as amicably as possible.
What Is the Importance of Industrial Relations? Every company needs to have good industrial relations. When the relationship between the employees and the managers is positive, then a lot of things see an instant improvement, such as the productivity of the employee, their motivation, engagement, and morale, among others.
Employees who have amicable relationships with their managers actually enjoy and look forward to going to work every morning. Employees who have better relations with their managers will have a positive work experience, where they will work better, harder, happier, and in a more devoted fashion. They will be happy and the customers of the company will also be happy as a result. Ultimately, the bottom line of the company will benefit from better employee relationships. The Functions of Industrial Relations There are four main functions which industrial relations play and which can be used by managers to ensure that relationships with employees are positive.
The Function of Open Communication Communication is important to any relationship, including a business relationship. Employees will typically spend a very large chunk of their days at work and so it is important that they feel perfectly comfortable with their manager and satisfied with the kind of work that they do.
The ABC rule really helps here. ABS stands for Always Be Communication and it is an important rule of thumb to remember when relating with employees. A manager should inform their team that the work of the manager is to make work a little easier for the employee and help them with whatever they need.
They should also seek to be clear about what they need from employees. One way that you can stay on top of things with your team is to conduct surveys on a weekly basis where your employees can give you feedback with the benefit of anonymity. It helps to maintain the flow of communication and it engages your employees in an environment that is both safe and anonymous for them.
INDUSTRIAL RELATION: FUNCTIONS AND CODE OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
The Function of Recognition Sometimes something as simple as saying some kind words to your employees can go a long way. In fact, most employees feel starved of recognition at their places of work. When you show them gratitude and appreciation it will mean a lot to them. It also a kind of reinforcement strategy, where you reinforce the good work that they do by recognizing them for it. That inspires them to want to do more of it.
The role of industrial relations in the structural change of organisations
Give it in public as well for a much grander effect. When you praise your employees in public, the rest of the team also gets inspired.
Instead, increased labour-management cooperation in the last 25 years has been driven by economic necessity. For those familiar with the jargon of the 'interest-based problem-solving' model summarised in the appendix to this articlestructural change in corporate America has been more of an interest-based process than a rights-based process.
As in any capitalist system, labour relations have also reflected a power-based dynamic, but power has served only to drive the pace at which change has occurred, and has not been the underlying cause of change.
The explanation for this focus on interests lies not in the altruism of employers which in the USA generally enjoy a power advantagebut rather in the symbiotic, mutually dependent relationship between labour and management that has arisen by necessity in this highly competitive, global, skills-driven, increasingly fragmented, and information- and services-oriented economy.
Changing environment Before looking at the respective interests of labour and management, we will take a brief look at the economic environment in which they now have to relate.
As has been well documented, the developed world has undergone a dramatic shift from manufacturing to services and information as the basis of economic development over the last 35 years. As a result, businesses are under ever-increasing pressure to make goods 'better, faster and cheaper'. With the disappearance of manufacturing jobs and the importance of information processing and customer service, the need for 'brawn' has given way to the need for 'brains'. This phenomenon has been referred to as 'skill-biased technological change', referring to the increasing demand for skilled workers in the post-industrial economy.
The ever-increasing importance of information in today's workplace and the myriad ways of receiving, processing and communicating that information have challenged managers and workers alike to develop new ways of structuring their relationship to maximise their productivity. Traditional 'top-down', 'command and control' labour-management relationships might have been appropriate in an era of routinised, assembly-line work processes focused on repetitive activity. However, this new era of rapid technological change and voluminous, increasingly sophisticated information flow has made it necessary for workers to have the freedom to be creative in developing effective work processes.
This is true simply because there is too much information for managers to keep control of, and the simultaneous tasks that arise in today's workplace are multifaceted and increasingly demand new learning and understanding. Today's workers require an environment of both constant, formal upgrading of skills as well as an environment that encourages the manager-to-worker and worker-to-worker interactions that are conducive to informal learning.
In addition, the ongoing if unsteady and uneven reduction in trade-based protection for industries necessitates that governments, businesses and workers alike constantly adapt to embrace constantly evolving economic opportunities as well as threats.
Changing management and labour interests In this environment, what are labour and management's interests? From management's point of view, it needs a highly skilled, flexible workforce that fills in the gaps that middle managers used to fill in terms of spotting problems and generating solutions at the working level. Management needs a workforce that is willing and able to learn new tasks and perform new functions. It needs workers who have well developed 'soft' skills such as the ability to communicate clearly and respectfully, to listen actively, to empathise and to react to situations non-defensively.
In terms of workflow, management needs workers who are just as comfortable or almost as comfortable with exceptions to the norm as they are with the norm itself. There often is no norm anymore! The world and the workplace are simply changing too fast. What are labour's interests? Workers need a good basic education system to develop the analytical skills required to be productive in an information-driven workplace where there are no 'norms'. While for the most part basic education is beyond the sphere of labour relations though numerous private sector companies, such as Bell South have found it advantageous directly to support basic education in their communities, thereby creating direct links to the company to ensure a competent pool of labour in the future - see Teaching the new basic skills: Principles for educating children to thrive in a changing economy, Richard Murnane and Frank Levy, Free Pressother aspects of worker training are appropriate for joint labour-management treatment.
For example, in light of the continuing failure of many American schools to deliver a good-quality basic education, workers need employers to step up and provide not only initial job training but also continuing opportunities for skills development.
Hence the need for the now overused but still very important concept of 'lifelong learning'. Beyond learning opportunities, workers need opportunities to utilise their skills to 'create' in accordance with their values, talents and abilities and, as a consequence, enjoy the value of their creations.
This ability to create stands in contract to the strict 'Taylorist' production methods so prevalent in the industrialised world in the first three-quarters of the 20th century.
While one can credibly argue that workers have always had this need for greater control over their work processes, one can argue that it is more pronounced now. An increasingly insecure economic environment even in the best of times characterised by a low degree of mutual loyalty between employers and employees, coupled with the declining influence of the family structure and authority in general in the post-modern USA, have given rise to a class of workers that does not see the value of following top-down orders.
Many of them grew up in single-parent homes, in many cases with diminished authority figures the rate of divorce in the USA skyrocketed starting in the late s with the advent of the 'no-fault' divorce, while over the past 30 years the persistent social and economic marginalisation of vulnerable populations - eg people at or near poverty, racial and ethnic minorities - combined with an ongoing breakdown of traditional family values, has swelled the numbers of women bearing children outside marriage.
Unlike 'Baby Boomers' the cohort born in the massive population bulge fromwho 'dared' to challenge authority, a scepticism toward authority is ingrained in 'Gen Xers' by virtue of the circumstances in which they were raised. Above and beyond training and independence, workers still need the same protections they always did, such as safe and desirable working conditions, secure employment, and fair opportunities for employment and promotion. While the underlying needs may not have changed, the nature of those needs in many cases has changed.
For example, whereas 'job security' is no longer realistic in an environment where employers' need to fill specific 'jobs' is constantly changing, workers need 'employment security'.
That is, they need their employer to provide them with resources and opportunities to keep them useful and productive and, hence, employed - hopefully for them with the same company. In addition, whereas safe working conditions used to be more about goggles, air filters and ear muffs, it now involves ergonomics and reducing violence in the workplace.
Possible career growth often reflects the prospective health of the company, which in turn reflects information that companies have historically withheld from their workers. The process of information-sharing that is such an important part of the interest-based bargaining model see the appendix to this article is an attempt to address this need.
Regarding discrimination, whereas workers still need protection from discrimination on the basis of defined categories - race, ethnicity, religion, disability and gender - in an environment of reduced legal protections over the last 15 years, workers also need more fairness of the type that cannot be legislated. Specifically, they need fairness that is rooted in increased integrity, empathy and communication on the part of management.
This need for fairness is reflected in the increasingly voluminous backlog of Equal Employment Opportunity EEO complaints brought by people who have used the EEO process as their only possible forum to complain of injustices that do not fall into the formal spheres of protection of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC.
The EEOC was created under the Civil Rights Act of to provide a means of redress for workers suffering discrimination under defined categories such as race, gender, religion and ethnicity.
Many of these complaints are settled prior to the hearing stage. The need for fairness is also reflected in the increasing alienation on the part of those who may not file formal EEO complaints but nonetheless feel not only excluded, but also harmed, by 'the system'. In a survey, based on a representative sample of 5, US households, the Conference Board of the United States, a not-for-profit business group, found that growing numbers of Americans are less satisfied with their jobs, compared with seven years previously Special consumer survey report: Job satisfaction on the decline, Conference Board, July The decline in job satisfaction was found among workers of all ages and across all income brackets.
Labour and management working together to meet changing interests With the ever-changing economic environment, coupled with declining unionisation and longer collective agreement or 'contract' periods, in this day and age the collective agreement cannot possibly be flexible enough to meet managers' and workers' interests, as described above. Instead, it is 'administration' of the agreement that counts.
Given this need, in recent years, employers, workers and unions have come together to create non-traditional structures to draw upon both sides' resources at the plant level, the company level, and the sectoral level. Their efforts have been augmented, and in many cases jump-started, by the US government through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
In addition, there are a growing number of private sector human resources and labour relations consultants working with organisations to provide flexible, 'just-in time' responses to the latters' labour relations challenges. More progressive companies and their unions have used the collective bargaining process as a means to tackle the competitive pressures resulting from globalisation, as opposed to using the process to resist such pressures.
This broad issue of globalisation has played out in collective bargaining under the cover of various 'partnership challenges', such as: In order to facilitate the discussion of the broad topic of the role of industrial relations in the structural change of organisations, below we divide the discussion according to the four partnership challenges identified above, but combining challenge 2 structural issues and challenge 3 process issues.
Communicating about how to communicate: