Any organization's internal operations can only be run smoothly if that organizations management has the exact knowledge about different issues which its workforce is facing. Employee relations become more important in today's globalised economy, as organizations come across with different new behaviours and attitudes of workforce. Another important factor is the change in workforce demographics. Socio-economic situation of working class people has changed a lot in last 20 years or so, this also brings new issues at workplace. Organization has to have knowledge and system to deal with individuals. Employee relations is mainly HR's responsibility but at the same time its the responsibility of middle managers and higher management to have good understanding of the issues which their workforce might be facing.
According to Lewis et al (2003) Employee relationship is an economic, social, and political relationship in which employees provide manual and mental labour in exchange for rewards allotted for employees. Bennett (1997) mentions that employee relation is a far wider subject than conventional industrial relations. Industrial relation is the systems of rules, practices and conventions associated with collective bargaining and the avoidance and resolution of industrial disputes. According to Bennett employee relation deals with all the formal and informal relationships of an interpersonal nature that arise from management/employee interactions in working situations.
The term industrial relations is no longer widely used by employers but summons up a set of employment relationships that no longer widely exist, except in specific sectors and, even there, in modified form. (www.cipd.co.uk). Gennard and Judge(2002) says that while some people see employee relations as being about the trade union behavior, colective bargainig , industrial dispute and uk govt's relationship with trade unions. But in recent history the instituation of trade union and procdure of collective bargaining and strikes have declined steadly,Gennard and Judge (2002) argued that in employee relation activities many players are involved.
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The principal players are individual employers, individual employees, employee representation bodies (staff association, trade unions, works councils, etc) employers associations, private companies, public bodies and voluntary organizations. These players operate in a labour market in which they attempt to protect and advance their respective economic interest's relative each other. Although employees in the labour market have interest that are different from the employers. Employers want more profit, highly quality service, and survival of enterprise. While employees wants more wages and condition of service, permanent income stream and security of employment.
Both employees and employers also have a common interest in the survival of the employing enterprise. Even though they may disagree on some issues .They have a mutual interest in resolving this problem because not to do so will result in mutual destruction. Common interests means reconciliation by means of processes leading to agreements that reflect the balance of bargaining power between employers and employees as influenced by the economic and legal policies of government and the implementation of technological change .
Gennard and Judge (2002) further mentioned that there are also different interests among employees. In a workforce different types of employees (technical, clerical, administrative, craft manual, semi skilled and unskilled etc.) are employed and have different interests from each other. It is important that organization ensured that these different interests are reconciled. If employers fail to reconcile their different interests with their employees a number of cost arise. according to Gennard and Judge "Employee relations is a study of the rules, regulations and agreements by which the employees are managed both as individuals and as a group. Employee relations is also about ensuring that organizational change is accepted and the implemented".(Gennard and Judge 2002.p17) The employee relation players also have expectations of how each will behave towards the other.
This is referred to as the psychological contract which has been described by schein (1978) mentioned by Gennard and Judge (2002) as a set of unwritten, reciprocal expectations between an individual employees and the organization. It is based on the notion that in addition to the formal employment contract. Employees develop a set of informal unwritten assumptions about and expectations from their employing organization. These are said to be depend on employee trust, perceptions of fairness and reliable delivery of the deal over a range of issues such as job satisfaction, career progression, reward, relationship with mangers etc.
CIPD defines psychological contract as the perceptions of employee and employer about their mutual obligations towards each other. Legal contract on the other hand is a written contract between two parties and it describes what both parties are aggreing upon but in many cases legal contract has little to do with actual employee behaviour and expectations.(change agenda.what is employee relations.Cipd).Guest et al (2000) describes it as a it is concerned with assumpetins which form and govern behaviour. If the psychlogical cntract is breached although it may not have any legal implication for the parties but as far as employees are concerned, breach of psychological contract by the management has a negative effect on job satisfaction and commitment and on the psychological contract as a whole.
In recent years treadtional psychlogical contract which was employee's commitment in response to employer's providing job security has some what changed, Now a days employers can no longer offer job for lafe in many cases and they are replacing the idea of job for life with fair pay and treatment, plus opportunities for training and development. This situation has caused some damage to employees' cometment, but if we look at overall situation we can see that this fact that no job is a job for life is becoming more and more acceptable among employees. And employers have came up with the idea of employabilty.
Hard apporch of HRM is about reduction of workers cost as any other cost where as soft HRM sees people as fix cost and try to get more out of them through training and equiping them with new skills through which they will become more cost effective for orgainzation. Mcloughlin (1996)says that "HRM techniques can be conceptualised as a combination of interdependent policies which are designed to secure the behaviourial and attitudinal Commetment of employees to the organization and engender high-quality organizational performance through flexabilty and innovation. These polices themselves exhibit stratigic intigration".
In changing envoirnment of business its even more important for employers to know what employees expect from their work. HRM practioner has many roles and another role which he/she can chose to perform is of an Employees' Champion (dave Ulrich 1997) employee champion means that HRM takes the responsibility of advocating employee's case at managerial level. We see decline in unions strength and it is a golden oppertunity for HRM to become an honest broker between management and employees , but practicaly speaking this role of employee champion might be very diffcult for many HR practioners to adopt as it requires a major change in our management style itself.
The three Perspectives of employment relationship are unitary, pluralist and radical (marx). Unitary: Hollinshead et all (1999) argued that In any executive work which involves the co-operation of two different men or parties, where both parties have anything like equal power or voice in its direction, there is almost sure to be a certain amount of bickering, quarrelling, and vacillation, and the success of the enterprise suffers accordingly, if however either one of the parties has the entire direction , the enterprise will progress consistently and probably harmoniously , even although the wrong one of the two parties may be in control. In essence the unitary theory portrays the employment relationship as harmonious, with employer and employed working together to achieve success.
It assumes a common set of values which bind the two parties together and ensure there is no potential source of conflict. Although this is the earliest theory used to describe the employment relationship. Bennett(1995)adds that Unitarians belief that management and labour have identical interests and hence may be expected to pull together towards the same objectives. Hence management expects workers to act as a team and to assist the firm achieve its objective.
But the other hands Hollinshead et all (1999) mentioned that it fails to recognise the existence of differing interests between management and labour. The assumption is made that mangers decisions are rational and contain within them the interests of all employees. Hollinshead et all (1999) further mentioned It's originally linked to a type of nineteenth century employment that seems to reflect employers managerial interests reflect than those of the employees.
It is based on a kind of idealized relationship at work which suits the management and which if put into practice would ensure that management could usually achieve all its objectives at the expense of employees. Bennett (1995) also adds that it cannot comprehend the motives of individuals who do not regard everyone in the organization as being in the same boat. It also can impair the efficient resolution of disputes.
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