Employees Relations and Their Voice

Categories: Employment

Coronavirus pandemic is happening now. More than 3.5 million people are infected and more than 250 thousand people died (WHO, 2020). People need to work from home due to the lockdown restriction. Some employees are asked to take indefinite unpaid leave or even laid off during this hard time. It does not only causes a financial challenge to those employees but also presents a psychological challenge.

Therefore, it is important for the business to manage the employment relationship now. Employee relations focus on both individual and collective relationships in the workplace with an increasing emphasis on helping line managers establish trust-based relationships with employees (CIPD, 2018).

Gennard and Judge (1997) argue that the purpose of employee relations activity is to reconcile the conflicting interests of management and employees. There are a few things that the organizations can do to maintain a positive management relationship.

The first thing is about the contracts of employment. According to Beardwell and Thompson (2017). It is formed on the basis of a clear and unambiguous offer from the company, an unconditional acceptance of that offer from the individual and some form of consideration.

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The contract confers obligations and rights. It is a legal relationship between employer and employee. Although the legal contract helps to balance the power in a relationship and can be used to guarantee employees’ benefits, they have to adherence to the company’s policy and reach the organizations’ expectations. Those employees may feel stressful and their motivation can be decreased.

Therefore, there is another contract called psychological contract (PC).

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Unlike the legal contract for employment signed by employers and workers, it is unwritten rules of the relationship outside the legal market. Psychological contract refers to individuals’ expectations, beliefs, ambitions and obligations, as perceived by the employer and worker.it describes how parties themselves understand their relationship, their views of commitment and what they can expect to receive in return (CIPD, 2019). Armstrong (2017) said that the PC needs to be built through clarity, transparency, and honesty through communication. Psychological contract is central to people performance and engagement at work. It requires people professional to have input to the broad organisational strategy, design and implement the people management and develop practices that support it if they want to manage employee expectations successfully.

There is an organization that can help to maintain a healthy employment relationship as it gives employees a collective voice, trade union. Salamon (1998, quoted in Dibben, P., Wood, G. and Klerck, G, 2011) mentioned that trade union is an organization whose membership consists of employees, which seeks to organise and represent their interests and seek to regulate the employment relationship through collective bargaining. Trade union is set up by a group of people largely consisting of workers of different processes in an organization.

The aim is to protect jobs and improve the status, pay and condition of employment of their members. It also helps to promote employees’ other interests. The trade union is especially useful when the relationship between employees and employers break down. Trade union can discuss members’ concerns with employers. It also has the bargaining power to help employees to negotiate agreements with employers on pay and conditions or provide legal and financial advice to the members. It can even organize some industrial actions such as a strike. The strike is an industrial action that is used for its bargaining power. However, there are consequences for the staff and may result in a poorer relationship. According to the British Social Attitudes Survey (Beaumont and Harris 1994), it suggests that union members report poorer employment relations and poorer management of the workplace than non-union employees.

Besides, it shows that the members of the trade union continue to decline. In the UK, It fell from 7.2 million employees in 1995 to 6.5 million in 2014 (Hoskin, 2015). It is because of the changes in government policy, employer policy and chancing employment context and workforce. For example, younger workers do not join the trade union or business prefer using self-employed workers, part-time workers and recruit staff on temporary increasingly. Therefore, trade union members keep decreasing in recent years. Dundon (2004) stated that although unions, joint consultation and collective bargaining have declined over a period of time, the direct employee involvement has dramatically increased such as communication, techniques of problem solving.

Employee voice is the most important thing to maintain a healthy management relationship. It means that employees communicate their views to their employers. Dundon et al. (2004) suggest that employee voice provides a useful way to examine both its purpose and practice and to allow for analysis that traversed old boundaries such as union and non-union, individual and collective. Engagement is an outcome of good leadership and employment practices. Participative mechanisms can create a greater coincidence of interests between employers and employees. Then trust can be increased, the potential for conflict can be reduced and the potential for an effective mutual influence process. Employee engagement has many impacts such as lower employee turnover, generate a positive climate and increase commitment. Purcell and Hall (2012) suggest that having a voice and being listened to, is one of the most important antecedents of engagement. There are two ways of employee involvement to give voice to employees, direct and indirect employee involvement.

Employee involvement practices can be an escalator model. It expresses the view that systems of employee participation can be ranked in terms of the degree of decision-making power that they bestow on employees. Marchington and Wilkinson (2002) suggest that there are four stages in the escalator model the bottom is the provision of information, followed by communication. The next one is consultation, co-determination and worker’s control at last. It can also be done by using employee attitude surveys or social media and employee voice.

There are direct and indirect employee involvement practices respectively. Direct employee involvement means the direct interaction between management and employees that encourages workers to take ownership of the outcome of a project. Genary and Sission mentioned that recent developments indicate that there has been an increase in the growth of direct employee involvement across Europe (Shapiro, 2000). There are different direct forms of employee involvement such as formal team briefing, direct talks, walking the shop floor. Direct employee involvement practices include providing more opportunities for the workers to seek new training which can be a motivational method and able to boost employee productivity.

Company strategy, vision, goals and performance are usually communicated by management while problems and solutions are communicated by employees. Indirect employee involvement refers to employee representation such as unions and works councils. It is most widely used in communication and consultation. Managers have control ultimately. It suggests that well designed indirect employee involvement arrangements enhance a range of wellbeing outcomes such as sickness or safety and performance outcomes at individual and organizational levels.

Employee involvement is all about the direct connection between workers and management to foster improved communication and greater empowerment in how decisions that affect the workplace are made (Quain, 2018). Employee involvement can produce a workforce that is more motivated and employees can have greater job satisfaction as they feel they are an integral part of the company. Apart from maintaining the relationship between the employers and employees, it can also ensure employees complete their projects efficiently.

In conclusion, employee relations remain the main concept for organisations. Therefore, it is important to maintain a positive management relationship and there are many methods to do it. For example, using different contracts of employment, by the trade union or through employee voice. Effective communication is central to good employee relations. It is built on an underlying philosophy and skill set. There is a guiding principle for communication. It should be a two-way process which refers to dialogue and listening rather than simply giving out information and instructions.

Positive employee relations can improve trust and confidence. There is also better employee engagement and loyalty. From the employer’s point of view a healthy and positive management relationship is about having the right to manage which is the ability to plan for the future so that the company can make profit and continue to success and the employees can be motivated. From the employee’s point of view, it is about securing the best possible conditions and living standards.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Employees Relations and Their Voice. (2024, Feb 05). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/employees-relations-and-their-voice-essay

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