Delivery in day(s): 5
Diploma in Business
Unit Number and Title
Unit 20 Employee Relation
Conflict is the situation where the two parties oppose each other due to difference in interests and needs for the end result. They are bound to occur at workplace as there are conflicting interests of the various parties or groups at the workplace as the finance department may be responsible to reduce the expenses while the marketing planning department may be aiming to do maximum publicity and advertising to ensure the success of the product of the organization. Thus the conflict should be handled effectively in order to maintain the organizational performance and drive the commitments of the employees towards the overall organizational objectives which are the base of any organizational working and set up. The study basically aims to develop an understanding of the conflicts that are happening at the work place and the methods employed by the organization in order to handle them effectively. Also some conflicts are of positive nature and yields improved outcomes for the organization thus the manager or the employee relations department must develop an understanding of the nature, type, reason for occurrence and the parties at conflict before actually planning a solution to the situation.
Both the positive and negative aspects are attributed to conflicts at the workplace as ongoing conflicts are bad and detrimental to organization. Conflicts are a part of working in almost all the organizations as there are conflicting interests of two or more parties in one decision making situation and can be interpersonal or between individuals, intrapersonal relating to individual, structural or related to departmental structures in organization and strategic conflicts related to objectives set by the organization. The various conflict resolution methods used in the organization include (a) Avoiding as conflict leads to unpleasant feelings at workplace so they may be avoided through policies and structures in the organization; (b) compromising is the process to take a decision where none of the parties get exactly what they wanted but somehow a median point is reached among the conflicting interests of parties; (c) Forcing is where a higher authority or manager decided what would the decision be and forces the parties or individuals to end up any conflict directly and (d) Resolving or conflict resolution is the process of listening to both the parties, reaching the agreed upon way to satisfy both the parties and maintaining the benefits of both the groups in conflict resolution (Jones, 2010). This is time consuming and tough process but somehow very effective.
The most important characteristics of the employee relations department is through a culture towards open communication and encouraging the employees to talk about their issues rather than being stressed out at the workplace. Also immediate responsiveness is required to handle any absurd condition due to conflict at work place and also due research and acknowledgement about the incidences and what is actually taking place in the organization is an important concern for the employee relations function. The employee relations manager must be skilled enough to ascertain and define the conflicting situation along with the interest of the parties at conflict and decide that how far the conflict has affected the work performance and involve in meetings with the conflicting parties to grasp their viewpoints and then make out a solution promptly. The employee relations must find out a median way and not favoring any one party at conflict and must do so in an impartial manner and must look at the various alternative solutions. Also the solution must be reached through mutual involvement of the parties and follow up after implementation of the decision is a must for employee relations manager in order to avoid any further conflict. If the conflict still exists the case may be taken to immediate help of the problem resolution centre of the organization to yield impartial and neutral decisions against such a situation (Schiffreres, 2010).
The effectiveness of the manager in dealing with the conflict resolution depends on various factors involving the work culture, human resources policies in the organization, knowledge and skills of the manager, etc. On administering a conflict situation between two individuals, the manager must try to understand the nature of conflict, underlying interest of the parties at conflict, need of conflict resolution, etc. thus the recognition of the need for conflict resolution is important in understanding the importance of the task of handling the conflict as it impact the working performance in the organization. The manager must be well acknowledge and must aim towards a constructive and impartial judgment in resolution of the conflict situation after hearing the claims of both the parties at conflict (Keith et al, 2015). The decision must not be built on the position of the parties in the organization and the contribution towards the organizational objectives must be a base in resolution of the conflict situation.
A process of negotiation between the employees and the employers group is done by the trade union and it is aimed at regulating the salaries apart from the working conditions for the employee and negotiation or freedom of associations is declared by the internationally by human rights convention and the International Labor Organization (Mathiesen, 2009) Thus the negotiation entails equitable pays for the employees and rewards through use of job evaluation, profit sharing, etc. The interests of the employees in working in an organization includes financial and non financial rewards like training, participation through suggestion schemes, etc. thus the representative of the employee who are a part of trade unions can enter in to negotiations with the employer to provide better rewards, pays and working conditions for the employee and benefit the employer through improved commitment and motivations of the employees apart from intervention in to disputes settlement and grievances handling. Thus the freedom of associations is a way of expressing their concerns apart from allowing the employees to be a part of trade unions and can enter in negotiations with the company and company follows international standards in providing recognition to the trade unions and dealing with them openly. The company must not stop its employees to participate in trade unions and should handle employee grievances prudently.
The policy at Unilever includes the treatment of employee in an equitable manner without any discrimination on basis of position within the organization and the company shows due concern to fundamental rights of employees to participate in associations and allows for collective bargaining (Phil, 2007) and all the Unilever companies are supposed to provide for the rights of the employee and work for management of relations with the labor and provide for good working conditions. However the problem arises in implementation of this policy at the local levels as the laws are different in different countries. Hence the company in 2011 had made use of training of its managers in order to strengthen its policy on the industrial or labor relations and the company had developed an e learning module which was reached to 80 % of its human resources and line managers and thus changes has been made in attitudes of the managers towards industrial disputes and rights of the trade unions to enter in to matters concerning rights of the employees. Also the company provides for good reward systems and enhanced participation of the employees through use of suggestion schemes. Thus the company had been in negotiation for improvement of the rights of the employability skills and management of the labor relations.
The concept of industrial democracy means that how far the workers are allowed to rake decisions and share authority at the work place of the organization. It means that the workers should be allowed to raise their voice in the decisions that have an impact on the company and the extent to which they can do this. Also many activists have been arguing that the industrial democracy deals with the use of collective bargaining as a method of worker influence in the organization and thus the collective bargaining and industrial democracy go hand in hand. In the late 1970s the Bullock report advocated the right of the trade unions to be representing on the board meeting and their involvement in the decision making of the companies and this proposal came to be associated with the concept of industrial democracy (Sitati, 2009). In case of UK, the union based structures are dominant rather than the systems in the organization working independent of the trade unions and this in UK is very well related to employee involvement and participation in the decision making of the company.
Various methods are used by an organization to improve the level of involvement of the employees in the organization and to improve their level of involvement such as Suggestion Methods where the employees can provide their suggestions through the use of suggestion drop boxes or directing mails to the management and this could help to improve the efficient performing of the organization as the lower level employees work closely with production and customers and also the employee feels valued and listened to through this approach. Another such method use by the organization include Attitude surveys within the organization where the employees provide for their views about their job, quality of working in organization, their views about the pay scales, policies of the human resources department, etc and this is usually done through the use of specially planned and designed questionnaires and interviews (Wilkinson, 2014). Also the companies improve the employee involvement through use of Quality Circle which are the a special team of the organizational members who are involved in handling the employee problems such as those related to top down mode of communication or problems being faced by the employees at work. This method helps to improve the performance of the employees and they feel taken care of. Also the company may seek direct involvement of the employees while taking the tactical decisions or which affect their routine working patterns.
The human resources policies have a huge impact on the overall working and the level of involvement of the employees in an organization and also affect their attitudes to work for an organization. The human resource management can be classified in two heads as the hard and the soft approach towards the employees. In the hard approach, the employees are understood as the economic resources or factors like other resources and are used for attainment of the company objectives while in case of the soft approach the employees are treated as an asset of the organization and the company gains the advantage over the competitors through skills, knowledge and attitudes of the employees working in the organization (Barro, 2011). Thus if the employees are well trained and allowed to take part in the decision making of the company then it yield increased motivation and commitment to organizational objectives apart from improved job performance. In case of Unilever, the employees are redressed through the use of Grievance handling wing of the organization and their commitment is increased through the use of three policies by HRM including Sustainable living plan for its employees under Chief Executive Officer of the company; Respect dignity and fair treatment policy at workplace for all its employees under the Chief Executive Officer and the Supplier Code including integration with its suppliers under the Chief Procurement Officer.
The role of the modern trade unions is very important in promoting the dignity of the employees and collective bargaining at the organizations, apart from making provision for their equitable pays and chances of employment and development in the organizations. Moreover the broader concept of the trade unionism implies the role of trade unions in impacting the economic and social policies and taking care of the people in the society. By undertaking the study on the employee relations at the workplace, it has been evident how the conflicts are managed at the workplace and how can it help in improving the performance of the organizations. Thus the modern organizations focus on improving the level of involvement of the employee in decision making at the tactical and strategic levels and undertake industrial democracy. Thus the employees are more than just an input resource in the economic systems but they are valuable asset in the organization and their contribution should be valued in attaining organizational objectives. The company must follow the international stands and must involve in open communications and negotiations with the employee representative of the trade unions and should not deny its employee participation in the trade unions. The trade unions are committed to the improvement of productivity of the social and economic systems and work for the benefits of both the employee and employer. Collective bargaining is a view of the most of the modern organizations and the knowledge of the employees over their rights is increasing which is attracting them to participate in trade unions.
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