• Unit 8: Labor Relations and Internal Employee Relations

    In our final unit, we discuss labor and employee relations and conclude with a brief exploration of how ethical concerns pervade all aspects of human resource management. Employers and employees have specific expectations. Employers should create an environment that is attractive to potential and current employees. When discrepancies occur, labor unions, third parties hired to represent the collective interest of the employees in certain industries, can help strengthen the employer/employee relationship.

    Employee relations is the subfield of human capital management concerned with preventing and resolving workplace challenges. It encompasses the way employers: gage poor performance and impose disciplinary action, identify and promote policies and procedures, and communicate awareness of rules, laws and regulations. These activities ensure employers and employees can achieve efficiency, equity, and voice in the workplace.

    Efficiency relates to the ability to achieve workplace goals with a minimal investment of resources.

    • Employers seek efficiency by engaging the most productive employees while using the least amount of resources.
    • Employees seek efficiency by balancing their time contributions with their economic output to their employer.
    • Employers and employees want workplace processes to be structured so they feel they are making a valuable contribution.
    • Efficiency addresses the questions: Does your employer respond appropriately to the amount of work you are contributing? Is your employer helping you be successful? Do you believe your employer has your best interests in mind?

    Equity refers to the ideal employer/employee partnership. The business environment is not a democracy: employers expect employees to follow their workplace rules and business processes. However, you should feel that your workplace environment is stable and fair. Is there room to grow and do more? Are employees treated like subordinates or true partners?

    Employers and employees frequently feel their voice is not being heard. Most organizations try to help both sides open these critical avenues of communication, such as by creating an open-door policy, offering opportunities for respectful listening during meetings, and providing an anonymous tip or complaint hotline.

    When the employer appears to be holding all the cards, since they can fire employees who do not comply with their wishes, representatives from labor and employee relations may need to step in to negotiate and restore balance to promote efficiency, equity, and voice.

    Companies also need to employ ethical decision making and legal compliance with relevant laws and regulations. Unfortunately, individuals sometimes violate professional and ethical codes of conduct, and ignore the policies written to protect the employee, organization, customers, and the community at large. Meanwhile, companies lose billions of dollars in class action lawsuits when ethical lapses occur.

    We conclude this unit by exploring explore the issues and challenges human resource professionals face to ensure these codes of conduct, codes of ethics, and company policies are disseminated, acknowledged, followed, and reflect the values and mission of their organization.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.