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.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- define the concept of labor relations;
- identify key laws and legislation with regard to labor relations that shape how human capital decisions should be made;
- define the concept of internal employee relations; and
- identify key laws and legislation with regard to internal employee relations that shape how human capital decisions should be made.
8.1: Labor Relations and Human Capital Management
- This chapter discusses labor unions: what unions are, why they exist, major legal acts that shape unions, the unionization process, union's impact on organizations, collective bargaining, and the grievance process. Think of industries that have a large union impact and how it might change the dynamic between employees and employers.
Watch these lectures, where Thomas Woods provides a liberal view of labor history and relations in the United States.
Read this essay, which chronicles the evolution of collective bargaining.
- This article discusses the collective bargaining process and how it impacts income inequality.
- This 2015 article discusses legislative changes in the state of Wisconsin that have impact worker's rights. Although presented as a victory for worker's rights, the author argues that the legislation actually takes away employee's freedom of contract and weakens their bargaining power.
8.2: Employee Relations and Human Capital Management
- Read this chapter that documents the important concepts of communication strategies and management styles. Complete the Chapter Case at the end regarding developing an outline for a training program on effective management as well as communicating to employees.
Read this brief definition of employee relations.
- This short video notes, through 10 myths, the tremendous value in effective employee relations.
- This important article notes the critical importance of trust between managers and employees and its impact on performance. Undoubtedly, trust is a necessary component in all industries. But, can you think of some industries that trust may play an even more important role in organizational effectiveness?
- This video documents two workplace discrimination cases from the University Texas Southwestern Medical Center and explains how these cases impact future employee-employer relations.
8.3: The Role of Ethics in Human Resource Management
- This chapter discusses the ethical issues that arise in organizations, in the areas of human resources, finance, sales, marketing, and production. The chapter also notes the Enron scandal, a highly-publicized case regarding ethics. Take some time to search for the Enron scandal and note the ongoing effect this case has on business today.
This article notes the conflict that sometimes arises between organizational cultures that are driven by numbers and ethics. Training, mentoring, rewards, recognition, and continuous monitoring and reinforcing describe methods for creating and maintaining an ethical culture. As noted in previous chapters, some debate whether corporate culture is the most critical component of an effective organization. Within this culture, an ethical climate is mandatory.
- This journal study notes the most effective steps in creating an organizational culture focused on ethics. As noted, it all starts at the top. The first step is a clear commitment to ethics from top management. After this, a code of ethics, ethics training, and an appropriate rewards structure reinforces the organization's commitment to ethics.
Unit 8 Assessments
- Receive a grade
Please complete this assessment.
- Receive a grade
Take this assessment to see how well you understood this unit.
- This assessment does not count towards your grade. It is just for practice!
- You will see the correct answers when you submit your answers. Use this to help you study for the final exam!
- You can take this assessment as many times as you want, whenever you want.