INTRODUCTION TO MANAGING WORKFORCE ENGAGEMENT
Commitment is defined as the behavior that is beneficial for the organization. however, this is not required as a part of job description (Memon, Salleh and Baharom, 2014). Engagement is the behavior that every firm seeks with respect to the employees. This is in terms of job performance and willingness to do more for the organization. The present report is on managing workforce commitment and engagement. The report has been done in the form of two tasks. The first task is about building trust in contemporary organizations. The second task demonstrates an understanding of dispute resolution processes.
1. Unitary and pluralistic perspectives in relation to employee relations
Employee relations can be defined as the management and maintenance of employment relationship. This is inclusive of tackling the bargain of the pay-work and dealing with various practices of employment. It also consists of communicating with the employees and providing them with a voice. Farnham (2010) states that employee relations are about dealing with the interactions amongst the parties to employment relationship (Farnham, 2010). So it can be said that there are various elements of employee relations. These are the formal and informal employment policies and practices o the organization. Dunlop propounded the systems theory of industrial relations according to which these relations can be considered as a system of rules that regulate the employment. It also controls the ways in which people behave at their workplace. According to the Systems theory of employee relations, system plays the role of generating the regulations and procedural rules which are responsible for governing the bargaining process in employee relations (Popli and Rizvi, 2014). These also control the relationships of the parties involved in the industrial relations.
However, it can be critically assessed that the management of an organization can take a more adaptive role. They can exercise strategic choice. Moreover, there can be more interrelated levels of industrial relations (Chang, Liu and Lin, 2014). For example, in organizations such as Tesco, there can be strategic level and the workplace level in addition to the functional level where collective bargaining takes place. Also, different levels are dominated by different ideologies. Hence, it is evident that there will be conflicts in them. It can be said that it is only at the functional level that collective ideology is required for binding the system together. It can be said that the theory is right with respect to emphasizing the importance of rules in industrial relations context. However, Boxall and Purcell (2003) argue that the theory solely concentrates on the rules and procedures (Boxall and Purcell, 2003). It can be critically assessed that behavioral aspects are completely absent from the systems theory of employee relations.
Fox, in 1996, developed two basic views which are based on the relationship that exist between the management and trade unions (Armstrong, 2010). In general, these views are formed on the basis of the relationships between the employees. These are known as the unitary and pluralist perspectives.
Unitary perspective in relation to the employee relations
Unitary perspective in relation to employee relations can be defined as the view according to which the management sees its function as that of exercising direction and control over the workforce so that economic and growth objectives can be achieved. It is thus evident that as per this view the management believes itself to be an authority which makes rules. In this perspective, the organization is considered as a unitary system which has only one source of authority and one focus of loyalty which is the organization. According to Dundon and Rollinson (2011), unitary system consists of the values of team work where the employees work jointly towards the achievement of common objective (Dundon and Rollinson, 2011). It can be analyzed that under the unitary perspective, every employee works to his fullest. Also, the place and function are gladly accepted by the employees. As such, they follow the leadership of the appointed manager. It can be assessed that unitary view is autocratic or authoritarian. For example, Apple can be an example where unitary system existed. Under the leadership of Steve Jobs, every employee worked to the best of his ability in order to achieve common goals of the organization.
Pluralistic perspective in relation to the employee relations
The pluralistic view considers an organization as a society which comprises of separate interests and objectives which are required to be maintained in some kind of equilibrium. As per this view, the management has to understand that rival sources of leadership and attachment exist (Latib, Bolong and Ghazali, 2014). There are various personalities that an organization has to be in. it has to produce and distribute income. Considering the second perspective of personality, the organization comprises of a system of government in which authority is collectively exercised by the managers. As per the third personality, an organization is based on shared beliefs, values and sentiments among the employees. According to Foot and Hook (2008), pluralism is a balance of power which exists between two organized interests (Foot and Hook, 2008). It also entails a sufficient degree of trust so that each party is able to respect the interest of other. The concept of pluralism involves social partnership. As per this, all the parties involved in the employee relations work together for providing benefits to all of them. For example, Tesco, the giant retailer of UK can be taken as a good example of pluralism where the organization works with its various stakeholders towards the betterment of all. The suppliers, employees, community, government and investors, everybody’s interests are promoted.
2. Merits and demerits of various approaches and reasons for their emergence
As per the article “Placing Trust in Employee Engagement”, there has been a decrease in the trust that employees have in organizations and leaders. Social networking sites and blogs take no time to assess the image of organizations. There has been development of a perception that senior leaders have drifted away from their employees and customers (Sanders, 2012). According to Torrington, Hall and Taylor, (2008), trust is important for the engagement of employees. Better behaviors are demonstrated by employees who trust in their employers (Torrington, Hall and Taylor, 2008). These include behaviors such as sharing of information and better teamwork. Trust leads to better employee relations and engagement. As such, it is very important for every organization to possess employees who have trust in the employer. There are various approaches that are used by organizations to promote trust and effective employee relations. The merits, demerits and reasons for emergence of these approaches are described below:
This approach involves giving the employees a voice on the matters that concern them. According to Boxall and Purcell (2003), employee voice is empowering the employees so that they are able to contribute to the decision making process of the organization. There are various merits of this approach:
- It helps in increasing the participation and involvement of employees.
- It also enables better use of knowledge and expertise of each member.
- This enhances the ability of the employees as well as the management to solve issues on the basis of cooperation.
The various demerits of this approach are:
- This may lead to chaos as a result of difference of opinion and interests of employees and management.
- This approach gives employees the power to affect a decision of the management. Misuse of this power may be harmful for the smooth running of the organization.
There are various reasons behind the emergence of the approach of employee voice. As the trust of the employees in the employer organization became low, there was a need to build it. As employees wanted participation and say in the decisions of the organization. This was based on their demand of a more transparent system (Priya, 2014). Employee voice is an approach that is effective in empowering the employees to have their views placed in the important decisions of the business. It is also effective in building trust of the employees. This led to the emergence of this approach.
This is another approach that helps in promoting trust and effective employee relations in the firm. As per this approach, the parties, that is the management and the employees, work together for the betterment of both (Bridle, 2010). Moreover, it is a collaborative relationship which combines the cooperative and competitive interests. The various merits of this approach are the following:
- It enhances cooperation among the employees and the employer.
- It leads to effective communication between the employees and the management thus increasing interaction and engagement.
The following are the demerits of this approach:
- This approach may hinder the achievement of the organizational objectives as the interests of the employees and other partners are also taken into consideration (Dimba, 2010). This may lead to deviation of the organization from achievement of its goals.
- This approach favours employees. As such, rather than valuing the interest of organization as a whole, one will be focusing on fulfillment of the interests of the employees.
There are various reasons for the emergence of this approach. In today’s times, there is a requirement of organizations to have better employee relations (Foster and Akdere, 2007). Hence, the approach of partnership emerged so that better employee relations could result. This is also essential for the promotion of trust.
Another contemporary attempt that organizations take to promote trust and effective employee relations is engagement. Employee engagement is a concept as per which the members of the workforce are not only positive and excited about their jobs but are also willing to work to their fullest capability. According to Perrin (2007), employee engagement is an approach through which the management encourages employees to put discretionary efforts into their work. The management does it in the form of extra time, energy or bargain power. The following are the merits of this approach:
- This helps in strengthening the aspect of employment relationship.
- It makes the employees demonstrate positive discretionary behavior.
Demerits of this approach are as follows:
It is hard to define discretionary behavior. Hence, this approach may have adverse impact on a firm when discretion to slack is exercised by the employees at their work.
The reasons behind emergence of this approach are that for building better employment relations and trust, engagement is necessary (Jain, 2005). Employee engagement proves to be strength for the company in today’s competitive times. Hence, there was a need for an approach that could enhance the involvement of workers.
While working in a company, every employee faces certain issues related to work. These are to be solved so that there are healthy employment relations at the workplace. Resolution of grievances is also necessary for building the trust of the employees (Ashton and Morton, 2005). Employees have a right to discuss their issues with the manager.
Understanding of dispute resolution processes
Dispute resolution is a process that an organization uses for handling the issues that are faced by the employees. This can be done through conciliation, mediation and arbitration. Conciliation is the process through which the disagreeing parties are reconciled. In this process, a third party is appointed who works to make the employer and the other party, agree to the terms. Hence, conciliators help the parties to come to an agreement. According to William and Adam-Smith, (2006), arbitration is another process through which disputes can be settled. This involves the use of a third party that is the arbitrator who performs the work of reviewing and discussing the negotiating views of the disagreeing parties (William and Adam-Smith, 2006). It is evident that the arbitrator is impartial. Also, the ACAS officials take the role. Mediation is another type of arbitration and is used as an approach for resolving conflicts. Muliawaty, (2014) claim that this approach is stronger than conciliation (Muliawaty, 2014). This approach can be applied by Tesco by appointing a third party who assists the employer and the union. This is done by providing recommendations. Using this approach, the employer has control on the situation as he is free to accept or reject the recommendations made by the mediator.
Evaluation of approach of Tesco to handling grievances
Tesco is a multinational retailer which has its stores in 12 countries across the world. It employs around 500, 000 people in 12 different markets (About us, 2014). As such, the organization may be experiencing various situations related to conflicts in the employees. It is evident that with such as large workforce, a great deal of employee grievance issues may be faced by the company. As such, the organization has a fair approach and treats all the employees fairly and honestly. It is one of the values of the company to treat the employees as it would like to be treated. The organization considers that employees face various issues which need to be solved from time to time. Tesco adopts the approach of informal discussions in which the managers enquire about the issues that employees are facing. The managers listen to the problems being faced by the employees and discuss with them. In this away, they explore possible alternative solutions to the problems (Solving problems, 2014). This approach requires providing appropriate training to the managers and supervisors so that they are able to handle grievance issues well. But, actually, the managers are not trained adequately for this purpose. However, Tesco considers that it is not possible to resolve all the conflicts in an informal manner. Hence, it provides a formal process that gives right to the employees to represent themselves at every disciplinary and grievance meeting.
Tesco adopts the following approach for handling grievance issues. If an employee has a complaint, or is unhappy about certain issues related to work, then he has the right to talk to manager about it. Efforts are made by the managers to solve the issues. However, if the issues cannot be solved, then he can raise a grievance using a grievance procedure. This approach helps in building the result of the employees in the employer. This is because they are not solely dependent on the manager for resolution of their issue. Instead they can take help of the grievance procedure. This gives a sense of empowerment to the employees (Greasley and et.al., 2005). They trust the organization and believe the sufficient support will be provided by it to them in case of emergence of any work related issue. Apart from that, the company also has a disciplinary procedure. Using this, an employee at Tesco can notify his colleague if his behavior has fallen below the expected standard. At the same time, any colleague who has been notified by using this procedure has the right to appeal against this decision. This approach is effective at enabling the employees to solve the issues that they have regarding the behavior of their colleagues.
Handling of conflicts and grievances are important aspects. These need to be considered for managing the engagement and commitment of employees (Sett and Sanyal, 2011). Tesco handles grievance issues by using an effective approach. Managers discuss the problem with the employees. If not solved, the employee can take help of grievance procedure.
From the report it can be concluded that it is vital for organization to manage employee commitment and engagement. These are two different concepts and need to be dealt by using different approaches. Employee engagement makes the workforce perform to their fullest capacity. It is significant for healthy employment relations. In contrast to this, employee commitment fosters attachment and loyalty of the employees.
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