Week 10. GSBS6040 Human Resources Management firstname.lastname@example.org. Industrial Conflict, Issues of Employee Voice and Ethics of ER and HRM. Conflict. Different approaches to conflict between unitarist and pluralist approaches Increasing need for skills at workplace level
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GSBS6040 Human Resources Management
Critical Issue 1: Negative Aspects of conflict
‘Conflict is inevitable in the employment relationship’
Debate this statement.
Formal process when conciliation proves unsuccessful
Involves low levels of negotiator control
arbitrator is not chosen
parties cannot opt out of proceedings
decision is legally binding
Critical Issue 2: Third-party dispute resolution
‘Third-party involvement is undesirable in the employment relationship because it deflects responsibility for decisions and behaviour away from the parties directly involved.’ Do you agree with this statement? Justify your response.
Critical Issue 3: Mediation
Are mediators born or developed? Justify your answer.
‘Negotiation (or bargaining) involves the bringing together for examination, comparison and argument the opposing claims of employer(s) and employee(s).’
(Nankervis, Compton, Baird & Coffey 2011, p.511)
Critical Issue 4: Skills for successful negotiations
Reflect on your own negotiation successes. What skills do you believe assisted in achieving such success?
Recognising conflict management styles
‘Generally, avoidance is the best conflict management strategy to adopt, as most conflict tends to resolve itself over time and intervening often serves only to escalate the problem.’ Do you agree with this statement? Justify your response.
Is it possible to ever develop a true understanding of cultural issues and differences in a workplace environment?
“There are two main types of activist reactions to discontent with organizations to which one belongs or with which one does business: either to voice one's complaints, while continuing as a member or customer, in the hope of improving matters; or to exit from the organization, to take one's business elsewhere.”
“Voice, as defined by Hirschman, is any attempt to change rather than escape from an unsatisfactory situation. In the employment context, voice involves the expression of dissatisfaction by employees; exit occurs when employees quit.”
[Hirschman, 1970 in Batt, Colvin and O’Keefe, 2002: 574]
An articulation of individual dissatisfaction (or satisfaction)
An expression of collective organisation
Contribution to management decision-making
Demonstration of mutuality and co-operative relations
Mechanisms/practices to express it
Complaint to line manager; grievance procedure; speak-up programme; attitude survey (and exit)
Union recognition; collective bargaining; industrial action
Upward problem-solving groups, QCs, SMTs
Partnership agreements; JCCs; Works CouncilsDefinitions and classifications‘Employee voice’
‘Employee voice’ is a term covering all types of opportunities for employees to have a say and exert some influence over workplace decisions that affect their interests.
The fundamental issue is: how much influence do, and should, employees have over decisions that affect them at work?
We should not look at this area solely in economic terms. It is heavily political: the tension between social legitimacy and managerial power is involved.
There are different forms of representation:
Forms of employee representation vary by
Put another way, why don’t managers make all decisions about employment arrangements themselves?
Why do employees want representation other than themselves in this process?
Employees can represent their interests as individuals, either themselves, or with another party acting for them (eg. lawyer, guardian)
For example, through
Individual representation may not work:
So collective forms of representation emerge:
‘an organisation consisting predominantly of employees, the principal activities of which include the negotiation of rates of pay and conditions of employment of its members’ (ABS)
“Collective voice achieves what the lone voice could never do: it humanizes and civilizes the workplace.”
Few governments leave choices in this area solely to management: after all, we are talking here about what sort of limits should be placed on ‘management prerogative’.
Ultimately, the justification for employee voice is as an end in its own right in a society committed to democratic values and in a world-order, or international trading environment, in which the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and various governments have an interest in baseline labour standards.
Question: How does the demand for employee voice vary over time? In your view, where are we now in what Ramsay (1997) called the ‘cycle of control’?
Direct voice is about workers having a say in how to do their jobs (e.g. deciding on work methods) or having influence over their personal working conditions (e.g. choosing their start-and-finish times).
This form of voice is worked out in the relationship between the individual and their supervisor or it may be based around a process of decision-making in the work team (e.g. problem-solving groups and self-managing teams).
This kind of voice is largely informal and located at the point of production.
Eg. Code of conduct for The University of Newcastle
What is required to make a Code of Conduct effective?
Values can be defined as: “central desires or beliefs regarding final states or desirable conducts that transcend specific situations, guide the choice and evaluation of our decisions and, therefore of our conducts, becoming an integral part of our way of being and acting to the point of shaping our character … Values are normative: they tell us how we should behave - although they are often presented in positive terms.”
Can organisations have values?
HRM managers are often seen as employee champions
Traditionally linked to
Bodies of recognised professional knowledge
Roles where poor practice/unethical practice has a potentially significant impact on clients/patients
Eg. medicine, law, engineering
More recently psychology, and now HRM
Relevance/ importance depends on?
Do HRM/ER professionals have a code of ethics?
What options does a professional have where s/he is asked to act in what they see as an unethical manner?
[HR managers] face constant ethical pressure . . . .
[They] straddle the often fine line between the individual rights of employees and corporate interests . . . .
As industries restructure, merge, downsize and expand internationally, the HR manager’s work becomes even more complicated.
Human rights versus corporate profit will always be a tightrope these professionals must walk in making decisions.
[Weiss, 1994: 49 in Martin and Woldring, 2001:245]
“Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greater good of everyone”.
John Maynard Keynes