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Discuss the key influences on employment relations

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Changes in society and legislation can somehow contribute to the influences on employment relations. There are several key influences that create impacts on the employment relations in workplaces nowadays, and they are the social influences, legal influences, economic influences and the new organizational behavioral influences. The existence of social influences involve the increased number of people from a greater range of ethic backgrounds in the workforce, increased number of people juggling families and work, declined union membership and people becoming more focused on issue such as discrimination, unfair work practices.

The legal influences which consists of regulations and legislations, encourage the employers and employees to make direct agreement about the terms and conditions of employment that will apply at the workplace, and in this way, the power of unions are weakened as there are restrictions on union right of entry to workplaces and on the enforcement of union membership. Meanwhile, the economic influences on employment relations include the level of economic activity, which involves several stages. Globalization is also another major economic influence on employment relations. It means that Australian businesses have to produce products and services that can compete worldwide, and it is expected that more and more Australian businesses are likely to be doing business in other countries. And as a result, managing multicultural and diverse workforces provides a challenge for employment relations managers, while efficiencies have also to be matched with competitors all over the globe.

New organizational behavior also has an impact on the employment relations; for instance, in businesses with a traditional pyramid structure, high-level managers are at top and workers are at the bottom with layers of middle managers in between. As a result, there is little or even none if any direct contact between top management and the workers, while the process of decision-making rests with management. However, with the new ideas developed in businesses today, flatter management structures and team structures have been used increasingly. In these kinds of structures, workers may have direct contact with the top management in the business. In flatter structures have fewer middle management levels. Teams of workers may report to the top management and this employment relations function is more likely focus on the development of workers or as a team, use of intrinsic rewards and corporate culture.

The impact of team structure have been evidently shown in the case of Singapore Airlines(SIA), in which the business has made use of the team concept to handle every ground customer services which take place before embarkation. The service teams cover every operation from check-in duties and flight departure, instead of dedicating check-in duties and terminal functions to separate staff groups. The formation of this type of service team has instilled a sense of belonging among team members which works towards higher efficiency and strengthening the staff cooperation and morale. Hence, this ensures the quality of services. In a long term view, the formation of these services may possibly enhance the reputation of the business itself, and higher possible profitability is expected.

On the other hand, a business can, indeed, measure the effectiveness of its employment relations program in certain ways. Factors such as levels of staff turnover, absenteeism, disputation, quality and benchmarking, etc, are often indicators of the extent to which employees are satisfied or dissatisfied. These indicators may also provide an insight into the success or failure of the organisation’s employment relations policies.

In the case of staff turnover, separations from a business can be voluntary or involuntary; involuntary separations may be due to dismissal or retrenchment, which voluntary separations may probably be caused by resignation, retirement or death. High levels of turnover caused by voluntary resignations can be an indication that employees are not satisfied with their working conditions or environment and that the employment relations at the business are not effective. It is noted that if the rate of staff turnover is high in a business, productivity and therefore the profitability of the business is expected to be lower. Meanwhile, the level of absenteeism can also be an indicator of the overall morale of employees as well as the level of job satisfaction being experienced by the employees.

Furthermore, disputation taken place in a workplace generally involve the withdrawal from work by a group of employees. Any disputes taken place generally the managers in a business that there is a problem with employment relations. The problem may be about the management policy; physical working conditions; pay issues; hours or work; union rights, etc.

A business can also measure the effectiveness of its employment relations program via quality management and benchmarking. It is noted that progressive management, union support and employee involvement are critical in achieving the continuous improvement, which would be shown evidently in the process of quality management. Hence if the employment relations program is an effective one in a business, it should be reflected in the quality practices of the business. Meanwhile, benchmarking is also a measure of business performance compared with the best achievements of similar organisations globally, and this means that with the employment relations functions can also be benchmarked by industry basis.

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