The Field of Employee Relations


The employee relations have been changed last 30 years for many reasons for developing for information dissemination, employee feedback and employee assistance program. These are a most important factor which provides significant change. By virtue of the European Communities Act 1972, UK incorporated all EU law in domestic law. As a result, the employee may rely on its Article and treaty provision and National Court are bound to follow EU law.

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Good employee relations involve providing fair and consistent treatment to all employees so they will be committed to the organisation. Companies with good employee relations are likely to have an HR strategy that places a high value on the employee as stakeholders in the business. Employees who are treated as stakeholders have certain rights within the organization and can expect to be treated with dignity and respect. For example, Johnson & Johnson, a company is known for its excellent employee relations, is committed to a philosophy of respect for the individual.

Manager & employee relations

Luis R. Gomez-Mejia, David B. Balkin, Robert L. Cardy, (2006) started that to foster good employee relations, managers must listen to and understand what employees are saying and experiencing, keep them informed about what management plans to do with the business, and tell them how those plans may affect their jobs. They should also give employees the freedom to air grievances about management decisions.

There may be good reasons for not changing the decision, but management should least listen to the grievances. However, effective employee relations require cooperation between managers and employee relations representatives. These specialists are members of the HR department who act as internal consultants to the business. They are trying to ensure that employment policies and procedures are followed and advise both supervisors and employee relations problems. Employee relations policies provide channels to resolve such problems before they become serious.1

Developing Employee Communications

Jani K. R., (2006) argued that the most important factor to change employee relations is developing communication. Many companies have found that the key to a good employee relations program is a communication channel that gives employees access to important information and an opportunity to express their ideas and feelings. When supervisors are familiar with employees are aware of their rights, there is less opportunity for misunderstandings to arise and productivity to drop.

Jani K. R., (2006) also added that because corporations are very complex, they must develop numerous communication channels to move information up, down, and across the organizational structure. For instance, Intel provides many Communications channels that allow employees and managers to speak with one another and share information.

Managers communicate with their employees by walking around and talking to them informally, sponsoring newsletters, and providing a Web site with key employment policies and other forms of face to face communication. As today’s organizations have delegated more responsibilities and decision-making more information available to employees has increased substantially. To develop effective employee relations, a company needs communication channels to move information up, down and across the organization.

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Types of Information

Anthony, W. P. Prrewe, P. L., and Kacmar, K. M. (2002) addressed two forms of information that are sent and received in Communications; facts and feelings. Facts are pieces of information that can be objectively measured or described. Examples are the cost of a computer, the daily defect rate in a manufacturing plant, and the size of the deductible payment in the company-sponsored health insurance policy. Facts can be stored in databases and widely distributed to employees by networks of personal computers.

Newstrom, J. W., Davis, K. (2002) argued that feelings are employee’s emotional responses to the decision made or actions taken by managers and other employees. Managers who implement decisions must be able to anticipate or respond to the feelings of the employees who are affected by those decisions. If they cannot or do not, the plan may fail. For example, a public university changed its health insurance coverage without consulting the employees affected by the change. When these employees learned of their diminished coverage, they responded so negatively that the manager of the employee benefits resigned.2

Communicate & feedback to employees

Ackers, P. & Wilson, A. (2003) and Blyton, P. & Turnbull, P., (2004) pointed out that here are some ways to Communicate useful feedback to subordinates and others employees.

  • Focus on specific behaviour: provide feedback that lets employees know what specific behaviours are effective or need improvement. That way, they are able to sustain and identify the desired behaviour and are motivated to change those that may be inappropriate.3
  • Keep feedback impersonal: try to keep the feedback descriptive rather than judgmental or evaluative. To do this, focus on job-related behaviours rather than make value judgements about the employee’s motivations.
  • Give the feedback at the appropriate time and place: the best time to give the feedback is right after the person who should receive the feedback engages in the behaviour at issue. A manager who waits months until the former performance appraisal to give the feedback has lost an opportunity to coach and motivate an employee to improve at the time the behaviour was observed. Giving negative feedback publicly can humiliate the person being critiqued and is likely to provoke anger rather than the intended result message. 4
  • Focus negative feedback on behaviours that can be controlled by the employee: when giving negative feedback to another employee, focus on behaviours that the employee can control.

Information Dissemination Programs

Luis R. Gomez-Mejia, David B. Balkin, Robert L. Cardy, (2006) mentioned that Information is a source of power in organizations. In traditional top-down hierarchies, top managers zealously guard information as to their special preserve. But the information age has forced many businesses to forge a new set of rules. Today organizations depend more on knowledge workers to produce or service. Knowledge workers transform information into a product or service and need large amounts of information to do their job effectively.

Ackers, P. & Wilson, A. (2003) supported that information Dissemination involves making Information available to decision-makers wherever they are located. Employees who have access to abundant information are more likely to feel empowered and are better able to participate in decision making. Information Dissemination also helps managers adopt more participative leadership styles and work configurations, leading to greater employee involvement and ultimately, better employee relations.

The most important methods of disseminating information to employees are employee handbooks, written communications, audiovisual communications, electronic communications, meetings, retreats and informal communications. 5

Employee Handbooks

The employee handbook is probably the most important source of information that the HR department can provide. It sets the tone for the company’s overall employee relations philosophy, informing both employees and supervisors about company employment policies and procedures and communicating employees’ rights and responsibilities. The handbook lets them know that they can expect consistent and uniform treatment on issues that affect their job or status in the company. It also tells supervisors how to evaluate, reward and discipline their employees and protect them from making uniform and arbitrary decisions that may hurt the workforce’s morale or lead to litigation from angry employees.

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Electronic Communications

Advances in electronic communications have made interactive communications possible even when the sender and receiver are separated by physical distance and busy schedules. With voice mail, an employee can avoid playing telephone tag with busy managers and instead leave a detailed voice message for them. Firms that set up e-mail systems with the idea of boosting productivity are sometimes dismayed to find that they are actually lowering productivity.

  • Establish an E-mail improvement team to develop protocols and procedures for getting the most out of the system.
  • Create electronic files for messages that need to be saved and organize them in subject folders for quick retrieval.
  • Set up a common folder or electronic bulletin board to which senders can route reports and memos intended for general distribution. An electronic bulletin board can save considerable system space and time.
  • Shut off the computer beep that alerts the receiver to incoming messages to prevent constant interruptions of work.
  • Assume that your E-mail from a company computer will be read by management; Use other communication channels for private and controversial messages.
  • Protect sensitive documents with encryption software so private information is not accessible to hackers or other unintended receivers.

Employee Assistance Programs

Jani K. R., (2006) confirmed that the Employee assistance program (EAPs) help employees cope with personal problems that are interfering with their job performance. These problems may include alcohol or drug abuse, domestic violence, elder care, AIDS and other diseases, eating disorders, and compulsive gambling. An organization with EAPs publicise the programs to employees and assure them that their problems will be handled confidentially. When an employees personal problem interferes with job performance, the individual is considered a troubled employee. In a typical company, about 10% of the total employee population at any given time is troubled. 6

Blyton, P. & Turnbull, P., (2004) has demonstrated that a troubled employee generally behaves inconsistently in terms of attendance, quality of work, attention to detail and concern for personal appearance. A great deal of the person’s energy is devoted to coping with a personal crisis that he or she may want to keep secret from the company. Until this personal problem has been solved, the employee will be in emotional and/or physical pain and the company will be deprived of the full benefit of his or her skills. It is, therefore, in the interests of both the troubled employee and the employer to solve the problem.

Blyton, P. & Turnbull, P., (2004) supported four steps are involved in the operation of an EAP:

  1. The first step identifying troubled employees and referring them for counselling. About half of all referrals are self-referrals by employees who realize they are in a crisis and need help but want to keep their problem confidential. The other half is made by supervisors who observe some of the symptoms of a troubled employee. When job performance is deficient, the EAP referral is usually linked to the company’s discipline procedure- it may be the last step taken before the employee is dismissed. Employees have the right to refuse to participate in the EAP, but refusal may mean termination if the problem has a significant negative impact on their work. In fact, though, many employees appreciate the company’s willingness in fact, though; many employees appreciate the company’s willingness to help them through EAP counselling.
  2. The second step after the referral is a visit with an EAP counsellor, who interviews the employee to help identify the problem like alcohol abuse, employees may strongly deny having a problem. The counsellor, however, is trained to identify the problem and arrange for treatment. The location of an EAP can be at an on-site facility. With a counsellor available on the company premises, or an off-site facility. Off-site EAP facilities can provide counselling services to employees by the use of an 8000 telephone line with counsellors on call on a 24 hours per day basis. However, because EAPs are driven by relationships between counsellors and employees, a recent survey by consulting firm EAP Support Systems found that overall use of off-site EAP programs was one third less than that of on-site EAP programs.
  3. Blyton, P. & Turnbull, P., (2004) mentioned that the third step is to resolve the problem: Sometimes the EAP counsellor is able to help the employee do this in a short time. For example, an employee in financial difficulty may need only short-term counselling in how to manage personal finance. Some problems, however, take longer to resolve. For these, the EAP counsellor will send the troubled employee to an outside agency equipped to provide the necessary treatment. The counsellor will try to find a service that best fits the employee’s needs and I also cost-effective.7
  4. The fourth and final step depends on the outcome of the treatment. If the employee has been replaced on leave and the treatment is successful, the employee is allowed to return to work. In some cases, treatment does not require the employee to take a leave of absence; the employee remains on the job while being treated and continues after treatment has been successfully concluded. If the treatment is unsuccessful and the difficulty continues to disrupt the employee’s performance, the employer usually terminates the employee.

Employee Recognition Programs

Newstrom, J. W., Davis, K. (2002) pointed out that the employee recognition programs can enhance communications and employee relations and rewarding employees who make important contributions to the organization’s success. Recognition programs often use suggestion systems and recognition awards. The rewards given to individuals or teams may be monetary or non-monetary. This program rewards employees for their ideas and contribution. The HR department can help here by developing and maintaining formal employee recognition programs such as suggestion systems and recognition awards.8

Suggestion Systems

A suggestion system is designed to solicit, evaluate and implement suggestions from employees and then reward the employees for worthwhile ideas. Although the reward is often monetary, it does not have to be. It might instead of the public recognition, extra vacation time, a special parking spot, or some other benefit. Suggestion systems have been successfully implemented in such diverse organisations as hospitals, universities, the US Postal Service and other branches of the government and public-sector companies such as BP Amoco, Eastman Kodak, and Black & Decker.

The manager should adhere to three guidelines when designing a suggestion system. They should-

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  • Use a suggestion evaluation committee to evaluate each suggestion fairly and provide an explanation to employees why their suggestions had not been used.
  • Implement accepted suggestions immediately and give credit to the suggestion’s originator. The company newsletter can be used publicly to recognize employees whose suggestions have resulted in improvement.
  • Make the value of reward proportional to the benefit of the suggestion to the company.

Recognition Awards

Recognition awards give public credit to the people to teams who make outstanding contributions to the organization. These people or teams may become role models for others by communicating what behaviours and accomplishments the company values. IBM employees who make major contributions are recognized in a host of different ways, ranging from a simple thank you letter from a division manager to a cash award of $150,000. A recognition award should be a celebration of the team or individual’s success that encourages all organization members to work toward the organization’s goals. Recognition awards that focus attention on team or individuals accomplishments include:

  • A company paid picnic to which all team members that their families are invited.
  • T-shirts, coffee mugs, or baseball caps with a team insignia encouraging team commitment.
  • A company paid night on the town such as dinner or tickets to a concert for the employee and his or her spouse.
  • A plaque engraved with the names of individuals or teams that have made outstanding contributions.
  • A donation in the name of an employee to the charity of his or her choice.

Guidelines for Public-Recognition Rewards

Blyton, P. & Turnbull, P., (2004) argued that the public recognition rewards can have a high upside impact on employee and team levels of motivation if they are administered well. Most, employees find it very rewarding to be recognized and honoured in front of their peers. However, a public reward that is poorly administered due to favouritism or being perceived as popularity context can demotivate employees and embarrass the recipient of the reward. Here are some key points to keep in mind when administering public recognition rewards to employees.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws

Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007) mentioned that before 1999 an employee can sue against an employer if any individual rights have been violated. The Employment Relations Act 1999 has changed the relationship between employer and employee. After this Act, employers are bound to recognize Trade Union, and if necessary they negotiate the terms and conditions in case of equal payment, retirement age, and so on. Now employees may request a holiday by virtue of this act.

Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007) also added that now employees may ask to void voluntary agreement. The payment system has totally changed for this act. However, though they recognize a trade union, s. 218 of the TULRA 1992 prohibits that there is no right to strike in any circumstance. Section 218A of this act provides that employees could take action against the employer if they are unfairly dismissed or the employer violates employment contact. Within last 30 years, employee’s relation has been shaped by legislative reformations are as following –

  • Equal Pay Act of 1970- Prohibits discrimination in pay between men and women performing the same job in the same organisation.9
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975- Prohibits employers from basing employment decisions on a person’s race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin. It has been amended or interpreted to prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy (the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978) and sexual harassment. Most recently, it has been replaced the burden of proof in a discrimination case squarely on the defendant (employer), prohibits the use of quotas, and allows for punitive and compensatory damages as well as jury trials. Executive Order 11246 prohibits discrimination against the same categories of people that Title Vll protects but also requires that government agencies and contractors take affirmative action to promote the employment of persons in protected classes.
  • Provision of EC Treaty: Prohibition of pay discrimination between men and women More recently the EC has broadened its focus to deal with discrimination in the areas of age, race, religion, believes and sexual orientation. Provision on sex discrimination or gender discrimination has been part of the Treaty science it’s beginning. Article-2 of EC now includes the promotion of equality between man and woman as one of the tasks of the community and Article-13 EC includes a general power for the community to act to combat discrimination on various grounds in sex.10
  • Article-141 EC: Equal Pay for Equal Work: Article 141 (1) provides that, each Member States (MS) shall ensure that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work. Article 141 (3) provides a specific legal basis for the adoption of measures to give effect to the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatments. The ECJ has extended the scope of Article 141 EC to encompass indirect discrimination. This is where a group of employees – such as part-timers – are paid less, and that group is predominantly of one sex.11
  • Equal treatment Directives: Meanwhile EU ensures several directives provide for equal treatment of men and women such as Directive 76/207 (employment).


Employee relations have been developed for new policies that help maintain fairness and efficiency in the workplace. The client in this situation may be a top manager who needs assistance in drafting a new policy on smoking in the workplace or hiring employees’ spouses and other relatives. Working with supervisors and managers, employee relations representatives can facilitate communications by developing provisions for information dissemination, employee feedback and employee assistance program.


Ackers, P. & Wilson, A. (2003), Understanding Work & Employment Industrial Relations in Transition, Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0-19-925903-8, pp-134-138.

Anthony, W. P. Prrewe, P. L., and Kacmar, K. M. (2002), Strategic Human Resource Management, 4th ed., The Dryden Press, London, ISBN: 0-03-096543-8.

Blyton, P. & Turnbull, P., (2004), The Dynamics of Employee Relations, 3rd edition, Macmillan Plagrave, ISBN 1403912270.

Jani K. R., (2006), Employee Benefits Law, 2nd Edition, ISBN: 978-1570186080, pp-208-222.

Luis R. Gomez-Mejia, David B. Balkin, Robert L. Cardy, (2006), Managing Human Resources, 4th edition, Prentice Hall: Londom, ISBN- 81-203-2804-3, pp-434-456.

Newstrom, J. W., Davis, K. (2002), Organisational Behavior, 11th Edition, Tata-McGraw Hill Publishing Company Limited, London, ISBN: 0-07-047264-5 pp. 163-175.

Rose. E., (2004), Employment Relations, 2nd edition, London: Prentice Hall, ISBN 0 273 682598.

Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007), EU Law, 9th ed., Oxford University Press, London, pp.491–527, ISBN: 978-019-927959-3.


  1. Luis R. Gomez-Mejia, David B. Balkin, Robert L. Cardy, (2006).
  2. Newstrom, J. W., Davis, K. (2002).
  3. Ackers, P. & Wilson, A. (2003).
  4. Turnbull, P., (2004).
  5. Ackers, P. & Wilson, A. (2003).
  6. Jani K. R., (2006).
  7. Blyton, P. & Turnbull, P., (2004).
  8. Newstrom, J. W., Davis, K. (2002).
  9. Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007).
  10. Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (COM 2003) 98 Final.
  11. Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007).
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