Employment Relationships – Problems and Perspectives
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Employment Relationships- Problems and Perspectives
The employment relationship is the heart of any industrial relations system. It is the relationship between the employer and the employee. A successful employment relationship has always been the foundation of any successful business or organisation no matter how big or small. Variety of philosophers and writers of management have written a lot of theories relating to employment relationship. These theories have changed vastly from the classical era to the modern era, addressing issues that have evolved through changes driven by the nature of work, technology, and globalisation. Managers have adapted diverse management styles as the time has passed by which reflect the environment in which work is carried out. In this paper I will be analysing classical and modern theories of employee relationship and various management styles and discussing the different factors that have brought about changes in these theories and styles of management.
Before industrialization, industries and companies had an environment in which the employees were basically ruled on by the employers, submitting themselves to the rules and regulations imposed on them by the management. Interests of the employers always prevailed over the interests of the employees. In the post war era there was little globalisation and technology, which hadnt played a big role in the industrial world. The employees had to bear the entire workload, which included mental and physical labour, on top of that they had minimum support by their managers due to the management styles they had adapted. Compared to the post modernisation era and nowadays there have been vast improvement in the industries. Today a number of forces influence the workplace environment, such as: political systems, legislation, economics, technology, globalisation, labor unions, and professional organisations, which includes remarkable new technological advances, enhanced working places, educated, trained, and experienced managers and employees with superior competence than those of the classical era.
One of the earliest theories was the Unitary theory that described the work relationship of the employer and the employee as that of a parent and son. Even though it required harmony in the employment relationship, it agreed with the management exercising authority over the employees. Since the employees werent as educated as needed to be it demanded the employees to be dependent
on the policies of the management. Unitary theory was based on an idealised and a fix situation, with management adapting oppressive approaches. If an employee acted against the interest of the management it would most probably cause a conflict, which would hamper unity in the organisation and would put himself at the brink of losing
his job. Therefore the Unitary theory was based on an idealised situation and didnt consider any flexibility or changes brought into the industrial world due to environment, technology, and or expansion of business.
Theories kept evolving as the size and scope of businesses expanded, taking into consideration technology and the nature of work of the employees. One of the theories that came about was the pluralist theory, which acknowledged the complex situations such as conflict of interest between the management and the employees. It suggested that these kinds of complex situations could only be resolved through the involvement of government. Pluralist theory originated in the UK when the country was going trough cultural and social reforms. Pluralist theory recommended resolving any complex conflicts of interest by negotiation, compromise or agreement. This also brought about the formation of trade unions and other groups that considered the interests of both the management and the labour. Even though the pluralist theory tried giving some kind of rights to the employee to speak out and be heard, it still couldnt overcome the conditions of capitalist tendencies which always tilted the balance in the employers favor. The formation of these institutions and trade unions helped the employees on a limited base that included areas like wage bargaining or conflict of interests between employees. The increased level of trade unions and institutions were beginning to be questioned and were blamed to have contributed to the low levels of productivity in British companies.
Fredrick W. Taylor (Scientific Management)
The essence of all these classical theories of management styles is that there exists a single, best approach to management, and the research was aimed at finding this best approach. One of the recognized theorists was Fredrick W. Taylor. His purpose and idea was to maxamise efficiency, he believed that the principal object of management should be to ensure maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee. He considered that the best approach was for the employee to fulfill optimum goals, which would result in higher wages for them, and managements gain will be higher productivity. Therefore the employee himself will work harder and try his level best to produce more since he is getting financial benefits for doing so, this was his differential piece-rate system.
Elton Mayo(Human Relations Movement)
Various other theorist included Henri Fayol, Max Webber, and Rosemary Stewart, but one of the standouts was Elton Mayo with his Human relations approach to management. Elton Mayo opposed the writings of Taylor and thought that in spite of its aids to efficiency Taylors system was an imposed one, which took no account of employees own views. Hawthorne experiments with which Mayos name is lined are one of the widely quoted researches in history. In this research his experiments included separating six female operatives to assess the output and morale of changes in the nature of work. At first an incentive payment scheme was introduced comparatively of Taylors writings, as expected output increased. The second experiment consisted of the same women but with original working conditions with no incentive payments, no pauses for rest or for refreshments and yet the output was the highest ever recorded. Therefore it proved that the nature of work which includes work satisfaction, development of personal friendships, and a good social atmosphere play a big role in increased production and output.
Marxism came into existence through Marxs observation a known writer and theorist who opposed capitalism while capitalism