Today’s professional industrial relations director, or by whatever title he is designated, no longer views his job as personalizing management, or that of a social worker in a factory, or a union buster, he looks upon his department as an adjunct to management supervision at all levels; he keeps other executives informed about new discoveries, programme trends and needs. At the same time, he provides efficient service in the operation of several centralized services.
A successful industrial relations programme reflects the personnel viewpoint, which is influenced by three main considerations:
- Individual thinking
- Policy awareness and
- Expected group reaction
Individualized thinking makes if imperative for the administrator to consider the entire situation in which the affected individual is placed. Policy awareness underscores the idea of the consistency of treatment and the precedent value of any decision which a management takes; while expected group reaction balances what we know of human nature in groups against an individual’s situation in the light of the policy that has been formulated and implemented. In all these different circumstances, reality demands that all the three aspects of the personnel viewpoint should be considered at once in terms of the past, the present and the future. This viewpoint is held at all the levels of management from the top to the bottom, from the top executives and staff to the line and supervisory personnel.
The basic requirements on which a successful industrial relations programme is based are :
- Top Management Support: – Since industrial relations is a functional staff service, it must necessarily derive its authority from the line organization. This is ensured by providing that the industrial relations director should report to a top line authority to the president, chairman or vice president of an organization.
- Sound Personnel Policies: – These constitute the business philosophy of an organization and guide it in arriving at its human relations decisions. The purpose of such policies is to decide, before any emergency arises, what shall be done about the large number of problems which crop up every day during the working of an organization. Policies can be successful only when they are followed at all the level of an enterprise, from top to bottom.
- Adequate Practices should be developed by professionals: – In the field to assist in the implementation of the policies of an organization. A system of procedures is essential if intention is to be properly translated into action. The procedures and practices of an industrial relations department are the “tool of management” which enables a supervisor to keep ahead of his job that of the time-keeper, rate adjuster, grievance reporter and merit rater.
- Detailed Supervisory Training : – To ensure the organizational policies and practices are properly implemented and carried into effect by the industrial relations staff, job supervisors should be trained thoroughly, so that they may convey to the employees the significance of those policies and practices. They should, moreover, be trained in leadership and in communications.
- Follow-up of Results: – A constant review of an industrial relations programme is essential, so that existing practices may be properly evaluated and a check may be exercised on certain undesirable tendencies, should they manifest themselves. A follow up of labor turnover, absenteeism, departmental morale, employee grievances and suggestion; wage administration, etc. should be supplemented by continuous research to ensure that the policies that have been pursued are best fitted to company needs and employee satisfaction. Hints of problem areas may be found in exit interviews, in trade union demands and in management meetings, as well as in formal social sciences research.
An industrial relations system consists of the whole gamut of relationships between employees and employees and employers which are managed by the means of conflict and cooperation.
A sound industrial relations system is one in which relationships between management and employees (and their representatives) on the one hand, and between them and the State on the other, are more harmonious and cooperative than conflictual and creates an environment conducive to economic efficiency and the motivation, productivity and development of the employee and generates employee loyalty and mutual trust.