Change is inevitable; work place change as well is inevitable and continuous. Organizations are constantly undergoing adjustments through restructuring, franchises, amalgamations and other forms of innovations to meet their market demand. As a result work place environment constantly changes, which mostly creates frictions between the managers and their employees. At the same time, external organizational changes also results into pressure between organizations themselves. Industrial relations, hence has become vital in maintaining associations between these players. Industrial relations work with the key principle of creating mutual agreement between parties through a win-win situation.
Industrial relations can simply be understood as the relationship between employees and their employers in the volatile industrial environment. Work place changes is the major cause of work place frictions, consequently the need for harmonious agreement between the parties becomes necessary. Industrial relations ensure that workplace disputes are avoided at all cost (Luria, Vidal, Wial, & Rogers, 2006). Researches have shown that workplace disputes result into waste in organization resources and productivity. In some case, aggressive misunderstandings such as riots may leads to physical damage of property and deaths. In the past cases legal arbitrary system has been put in place, however, it only acted as a law enforcing machinery rather than a system creating mutual understanding and trust between industrial players (Kochan, Eaton, McKersie, & Adler 2009).
Three major theatrical aspects have been put forward in explaining industrial relations framework. The most outstanding perspectives are the radical, unitarism, and pluralist perspectives. Each of these works uniquely in addressing workplace conflicts and the work of regulatory machineries. Conflict or radical perspective is associated with Marxist theories, the model advocates for radical system of dealing with workplace disagreements. The radical system is identified with the capitalists. It is a based on class distinctions and inequality between the workers and the capitalists. Conflicts are seen as a normal phenomenon and workers always opt for trade unions in response (Heery & Bacon, 2008).
Unitary perspective (unitarism) sees an organization a whole one family. Organization is one unit where everyone, both managers and workers are guided with similar principles. Organization family shares their values and interests. It demands cooperation and utmost unity among the members. Additionally, unitarism works under paternalistic approach, based on loyalty among the members. Consequently, actions of trade unions are seen as unimportant as parties’ works and mutual exclusions with no antagonistic parameters. Conflicts are unaccepted as they are perceived disruptive to the family unity. In essence, unitarism perspective works under family loyalty and unity (Heery & Bacon, 2008).
Pluralist perspective sees an organization as a unit combining powerful divergent mini-groups. Each of these groups is uniquely organized with their own management, principles and values. The most distinct groups in many countries are the trade unions and organization managements. Management body functions leans mostly over coordination and coordination rather than controlling and persuasion as in the radical perspective (Lasbury, & Wailes, 2010). Trade unions are identified more with the employees than the employers and form the legitimate represents. Conflict resolution involves bargaining method under win-win. Additionally, conflicts are viewed as a normal phenomenon rather than a bad activity. Pluralists believed that conflict could be channeled for productivity if both parties are settled for mutual agreement (Heery & Bacon, 2008).
The constant change in workplace environment has brought with it several countering measures that managers apply for organization sustainable development. Researchers have identified; piecemeal, top-down, systematic jointism, negotiations and change bargains. Piecemeal management is a collective approach mainly based on communication pillar. Employees are involved in the system i.e. as carried out by Smith and Nethew. Decision-making is not entering dependent on top-down approach; however, employees are allowed to make their suggestions such as in the Tim Horton’s. The organizations as well take keen attention on employees work condition and ensure proper appraisals and promotions. Piecemeal approach allows the employees to freely have their informal groups that formally represent their grievances (Marschall, Forthcoming).
As the name suggest, top-down system works under the principle of strategic management with power vested at the organization apex. Workforce is seen as implementers rather than part of strategic planning body. Top-down management approach works through systematic information flow and hierarchical system (The Coca Cola Içecek, 2010). Organization is divided into units from top managers, supervisor and finally workforce. Poor application of this system has resulted into dictatorship and misuse of workforce since their grievances are never presented. However, the system significantly result into achieving organization strategic goals as it allows no rooms for bending organizational objective. Nike Company got accused of applying this work place management system (Luria, Vidal, Wial & Rogers, 2006).
Eaton, Ford and GM Companies are known for their systematic jointism workplace management system. Jointism calls union governance between organization management body and union officials. The aim is to dissolve the adversarial view between unions and employers. Since unions also represent workers systematic jointism was seen as a way of including workers in the management system. However, this system failed in some countries since gaining mutual trust between the capitalists and the unions was not very easy. Countries where strong industrial relationship movement operated, also failed to achieve jointism due to adversarial attitude between the parties (Kochan, Eaton, McKersie, & Adler, 2009).
Situational or mixed change model follows no specific identified system. It identified cultural and structural change system. Due to the prevailing condition, managers can shift from long term contracts to short term systems or applying individual contracts. This change management system is based on flexibility of organization policies (Murray, 2008). Wages and promotions are given based on employees work performance rather than set requirements. Organizations can as well utilize such systems as rotational work promotion system. This system was originally applied by Japanese organizations (King 2009).
Rail Royce and British Rail are organization remembered for their concession bargaining. Mid and late 1990s found when many organizations in Britain were still practicing concession bargaining. Different groups participated in concessions under compensation. The same system prior was common in the United States of America. Today, this approach is still found in some countries but mixed with other methods. However, the strength of this system has greatly diminished with the growth of industrial relations (Heery & Bacon 2008).
This paper will examine workplace change systems at Oxford Health Care International (OHCI): a manufacturer of medical gas equipment. The paper analyses Oxford Health Care International (OHCI) under three broad workplace change categories i.e. feminism, Marxism and Neo-liberalism theory. The paper also analyses workplace challenges the company has experience owing to its workplace relations approach and provide recommendations for effective organization relations.
Oxford Health Care International (OHCI)
Oxford Health Care International (OHCI) was started 50 years ago as a family venture in the outskirts of Oxford city. Over the years, its has grown to be a significant medical company. In the last 5 years, the company has seen a significant growth after allowing outside investments. It opened as subsidiary in Dijon France called Dijon Health Care (DHC) under the management of Stefan Borcieu, an in-law to OHCI family. The company’s headquarter has remained in Oxford (OCHI). The company’s growth has seen it come up with new management positions to cater for its employees; however, Oxford Health Care International (OHCI) has met unprecedented management-employee conflicts.
OHCI Work Environment
OHCI cherishes the Fayol’s Rule of thumb. The company has a vertical management system, with the management’s body’s part is come up with the rules, and workers duty are to follow the laid procedures. OHCI Managing Director was once quoted saying, "you tell staff what they need to know to perform their given task and no more." The company has poor communication with its employees. Threats and dismissals have been the norm in dealing with employees. The result has been high job dissatisfaction and high turnover rates.
OHCI lacks strong diversity culture. Women feel neglected. They pay are negligible as compare to men holding similar positions. On the other hand, Oxford Health Care International employees feel they are not part of the organization since they do not take part in any decision making, and upward communication is paralyzed. They employees see a line between the management and employees. Although the management believes, they are trying to adopt neo-liberalism approaches in communication, sharing information, and job appraisals, their moves are still routed in Marxism’s iron rules.
Oxford Health Care International lacks the capacity to voice their concerns as they are soon served with dismissals threats, followed by actual threats. The employees are not allowed to join other body, and are rely on their employee to dictate terms of operation. Finally, Oxford Health Care International does not accommodate any form of bargaining with employees. The company is currently facing staffing challenge with high turnover rates against the fast expanding organization.
There is need for Oxford Health Care International management and employees to work under mutual trust aided by two-way comprehensive communication systems. Oxford Health Care International should adopt the principle as part of its labor relations. Mutual trust is a basic unit in the Labor Management Joint Declaration. Additionally, the 21st century Labor Management Resolve signed in 1966, identified mutual trust and respect as a pillar in in any organization.
Oxford Health Care International should review its employment opportunities. It should reduce the staff turnover rates by minimizing layoffs and terminations. This will be used as a base for enabling employees to be more innovative and ability to adjust to organization changes. Additionally, employees should be allowed to participate fully in running organization activities through ideas contribution, creativity, skills enhancement, and reasoning. Oxford Health Care International should ensures that employees are put in places where they can fully exploit their abilities, instead of forcing skill into them. The company needs to safeguards its employees work environment as a priority. Organizations have grown to accept the fact workforces are the key assets as key assets among others (Fischer 2003).
Oxford Health Care International human resource values should be pegged on:
- Creating a trustable workplace environment for employees through enhance communication system, stable employment, constantly maintained working environment including remunerations, consistency, and workplace fairness.
- Ensure constant promotion of voluntary innovations and continuous improvement.
- Strengthen communication system. Communication has been enhancing for sharing ideas and developing of employees in conceptualizing their organization. Employees are able to follow their work and results for mindset adjustment
- Commit and fully utilize human resource management team. The team should ensure work force growth, promotion, and open communication.
- Focus on teamwork in pursuit of individual contribution, rather than optimizing on individual contribution. This can be achieved through consensus building and adoption of single thrust values. Results should be highly communicated as well as goals.
Oxford Health Care International needs to identify communication as a solution to any problem. Apart from internal communication, Oxford Health Care International should engages in external communication through discussions with Joint Labour Management Round Tables Conferences, Labour Management Councils, and other bodies and committees as per the international labor relations demands. The company should develop hotlines where its employees can raise issues. Issues such as gender problems, compliance, mental health, and working environment can simply be raised through the hotlines for quick response. Significantly, Oxford Health Care International should conducts employees’ satisfaction and morale surveys.
Oxford Health Care International should not limit its communication to lobour related bodies and employees alone, it should idnetifies itsef with employees families as well. Families form an important part of employees’ motivation. The company should initiate workplace visits for family members and other forms of inticements. This will also promote, the company’s value of family relationship. Oxford Health Care International can develop websites for all the families in bid to enhance employees family relations. Bridging family-workplace gap is an ideal way of creating work place satisfaction and boosting employees moralle.
Oxford Health Care International focus in employees’ development is limited. Contemporary companies spend a significant amount of their income on appraisals and work place development programs. The company should come to terms with the fact that the best approach to training is communicating its values and principles (King 2009). It should come up with standardized set of qualification level for all employees, both in the office and technical department, as well ensuring gender balance (Y?lmaz, 2011). T-shape human resource structure is highly recommended. The structure comprises members with unique skills such as foreign languages and operations acquisitions within the cross. The vertical T for high-specialized individuals in a given field, and finally the T of those carrying daily operational activities and can enhanced their knowledge (Srinivas 2004).
Work Diversity and Unity
Oxford Health Care International should focus on diverse workforce. The diverse workforce should include hiring from multicultural grounds, and ensuring gender balance in all management and operational levels. The contemporary gender relations in respect to women employment include:
- Enabling women work and raise their children.
- Enhancing women work place development and career building
- Creating employees awareness and affordable work environment
We advocate for Oxford Health Care International to fully incorporated neo-liberalism management system in all its units. The company’s values should empower managers but also workers. As it is grappling with work related issues, Oxford Health Care International should focus on satisfying work needs among its workers. Apart from these, Oxford Health Care International need to come up with programs aimed at encouraging sustainable environmental development. Upon institutionalizing these our recommendations, Oxford Health Care International will become among the top successful companies in both labor matters as well as in workplace management.
Heery, E., & Bacon, N. (2008). The SAGE Handbook of Industrial Relations. London: SAGE Publication.
King, K., (2009). Workplace Performance-PLUS: Empowerment and Voice through Professional Development and Democratic Processes in Health Care Training, Performance Improvement Quarterly, 21(4), 55-74.
Kochan, T., Eaton, A., McKersie, P, & Adler, S. (2009). Healing Together: The labor-management partnership at Kaiser Permanente, Cornell University Press: Cornell, NY.
Lasbury, D., & Wailes, D. (2010). International and Comparative Employment Relations. London: Sage.
Luria, D., Vidal, M., Wial, H., & Rogers, J. (2006). Full-utilization learning lean in Component Manufacturing: A new industrial model for mature regions, & Labor's stake in its success (Vol. WP-2006-03): Sloan Industry Studies Working Paper
Marschall, D. (Forthcoming). The role of American unions in the institutionalization of workplace learning: Innovations for new work systems and labor movement renewal, In R. Cooney & M., Stuart (Eds.). Trade unions and workplace training: Issues and international perspectives. London: Routledge.
Murray, E. (2008). The Emperors of Coca Cola. London: Lulu.com.
Oxford Business Group. (2010). The Report: Turkey 2008. Oxford: Oxford Business Group.
Srinivas R. (2004). Human Resource Management in Practice: With 300 Models, Techniques and Tools. New York: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.
The Coca Cola Içecek (CCI). (2010). Corporate Social Responsibility Report, Retrieved on 8th August, 2012, from Coca-colaIcecekSR.pdf
Y?lmaz, A. (2011). Keys to Governance: Strategic Leadership for Quality of Life. New York: Palgrave Macmilla