Employee And Labor Relations

Employee and labor relations are concerned with stopping or managing problems related to workers' situations. Managers, supervisors, and other employees experiencing difficulty in their work environment may seek the advice of their designated Labor Relations Manager. Since both employers and employees can experience difficulty at work, someone is needed to deal with disagreements as an unbiased third party. Therefore, labor relations are vital for success in the modern economy.

The Difference Between Employee and Labor Relations

Simply put, labor relations is the relationship between unions and employees while employee relations deals solely with companies and their employees. These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but it is important to understand the fundamental differences. A company can have a labor relations department without the presence of a union within the organization. The purpose of this department may be to educate employees and prevent union organizing in the future. Should a union develop, the already established labor relations department is well-equipped for handling all interpersonal communication and dealings.

An organization that deals only with employee relations without any sort of labor professional present is tasked with the added responsibility of educating their workforce on unions. While it is possible to successfully handle unions without a dedicated labor relations team, it is not ideal. Unions and their many transactions require a vast understanding of labor law and other specialized labor topics. This is why labor relations are an important consideration for every company, in addition to employee relations.

An organization that deals only with employee relations without any sort of labor professional present is tasked with the added responsibility of educating their workforce on unions.

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Employee & Labor Relations


Why Are Employee And Labor Relations Important?

The purpose of great labor relations is to establish and strengthen the employee-employer relationship. This can be done through a variety of measures, including but not limited too: measuring satisfaction with company policies; identifying workplace issues that arise within your business (i.e., what needs improving?); and providing input into how performance management system operates at all levels - from team leader up through CEO level positions.

The harmonious relationship between employees and employers is essential for economic growth. Greater efficiency means more productivity, which leads to higher rates of return on investments in production facilities as well as job satisfaction. Workers who feel valued by their colleagues at all levels within the company or organization they work for contribute more to their jobs and therefore to the growth of the company as a whole.

When employees are happy, they are less likely to leave an organization. Organizations that have good labor relations provide higher wages and other attractive benefits. One reason why companies engage in positive practices like paying above-market rates (and providing adequate benefits) may be due to the fact that this usually attracts high-quality talent while retaining current staff.

The reduction in turnover ensures that employees stay with a company for longer. This enables them to gain extensive knowledge of company policies, practices, and processes as well as providing training opportunities that can help new hires become more efficient from the get-go! Most companies have trouble replacing experienced staff members because they're so valuable when it comes time for an employee's retirement or leave of absence--they've seen everything there is to learn about their employer during years spent working together.

The reduced rate at which people quit means great things happen: More time learning your way around and a more productive and effective workforce.

Labor Relations Management


The Initial Resource For Managers and Employees

The Employee and Labor Relations (ELR) department provide services for improving the relationship between an organization and its employees. The labor relations department offers assistance with issues related to unions, policies, procedures, and more. With the help of the labor relations department, the organization works directly alongside its managers and supervisors to ensure that the correct application of policies and procedures is used in managing a successful and productive workforce.

In order to prevent employees and employers from interfering with each others' legitimate rights, the labor relations department has five purposes:

  1. Prescribing lawful rights for both parties involved in commerce
  2. Establishing orderly procedures so that interference can be prevented without disrupting business operations or cooperation between co-workers who may not agree on a subject matter but still want peace at work
  3. Providing guidelines about how conversations should proceed when discussing sensitive topics such as wages and benefits
  4. To protect the rights of individual employees in their relations with labor organizations whose activities affect commerce
  5. To define and prescribe labor practices that are appropriate for commerce

What Are Common Labor Relations Issues

Labor Relations is dedicated to creating and sustaining a positive work environment. Labor relations departments are responsible for the effective communication of issues regarding collective bargaining, grievance processes, and changes in labor law among other things while also ensuring employee satisfaction through education programs.

Labor Relations are an essential part of any company's success. They enhance understanding and create rapid solutions to issues such as arbitrations, unfair labor practice charges, or complaints that may arise with management on the job site level.

The skillset managers need for effective labor negotiations is vast - it includes not only negotiating contract agreements like salaries and health care coverage, but also discussing working conditions to ensure everyone is safe and happy in their position at work.

Labor Relations Managers have a variety of responsibilities. They are tasked with grievance and complaint administration, conflict management (including arbitration), as well as miscellaneous agency tasks such as p&p or contract interpretation.

Employee and Labor Relations Specialists

Labor Relations Specialists

Professional labor relations employees are commonly human resources workers who have particularly advanced knowledge and experience in areas of union membership or unionized relations. Sometimes these specialists are labor relations attorneys working onsite within an organization. A specialist can provide in-depth information about unionization and other labor relations issues and therefore allow the Human Resources generalist to concentrate on other issues such as policies, procedures, and other common HR duties.

Aside from their vast knowledge in the field of labor relations, there are many reasons why an organization should have a Labor Relations Specialist on staff. However, not all companies are equipped for such an advanced position within their organization. In fact, some studies show that labor relations specialists are on the decline. Perhaps not many labor relations-type issues have come up within the organization, or maybe the whole concept of labor relations is new to your organization.

Regardless of whether or not your company has a labor relations specialist, one fact remains true: Unionization is always a possibility. That's why preparation is key.

Regardless of whether or not your company has a labor relations specialist, one fact remains true: Unionization is always a possibility. That's why preparation is key.

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Does Your Organization Need Labor Relations Management?

If the potential for unionization is of concern, whether immediately or in the future, then consider establishing a labor relations team within your organization. Aside from unionization, there are several "pulse checks" one can engage in to determine your organization's labor relations readiness. It is far better to prepare now for the possibility of unionization than to get caught in the middle of a union organization drive later on. Our Labor Relations Readiness System may be the right first-step for your organization:

The Art of Labor Relations CTA

Developing a proactive labor relations strategy should be of utmost priority within your organization. This may mean training your human resources department to better handle labor relations issues.  It also means providing labor relations training to your supervisors so that they understand how their actions impact the organization's ability to have an environment where unions aren't necessary in the first place. Or you may need to fine-tune your labor relations recruitment skills in order to hire someone with the exact skills needed within your company.

No matter where your company is at right now, the end goal is clear: develop a successful and productive workforce through positive employee and labor relations practices.

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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is IRI's Director of Digital Solutions and the founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.

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