One of the critical elements of a business that most people often overlook is employees’ internal relationships and communication with employers.
Companies cannot underestimate the importance of internal communication in a business: it ensures that your most valuable internal stakeholders – your employees – are kept informed. That information is presented in a way that keeps your most valuable external stakeholders such as the government and trade unions involved.
Industrial relations involve exchanging information between people who work in a team or organisation to achieve a common set of goals and objectives. It is very profitable to direct the company’s energy to customers and internal relations and communication between employees and other stakeholders.
The renowned author and former business executive, Seth Godin, said: “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.”
When used accordingly, strong labour relations can help prevent strikes and employee protests, provide a healthy work environment, increase productivity, and lead to improved industry growth. Industrial progress is impossible without labour cooperation and harmonious relations that can help benefit the entire economy.
Industrial Relations are an integral part of the South African economy
An industrial world is needed to increase production and ensure healthy relations between workers, employers, and trade unions through the effective implementation of policies from the government.
A leading staffing agency and labour broker like MASA offers a range of services, including managing collective bargaining, trade union liaison, strike management, disciplinaries & CCMA representation.
Expert labour brokers can facilitate collaborative consultation between employees, management and trade unions, which paves the way for industrial democracy and promotes organisational growth. Ultimately, this collaboration creates favourable conditions for positive negotiations and discussions on a reciprocal basis.
The structure of industrial relations
Samuel Gompers, an American and key labour union member in the late 1880s, suggested that three parties – employers, unions and government – are essential players in the modern industrial relations structures. With employees playing a vital role as well.
Employment relations broadly refers to the relationship between employer and employees and, as such, encompasses functions such as human resource management and union management. Adhering to best labour practices helps create a framework to manage employees better.
Many businesses invest more resources in building relationships with employees and keeping their workplaces healthy. Several studies have linked a company’s performance to the internal environments created in an organisation. The net result is improved revenues, higher efficiency, and greater productivity.
Employers must be willing to improve how they communicate with employees to provide a good employee experience. They can achieve this by maintaining strong relationships. An employer should treat employees fairly and value their efforts by creating a healthy work experience where employees feel empowered.
Employers must create a work environment that is free from jokes, comments, innuendo, and sexual conduct that may embarrass or offend employees. The objective is to bring comfortability and good relations into the workplace, allowing everyone to thrive.
Industrial Relations emphasises building employee confidence and boosting their morale to perform better than before. An employee’s perception may differ from how the employer sees them, so employee relationship management can help balance any views towards a more positive relationship between the two parties.
Employees must maintain a courteous relationship with their employer for these reasons. This positive relationship leads to an improved understanding of each other’s needs and expectations and creates harmony in the workplace.
Many employees struggle with social isolation, communication, and a sense of belonging. Internal communications can help bridge the transparency gap and empower employees to trust and work towards our shared corporate values and mission. Respecting company policies should be at the forefront of every employee as these guide how to conduct oneself in a business setting.
The government assumes the role of guarantor of employment and economic planning. One can view the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) as the government’s contribution to managing employer-employee relationships. It is one of several policies and acts drafted as part of their contribution to maximise and provide the fair management of industrial relations.
Essentially, government benefits from industrial relations as a safe working environment helps to increase employee and employer satisfaction. The South African government has implemented other policies, including the Employment Equality Act, The Skills Development Act, and the Labour Relations Act.
This legislation, coupled with other employee relations programmes which vary by company size, location, industry, culture, and many other factors, can help strengthen the South African workforce and reduce unemployment levels in the country.
4) Trade Unions
Trade unions oppose the exploitation of workers and represent the interests of workers in labour relations by creating fair and equal bargaining powers between all parties concerned.
The various organised trade union movements in South Africa have engaged in a series of campaigns challenging the government on economic inequality, inadequate social security, and food and energy prices. Today, unions remain a significant force in South Africa, with 3.11 million members or 25.3% of the formal workforce; however, there is a global trend of declining union membership globally.
Unions can also help with other aspects of work-life, such as accompanying employees to disciplinary hearings and representing individuals and those part of bargaining councils in disputes with one’s employer. Some unions organise training, career development and social events. A necessary condition for unions to assume partnership responsibilities is that governments and employers recognise the right of workers to be represented by unions of their free choice.
Business is all about people and relationships
Industrial relations are designed to ensure mutual trust and good relations between employers and their employees and other related bodies. Collectively, these four role-players need to play their part to achieve fair and holistic industrial relationships.
These role players are responsible for ensuring that the country can face the triple threat problems of unemployment, poverty, and inequality. As the business climate changes, employee expectations change, and new technologies permeate the organisation, internal communication becomes a vital connecting factor.
MASA can assist with a range of industrial relations solutions as we have done so for the past 40 years.
We provide industrial relation solutions across South Africa, with a network of regional offices spread across the country. We structure our services to maximise our client’s return on investment, ensuring you receive a high-quality service that takes your business to the next level.
If you require professional assistance with hiring, onboarding, and training new employees in various industries, be sure to contact MASA today. You can gain an experienced staffing agency and labour broker on your side, allowing you to leverage the top employment and outsourcing services in South Africa
Check out our article on HR and IR: Why Blue-Chip Companies Prefer to Outsource if you want to learn more about this topic.