The first question that has to be considered is the objective of any employee relations program. This is generally listed out in a document that is circulated among all the staff as they are supposed to follow it. This involves certain laws, regulations and case laws, and has to be viewed as governing the policy of the organization including the required management delegations for the administration of the employee relations program. In general this defines the policy through which management officials along with the employee relations staff are expected to follow and the actions they are expected to take for ensuring the correct performance or resolve conduct problems among the employees. (Employee Relations Program) One of the biggest problems of today is regarding harassing, violent and/or threatening behavior in the work environment. This has become a major problem in the American workplace today.
Harassment takes various forms and the physical conduct is one of them. This consists of unwelcome touching, standing too close, leering or threatening, staring or glaring, and gestures which are obscene, threatening or offensive. There may also be verbal or written conduct and that takes place through reference to private body parts, derogatory or demeaning comments, through jokes or personal questions; innuendos about sex; offensive remarks regarding race, gender, religion, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political beliefs, marital status, veteran status, membership of the union, disability; through obscene letters or telephone calls; catcalls; whistles; sexually suggestive sounds; and through loud and abusive comments. There are also visual and symbolic conduct like display of nude, scantily clad or offensively dressed people; display of symbols which are intimidating of religious or political nature; showing offensive, threatening or demeaning drawings, cartoons or other graphics; and articles which are offensive like T-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, etc. This sort of behavior has to be tackled by both the person to him it is targeted as also the person being harassed. The harassed individual should tell the harassing individual to immediately stop the offensive conduct. If that does not lead to any improvement, then the manager or supervisor should be informed about it, and then the company's conflict resolution group should be informed about it so that they can try to resolve the problem. (Employee Relations Program)
These programs have not evolved just a few years back, and one of the oldest organizations in the field is The California Employee Relations Program which started in 1969 and this was in response to requests from management and labor representatives for help in dealing with the difficult problems connected in the relations of public sector employment. The initial attraction was due to the passing of employee relations statute by a local government. This then led to more bargaining laws which covered public schools, state and higher education employees. This led to the formation of a state agency for administration of the laws. The programs of this organization have changed as the bargaining in public sector has developed. It helps the changing needs of the participants in the bargaining process and the individuals in public policymaking. It is the only program of its type in the country and this has led to its present importance among the national universities, as also the government and private agencies connected with research on the public sector. (About the Program)
Commercial industrial organizations take up different methods to solve their own problems and one of America's largest industrial units, General Motors has taken up an interesting exercise. The organization has suffered a lot in the last twenty years and their market penetration in United States has gone down by more than 10%, and this has been mainly due to high competitive pressures from the competitors from both within United States and outside. This has significantly affected the company which had to go through a number of reorganizations so that it could face up better to competition, as the business in the home country is a large share of its business. At the same time, the large number of changes confused the employees and they felt left out of the entire change in processes of the company. (Measurement Drives Employee Relations Program at GM)
According to internal research, the present system of internal discussions within the units has shown that improved communications is felt within the company, and most employees feel that they are now running the company. This has also changed GM and the company has increased the number of staff involved in internal communications. More than 100 "business integrators" have been hired in one year and a half. The immediate following step of the company has been to develop a "scorecard" system so that it can evaluate the process of internal communications. The final aim is to involve employees for the betterment of business performance. Some successes of the process of internal communications have also been identified, and these are that all employees should be linked back to the business plan through internal messages. These messages should be strongly supported by the leadership and this means that they should add to each other rather than detract. There should be commonality in these messages and that means a common "media infrastructure" so that there is not much variation among them, and this is especially true for North American plants. (Measurement Drives Employee Relations Program at GM)
At the same time, both the messages and their outcomes should be tracked carefully so that their usefulness can be known clearly. Some of the basic common methods are through monthly department or team meetings, annual meetings to bring the front line employees face-to-face with senior level executives, weekly newspapers at all operations so that important news of the place may reach everybody; video broadcasts by senior executives every quarter; and an annual meeting for talking about the state of business. These systems have been implemented in about all of the 104 plants in North America that it has, and the improvement results or score sheets are also being put up at every plant. (Measurement Drives Employee Relations Program at GM)
At the same time, there are always employees at different levels with different specific purposes, and the manager, human resources is generally responsible for the development of policies and finding out how effective the policies are in terms of meeting with the requirements of Federal law and regulation as also the company policies. There is usually another manager, personnel services, who is in charge of advising the managers for individual cases of staff. Below that level are the supervisors and managers and they are expected to look after the work environment in the organization and taking suitable administrative steps as required for the workplaces and similar areas. In general, the organizations prefer enough delegation to take place down to the lowest levels in the organization so that appropriate action can be taken fast. (Employee Relations Program)
Even in the government there are presently attempts to be frank, fair and honest in dealings with staff and also respect their rights as employees. This is expected to help the achievement of mutual respect in all working relationships. For this purpose, it is expected that supervisors try their best for the establishment and maintenance of good working relationships. This is to build up a good working relationship, and both the employees and supervisors have to understand that for this rules and regulations are not enough. The requirement is of daily communications and mutual respect for the people that we work with. In the government, the Office of Human Resources Management has a number of programs and services for this purpose. These are the awards and incentives program, employee relations program, employee assistance program, and equal opportunity and affirmative action programs. (Employee Relations: Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments)