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The introduction must include thesis statement which consists of what is the essay about. This paper will discuss the relative nature of individualism its advantages and disadvantages. The factors to consider before engaging in an individual agreement will also be discussed from the point of view of employer and how it affects the employee (Edwards 2003). The future of individualism and where it is heading as far as the nature of employment relationship is concerned would also be discussed. The advantages, challenges faced by employees in their effort to foster collective bargaining, the current trends on collective bargaining in organizations, the necessary changes and relevant issues that relate to employees collective bargaining would also be discussed in this paper (Poole 2003).
To ensure better understanding of the aspects of collective responsibility and the manner in which employees' welfare could be enforced so as to have better performance, this paper also discusses the role of the human resource departments in organizations and the manner in which the departments and the managers could ensure that the employee relationship is best understood, fostered and the challenges faced addressed. Indeed there has always been a need to ensure that employees in an organization work as a unit in order to improve their bargaining power in matters that relate to their welfare (Farnham 2000). Even though collective bargaining has its drawbacks, individualism has been known to cause rifts in an organization since employees always tend to serve their own self interest and may even ignore the vision, mission and goals of the entire organization (Smit 2006).
The Concept of Industrial Relations
Industrial relations are described as the relationships between the employer and employee. In the classic definition individualism, industrial relation s is described as the form under which individuals pursue their own personally defined self interests. The individuals do this whilst not interacting with each other. It is through the industrial relations that the individual goals are also attained but only through ensuring that the employees play a role in ensuring that other persons also attain their set goals (Soskice 1990, pp.26-36). The individuals are treated as atomistic that is independent and self responsible for their own actions.
On the other hand collectivism is described as the grouping of individuals into a common group or structure that shares similar sentiments or goals. Stevenson (2006, pp.1-13) argues that industrial relations in the modern world are divided into two groups namely individualism and collectivism. According to him, most organisations favour the use of both systems in the management of employees at the work place. However the shift to individualism seems to have been steadily growing over the past decades as organizations seek to adjust to an ever changing market place (Farnham 2000). Studies carried out in a number of human resource departments have indicated that most employees and top management prefer the collective employee relationship since it fosters team work and other forms of collaboration at the work place.
Collective Bargaining at the Work Place
With the continued emergence of various technologies most of which are complex in nature, there is a continued shift in the nature in which employees in organizations relate to the organizational management. Collective bargaining has a number of benefits that have continued to be ignored (Thomas & Arthur 2005).
The history of the concept of collective bargaining could be traced from the traditional ways in which families, kingdoms and historic governments such as the Roman Empire were formed and run. People always depended on one another for mutual support. From the previous research materials sampled, it is evident that collective bargaining is a phenomenon that had existed since the Second World War (Fitzgerald 1999, pp.1-14). People used to form groups in order to ensure that their energies and resources are combined together with an intention of ensuring that they worked towards defeating a common enemy. Some of the current collective agreements are at time registered with various labor organizations, labour law courts and industrial courts in different countries. Other laws that pertain to collective responsibility are mutually and collectively agreed upon in order to ensure that a common goal is achieved (Towers 2007).
In the year 1842, the commonwealth applied the different concepts of collective bargaining in solving the problems that were related to the Hunt Company and solving problems that had led to employees in a number of organizations going on strikes. The common wealth thus championed for employees forming groups through which they could champion for their needs and ensure that all the employees' grievances were adequately addressed (Golden 1993, pp.356-450; Traxler 2002). Strikes such as the United Hatters of North America in which employees went on strike against Loewe and Company and the Pullman Strike in Illinois in 1902 and 1894 respectively were some of the factors that greatly necessitated the need for employee collective responsibility.
The need for collective bargaining among employees has indeed necessitated the need to have better and more transparent employee relationship in organizations. Between the year 1935 and 1947, the number of trade unions in the world rose from the then thirteen percent (13%) to thirty five percent (35%). At the same time one thousand and seven hundred (1700) trade unions were disbanded for different reasons while seventy six thousand (76000) employees were fired from their jobs due to a number of reasons. Most organizations attributed the firing of their employees to unethical and illegal union activities that had no common good to the goals of the organization.
Trends and Changes in Collective Bargaining
The concept of employing working together involves the mutual bargaining which could be traced from the people's natural characteristic to help and relate to one another. Golden (1993, pp.356-450) argues that in the modern world, collective responsibility could be related to the very mutual obligation of the employees and their employer in negotiating in good faith, with great respect, at reasonable times and under conditions acceptable and favourable to all parties concerned.
The dynamics of employee relationship have continued to favour individual needs which at times seem not to address the need of organizations. The current trends in ensuring that employee needs are addressed without fully becoming individualistic has seen a change in the manner in which employee relationships are addressed. In most organizations, team spirit continues to be encouraging through restructuring of the organizations in order to enhance a flat management structure of management (Traxler & Kittel, 2000, pp. 1114-1164). The flat structural management reduces a lot of bureaucracy loading to easy exchange of views and faster problem solving strategies.
Additionally, some organizations approach the issue of industrial relationship and employee relationship in a more open way by ensuring that employees get to know and understand each other well. Different team building activities are such as organizational sports day, retreat, fun days and organizational parties are organized with an intention of ensuring that both the management and the organizational employees interact freely. This team building activities also ensure that personalized attention is accorded to a number of employees with personalized needs.
Businesses have shifted towards the need to have a human resource management department. This has facilitated individualism by leaving the responsibility and self interest to drive forward the company's agenda to the individual employee. Most companies have some form of human resource management that aims to effectively organize the employees into a coherent working force. The society has also contributed to the trend in individualism. The society demands greater self interest and building up of the individual. The individual is seen as autonomous and in a distant relationship to their social role. This concept of self- interest has also translated to the workplace. The individual is seen as an integral part of society without whom no society can exist. A company that relies on knowledge workers tends to provide individual attention to these workers. The idea here is to help retain the workers with them as they are a valuable asset to the company (Golden 1993, pp.356-450).
Despite the many positive changes that have been witnessed in most business organizations, it is also evident that some of the modern trends in collective bargaining have witnessed organizations employing unfair strategies in order to make supernormal profits. In some instances, the concerns of most of the employees have been ignored through the use of very discriminative management strategies. Some employees are sometimes bribed in order to derive the rest about certain management plans that relate to the employees. A small group of the employees thus benefit at the expense of the rest.
There has also been development in the public sectors of different organizations through which certain laws that relate to salary scales, working conditions, recruitment plans and regulations and the overall welfare of the employees. Launching of bargaining processes in some organizations has been witnessed. The new developments stipulated the collective bargaining processes which mainly cover the employees that are hired on the platform of very individual employee contracts (Guest & Peccei 1994). Despite the few public sectors that tend to champion for the employee needs and rights, some public sectors tend to behave otherwise.
The fact that the hiring process and remuneration process is concerned with people's personal experiences with the job and their individual levels of education makes it difficult to constantly foster collective bargaining. Whenever employees are employed at the work place, the contracts are signed which are only binding to the employee and the employer (s). In most cases, there are no provisions for the formation of trade unions and human rights bodies that target to champion the rights of the employees as a group (Legge 2004; Wilkinson 1988, pp.4056). This has necessitated the formation of human resource management departments in business organizations.
Advantages Associated with Collective Bargaining and the Human resource
Individualistic employee relationship normally does not work for the betterment of the entire organization. According to Balfour (1982), this could best be explained through highlighting the various advantages that are always associated with collective bargaining in an organization. The use of trade unions in organizations of any form is crucial due to the fact that trade unions are always an open means through which employee grievances are aired and possible solutions addressed. This ensures that grievances of the employees are addressed in orderly manner (Healy 1999). Employees that have specific issues that relate to the management often have the opportunity of ensuring that the union's top management give them the necessary support in ensuring that their problems and challenges are addressed in a clam and collective environment.
Secondly, organizational trade unions help in addressing any imbalance of power that may be working better for the management but ruining the chances for the employees to progress in their respective professions. The trade unions are thus formed to address the individual needs of each employee but on a broader scale that could make a greater impact before the organizational management personnel. In most organizations, the employers always have immense powers (Bacon & Storey 2000, pp.407-427). Unless the powers are checked for the betterment of both the employees and the organization, it would be very difficult for the individual needs to be addressed. The trade unions are thus used as an attempt to ensure that measures to check the employee powers are fully checked (Heery & Noon 2008). Collective bargaining therefore would definitely ensure that the imbalance between the employers and their employees is checked.
Employment management continues to be very individualistic with the continued need for the trade unions to fully address the flexibility desired by the individual employees at their work place. Flexibility which is required by the management normally result into the employees welfare being ignored. In an industrial relationship, the employees' flexibility, unless otherwise, is ignored by the top management (Brown, Nash & Deakin 2000, p.8; lrich 1996). This is normally achieved through the involvement o f the individual employees in the management of the organization. The involvement could be done through constant consultation and exchange of views between the management and their employees. Thus also help in minimization of conflicts as negotiation and openness is fully enhanced. The collective bargaining helps to encourage peace and understanding in the organization.
Trade Unions, Employee Related Groups and HRM
Trade unions were used to enable better negotiations between employers and employees during a time that much of Western Europe was going through the Industrial Revolution. Their legalization did bring about various sentiments with some arguing that it would make workers lazy and hostile toward their employers (OECD 1997). Trade unions today are numerous in number but they have been experiencing a decline in membership due to various economic, social and political factors (Armstrong 2006). However the single most important factor was the labour legislation which was passed by Margaret Thatcher.
Collective bargaining entails the common type of bargaining which involves workers that are well organized and their employer (s). The human resource department in different organizations plays a vital role in ensuring that the different organizational roles are fully organized and employee related issues well planned. He human resource management has a very crucial role in ensuring that the trade union's resolutions are needs of the organization are harmonized in ensure to ensure that no conflict of interest exist between the two parties involved. The human resource management could decide to use different models of management in ensuring that the different individualistic needs of the employees are addressed in a more personalized manner. Models such as the monopoly union model, the right-to-manage model and the efficient bargaining human resource management model are used in ensuring that the trade unions fully cater for the individual and group needs of the union without ignoring the organizational operations and needs.
Despite the many arguments that have been placed towards ensuring a more individualistic relationship continues to exist between the employees and the management, the use of employee unions and communication between the union and the human resource management personnel of the organization can no longer be ignored (Armstrong 2006). This explains why collective bargaining normally begins with the employees joining unions despite the fact that they have their own self interest which the always work towards achieving (Disney & Machin 1998, pp.400-420).
Employment relationship has continued to become an individual affair between the employee and the organizational human resource management department. Despite its inherent disadvantages the future of individualism seems to be steady as more organizations adopt it as a tool for employee relations. Surveys have shown that the trend is getting more popular with British organizations. A number of challenges do exist that threatens the existing role of trade unions in the employees' lives. Technology has also played its role in shaping the relationship structure and trend in an organization.