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MU0012 Employee Relations Management

Question 1- Define conflict management. What are the causes of workplace conflicts? What are the various strategies to be adopted for resolving conflicts? Answer: Conflict management is the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects of conflict. The aim of conflict management is to enhance learning and group outcomes, including effectiveness or performance in organizational setting .Properly managed conflict can improve group outcomes. Explanation of causes of workplace conflicts: Poor Communication Poor communication is one of the main causes of conflict between employees in the workplace. This can result in a difference in communication styles or a failure to communicate. Poor communication in the workplace not only causes conflict but decreases productivity and employee morale. Difference in Personalities A difference in personalities among employees is another cause of workplace conflict. Employees come from different backgrounds and experiences, which play a role in shaping their personalities. When employees fail to understand or accept the differences in each others personalities, problems arise in the workplace. Different Values Similar to personalities, the values of employees differ within the workplace. A difference in values is seen clearly when a generational gap is present. When employees fail to accept the differences, co-workers may insult each others character and experiences. When insults occur, the conflict intensifies until the right solution is offered and accepted. Competition Unhealthy workplace competition is a cause of employee conflict. Some industries foster competitive environments more than others. When salary is linked to employee production, a workplace may experience strong competition between employees. Unhealthy workplace competition discourages teamwork and promotes individualism. Explanation of strategies: Accommodating The accommodating strategy essentially entails giving the opposing side what it wants. The use of accommodation often occurs when one of the parties wishes to keep the peace or perceives the issue as minor. For example, a business that requires formal dress may institute a casual Friday policy as a low-stakes means of keeping the peace with the rank and file. Employees who use accommodation as a primary conflict management strategy, however, may keep track and develop resentment.

Question 2 - (What is meant by organisational culture? What are the elements and dimensions of organisational culture? Answer: Organisational culture describes the psychology, attitude, experiences, beliefs and values of an organisation. According to Hill and Gareth (2001), organisational culture is defined as the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organisation and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organisation. An organisation is said to have a strong culture if its employees are aligned with the organisational values. Elements of organisational culture The paradigm: It defines the mission and values of the organisation. It outlines the functions of the organisation. Control systems: It defines the processes and the rules which monitor the organisational activities. Organisational structures: It outlines the reporting lines, hierarchies and the direction of work flows. Power structures: It specifies the decision makers and their power reach. Symbols: It includes organisational logos, designs and symbols of power like allocation of parking space. Rituals and routines: It outlines procedures like meetings and reporting. Stories and myths: It conveys the organisational values. Dimensions of organisational culture: National, religious and cultural groupings affect the organisational cultures. The different dimensions of organisational culture are as follows: Power distance: This is the degree to which there are differences in levels of power. A high degree indicates that some individuals have more power than others. A low score shows that people have more or less equal rights. Risk avoidance: It reflects how the much organisation is willing to take risks. Individualism versus collectivism: Individualism refers to the extent to which people stand up for themselves. Collectivism refers to the interdependence of individuals in a group. Gender differences: It concerns the traditionally accepted male and female values. For example, male values include competitiveness, assertiveness and ambition. Long- versus short-term orientation: Perseverance is emphasised in long-term orientation while immediate profits are emphasised in short-term orientation.

Question 3 - Explain the importance and features of Human Resource Information systems (HRIS). Answer: Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) is a software application that caters to the human resource information needs of an organisation like monitoring employee attendance, payroll and benefits administration, career development, employee information, performance management, and training. For example, Terasen Pipelines, a Canadian company was using a manual system to maintain its records. But when its workforce increased, it began to use HRIS to maintain accurate employee records. Importance of Human Resource Information Systems Human resources play a very important role in all organisations. The HR department is involved in formulating the company policies and streamlining the business processes. Efficient and new applications like HRIS make the HR department more effective. HRIS assists the HR department in decision making, employee recruitment, benefits administration, payroll, and employee training and performance analysis. HRIS simplifies the HR processes and organises company and employee data in a better way. By using HRIS, confidential information can be protected. Features of Human Resource Information Systems Job and pay history: The HRIS documents details and salary of past jobs. The education details of the employee are also recorded. The HR personnel are able to view salary details including bonuses awarded and deductions made. Ability to import and export data: The HRIS scans images of resumes, employee photographs, employee signatures, job applications and accident reports. The HRIS is able to link to multiple file formats like PDF, Excel and Word. Exporting data in HTML or XML formats is also supported. Ad-hoc report writing: Powerful reporting tools like Crystal Reports are used. Users select the reporting criteria such as department, location or position. Customised reports are created and saved using report generators. Automated reminders and alerts: Reminders are set for important dates and deadlines. HR personnel schedule reminders for birthdays, anniversaries, company events, performance reviews, training, probation periods, and promotions. User-defined fields: Users define the organisation structure according to individual organisations. They can include company policies for recruiting, salary structure, promotions, increments, appraisal, transfers, confirmation and other areas. Attendance and leave tracking: Employee vacations, leaves and absences are tracked and documented. Company policies on leave and vacation are documented. Employee self-service: Employees are allowed to record and update their personal details like name, gender, nationality, address, marital status, passport number, date of birth, number of dependants, education, and contact phone numbers.

Question 4 - What is meant by grievance redressal? Explain the three stages of Grievance redressal. What precautions are to be taken while handling grievances? Answer: Grievance may be defined as a complaint or resentment against any unjust or unfair act. Grievance is any issue associated with an organisation or its management such as employee discrimination or harassment by managers. Organisations have grievance redressal committees where aggrieved employees present their unresolved issues. Organisations generally provide a quality work environment to boost employee morale and enhance employee performance to help the organisation achieve its goals. There are three formal stages to redress any grievance. Stage I of Grievance Redressal An employee who has a grievance meets the shift-in-charge and discusses it. If necessary, the employee obtains a copy of grievance Form 1. It is done within a week of occurrence of the aggrieving incident or when the employee became aware of the situation. Stage II of Grievance Redressal If the matter is not resolved at Stage 1, the employee obtains grievance Form 2 and submits it to the next senior manager. The senior manager arranges a meeting within three working days. The department head discusses the issue with the concerned supervisor and the employee and returns the grievance form to the employee with remarks. Stage III of Grievance Redressal If the employee is not satisfied with the reply of the departmental head, the employee appeals to the chairman of his unit grievance redress committee within seven working days of the receipt of reply at Stage II. The employee obtains a copy of grievance Form 3 from the shift-in-charge. Precautions While Handling Grievances Always make sure that the managers concerned in the grievance handling events have a quiet place to meet the complainant. Always ensure that managers have sufficient time to dedicate to the complainant. Explain the role of the manager, the strategy and the events clearly in the grievance handling procedure. Explain the situation in detail to the employee to avoid any misunderstanding and encourage better acceptance of the circumstances complained. Let the employees present their issues without anticipation or interruptive comments. Use a positive and friendly way to resolve the crisis rather than corrective steps which upset the system. Stay quiet, cool, composed during the course of the meeting. Pay attention to the main point of arguments. Listen and respond delicately to any form of distress exhibited by the employees. Remove the source of anger or discomfort. Assure the employees that the managers are neutral and show no bias.

Question 5. What are trade unions? What are the objectives and activities of trade unions? Answer: A trade union or labour union is an administration of workforce grouped together to attain common goals such as enhanced operational circumstances. The Trade Union Act of India 1926 defines a trade union as an organisation, whether temporary or permanent, formed primarily for the purpose of regulating the relations between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, or between employers and employers, or for imposing restrictive condition on the conduct of any trade or business, and includes any federation of two or more trade unions. The objectives of trade unions are the following: To improve the economic conditions of employees by securing better wages for them. To provide better working environment for the employees. To secure employee bonuses from the profit of the organisation. To resist schemes of the management which reduce employment, such as rationalisation and automation. To secure social welfare of employees through group schemes which benefit every employee. To protect the interests of employees by actively participating in the organisational management. To provide organisational stability, growth, and leadership. The following are the activities that unions generally engage in: Representation Trade unions represent labourers when they have crises at work. If employees feel they are being unduly treated, they can ask their union representative to help in solving their issues with the manager or employer. Unions also offer their members legal representation. Negotiation Unions discuss with employers issues which influence people working in an organisation. Trade unions bargain with the management of the organisation and try to find a solution to these differences. Pay, working hours, holidays and changes to working practices are the issues that are commonly negotiated. Member benefits They insure members against unemployment, ill health, and funeral expenses. Providing qualified training, educating the workforce and giving legal advices are some important activities of trade unions. Collective bargaining In collective bargaining, union representatives hold discussions with the employers and reach an agreement on employee rights and duties.

Industrial action Trade unions enforce strikes, resistance or lockouts to attain specific goals. Political activity They follow campaigns, undertake lobbying, or monetarily support individual candidates or parties contending for public offices. For example, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) undertakes lobbying for the Congress party of India.

Question 6. Write a brief note on stress and employee wellness in organisations. Answer: Stress is described as the impact caused by any pressure. Stress causes illness and produces several other conditions that have a severe effect on an employee's performance. Leon Warshaw (1979), in his book on dealing with stress in the workplace, states that: "Stress affects personality, modifying our perceptions, feelings, attitudes and behaviour. And it reaches beyond its immediate victims to affect the political, social and work organisations whose activities they direct and carry out.2 This statement clearly indicates that increase in stress has a wide-ranging effect on employees that includes absenteeism, decreased efficiency, physical and mental illness, and tendency towards early retirement. Some of the factors that increase stress in the workplace are: Level of decision-making Dangerous physical or emotional conditions Repeated exchange of words with others. Employee wellness focuses on human resource management to reduce health problems. These health problems are caused by improper lifestyle choices such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. Some of the health problems that are common among employees are cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness. These diseases account for 61 percent of hospital claims. This, in turn, creates workplace problems such as absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased medical costs. For example, people with high blood pressure are likely to have medical claims of more than Rs 2 lakh per year. Medical claims of smokers are 22 percent higher than nonsmokers. Many organisations offer wellness programmes to improve and maintain the overall health of their employees. These programmes are effective as they help employees to quit smoking, manage stress, and improve their diets. Recent research indicates that taking part in wellness programmes reduces absenteeism and increases productivity. Employers must prioritise and enrol those who are in greatest need of these wellness programmes. They must motivate these high-risk individuals to participate. Some companies offer incentives to the participants, while others impose certain penalties on nonparticipants. For example, some companies have started to increase insurance premium contributions of non-participants, while others have started raising their deductible levels.