2001: To what extent has employee participation changed over the last 25 years and why? 1999: Employee participation is one of those management topic which waxes and wanes over time as fashion changes. Discuss. Interest in the subject of employee participation has swung dramatically over the last 30 years. In the 1970s, the model of participation reached its high point on industrial democracy, which is rooted in notions of employee rights established on a statutory basis and addressed the question of how workers might be represented at board level. This period emerged strong union bargaining power and the labour government.
The reason why employee right is emphasized in this period is because industrial democracy refers to political rights and social rights that make employees more creative. Another reason is participation is based on the right, so employers must make their employees have political rights in their working place, so that the employees will really and actively participate and get involved in companies. The current developments of participation have produced a quite different agenda for participation. The context initially was reduced union power, and the agenda differed from the earlier waves of 1970s in several ways.
First, participation is the drive of management. Second, in order to build an individual listen model, stress has been put on direct communications with individual employees. Third, it is driven by business criteria concerning economic performance and the “bottom line”, with an emphasis on employee motivation and commitment. Focusing on the history of participation and the economic efficiency approach, employers involve employee because they think employee can contribute to the company. The reason why participation has changed into a new wave can be analyzed from macro level whose whole context has changed.
1) Product market change leads to more emerge of manufactory models, so need to create a new participation for new models. 2) Shifts in structure of employment, organizational structure and culture require a more flat structure to make people have good participation. 3) Decline in unionization. 4) Technology development. New communication, like Email, makes communication much easier, quicker and faster. You can get in touch with people directly now; The new technology that can make employees not attend the machine. The reason why participation is introduced now can be analyzed from micro level.
1) People are becoming more informative and educational now, so employers try to get managerial benefit from employees’ ideas by involving them. 2) Recruitment and retention -High level of participation can attract and retain high quality and creative employees. 3) Workers try to get more knowledge from the workplace. 4) People are more interested in their work than ever before. 5) Conflict handling and stability. 6) External driven – often from outside of the industrial relations sphere. At present, the types of participation scheme, which are employee involvement forms-taking in practice are as follows:
1) Upward problem-solving: refers that people in the lower level of organization give solutions to the top managers, and the managers make the decisions basing on the employees’ solution. This kind of participation is designed to tap into employee knowledge and opinion in order to increase the stock of ideas within an organization, to encourage cooperative relations at work. 2) Downward communication: from the top to the bottom, managers to employees. Managers inform employees what happened – a) one is the quote brief which is general to specific communication, and all employees need to know.
b) add relevant information to the relevant department manager. c) department managers add information relevant to the employees. The principal purpose of this kind of participation is to inform and educate staff so that they accept management plans – This includes techniques such as team briefing, informal and non-routinised communications between managers and their staff, formal written media such as employee reports, company newspapers, and videos which are used to convey messages to employees about the organization’s financial performance or to publicize some new managerial initiative.
3) Representative participation: just like consultative committees. 4) Financial participation: share schemes are designed to link part of an individual’s reward to the success of the organization as a whole. The assumption is that employees with a financial stake in the overall success of the organization are more likely to work harder for its ultimate success. Seen from the above, employee involvement schemes can thus be seen as a rejection of the classical school of management which emphasized a strict division of labour, regarded workers as machine-minders, carrying out fragmented and repetitive jobs.
This scheme needs for high levels of employee performance and employees’ demands for autonomy and self-expression in work. However, there are also passive aspects for this scheme. For example, producing greater work intensification, increasing stress levels and redundancies. To sum up, the public policy context of employee participation has changed markedly in recent years with the concept of social partnership. It advocates participation as an extension of employee citizenship rights and not just business expedience. Towards social partnership, new UK policy environment has beginning to reshape employee participation.