There are four approaches to employee relations strategy:
- Adversarial: the organization decides what it wants to do and employees are expected to fit in. Employees only exercise power by refusing to cooperate.
- Traditional: a good day-to-day working relationship, but management proposes and the workforce reacts through its elected representatives.
- Partnership: the organization involves employees in the drawing up and execution of the organization’s policies, but retains the right to manage.
- Power sharing: employees are involved in both day-to-day and strategic decision making.
Adversarial approaches are much less common today than in the 1960s and 1970s. The traditional approach is still the most typical but more interest is being expressed in partnership as discussed later in this chapter. Power sharing is rare.
Against the background of a preference for one of the four approaches listed above, employee relations strategy will be based on the philosophy of the organization on what sort of relationships between management and employees and their unions are wanted, and how they should be handled. A partnership strategy will aim to develop and maintain a positive, productive, cooperative and trusting climate of employee relations.