From Confrontation to Collaboration: Making Union-Management Relationships Work
Rod McCorriston, SGEU, Director of Labour Relations, 2013
With thirty years of experience working in a unionized environment, I have observed a variety of collaborative relationships between employer and union. Much of my career has been spent helping to evolve the management-union relationship from confrontation to collaboration. I was directly responsible for nurturing and supporting this relationship for six years, from 2000 until 2006. I served as the Central Union Management/Staffing Liaison Officer for the Government of Saskatchewan. The Government of Saskatchewan and General Employees Union (SGEU) jointly funded this position. In this article, I share my insights on the collaborative relationship.
The Collaborative Relationship: Why Bother?
The management-union relationship feels like an arranged or forced marriage without the option of divorce. You're in it together, so you might as well try to get along and perhaps you can find some commonality of interests for the betterment of the workplace. If the collaborative approach is to be effective, there are some things to take into consideration:
- The need for a continuous relationship
- How to meet the needs and goals of each party
- How to minimize the negative effects on each party
- Cost containment
- How to achieve a solution by consensus, where both parties agree, as this promotes a greater chance of success and acceptance
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The Head-Down Theory: How Unfairness Affects Employee Engagement
Blaine Donais, President and Founder, Workplace Fairness Institute, 2014
Modern HR practice suggests that the difference between successful and struggling companies can be found in employee engagement. Those companies who engage employees to actively participate in the success of an organization report greater productivity, morale, innovation and health. Most companies offer rewards as a way of promoting employee engagement. Yet very few have analyzed the reasons why employees are not engaged. Our research at the Workplace Fairness Institute has led to a conclusion about the real reasons for lack of employee engagement – it's all about fairness.
What is Workplace Fairness?
Drawing from the works of John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin, we define workplace fairness as "equity of concern and respect for each workplace participant regardless of his/her position in the organization." We define "equity of concern and respect" in the following manner:
- "Equity" does not mean "exactly the same"; rather that on balance individuals and groups will be accorded the same level of respect regardless of their position.
- "Concern" means that one person's views on a particular conflict should be given as much consideration as another's.
- "Respect" means that all individuals should be accorded the same level of dignity in the way decisions are made regardless of their position in the organization.
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Is Your Compensation Strategy Actually Strategic?
Richard J. Long, Professor of Human Resources, Hanlon Fellow in International Business, Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan, 2015
Employee compensation typically consumes 40 to 70 percent of operating costs for Canadian employers. For most firms, compensation is their single largest operating expenditure. Last year, according to Statistics Canada, employers in Canada spent nearly a trillion dollars on wages, salaries, and benefits - imagine a stack of $100 bills more than 1,100 kilometers high! Are they getting their money's worth? Is this money well-spent?
In many cases it is not. Some organizations are spending too much. But others are spending too little. While the amount being spent is important, it is not the key issue. The real question is "what is the organization receiving for its investment in wages, salaries, and benefits?" Is your compensation system contributing to the achievement of organizational objectives in the fullest possible way? Does the firm have in place the compensation system that adds the greatest possible value to the firm, after its costs are taken into account?
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