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Achieving individual and group objectives - employers

Methods used by employers to achieve individual and group objectives


Employers are likely to have one, or a combination of the following objectives:

  • Improved levels of productivity
  • Reductions in the cost base as the result of staff reductions
  • Lower rates of absenteeism and staff turnover
  • Job flexibility, such as the willingness of employees to cover for absent colleagues
  • Reduction in union power and influence
  • Remuneration linked to performance

Employers often have the advantage of employing highly skilled and specialist staff to conduct negotiations. Their training and development ensures they are up-to-date in their knowledge of employment practices and legislation. They may be able to call on the support of additional specialists, such as employment lawyers, to prevent or delay industrial action by employees if the union has not complied completely with all the legal requirements for calling a strike or initiating other forms of disruptive action.

Employers use some of the following methods to put pressure on employees:

  • Negotiations - just like employees, employers will seek to maximise their position through the use of skilled negotiation techniques. They may for example, set trade unions deadlines for accepting changes in conditions of employment and threaten unilateral or more draconian action if the deadline is exceeded.
  • Public relations - Public relations is concerned with gaining public understanding and acceptance and putting forward the firm's position through press releases and media interview. It is also used to counter bad news or negative publicity often by appealing to the general public for their support. When management are in dispute with their workforce and some disruption to services results, it is common for employers to blame employees for the situation through 'official channels'.
  • Threat of redundancies - It is a common practice for employers to threaten a workforce with compulsory redundancies if they do not agree with management proposals, such as low pay increases or even pay cuts. However, whatever action is threatened, employers need to ensure that it is not in breach of employment law.
  • Changes of contract - employers may not renew contracts unless employees accept different, and probably inferior, terms and conditions or employment.
  • Closure - employers may issue an ultimatum to employees that unless they accept the employers' terms or stop industrial action that they will close the business resulting in redundancies. The threat may be one the management are prepared to follow through with or may be an example of brinkmanship.
  • Lock-outs - This is where employers, rather than employees, prevent work from happening. The employers prevent the employers from entering the premises and conducting their duties. In effect, it is a strike by the management to compel a settlement to a labour dispute on terms favourable to the employer. The lock-out means that employees may not receive any wages.