Employment relations are critical in a workplace because it is a binding factor between an employee and the employer. Therefore, organizational efforts and approaches to maintain positive co-existence between employee and their employers may be defined as employee relations. Moreover, employment relations are related to human resource management since the department is responsible for maintaining positive employee relations at any organization. Communication and trust are pillars based on which employment relations are based (Naim, 2018). Employee relations systems are responsible for developing contracts, code of conduct, hiring criteria leaves, and other employment benefits that help in employee retention and satisfaction. Human resource refers to the part of any organization, comprising either skilled on unskilled persons that aid in day to day running and operation of the organization. On the other hand, human resource management is a department in an organization that is tasked with staffing, such as recruiting, hiring, training, the delegation of duty, compensation, and other HR roles (Rantakari, 2019). The entire human population forms human resources; thus, senior management is not an exception.
The state of having an income generation activity may be termed as employment. Employment comes in various ways, including the government, private institutions, non-governmental organizations, and self-employment. An employer may refer to an organization to hire and pay people to run tasks for them. The government is an example of an employer. An employer may also be a person or group of people presiding over the hiring or recruitment process. An employee is an individual that has been tasked with either casual or official duties by an employer and is paid periodically, either in wages or salaries. When an employer and an employee mutually agree to define customized working hours, workplace place, and intervals of work, then this might be defined as workplace flexibility (Ruhle, 2019). The demand for workplace flexibility is a growing concern in the current economic world and the human resource industry. While it might seem that employees are the big winners for introducing the work criteria, employers who implement this approach of work reap more than those who do not. This paper discusses both the pros and cons of the work approach and the reasons for the increasing demand for the work approach. Workplace flexibility does not only comprise
Importance of Employees
Human resource remains the most important in any organization as they drive the day-to-day operations of any company. Employees provide customer support services, machine operation, research, and reporting. Employees determine the success or failure of an organization and need to be treated cautiously. Employees are the face of any organization; motivated employees portray a successful organization, while unmotivated employees show a dull organization. It is important always to ensure employee satisfaction to protect the face of the organization when the employees leave or are not within the organizational premise. According to Smith et al. (2019), employees play a critical role in an organization. As a result, the authors point out the importance of social activism and advocacy of prioritizing flexibility at work. Additionally, a study by Purwanto (2020) on the impact of working from home among teachers in Indonesia amid the Covid-19 pandemic showed that significant success was achieved by implementing flexibility in their duties.
Any organization aims to achieve customer satisfaction; the first customers of an organization are the employees. When employees are treated right by the HR department, they offer satisfaction and loyalty, and dedication to the organization. Bias and unjust employee treatment generate dissatisfaction. Employees commit time and energy to organizational operations through skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled labor. Even though the machinery is used for coming activities, they need human intervention.
Unlike machines, humans can reason logically to solve unseen challenges. Employees can employ critical and creative thinking to overcome spontaneous problems. The growth of any organization depends on the continued innovation and development that employees often achieve. Their day-to-day interaction with challenges at the works equips knowledge to invent better ways of problem-solving and work efficiency.
Increased Demand for Workplace Flexibility
Current trends in the employment sector are slowly facing out traditional employment approaches to welcome the workplace flexibility model of employment and operation. Lansbury (2018) describes the evolution in the workplace as an ever-changing environment determined by economic, social, and health factors. For instance, events like the Covid-19 are among the underlying factors that have necessitated the rise in demand for the flexible workplace employment model. Human resource managers have welcomed the model in most developed countries, the UK, USA, Canada, and other established economies globally (Kuhn, 2018). Various factors are causing the rapid demand for work flexibility models among organizations globally.
With rapid technological advancements, more sophisticated machines are developed that require lesser human handling than before. Moreover, works are becoming more complex and demanding; thus, employees feel flexibility would allow them to set their appropriate time for handling the complexity. Increased collaboration between different international organizations also necessitates flexibility at the workplace (Christensen and Schneider, 2020). An organization operating under the supply chain system, operating in different time zones is necessitated to implement the workplace flexibility model, then the employees will work at their conveniences to match their time zones.
The workplace consists of different demographic departments based on age, gender, and religion, all of which affect work somehow. For instance, mothers are forced to return to their workplaces quite soon due to short maternity leaves. Besides, employees still further their studies while working simultaneously and parenting simultaneously (Green et al., 2020). Such situations have raised concerns and necessitated the adoption of the flexible model to nurture an all-around society.
Companies strive to achieve the same level of performance every day of their operations. Companies that have a customer service department, for instance, operating either 24 hours or 16 hours, need to meet customers’ demands regardless of the time. Workplace flexibility will ensure employees work during their best hours to provide seamless services to the customers. Environmental conservation programs also call for flexibility in the workplace to reduce the usage of resources that emit carbon and other environmental hazards. Flexible workplace, decongest offices, thus reducing carbon emission from a single premise.
Society via legislation and activism has called for the adoption of workplace flexibility to create meaning in employment. Employees want to mandate to determine when they should work instead of traditional working models of working under stipulated time by the organization. Employees feel that when they set their own working time, they can provide brilliance while at their best.
Benefits of Workplace Flexibility
Based on the factors that promote the rising demand for flexible workplaces, societal and demographical factors benefit employees, whereas globalization and technological advancement tend to benefit employers. The workplace’s flexibility is built on trust, and mutual understanding between employers and employees through organizational and legal policies form binding proof of such agreements (Korunka 2021). It is a tough call to make on which sides benefit more from the new model of employment approach; however, the benefits discussed will attempt to deduce.
Employee retention saves an organization new employee training. Studies have found that employees would opt for workplace flexibility rather than vacation or salary increment. Workplace flexibility allows employees to retain their top employees by equipping them to work under their schedule. Since the model is also founded on trust, employees on flexible models give their best to honor the privilege by their employees. The employers benefit from this, eventually, because they keep their best employees, who keep on delivering quality work.
Adopting the workplace flexibility model eases pressure on organizational infrastructure, e.g., office rooms, vehicles, internet, food, etc. flexible workplace ensures the distribution of employees to work from their conveniences, say working from home. Reducing population at the workplace reduces the cost of maintenance of office furniture, an overhead bill like electricity and water, internet, among others (Adams et al. 2019). this is a major benefit to employers as the capital may be invested in other departments, development, or CSR.
Decentralizing duties through workplace flexibility widens the scope of innovation. First, in ensuring streamlined communication regardless of an employee’s location, the company will invest in reliable networking technology. Continued application of technology creates an avenue for innovations to better the experience of flexibility. Many job seekers today would consider workplace flexibility when applying for jobs. Employers that have adopted the model are likely to attract talented and skilled employees that would benefit their organizations. Employers benefit from workplace flexibility when employees at different times offer their best. This ensures 24/7 customer satisfaction (every hour has an employee at their best). Flexibility allows for a physical representation of the organization at different regions other than their headquarters, where their customers can easily reach.
While negotiating and implementing flexible workplace plans, employees engage with their employers on terms and conditions that govern the employment model. Granting employees such privilege creates a sense of belonging to the organization. This is an avenue for sharing ideas with management for the organization’s benefit (Vlachos et al., 2017). As discussed earlier, mothers can raise their children and work under demographic factors and succeed in both when a flexible workplace plan is put in place. Additionally, in their study, Jackson et al. (2019) categorizes workplace flexibility as one of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). They argue that since employees benefit socially from this trend, it forms part of their CSR initiatives. Therefore, employees can improve their skills through further studies while still underemployed under the flexible employment model. Individual brilliance and level of productivity increase when one is at will to do their duty at their preferred time and place. Being productive is self-satisfying to an individual employee before benefiting the entire organization (Dutcas 2019). Pavlova (2019) summarized the assertions and highlighted the increasing demand for workplace flexibility by stating that it is the next big agenda in the employment industry. Through the illustrations, it is evident that the employees will be the beneficiary due to work flexibility.
Barriers to Flexible Workforce and Remedies
Implementation of the flexible workplace is challenges barriers internally at the workplace and from external sources as well. There exist three major barriers to the effective implementation of workplace flexibility despite the rising demand. Employees hold sensitive data on their computers when working away from workplace premises. Employers may fear granting flexible work for fearing losing or having such information in the hands of the wrong hands should the employees loses their computers. Employees have been equipped to ensure strong passwords are used to protect the data (Lansbury 2018). Moreover, cloud services also prevent access to information on computers even if they are lost. According to Helfen & Sydow, employment management is a challenge that must be faced with utmost keenness by selecting the right models and approaches to ensure positive relations are achieved. The authors acknowledge that there are barriers to flexible work force even though Regalia, 2018 blames the government for the failure by relenting in implementing industrial and labor policies that govern the employment sector.
Workplace flexibility relies on technology and networking for its success; cloud computing and visual teams may be difficult and expensive to set up. Organizations must ensure a remote connection between them and their employees for efficient flexibility. Companies thus need to ensure they match technology before allowing employee flexibility. Workplace flexibility depends on trust between the employees and the employers. Trusting employees with data and organizational information is difficult for employers at the initial stages of implementation (Yunus and Mostafa, 2021). Both parties should foster trust through agreements, policies, and legal bindings. Most of the top managers, who still conform to the traditional working model, are often not supportive of the new model of the workplace. The lack of support from such managers is a barrier to effective flexibility. Additionally, Ferreira et al. (2021) point out technology (cost of installation and rapid advancement) as a major barrier and challenge to the achievement of flexibility in the employment sector. Managers should therefore support their employees to promote productivity and flow of duty.
Demerits of Workplace Flexibility
One of the main disadvantages of flexibility is that some employees take the opportunity to be lazy without doing the employer’s duty. This will affect their productivity and result in ultimate loss to the organization. Despite employees customizing the time they feel they would work; the organization may have certain prime hours where their employees need to work. There might arise a misunderstanding between employers and employees on this. The cost of installing fully integrated and efficient, flexible workplace systems may be costly to the organization instead of centralized working systems. Installing cloud storage, technology, security systems, and virtual conferencing require a monetary investment that may be costly to the company.
Remote working and other forms of workplace flexibility reduce socializing of employees as most prefer working from home, at restaurants, and at contradicting hours. Employees’ social life is damaged, and effects such as depression and lack of self-confidence in public. Insecurity of a company’s data and information is a major demerit of flexible workplaces (Yu et al., 2019). It is possible that some employees might share sensitive data about the organization and their clients for benefits but will have adverse effects on organizational reputation and trust with their clients or customers.
When working from home, distinguishing work from home time may be difficult. A case where an employee babysits a minor and is preoccupied with babysitting duties overwork. Overtimes and extensions are associated with remote working, where employers can demand more working hours from their employees at the expense of the allowed flexibility (Soroui, 2021). This results in an additional cost for compensating overtime and overworking, affecting productivity.
Micro, Meso, Macro, and Supernational Levels of Work
There are three work levels, and policies guide their operations. Policy refurbishment involves adjusting old policies and trimming them to attain logical policies and follow employment relations regulations (Krawczyk, 2018). First, Micro social work is activities that offer basic social requirements. The recipients are patients (hospitals), students(schools), and other social work providers (Serpa & Ferreira 2019). After a few years of experience, the positions are open to promotions and upward transitions. Second, Meso Social Work is a medium-based organization beyond basic social work. Their services are basic but are done in larger quantities. The practitioners of Meso level works are required to meet certain academic qualifications for them to be employed as service providers (Van Wijk et al., 2019). University degree holders are best suited for such roles. Third Macro levels comprise organizations handling many clients (Gilberthorpe and Papyrakis, 2019). Handling such a level of service delivery requires competence among workers to ensure service delivery. Fourth, supranational levels are multinational organizations whose decisions supersede one country (Van Wijk et al., 2019). For instance, NATO is a supernational organization whose decision affects numerous countries across the globe.
The Reasons for The Increasing Reliance on The Law (Judaification) as a Means of Regulating the Employment Relationship
There is increased reliance on the law to regulate employment relationships because Employment laws are critical in providing guidelines and directions for both the employer and the employees, and therefore it offers protection. Over the past decades, employment laws have offered Society’s values regarding equality to all the people. If any party violates the law, then legal actions can be taken against the said party, which can have devastating consequences ranging from fines to imprisonment.
The main limitation of the reliance on the jurisdiction is the law’s inflexibility. Legal laws can not be changed with ease. Therefore, once a party signs the legal document at the beginning of their contract, they become legally bonded by the document unless it is rendered illegal by the courts of law. Breaching the legal laws also has dire consequences that can affect both the employees and the employers.
The Impact on Employees of Recent Managerial Initiatives
As employers strive to motivate employees, different managerial initiatives have been deployed. Although the initiatives vary, they impact the employees differently. For instance, managers have initiated employment relations policies and practices that operate within legal and social labor policies to protect both organizations and employees from exploitation (Jeffrey, 2018). These initiatives help resolve conflicts between employees or employers within the organization. Engaging employees in organizational decision-making is an example of a customer relations initiative that helps create a sense of ownership and belonging for employees. Engagement is also a better way of inviting and collecting innovative ideas from employees that are beneficial to the organization. Through employee engagement, flexible workplace proposals are discussed, and agreements reached.
Appraisals and performance monitoring initiatives also impact the employees by determining their productivity level. It is an approach that matches organizations’ expectations against employee deliverables to identify their employees’ areas of weakness and strength. Organizations support their employees through the allowance of informal groupings within their systems to help handle ex-official matters that impact employee performances. Training as a mode of increasing employee understanding improves the relationship between employers and the organizations (Barbour 2017). On the other hand, Motivations improve employee retention and increase productivity for the organization.
Benefits Of Positive Employment Relations
Positive employment relations create tranquility at workplaces, which is directly beneficial to the employees and employers. With positive relations, employees have confidence in their duties since they have the backing of their management. They take responsibility for actions that improve the quality-of-service delivery. Their productivity increases in quality and quantity depending on the nature of the business involved. Every employee feels satisfied when their issues are addressed by their employers and allowed to ‘control’ part of their stay at the organization. Work flexibility, for instance, is key in employee satisfaction, as they dictate when and where they would like to work.
This is beneficial to the organization. Positive relations ensure that employees are confident in their employers and are willing to stay under welcoming situations. Employers benefit from the services of their top-performing employees to help in delivering to their customers. A positive employment relationship forms part of the employee’s journey or experience. This is vital in selling positive organization names to the public (Jackson and Baccaro 2018). The organization also earns a reputation from testimonials of positive employee experience when working for the company or organization involved.
Giovanis (2018) examines the relationship between the workplace and the performance or productivity of adoption of the current trend in employment. He examines the impact of work from home, teleconferencing, and remote working. The research findings showed a positive impact of adopting the employment model as it resulted in an all-around development to employment and overall employee social development. Serpa & Ferreira (2021) categorize the three levels of work and their roles in breaking down the social requirements for each work level. According to the authors, the three levels of work require specific qualifications. Personality, like leadership and problem solving, contributes to effective recruitment into different work levels.
Factors Affecting Employment Relations
Employment relations are affected by internal and external factors, internal being those that the organization can manage, while external factors are those that the organization has no control over, such as political and legal factors. The HR department affects employment relations in an organization because it is responsible for developing employment relation systems to attain positive relationships in the organization. The human resource is tasked with formulating policies that govern the relationships of an organization. However, the policies must be in tandem with legal and labor regulations. The political environment also affects employment relations through policies and regulations that arise from political bills passed into laws. Some of the laws cannot favor organizations as they lean towards employee protection (Aloisi and Stefano, 2020). Some of the legislation and policies favor flexibility in the workplace. Additionally, social factors such as pressure from society and labor bodies necessitate the adoption of positive employee relations to preserve the rights and freedoms of employees from exploitation.
Finally, industrialization is a current trend that affects labor relations (Van der Linden, 2019). Organizations offering positive employment relations attract more employees than those with stiffer relations. Moreover, organizations that implement this approach enjoy productivity and employee satisfaction.
In conclusion, employers will benefit more than employees from the utilization of flexible working practices. Workplace flexibility is rising as a current trend in human resource management and globalization. From the discussions, it can be concluded that organizations are the biggest winners of the flexible workplace employment model. Employees gain from improved social freedom, whereas employers gain from improved productivity, employee retention, employee attraction, and eventual customer satisfaction in their service delivery. However, the achievement of efficient and effective workplace flexibility calls for significant investment, capital, technology, and training. It is important to incorporate employment relations techniques at the workplace to help govern the relationships between employees and their employers.
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