Unitarist View of Organizations
A unitarist or unitary modeling of organizations would view organizations as essentially co-operative. Within unitarist frameworks, work organizations are viewed as integrated and harmonious wholes. In the normal functioning of the organization, it is argued that there will be no conflict between members of the organization, regarding, either the overall aims of the organization or the means to achieve these aims. Within this frame of reference, then, it is assumed that all employees share a common interest, not only in the long-term survival of the organization, but also in its fortunes on a day-to-day basis.
Unitarist thinking is based upon an assumption of co-operation at work. The unitarist thinking is based on the assumption of unconditional co-operation between workers and management.
Conflicts in a Unitarist Organization
Conflicts in unitarist organizations come about in different forms. These conflicts are rationalized in terms of:
1. External Disruption of Shocks to the Organization
Some major event beyond the control of the management of an organization might cause some significant disturbance which would cause some damage to normal working practices, and perhaps to the goodwill enjoyed by management.
2. Breakdowns in Communication
According to unitarist thinkers, organizations are populated by people who are basically good and are spontaneously co-operative. However, unitarist thinkers also warn us that while these people will be willing to work diligently for the common good, they are not simple minded and if they were to feel that management were cheating them or not managing appropriately, the co-operative culture would begin to crumble.
3. Minor Breakdown in Understanding/Small-scale Politicking
Unitarist thinking is, perhaps best thought of as a management view of the world. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that in dealing with conflict, unitarism seems to have a feel for certain types of conflict within management. Thus a key source of conflict in organizations, as far as unitarists are concerned would be due to power struggles between different power bases within management.
4. Agitation and Malevolence
Agitation and malevolence are defined by supporters of unitarism as anything designed to disrupt the otherwise harmonious relationships which normally characterize the organization.
Human Rights and Social Justice continue to be valued in the workplace. Organizations and employers must learn to accept and effectively deal with employee pressures and demands:
- Pressures for self-determination - People increasingly seek greater freedom to determine how to do their jobs and when to do them. Pressures for increased employee participation in the forms of meaningful and challenging jobs, self-managed teams, and alternative work schedules continue to grow (Sims, 2003).
- Pressures for employee rights – People expect their rights to be respected on the job as well as outside work. These include the rights to individual privacy, due process, free speech, free consent, freedom of conscience, and freedom from racial and sexual discrimination and harassment (Sims 2003).
- Pressures for job security – People expect their security to be protected. This include their physical well-being in terms of occupational safety and health matters, and their economic livelihood in terms of some form of guaranteed protection against downsizing and provisions for cost-of-living increases (Sims 2003).
- Pressures for equal employment opportunity – People expect and increasingly demand the right to employment without discrimination on the basis of age, gender, ethnic background, religion, or physical or mental ability. Among these demands will remain a concern for furthering the modest but dramatic gains over the last two decades by women and minorities in the workplace ( 2003).
- Pressures of equality of earnings – People expect to be compensated for the comparable worth of their contributions. What began as a concern of earnings differentials between women and men doing the same jobs continues to be extended to cross-occupational comparisons ( 2003).
Fundamental Employee Rights
One right fundamental to the employee rights movement, according to (2003), is the right of the employees to fair pay, which is relevant in at least three contexts:
- Pay should be fair in an interpersonally comparative sense – Corporations have a duty to consider all employees equally.
- Pay should be fair in an interpersonally comparative sense – As an individual’s service to a corporation grows in length of time and in responsibility, he or she should receive comparatively more in the way of compensation.
- Minimum Wage – When an organization considers its employees as persons who deserve respect, the justification for a minimum wage should be clear. As persons have goals and interests, a certain minimum standard of living is required. An employee’s right to a minimum wage is recognition that the employee is a person, with goals and interests, and that the maximization of the shareholder wealth is not enough to justify the use of a person as a mere tool for profit.
Safety in the Workplace
Another fundamental employee right is safety in the workplace. Employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment and to make improvements when necessary, since failing to do so risks the well-being of the employees. The employer is also responsible in informing employees of certain risks that cannot be avoided, not doing so amounts to a deliberate attempt to mislead in an effort to hold labor costs ( 2003).
Due Process in the Workplace
All employees, as persons who have goals, must be afforded a certain degree of participation in the decision-making processes of their companies. When firings or demotions are necessary, employees ought to be informed about the reasons and perhaps even granted an appeal or hearing ( 2003).
Right to Privacy in the Workplace
This derives form the basic right to freedom, and at a minimum, this entails the right to be left alone, including the right to withhold for employers personal information that is not relevant to the job. Therefore, practices such as forcing employees to submit to polygraph tests are morally questionable. The employee’s inferior bargaining position with respect to available options makes her or him susceptible to exploitation (2003).
Employee Rights and Employer Responsibilities
Recruitment is the process of finding and attracting qualified applicants. Using recruiting methods that are cost effective, timely, and compliant with laws and regulations is essential to the success of any recruiting effort ( 1996). Recruitment is a complex and continuing process that demands extensive planning. EEO legislation has significantly impacted and continues to influence as organization’s recruitment activities. All recruitment procedures for each job category should be analyzed and reviewed to identify and eliminate discriminatory barriers ( 2002). The employer must observe and follow the following employee rights in the recruitment process:
Equal Employment Opportunity
Equal employment opportunity is the central part of the legal context of employment. The employer must have a clear and specific knowledge about the various laws and regulations that affect his/her organization. The employer should also understand the various forms of illegal discrimination and protected classes in the workplace. Furthermore, the employer must also be familiar with the various agencies that enforce equal employment legislation. EEO Laws, according to (2002) are one group of laws that affect HRM issues. Equal employment opportunity refers to the government’s attempt to ensure that all individuals have an equal chance for employment, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The employer in responsible for ensuring that the workplace is free from all forms of unlawful discrimination and harassment and providing programs to assist members of EEO groups to overcome past or present disadvantage. The employer must make develop workplace rules, policies and behaviors that are fair and do not disadvantage people that belong to particular groups. The employer should create a work environment where every employee is valued and respected.(2002)
EEO Fair Practices and Behaviour
The employer should follow EEO rules and regulations and aim to create fair practices and behaviour in the workplace. These include:
- Open, competitive and merit-based recruitment, selection and promotion procedures
- Equal employee access to training and development
- Flexible working arrangements that meet the needs of all employees and create a productive workplace
- Prompt, confidential and fair grievance procedures
- Access to information
- Listening to the views of the employees
- Unbiased management decisions
- No unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace
- Respect for the social and cultural backgrounds of all employees ( 2000).
Protection against Discrimination
Racial discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly because of his or her race, color, national or ethnic origin. Under the Racial Discrimination Act, it is unlawful to treat a person unfairly when he or she is seeking employment, training, promotion, equal pay or conditions of employment (2004). Direct sex discrimination occurs when a woman, on the ground of her sex, is treated less favorably than a man. Indirect sex discrimination consists of treatment which may be equal in a formal sense as between sexes but in practice discriminatory in its effect on one sex. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984, makes it unlawful to treat an employee unfairly because of the employee’s sex, marital status or because she is pregnant or might become pregnant. It is also unlawful to dismiss an employee because of his/her family responsibilities. The said act also makes sexual harassment against the law ( 2006).
It is a requirement for organizations to offer equal pay for equal work, regardless of the sex of the employee. Men and women performing the same job in the same location for the same employer must be offered the same pay, all other things being equal. The use of two job titles for what is essentially the same job as a pretext for paying one group less than the other is not permitted ( 2002).
All states have workers’ compensation laws in some form. Under these laws, employers contribute to an insurance fund to compensate employees for injuries received while in the job. These laws usually provide payments for lost wages, for medical bills, and for retraining if the employee cannot go back to the old job ( 2002).
Employers must discuss work-related issues with the employees. The employer must make time to listen to problems, ideas and goals of the employees. Employee participation builds on the idea of responsible autonomy by attempting to join the interests of workers and their employers. Participation schemes allow employees to take on more responsibility in the decision-making of job related issues (2001).
Many organizations around the world are increasingly being concerned with the development of family-friendly policies that help employees balance the demands of work and family. Many companies are already offering workplace flexibility. Flexible work arrangements include a range of options: flexible work schedules, compressed workweeks, job sharing, job exchanges, voluntary part-time work, phased retirement, telecommuting, and home-based work ( 2001).
Human Resources Development
The employer must ensure that employees have access to training and development programs in a nondiscriminatory fashion. Equal opportunity regulations and anti-discrimination laws apply to the training and development process. Determining whether a training program has unfavorable impact is a primary means of deciding if a process id discriminatory. If relatively few women and minorities are given training opportunities, it would appear that there is discrimination in terms of development offered to different groups of employees. Organizational training programs may be required for promotions, job bidding, or for salary increases. Under any of these scenarios, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that training selection criteria are related to the job. Equal training opportunities must exist for all employees ( 2002).
The psychological contract between employers and workers has changed. Yesterday, employee exchanged loyalty for job security. Today, employees instead exchange performance for the sort of training and learning and development that will allow them to remain marketable ( 2002). Career development is an ongoing, formalized effort by an organization that focuses on developing and enriching the organization’s human resources in light of both employees’ and organization’s needs.
The organization has primary responsibility for initiating and making sure that career development is offered. The organization’s responsibilities are to develop and communicate career options within the organizations to the employee. The organization must carefully advise an employee concerning possible career paths to achieve that employee’s career goals. The organization must supply information about its mission, policies, and plans and provide support for employee self-assessment, training, and development. Assessment of needs should take various approaches and should involve personnel from different groups, such as new employees, managers, minority employees, and technical and professional employees ( 2002).
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