Company partnerships with employees are way forward

Willmott reports from the Anuman 2001 conference on employee relations where
employers and trade unions gave ringing endorsements to partnership

creation of effective partnerships between employers and their staff can play a
key role in improving bottom-line performance. This was the message from HR
managers and employers speaking at the Anuman 2001 conference, in London, who
told delegates that involving employees in business objectives and
decision-making paid financial dividends.

Thom, employee relations manager for BP, said that the firm had learned a lot
about effective consultation with its employees through its plans to change its
rescue and recovery system for staff on its off-shore oil platforms.

had proposed to replace the existing standby vessels, which are in a constant
state of readiness to respond to people falling into the water from one of the
platforms, with a combination of platform-based search and rescue helicopters
and rescue craft.

a result of extensive consultation with employee representatives on BP’s
business unit forums, shortcomings in the proposal were highlighted and the
trial period for the new system was extended. Thom said, "We are trying to
build a culture based on employee involvement and participation.

is a tremendous investment in terms of time but we really believe that
involving the work force is essential to delivering our business objectives and
also to recruiting and retaining the right people".

importance of staff consultation was also emphasised by the experience of
McVitie’s Tollcross factory in Glasgow.

Wileman, the factory’s general manager, told the conference production had been
increased and absenteeism reduced following the adoption of a partnership
agreement at the plant.

was achieved through a project called the Resolve Process, which initially
involved three two-day off site meetings between seven union representatives
and seven managers. This gave employees the chance to put across their concerns
and also demonstrated that there was a real desire among staff to be more
involved in the business.

group surgeries, which ensure staff are consulted about decisions that effect
them, were subsequently established and have become a formal part of the
factory’s communication process.

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