The Government claims to have conclusive evidence that employee relations are at their best in an environment where managers openly support unions.
DTI research from the Workplace Employee Relations Survey, to be published later this year, shows both managers and staff tend to perceive employee relations as good where managers are seen as supportive of union presence, competitiveness minister Alan Johnson told delegates.
Where support is absent, employees perceive relations as "weak or at best average", he said at a seminar entitled How Do Trade Unions Contribute Value in the 21st century? "The message is clear: there’s a tangible payoff to all concerned where employers recognise the legitimacy of union representation," he said.
A grudging or half-hearted approach to partnership simply wouldn’t work, he added.
"You as HR professionals have a key role in ensuring your organisation reaps the full benefits of partnership. What’s the point of the chief executive signing up to a partnership agreement if the middle managers won’t deal with the workers on a day-to-day basis and are unaware of the partnership advantages?"
Partnership was the way forward for employers struggling to manage change in the new economy, but it was not an easy road, transaction director of Nomura International Mike Kinski told delegates at the same seminar.
World class companies managed to facilitate change and achieve a balanced scorecard with all of their stakeholders, said Kinski, who was chief executive at Stagecoach Holdings and Scottish Power and personnel director at Jaguar Cars.