IR strategies worksheet - DOC - Flexible Learning Toolboxes

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Performing a PEST and/or SWOT analysis can provide an effective means for weighing up the risks and benefits of a proposed change.

    Implement industrial relations



    The management team can choose from a variety of methods to ensure

    effective implementation of industrial relations strategies. Such methods

    include, among other things:

    ? analysing the risks involved in implementing the strategies and

    developing contingency plans for these

    ? implementing and/or complying with aspects of the Australian

    Workplace Relations Act 1996

    ? providing employees with the opportunity to access training and

    development to enable them to achieve their organisation’s goals.

    Key terms

    Australian Workplace Agreements

    AWAs; individual agreements made between an employer and a single

    employee. An alternative to common rule Awards, able to tailor terms and

    conditions for workers to link them to productivity gains for the particular

    workplace or industry

    Certified Workplace Agreements

    Collective agreements made directly between an employer and employees or

    between an employer and a union(s). An alternative to common rule Awards,

    able to tailor terms and conditions for workers to link them to productivity

    gains for the particular workplace or industry

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Contingency plan

    A fallback position should negotiations with employees over proposed changes break down.

    Grievance procedure

    A formal procedure that enables employees to know when and how to air their grievances.

    PEST analysis

    An examination of the influence of Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors on an organisation.

    SWOT analysis

    An examination of the impact that the Strengths and Weaknesses of an organisation, and the Opportunities and Threats it faces, have on the organisation and its future directions.

    Workplace culture

    The shared values and beliefs of the employees within a particular workplace. Developing an implementation plan

    Strong corporate culture and management support

    The ideal industrial relations situation is a strong corporate culture that actively supports the development of its employees. It is vital that management recognises the importance of its workforce.

    When the management team develops an implementation plan for the organisation’s industrial relations strategies and policies, it is important that the culture of the organisation is considered, culture being defined as the shared values and beliefs of the employees within that workplace. To successfully implement industrial relations changes, the management team needs to have the cooperation and support of the employees. In addition, it is essential that an implementation plan provides employees with the opportunity to access training and development to allow them to more easily adapt to the new policies.

    Management support, and especially support and leadership from the organisation’s CEO, is vital. Employees must know that their CEO is taking this matter seriously, and will encourage and reward employees who are

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    committed to implementing the policies and strategies contained within the industrial relations plan.

    The importance of communication

    It is vital that the plan and its aims are clearly communicated to all employees. They need to know what it contains and how it will directly affect them and the work they do. They also need to know the benefits that they will receive by committing to the implementation of the plan (eg greater flexibility in work hours, incentives such as bonuses for increased productivity, and greater career opportunities through access to training and development). Again, the CEO of the organisation needs to involve him or herself in this process. He or she should be the person, if possible, to communicate the new industrial relations policies of their organisation to all employees. The most common communication methods used by employers when

    introducing an AWA (Australian Workplace Agreement) are:

    ? individual discussions with employees ? regular formal meetings.

    Contingency plans

    All industrial relations implementation plans need to include contingency plans should negotiations with employees over proposed changes break down.

    Before entering into any negotiation, you need to assess the potential risks and benefits associated with the negotiation. Your contingency plan should identify these potential risks, and plan methods to reduce their impact on the organisation, its customers and other employees not involved. Risks and risk analysis

    Risk is defined by Robbins, Bergman, Stagg and Coulter (2000) Management, Prentice Hall Australia, pages 218-220) as those conditions in

    which a decision maker is able to estimate the likelihood of certain alternatives or outcomes associated with taking a decision. The probability of something happening is based on personal experience, historical data, trend analysis and educated guesse /intuition. Cost-benefit analysis flows from risk analysis.

    The ultimate risk regarding change is highlighted by Burnes, B. (2000) Critical perspectives on organisational theory, Managing change: A strategic approach to organisational dynamics, 3rd edn., Pearson Education:

    Essex, UK at page 253, where he outlines the research on the more popular

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    approaches to change such as Business Re-engineering and Total Quality Management. Burnes cites research which describes a very high failure rate (around 70 per cent) of the above two initiatives. Thus the first important risk to identify is that the chosen vehicle or driver for change may well fail. Having an alternative plan or being very sure of the introduction of either process is obviously worthwhile.

    In all decision making it is wise to include as many knowledgable and well informed people as possible to increase the potential of identifying good outcomes and risks. Once input is received from a cross section of stakeholders then an informed decision can be made. Also, by including others in the process it is more likely that there will be a commitment to the decision and making it a success than if it were taken in isolation. Performing a PEST and/or SWOT analysis can provide an effective means for weighing up the risks and benefits of a proposed change.

    Issues affecting plans

    When compiling a contingency plan, it is important to understand all the issues that may affect the success of these plans. These may include: ? past relationships with unions or parties involved in the negotiations

    ? the availability (if any) and willingness of staff to cover for other

    employees involved in industrial action. You may need to plan for a number of contingencies, such as:

    ? unpredicted staff shortages

    ? unpredicted levels of customer demands ? accidents and/or emergencies

    ? legal action taken during negotiations by staff (eg strikes or other forms

    of industrial action).

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Think about the organisation for which you currently work, or one for which

    you have previously worked, and reflect on the following.

    1. Did an industrial dispute occur?

    2. If no, was there the potential for an industrial dispute to occur?

    Now list the issues that managers may have included in a contingency plan to

    counteract the possible consequences of industrial action on their

    organisation, their customers and other employees not directly involved in

    the dispute.

    Industrial relations policies

    Industrial relations policies within the implementation plan may include:

    Industrial relations issues Proposed industrial relations solution in

    implementation plan Actual and desired level of worker Job restructuring productivity Reorganise workplace

    Analyse work practices

    Introduce technology accompanied by


    Provide training and development

    Greater involvement in decision making

    Actual and desired level of worker skill (eg Provide training and development

    technical knowledge) opportunities, including entry level training

    Provide incentives to employees to gain

    skills (eg bonuses, opportunities for career


    Encourage teamwork

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Industrial relations issues Proposed industrial relations solution in

    implementation plan Actual and desired level of training and Employ a qualified Training Officer development available to employees Budget allocates funds for training and


    Support by management for training

    Provide incentives to employees to access

    training (eg time spent training is paid for,


    Actual and desired level of conflict, such Increase the level of communication between as absenteeism, strikes and turnover employers and employees

    Formal grievance procedures

    Job enhancement programs

    Multiskilling, job-rotation programs Actual and desired level of opportunities Yearly performance reviews available to employees in the areas of Access to training and development (eg career progression supervisory skills)

    Training linked to job requirements and

    career paths

    Clear progression lines (eg through an

    organisational chart) Actual and desired level of flexible work Employment of part-time, casual employees arrangements to assist in providing greater flexibility

    Flexible rostering arrangements

    Flexible start and finish times

    Flexible arrangements to cater for individual

    needs (eg family, study commitments)

    Providing non-monetary compensation

    options for work outside ordinary working

    hours (eg time off in lieu) Agreements within the workplace

    Workplaces have a choice between two types of agreements:

    1. a Certified Agreement (or Collective agreement), which is made between

    employers and unions or employers and employees within a single


    2. an Australian Workplace Agreement, made between the employer and a

    single employee, or a group of employees.

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Worker priorities

    A report on Agreement Making in Australia under the Australian Workplace Relations Act 1996 says that Collective Agreements made within the private and public sector reflect the differing priorities of employees in each sector. Common to both sectors were provisions for hours of work. In the private sector, priority was given to concerns related to health and safety, type of employment and training. Public sector agreements focused more on training and personal/carers leave.

    Australian Workplace Agreements made with a group of employees tended to focus on issues such as occupational health and safety, type of employment and training. Workplace agreements between employers and a single employee focused in general on issues such as personal/carer leave, type of employment and annual leave.

    Common to both were provisions for hours of work. Types of employment provisions included many concerns already provided for within awards

    such as casual employment, contract labour and part-time employment

    again all designed to suit the individual needs of that workplace. Approximately 80 per cent of agreements certified in 2000 and 2001 contained at least one family friendly provision, including flexible hours provisions. The most common of these family friendly provisions were family/carers leave and part-time work.

    Many agreements covered issues of anti-discrimination and equal employment opportunity. Therefore, while employers are encouraged within Australia to develop agreements with their employees, other legal considerations such as anti-discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity, and provisions for redundancy must be taken into account.

    Survey results

    A survey conducted by the OEA in 2000 found three main reasons why employers had introduced an AWA:

    1. to increase flexibility

    2. to simplify employment conditions 3. to achieve better organisational outcomes. To generate positive outcomes, there needs to be a high degree of consultation between employees and employers when drafting an AWA, especially in the areas of improved productivity, management-employee relations and employee commitment.

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Benefits of agreements

    Some of the benefits attained by organisations after successfully introducing

    agreements, as documented by the Department of Employment, Workplace

    Relations and Small Business include:

    ? greater flexibility in scheduling and rostering

    ? certainty of staff costs over a defined time frame

    ? reduced levels of absenteeism and staff turnover

    ? reduction in overtime payments

    ? increased productivity from better-trained and motivated staff.

    Determining the type of agreement

    When considering which type of agreement to compile (either a Certified

    Agreement or an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA)), you must

    consider the specific needs of your organisation. Factors to consider include:

    ? whether the current award meets the specific needs of the organisation

    ? whether the employer needs to know the cost of labour

    ? the current levels of staff turnover AWAs need to be negotiated with

    each new staff member, Certified Agreements cover all new and existing


    ? issues of confidentiality AWAs are confidential documents, whereas

    Certified Agreements are public documents

    ? whether it is more advantageous for the organisation to tailor conditions

    for the needs of each employee as can be done under an AWA

    ? the importance of addressing workplace issues Certified Agreements

    allow for general policies to be collectively negotiated

    ? geographical location and time available Certified Agreements are

    approved by the Commission, AWAs are approved by the Office of the

    Employment Advocate (OEA) by contacting employers directly.

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Training and development

    Often for organisations to achieve their industrial relations strategies and

    eliminate their industrial relations gaps (ie actual and desired levels of worker productivity), employees need to be provided with the opportunity to access

    quality training and development programs.

    Possible training issues

    Each organisation should consider a range of training issues. Often you will

    need to consider the specific training and development needs of each section

    of the workforce within the company, for example the needs of the

    administration staff, factory employees, skilled craftspeople, and delivery

    drivers to name a few.

    Organisational commitments

    When considering the type of training to provide, you need to ensure that the

    following four important factors are recognised, supported and addressed:

    1. The introduction and encouragement of the learning process is an

    investment in your employees. The aim of training and professional

    development should be to increase capability and align skills to

    organisational needs.

    2. The knowledge required to meet your organisation’s goals and to satisfy

    your customers is identified. Then you can identify the steps required

    taken to acquire and develop the necessary skills. 3. The behaviours required for organisational success are defined. Then you

    can encourage and reward all employees (including supervisors and

    managers) who display these behaviours.

    4. Everyone within the organisation is committed to its mission and values. Training needs

    When examining the training needs of an organisation, consider the following:

    ? evaluate the existing skills of each employee or group of employees ? train in multiple skills/whole tasks select the best method for your


    ? literacy/numeracy is this training required?

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    ? links to national standards are there national standards on which your

    training can be based?

    ? training methodology should the organisation employ a training

    consultant, or should you train a team leader in each section to train new

    and existing employees?

    ? identify career paths link the benefits of training to possible career

    paths within the company.

    Employee benefits

    Employees will experience a wide variety of benefits after they have

    successfully completed training. However, it is important to stress that the

    training and professional development they receive should be both

    professionally delivered and relevant to their needs.

    An employee is more likely to willingly attend the training session if it is seen

    to benefit themselves. The range of benefits for employees who successfully

    participate and complete training include:

    ? recognition of current skills

    ? better and broader range of skills resulting in a multi-skilled employee

    this may directly result in increased levels of job satisfaction

    ? clear identification of career paths it is important to encourage

    employees to begin training by linking the results of training to potential

    advancement within the organisation

    ? training recognised nationally so skills are portable this can be achieved

    by using nationally recognised training packages within a registered

    training organisation such as TAFE, or private providers

    ? improved communication through better literacy/numeracy increasing

    the levels of literacy and numeracy also helps to increase a person’s

    morale and confidence

    ? higher morale through employers recognising the important contributions

    made by their employees, as a direct result of skills acquired through

    training and professional development.

    Employer benefits

    Employers will receive a wide range of benefits through the provision of

    quality, relevant training that is valued and recognised throughout the

    organisation. These benefits include:

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