Theories of Employment Relations
November 30, 2018
Author : Charles Hill

The world of industrial relations and human resource management is changing rapidly. What existed as the mere workplace is now surrounded by workplace laws, employment relations, and workplace relationships. Employer and employee bargaining has come down to the level of the firm due to new industrial relations. Consequently, the conduct of employment relations has become interesting. These developments are not only limited to the managers who deal with such issues but have affected the entire management body of the organizations.


What Is Employee Relation?

Happy employees always produce more than sad ones. The organizations always find ways to keep their employees happy and productive. For this, they adopt certain practices and keep the relationship between the management body and employees fruitful. This effort is called employee relations. As a result, in the industries of today, managers are required to place more emphasis on achieving a balance between the business objectives of the organization and employment relations. When you enter the professional world as a manager, one of your main duties to fulfil the modern requirements will be to think along new directions and to allocate the work better. You can do this in two ways –

  1. The first way is the one, where the manager uses his intuition and understanding to suggest new policies.
  2. The second one is where the manager uses frameworks and theories of employment relations to suggest policies.

What Are the Theories of Employment Relations? theories of employer relation

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The belief of this theory is that workplace conflict is not an inevitable characteristic of the relationship between the employee and employer. The employment relationship in the organization, in this theory, is a necessity for the survival of the organization. It is assumed that the conflict may periodically emerge between the employer and employee but it will only be a result of the anomalies in the normal operation and will tend to get cooperative at some point. The believers of the unitarism perspective see the managers and employees be working for the survival of the organization. So, the conflict rising to an extent where it dissolves the organization is highly unlikely. The differences in the organization are assumed to be due to –

  • Personality disorder
  • Wrong recruitment
  • Inappropriate promotion
  • Poor communication
  • Deviance of dissidents

To ensure that conflicts do not arise and disrupt the peaceful operation of the business, the management team should pay attention to removing the sources of conflict. The management should ensure that –

  • Recruitments are wise
  • The promotions are fair
  • Employees are aware of their areas of interests
  • Personality conflict-prone individuals are suppressed or dismissed
  • The organisation is established asa single source of authority

employment theory


The pluralist theory of industrial relations says that workplace conflict is inevitable.The key difference between the unitary and pluralist perspectives of employee relations is this assumption. This theory operates on the basis that business organizations are complex social structures that are made of various interest groups. Out of these interest groups, the management and the employees are two. From the nature of the factory system, the management and employees will always have different values and objectives in mind. As a result, there will be different points of authority in the organisation who will always be prone to conflict over the organization's tasks and allocation of rewards. When the inevitability of the conflict is identified and accepted, the believers of this perspective regard conflict as a healthy organizational activity. This is because, through conflict, the employees are sharing their grievances and bringing them to the surface instead of keeping it within. Also, when conflicts arise, the managers are given a stir to look for a new way of handling the issue ensuring the best results possible. The pluralists believe that when the managers acknowledge the existence of a competing authoritative source, like a trade union, the industrial-related issues are better addressed on a collective basis.

You don’t have to resolve conflicts like this. Mmmm, no. You have to be a responsible manager who will establish employment rules to reduce workplace conflict and promote fair outcomes by balancing the power of the managers as well.


The final one is the Marxist theory of employee relations. This makes up the 3 theories asunitarist, pluralist, and Marxist perspective on employee relations. This theory is based on the works of German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. This type of social analysis views class relations and social conflicts through the lens of the materialist interpretation of historical development. The theory says that class conflict arises in capitalist societies due to the conflict of material interests between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The proletariatis the oppressed class of wage laborers that are specifically employed to produce goods and services. The bourgeoisie is the ruling class that is the owners of the means of production and sucks the wealth through the profit that is made due to the work of the proletariat. The believers of Marxist theoretical perspectives of employment relations argue that capitalist societies are identified by the unending class struggle. This exploitation was further fuelled by capitalism and ruthless competition.As the investments grow, the pressure to increase profits and cut costs rises. As a result, the wages of workers went down and so did their numbers. The theories operating under this domain are – emplotyer theory The society that was formed was developed around the above political system of class-based value. This made the position of the capitalist class more dominant and authoritative. The working class, as a result, was made to believe their status as a false consciousness.

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About the Author

Charles Hill

Charles Hill

Charles writes blogs and articles for students who are facing problems with their management assignments. His articles have been featured on several websites. He has contributed to the academic enhancement of students from the University of New South Wales, Central Queensland University, Edith Cowan University, etc. He joined the team of My Assignment Services as a consulting expert and now is a full-time academic help provider. His expertise in the field of management covers topics like leadership management, human resource management, business management and several others. His blogs focus on solving the most complex of the queries and simplifying the processes.


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