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Tracey (1992) defines human resources as the people and staff that operate in an organization. Human resource management is the management of an organization’s employees (Armstrong, pp.73). It involves employment and arbitration in accordance with the law and with a company’s directives. Its features include organizational management, personnel administration, manpower management, industrial management, employee relations and staff supervision. In this paper, concepts of employee relations and staff supervision in companies will be discussed.

Staff supervision is the process of advising other staff officers and individuals subordinate to follow commands of the commanders plans and policies. It involves interpreting those plans and policies, assisting the subordinates in carrying them out, determining the extent to which they are being followed and advising the commander there of. An individual face to face meeting between a staff member and their manager or practice supervisor in a quiet space away from distractions and interruptions is applied. The frequency of supervision varies according to the level of seniority and experience of the supervisee and the type of work that they are undertaking with newly qualified social workers being seen more frequently than established and more experienced staff employees.  

All staff have a right to receive supervision and ensure that it happens and both the supervisors and supervisees need to understand supervision as a long term process that develops overtime as the relationship between them develops and that over the course of a period ensures that not only are all cases reviewed and directed as required, but that practice themes for individual practitioners are identified and addressed.

On the other hand, an employee relation is concerned with maintaining employer- employee relations that contribute to satisfactory productivity, motivation and morale. It is essentially concerned with preventing and resolving problems involving individuals who arise out of work and affect work situations. Employee relations cover issues such as development, negotiation and application of formal system of rules and procedures for collective bargaining, handling disputes, grievances and regulatory employment. It also covers formal and informal processes which take the form of continuous interactions between managers and their employees. Finally, employee relations involve bargaining structures, recognition of trade unions and procedural agreements and practices such as collective relations between employers and trade unions.

Advice is provided to supervisors on how to correct poor performance and employee misconduct (Macaulay's, pp.102). This involves consideration of progressive discipline and regulatory requirements in effecting disciplinary actions and in resolving employee grievances and appeals. Information is provided to employees to promote a better understanding of management goals and policies and to assist them in correcting poor performance, on or off duty misconduct and to address personal issues that affect them in the work place. They are advised about applicable regulations, legislation and bargaining requirements. They are also advised about their grievances, appeal rights, discrimination and whistle blower protections.

Background and history of staff supervision and employee relations

Staff supervision and employee relations are dated back in the 20 th century in Britain during the voluntarism period of collective Laissez faire according to Awing (1998). By 1939, collective industry bargaining at different levels was established in many sectors and by 1960s the state got concerned with issues of low productivity, inflation and role of unions. Until 1997, there has been a restrictive law on free market ideology and new right policies enhancing strong employee relations. These developments have continued up to the present day with high growth of individual employment rights and differences in employee relations due to differences in staff discrimination.

The topic of staff supervision and employee relations is relevant to managing staff since it is through this that the managing staff ensures that front line work  of good quality and consistent with local and national guidance is provided. It provides support to staff undertaking work that is demanding and stressful. Employee relations and staff management also gives both parties time to focus on aspects dealing with the company hence high yields.

Examples of programmes within companies utilizing employee relations and staff supervision include support and management programmes as seen in the MIG bank in Switzerland and ethical management programmes as seen in the HCBC bank in the United Kingdom.

The positive effects of these applications include the fact that these practices lead to high performance work practices. This is due to the fact they diminish employee turnover hence increase productivity. They also increase financial performance of the company by improving employee knowledge, skills, abilities, motivation and engagement. Good employee relations may lead to reduced or no conflicts between workers.

Through staff supervision and employee relations, there is increased stress on the side of the employees since the work processes are intensified. Managers can lose power through the devolved decision making and flattened hierarchies of high performance work practices. Company ownership and corporate governance is geared towards short term results and this might mean that change initiatives may be abandoned after limited implementation fails to deliver measurable results. It is argued that the levels of trust and cooperation required by high performance work practices may be difficult to achieve and maintain. Time and resources are also highly wasted during staff supervision whereby the employer might keep on following staff employees especially new and recently recruited ones.

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Regulations, ethics and social responsibility

Several acts and regulations apply specifically to government contractors in the U.S. Numerous executive orders require that employers holding several government contracts should not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, religion, national origin and sex. An executive order was issued by the president of the U.S to provide direction to government departments in a specific area. The U.S civil rights act of 1991 requires employers to show that an employment practice is job related for the position and is consistent with business necessity.

Equity is one of the ethical aspects of staff supervision and employee relations. This provides an environment of equal opportunity free from discrimination, abuse or exploitation. All people are to be treated fairly. Justice as an ethical issue deals with power sharing and prevents the abuse of power. All members should be able to access opportunities that allow for their participation in that company.

Respect of employees and employers involves the right to be honoured and prevented. It empowers others to claim their rights and achieve their potentials. Respect for the rights of other people is the bases on which individuals become members of a community and accept their social responsibilities to behave with integrity.

Personal and professional responsibility which requires not only that people avoid doing harm to others but that they exhibit some sense of courtesy in upholding their standards is an ethical issue. Civic virtue and citizenship requires that the employers and employees respect people’s diversity and their cultures.

Safety and health provides and monitors safe working places (Rostow, pp.67). All activities are required to be properly planned and conducted in accordance with legislation and relevant standards to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all. The persons who organize and conduct activities should keep up to date knowledge of safety and health matters while ensuring that the appropriate resources and processes for eliminating risks from hazards are in place. Environmental protection is an ethical issue when it comes to human resource management. The environment should be conserved in relation to environmental laws and standards.

However, some practices are not considered ethical due to the fact that some managers believe that ethics is a matter of religion since it involves a great deal of preaching with the good guys preaching to the bad guys. Ethical issues in employee relations are also considered superfluous since most of the times they assert the obvious is that the point of “doing good”. Also too much business ethics is termed irrelevant by managers since it avoids real life complexities in leading organizations and has little practical relevance of managing ethics in the work place.

Social responsibility deals with corporate self regulation. It functions as a self regulating mechanism whereby the company monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards and international norms. It aims at embracing responsibility for the company’s actions and encouraging a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, stakeholders and the public (Saether and Aguilera, pp.79). 

A company having social responsibility as a priority can apply this information by promoting public interest through encouraging community growth and development. Risk management should also be carried out by voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public. Ethics training can also be important to help employees in making decisions. The company should also provide social awareness and education to its employees and follow the laws and regulations as stipulated by the government so as to conduct itself more responsibly. Management should implement relevant programmes and practices so as to enhance employee relations within the company and also enhance job satisfaction of their employees.

Managers should communicate effectively. They should have a good and prompt communication system. They should maintain a two-way communication between them and the employees. Managers should also build trust and respect in their employees by always keeping their words. They should be open to any and all suggestions in the work place and should always involve the employees in decision making. Managers should create a constructive attitude by accepting workers as equal partners.

They should always openly praise the employees when good work is done since these motivates the employees and encourages them to be more hard working. Managers should lead by example and should always put an instant stop to any gossip, tattling and in-house fighting. Managers should also provide a relaxed laid back environment where the employees are happy and comfortable in. Ethical management programmes and practices enhancing job satisfaction should be implemented for the long term longetivity and stability of the company.

To ensure that the desired results are achieved, the company should ensure that there is effective communication of information in the company. Managers should communicate effectively on what needs to be done to reduce the chances of misinterpretation and misunderstanding (Duhe, pp.45).

The company should also practice employee motivation through rewards for good work, recognition and provision of incentives. Employer- employee disputes should be always resolved using methods such as mediation, fact finding and interest based negotiations which are more efficient and effective. Face to face contact with the employees at least once a week should be encouraged in the company.

There should be clear cut policies and procedures in the company. The company should also put strong emphasis on business ethics. Employees should know that rules in the business are there not just for some arbitrary reason but because the employer and manager value doing things the right way.

Managers should not bully the employees or gossip them. They should not ostracize the employees by pointing out their weaknesses or failings to the public. They are not supposed to take full credit when the team does well and only point out at employees when they go wrong. They should never place unrealistic expectations on employees before asking them whether they are capable of certain duties (Sennett, pp.102). Managers should never develop a spy network of having employees spy on each other. They should also avoid dating their employees since this disrupts the remaining team and leads to bickering and in-house fighting’s.

The impact of implementing these recommendations on the company would be optimum performance from the employees leading to high production and improved standards. It would also minimize unnecessary conflicts within the company employees and ensure that the company objectives are being met. To the employees, it improves co-operation between them and their employers, enables them to play a part in decision making and keeps them informed of decisions that affect them. To the customers, high quality services are made available.

The topic of employee relations and staff supervision is very important since it informs about the role employees play in organization. The concept is often seen by practitioners in the field as a more innovative view of workplace management whose techniques force the managers of an enterprise to express their goals with specificity so that they can be understood and undertaken by the workforce and to provide the resources needed for them to successfully accomplish their assignments. It is therefore clear that when human resource management techniques are properly practiced, they are expressive of the goals and operating practices of the enterprise as a whole. Supervision is of high importance to the staff members since it is through supervision that they become to get to know their responsibilities and rules clearly and also receive support while carrying out their work.

The benefits which result when companies implement successful programmes include the fact that staff are professionally challenged and developed; helps build their social work career and helps them to improve the quality of their work. Managing staff uses these programmes in employee development and performance appraisal since they provide information on reports, case files and any projects or activities that any given employee is responsible for.

Successful management programmes also enable the management team to monitor the progress of any work. Staff managers are assisted to recognize and change potential problems such as staff burn out before they become actual problems.  Service objectives of the company are also easily met and risks are reduced. High productivity is also as a result of successful programmes being implemented.

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