Good employer-employee relations are crucial to a successful business. Any problems in this regard should be addressed immediately, or production may suffer.
The employment relationship between the employer and the employee is based on trust, integrity, mutual benefits and respect. Each workplace is a unique environment and should be evaluated accordingly in terms of labour relations. People are diverse, and not all employees have the same ethical values and work ethos. The employer has the responsibility to balance all these differences and create an environment that promotes the profitability and sustainability of the business.
Any activity that negatively affects the relationship of trust between the employer and the employee is serious. Negativity in the workplace can easily spread and affect other employees, to the detriment of the business as a whole. Employers should be alert to the red flags that warn of possible underlying problems in labour relations. Early red flags are usually identified by a change in an employee’s normal conduct and behaviour.
• Refusal to sign an employment contract
When an employment relationship starts off with an employee refusing to sign the contract, it is clear that problems are imminent. This is a clear sign of differences or a misunderstanding between employee and employer.
An increase in misconduct by an employee, such as insolence, fighting, theft or other unacceptable conduct.
Absence from the workplace can be due to transport problems, personal finance issues, undisclosed medical conditions, or plain misconduct. Whatever the reason, absenteeism more often than not indicates an underlying problem.
• Decreased productivity
A decrease in quality and/or quantity can quickly escalate to a serious concern, but can also indicate a lack in skills and training.
• Workplace conflict
Conflict in the workplace is often ignited by emotions, favouritism or discrimination, differences in opinion, culture, religion or a variety of other factors related to diversity in the workforce.
• Take care to appoint the right person from the start. Take the time to contact previous employers and involve other workplace managers during the interview and selection process. The labour environment in South Africa is highly regulated with regard to the termination of the employment relationship. • Implement a written employment contract. The written particulars of employment in the form of an employment contract creates clarity and certainty between employer and employee and diminishes the risk of disputes arising from these terms and conditions.
An employment contract is the employer’s most powerful tool for managing labour relations. The term and conditions of a verbal agreement cannot always be proven.
NEGATIVITY CAN EASILY SPREAD AND AFFECT OTHER EMPLOYEES
• Communicate clearly and often. Lack of communication between employer and employee is one of the greatest problems in South Africa’s labour environment. Clear rules and guidelines in the workplace ensure that friction and misunderstandings are kept to a minimum, which in turn promotes productivity and a positive working environment.
• If disciplinary action is required, focus on progressive discipline. This should involve taking reasonable steps to change or correct the behaviour of an employee through systematically issuing warnings and holding consultations.
It is important to deal with issues in the workplace as quickly and effectively as possible, while taking care to act objectively and consistently. Labour risk is a major business risk. To ensure the sustainability and profitability of your business, you need to manage this risk proactively, following the correct procedures. Failure to do so can lead to a severe financial setback.