The Unconventional Guide To Industrial Relations

As we head towards the midway point of 2018, it is becoming clear that we need to adopt a different approach towards industrial relations.

If we don’t, history is bound to repeat itself.

While this article is may not have all the answers, it has been written to start the conversation on how we can improve industrial relations.

Start With Open Book Management

With everyone feeling like they are being treated like mushrooms, now is the perfect time to do things differently.

Open book management (OBM) is defined as empowering every employee of an organisation with required knowledge about the processes, adequate training and powers to make decisions which would help them in running a business. It is all about team work and moving forward collectively.

Doing this will show your employees that you value them enough to be open and transparent with them.

Ditch The Degrees

This is a pet peeve of mine, and one that needs to be thrown in the bin.

That is the requirement of those working in IR to have a law, or HR degree.

What is it exactly that requires a degree, and can’t be taught through on the job training? You don’t even need a degree to appear in the Fair Work Commission.

Spend the time to find people who can empathise with your staff, rather than those who have a spiffy piece of paper.

If you can find people who can find, respond to, and manage any challenges in the workplace, that has to be worth more to the business than a degree.

Understanding The Fair Work Act

This course is aimed at those who are new to industrial relations such as a business owner or newly promoted manager. Proving an overview of the act, the course covers the essential areas of: National Employment Standards; Modern Awards; Record Keeping; Terminations; and more Find out more

Ignore The IR Club

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

– Verbal Kint “The Usual Suspects”

There are some who will tell you that the IR Club doesn’t exist, while the repeat some of us and them comment.

How do we do this?

First of all, ditch the adversarial views on IR.

If something crops up, make it a win/win situation, not one where the minimum as per law is done.

Remember, to the IR Club, you are only a piece on their checkers board.

The more problems they create, the more you will need to be a member, and seek their help.

Give Your Employees More Power And Responsibility

in conjunction with adopting an Open Book Management approach, comes the next step of helping them to start their own enterprise association.

An enterprise association is effectively a ‘local union’.

This means for you as an employer is that you will be dealing with your own staff. Not a representative from a 3rd party who is uses everything that you do as a tool to recruit new members and retain the current ones.

It also means that when it comes to agreement time, that there won’t be unsustainable pay increases on the table. Which you will have to agree to, otherwise you will be faced with industrial action.

An enterprise association will also empower your staff to look after any issues that crop up, themselves, rather than seeking the help of a third party.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

if you have hired the right sort of person, to fill a management vacancy, then they should be able to spot any challenges before they become a problem or issue.

A proactive manager is out there on the floor, talking to their staff, not at them.

They show a genuine interest in anything they are told.

Sadly, this skill isn’t something that is taught at university. Though those managers who have an understanding of what “selfless leadership” is, do this naturally.

Sure, fighting with the unions may have been fun in the past, though there shouldn’t be any need for it today.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
– Albert Einstein

Now is the time, while things are relatively calm, to put the practices in place that will ensure our future survival.