“Industrial Relations” and “Human Resource Management”

“Industrial Relations” and “Human Resource Management”

Compare and Contrast “Industrial Relations” and “Human Resource Management” With the rapid pace of globalization, economic development and the more fierce competition among enterprises, the environment of employment is becoming more and more complex than in the past. The companies, no matter private or state-owned ones, have realized the significance of human resources which is the source of social wealth and plays a decisive role in its creation. The essay is concerned about comparing and contrasting the key features of “human resource management” and “industrial relations”.

In the academic fields, human resource management and industrial relations are boasting some differences as well as the similarities. And the consolidation trend of human resource management and industrial relations is in progressing. The author is attempting to illustrate the comparison and contrast between human resource management and industrial relations by analyzing their definitions, aims, assumptions, and the standpoints or the angles of carrying out actions. At the last part of the essay, some similarities between HRM and industrial relations are proposed in a basic way.

Human resource management differs from industrial relations. In the first place, the focus of each definition varies from each other. Human resource management focuses on the employers who are seeking competitive advantages of the enterprise. They utilize quantities of strategies concerning corporation culture, structure and employees to realize the development of workforce. As a result, the employees tend to be more committed and capable and the effectiveness and efficiency are achieved, making the company profits larger and larger.

That is to say, human resource management is of more strategic importance, focusing on the full plan and attention of the management teams and senior executives. In the contrast, the regulation, control, governance of work and the employment relationship are the main focuses of industrial relations, which is drawing on the views of economics, politics, sociology, law and history. The rules and disciplines are generated to govern the performance and behavior in the workplace, which are to reduce the uncertainty in the human resource management. That is to say, uman resource management puts more focus on the proper balance between the employer and employees and industrial relations acts for helping to relieve the conflict between the two parts. Secondly, the aims of human resource management and industrial relations are different in some way. The former one is conducted in order to satisfy the organizations’ needs for human resources as much as possible, to assist the sustainable development of the organization, and to expand and raise the quality of workforce. The ultimate aim is to enhance the efficiency, the commitment of the workforce and the outcomes of the organization.

Since the operators and managers are responsible for the capital, the human resource management strategies and practice are consistent with the capital and involve the stakeholders. And in an ideal way, highly-performed human resource management is conducted to balance the interests of organization and the benefits of the workforce, which is regarded as a win-win situation in some previous research. On the other hand, the goals of industrial relations are achieving efficiency, realizing justice (benefits of workforce) in workplace. The equity, productivity and voice are all outcomes connected with the purposes of industrial relations.

Someone may argue that human resource management is also concerned with the benefits of labors since lots of strategies of human resource management do exert good effects on labors’ benefits. However, realizing labors’ benefits, can be a motivation and rewards to the higher commitment of the labors producing much more productivity, is only considered as a tool or mean assisting the human resource management to achieve more interests of the organization, which is different from the exact goal of industrial relations which seems to be more pure or direct.

Thirdly, human resource management assumes that the conflicts between employer and employees are not unavoidable and the authority of management is necessary to the organizational effectiveness and efficiency. Under this presumption, the employers believe that the possible occurrence of unsatisfied situations and the conflicts can be minimized by their strategy, applying their management authority in a planned way. Usually, the human resource management strategies are concerned with recruitment, training, pay and so on.

For example, when the manager of a call centre is selecting personnel of customer services representatives, he would prefer people who are communicative and have a positive character. And after that, training system is carried into practice to ensure those customer services representatives more professional in taking the customers’ phone call. The training is provided to standardize the process of calls such as the proper call length and the max abandoned calls rate. And the performance-based pay and bonus system can also be an incentive or motivation for the commitment of the workforce.

These human resources management methods are all trying to avoid the dissatisfaction of the labors and achieving the ideal outcomes at the same time. But on the other hand, industrial relations assume that the conflicts are not avoidable, making it necessary for a third part to get involved. It reveals the inter connections among the company (the employer), the workforce, the sector, the labor union and the national regulatory framework, also extending the employee representation to express the employees’ voice. What’s more, the industrial relation is one of the factors that influence human resource management.

The policies and the bargaining part can bring some effects on the management of human resources. Furthermore, human resource management and industrial relations are different in the standpoints and angles looking at the issues of employment and the relevant academic research. Human resource management uses an internal point of view analyzing the activities inside the organization. Managers belong to the organization and they design the human resource management strategies inside it, which is an inner side and vision towards the employment issues.

On the other hand, an external point of view is applied in the industrial relations function. A third party (such as labor union) or the employment policy exists outside the organization, examining the behaviors and solving the problems or conflicts inside the organization in a different angle. Apart from the above four differences between human resource management and industrial relations, there are several similarities in a basic way. These two academic areas are both dealing with the issues of employment and workplace.

From the human resource management strategies to the policies protecting the rights of the workforce, they are crucial to business success and the benefits of the labors, which may have influence on each other. Moreover, the trade union and the government policy are also the common matters that human resource management and industrial relations are dealing with, though the latter one is much more closely related to. And each of them is involved with a variety of disciplines, such as sociology and economics, making them more closely in academic fields.

To sum up, from the above comparison and contrast of variety of aspects, the fields of human resource management and industrial relations are boasting some differences (the first part) and common features ( the second part), helping us to develop a deeper understanding of them. There is no denying that as time goes by, these two fields are adjusting to the changing market situation, technology and the development of society. The author is looking forward to exploring more about human resource management and industrial relations.

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