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Organizational Justice, the new name for Employee Relations

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 27, 2021 - 12:00am

If the new name for recruitment and hiring is Talent Acquisition, and the new tagline for Training is Learning and Development, and Total Rewards is the new buzzword for Compensation and Benefits, then we have christened what we used to call Employee Relations or Employee Engagement as Organizational Justice.

There are four pillars of Organizational Justice: Employee Engagement, Employee Alignment (Employee Discipline), Conflict Management (Grievance Handling), and Dispute Resolution (handling of labor cases). Employee Engagement includes the proactive bonding and building of relationships among the people inside an organization, activities outside of work, like field trips, sports activities, family day, team building, as well as yoga and zumba sessions. These are designed to make managers, supervisors, and team leaders interact with rank-and-file employees and build friendships and collaborations among them. By doing non-work activities together, these people across levels and ranks are expected to know each other's strengths and areas for development. What is more, they can identify common traits and thus build windows for cooperation, understanding, and mutual respect.

Employee Alignment is what we formerly called employee discipline, which was hated because it was equated to investigations and punishments. There is a big shift from strictly legalistic to hybrid legal and behavioral approaches. Alignment focuses first on the preventive and proactive approaches, like amending the code of employee alignment, conducting classroom and on-the-job orientation sessions and re-orientation meetings concerning the code. Then in case of deviations, conducting the due process procedures, and administering the sanctions with post facto remedial interventions like counselling, mentoring, and coaching. What matters most here is behavioral modification, not the imposition of penalties, much less firing of important human capital.

Conflict Management is what was called Grievance Handling before. This includes the processing and resolutions of conflict within the organization, without going to the DOLE, the NLRC, the courts, or the police. This is listening to people and hearing what are the issues that are bugging them, what hinders their work and what irritates their interactions with others, with superiors or with subordinates, peers, or customers. These are means to hear the problems confronting the employees. It is about wages and benefits, the manner of supervision by their immediate superiors, the nature and volume of work, and the behavior of others. Solutions should be sought through dialogue, not confrontations, consultation and debate. If this function succeeds totally, there will be nothing left to the next function.

The next function is Dispute Resolution. This is the industrial relations component of Organizational Justice, to be done usually by lawyers, whether in-house or external. These are review and preparation of documents, including position papers, contracts, memorandums, and formal resolutions of conflicts. These include appearances before DOLE, NCMB, NLRC, Voluntary Arbitrators and Labor Arbiters. It also includes preparation of appeals to the Office of the DOLE Secretary, NLRC, and petitions before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. These are highly technical matters, which are better left to experts. Not all lawyers are competent on labor laws and HR. Law, like medicine, is now very specialized: there are criminal lawyers, civil lawyers, corporate lawyers, tax lawyers, intellectual property lawyers, and labor and industrial relations lawyers.

This coming February 4 and 5, here in Cebu, the Twin Summit on Organizational Justice and Total Rewards will be attended by a thousand HR professionals and practitioners. The speakers come from the Americas, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific. If you own a business or are HR and labor lawyers and professionals, you should not miss this big event. Join the best and the most reliable resource persons as they discuss the latest in labor law and HR.

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