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Employee Relations

Employee Relations

Traditionally, employee relations competences revolve around collective bargaining, negotiation, conflict resolution, arbitration, and mediation. The future requires demonstration of leadership in organizations, knowledge management, change management, understanding the business’ strategic imperatives, application of talent management policies and plans for implementing strategic communications (Berman & Bowman, 2015). This paper utilizes the term ‘competence’ with respect to knowledge, skills and abilities for professional, occupational or functional performance. The study does not disregard the significance of other personal attributes including ethical behavior, effective communication, strategic thinking and integrity among others, but focuses on competences that can be acquired through teaching, learning and experience-knowledge, skills and abilities. Upon looking into the need for knowledge, skills and abilities as well as a case study, this study will, therefore, answer the following discussion questions;

  1. What are the prerequisites of human relations competencies?

  2. Is there need to shift from the existing models of human relations competencies?

Need for knowledge, skills and abilities

Human relations (HR) competences require that knowledge is optimal. This form of knowledge can be basic, intermediate or advanced. It is more desirable for a professional to have an intermediate to advanced level of knowledge with respect to labor statutes, human rights, change management, union perspective, and conflict resolution (Ulrich, 2013). Skills are useful for drafting contract language, arbitration advocacy, change management, conflict analysis, collective bargaining, grievances settlement and negotiations. Abilities are significant in interest arbitration, models of negotiation, rights arbitration, union-management relations, grievance processing and mediation, collective bargaining, investigations and strategic handling of grievances.

Given the need for such knowledge, skills and abilities, the following competencies are deduced;

  1. Collective bargaining

This competence requires intermediate and advanced knowledge. It is concerned with the ability to comprehend the fundamental factors of interest, skills for drafting contractual language and preparation and participation in collective bargaining (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014).

  1. Labor management relations

The competence displays an employee’s kills for change management and knowledge of management or union perspectives. It also highlights the ability for comprehension and application of best practices in committees and meetings relevant to labor (Cornfield, 2013).

  1. Daily collective agreement management

This competence deals with the knowledge in designing and management of dispute resolution procedures as well as conflict resolutions. The abilities postulated therein include utilization of grievance mediation, strategic handling and processing of grievances and utilizing models of negotiation (Armstrong & Taylor, 2014). It also employs the skills for settling grievances, dispute resolution, and negotiation.

  1. Relevant jurisprudence and legislation

Here, it is required that the human relations professional are eloquent with existing health and safety requirements, human rights codes, employment standards, labor codes among others (Countourings, 2013). The professional must also have the abilities to oversee investigations and fact-finding procedures, comprehension and application of human rights concepts and labor relations policies.

  1. Enforcement of collective agreement

The competence tests the knowledge and abilities in the interpretation of collective agreements and application of best practices and principles regarding progressive disciplines. It also highlights arbitration skills and application of best practices and key concepts in rights arbitration (Countourings, 2013).

Case study: Google Company

While most companies are still operating under the 20th century HR, which is largely based on relationships, Google has shifted towards a data-driven Human relations function (Alexander, 2015). The company’s management has realized that alongside Research and Development, resource allocation and marketing, employees play a significant role in decision-making since such processes are carried out by the employees. The data were driven and analytical model ensures that employees are up to date with all necessary knowledge, skills and abilities needed for various tasks. This has placed Google at a competitive edge; every employee generates revenues up to $1 million annually and corresponding $200,000 profits (Google Inc., 2015).

With respect to collective bargaining, Google has the best policies; employees enjoy up to 100,000 hours of subsidized massage, horse-shoe pits, wellness centers, indoor roller-hockey rinks, 20% free time, free food, high salaries among other fun-based activities (Alexander, 2015). This enables the company to retain its employees upon recruitment. Initiatives by Google, such as PiLab, have placed them in the spotlight concerning jurisprudence and legislation. The subgroup caters for employee wellbeing and productivity such as reduction of calorie intake using scientific data. The company is also committed to provide proper working conditions and safe supply chains. Using a person-centered approach, Google follows the standards of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations Human Rights and Business Guiding Principles and Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition Code of Conduct as well as the company’s internal principles (Google Inc., 2014). All the mentioned competencies, alongside many others by Google, are contained in the company’s supplier code of conduct, which has five major segments namely labor, health, and safety, environmental, ethics and management systems.


This paper answers the discussion questions by the provision that knowledge, skills, and abilities are prerequisites for HR competencies; and finds it necessary to shift from the existing HR competencies models. The shift from the traditional competencies of HR is significant in attending to the current diversified labor force. Using approaches like Google’s data-based and analytical HR ensures that the professionals in the field are equipped with the relevant knowledge, skills and abilities. The organizational culture and policies cater for other competencies regarded to as personal attributes such as communication techniques. In essence, an organization that does not provide competence in HR cannot select, recruit and retain competent employees. As such, it is imperative that organizations shift from traditional approaches towards more competent approaches fit for the 21st century.


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Berman, E. M., Bowman, J. S., West, J. P., & Van Wart, M. R. (2015). Human resource

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