Employee relations drives efficiency and efficiency is the primary objective of any business therefore employee relations is the basis of any economically prosperous business. Equity and voice are labour objectives, the relationship between the employer and the employee is built on the balance of efficiency, voice and equity. Efficiency refers to the effective utilization of scarce resources, equity describes the fairness of the working relationship, and voice provides the opportunity for employees to contribute towards business decisions. This relationship between employer and employee can be strengthened by mutual trust or destroyed due to the lack of trust, the lack of trust can have far reaching consequences and “When trust goes up, speed will also go up and cost will go down.” However, the opposite can also happen.
Global examples shows that trust can be destroyed within the blink of eye especially when introducing change that impacts the entire business without including the employees of that organisation in the design of the change. Excluding employees breaks the employee relationship with the company because it removes one of the three legs upon which employee relations is built namely “voice”. The company therefore loses the opportunity to proactively clarify the rationale behind the change as well as the new rules of engagement.
The good news is that not only can trust be rebuilt but it can be improved beyond the previous level. If companies are continuously going through change then it is vital that they work on the trust elements in the organisation. Several forms of trust will have to be evaluated and rebuilt in order to repair credibility, relationships, trust amongst business units, reputation, trust of the external community and equally important trust of employees.