Employer-Employee Communication

Case 5

Effective Communication Helps Foster Harmonious Employer-Employee Relationship and Increase Efficiency

Recently a construction company noticed that the work progress of a particular work site was slower than expected. To improve the efficiency of the site, the company set up a working group comprising of management and representatives of site workers.

The preliminary findings of the working group suggested that one of the factors affecting the work progress might be related to the persistent lateness of construction workers. A careful scrutiny and study of the attendance records confirmed that some of the workers were frequently late for work.

Instead of taking disciplinary actions instantly against the workers, the company agreed with the working group that the issue should be resolved through communication. The company worked with the site manager to talk to the workers and tried to understand the difficulties and problems they faced. At the same time, the company also explained to the workers the goals of the company and its stance on lateness.

The problem was eventually solved, with improvements in over 90% of the workers. After this incident, the employees understood the importance of two-way communication. That was why they would also express to the management their discontent about the company. And they were also ready to make suggestions to the management in improving work environment or efficiency.

Communication and Consultation

21. One of the most critical factors in the area of staff morale and motivation at work is that of employer-employee communication and consultation. Employees will generally perform at their best if they know the company, and understand its needs and aspirations. The setting up of effective communication channels enables employers and employees to understand each other’s needs, interests and difficulties and reach agreements which are most beneficial to both sides. In particular, employers should note that :

·         when dealing with changes in working practices, procedures or employment issues which affect employees, employers should be prepared to consult them;

·         it is also important to consult staff associations, in-house unions or other consultative committees if such exist; and

·         to be effective, employer-employee communication must meet the following requirements :

1.      support from top management and employees;

2.      information to be communicated should be objective, clear and concise;

3.      regular and systematic; and

4.     a two-way flow as to allow a free exchange of ideas.

Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures

22. The establishment and operation of grievance and disciplinary procedures can be of considerable assistance in reducing the likelihood of friction between employers and employees and in establishing and maintaining cordial relations.

23. To make sure that staff grievances and disciplinary cases are handled fairly and carefully, employers should :

·         lay down the company’s rules of conduct and the grievance and disciplinary procedures;

·         ensure that such rules and procedures are simple and clear, logical and fair, and known to all staff;

·         handle all staff grievances and disciplinary cases according to the established rules and procedures;

·         undertake the same investigation process in every case without discrimination;

·         communicate the result of an investigation to the employee concerned in a language he understands and in a speedy manner;

·         ensure that disciplinary rules and penalties are not contrary to provisions of the Employment Ordinance.

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