Strengthening the Employment Relationship

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Executive Summary

Modern companies acknowledge the need to improve employment relationships. There are many approaches and strategies that can be used in this regard. However, the basic idea is that engaged workers are expected to show commitment to their job and to help the company achieve its goals. The key findings discussed in this report focus on three key areas. First, strategies for enhancing employee involvement and engagement can be developed by considering the key requirements for worker engagement. In this case, job characteristics and symmetrical communication are the proposed strategies. Second, communication approaches for enhancing employee voice are discussed, where the emphasis is on open and direct communication systems. Lastly, digitization and informal learning are the major considerations for training and development. The company selected for benchmarking is Apple, Inc., one of the world’s largest producers of tech gadgets. In this case, the benchmarking seeks to use Apple as an example of successful employee engagement. Key recommendations for the company have also been offered, including reciprocating the commitment shown by their workers and building a trusting relationship with their employees.


The major aim of human resources (HR) managers is to create a high-performance workforce that gives a firm a competitive edge. This objective is achieved through the various HR function, including the acquisition, retention, and development of employees (Hook and Jenkins, 2019). However, these functions need to be supplemented by other HRM strategies and techniques in such areas as building relationships with workers. According to Banfield, Kay, and Royles (2018, p. 227), engaged workers are fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their jobs, which means that their actions are geared towards the pursuit of organizational interests. The focus of this report is to develop an HRM proposal that focuses on strengthening the employment relationship. First, the development of strategies and techniques for enhancing engagement and involvement are outlined. Second, communication approaches for assisting greater employee voice are outlined, alongside the benefits for workers and their employers. Lastly, training and development considerations for enhancing the understanding of managers’ and employees’ roles and responsibilities are discussed. Apple, Inc. is used across all these objectives for benchmarking purposes.


Strategies and Techniques for Employee Engagement and Involvement

The HRM function is responsible for developing the necessary strategies and techniques for enhancing employee involvement and engagement. According to Banfield et al. (2018, p. 229), the 21st century is an era of employment relations that differs unrecognizably from the 1970s and 1980s. Today, all companies acknowledge the role of engagement and involvement, especially after studies reveal the need for building good employment relations. For example, Osborne and Hammoud (2017) state that disengaged workers cost the United States companies an estimated $350 billion annually. Developing strategies and techniques will require an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the concept of employee engagement. For example, such scholars as (Rabiul et al., 2021, p. 2) highlight that the job characteristics theory hints at three psychological conditions that boost engagement: psychological availability, meaningfulness, and safety. In this case, the HR manager examines the psychological aspects of a job and uses them to facilitate engagement. For example, modern workers are keen to undertake jobs that give them meaning, while others focus on occupational safety. Therefore, job design and job security can become critical techniques for worker engagement.

Job security can also be approached from a cognitive-behavioral theory. In this case, job insecurity tends to trigger negative responses that manifest themselves in several ways. First, experiencing job insecurity leads to workers perceiving the job as meaningless. Second, there is no intrinsic motivation to handle the job insecurity and, lastly, such negative responses as job or engagement reduction are experienced (Yu, Gong, and Wu, 2020, p. 3). Overall, job security can be used as a framework for developing tools and strategies for improving engagement. This means that the first step is to make the job desirable for workers that the employer seeks to retain. However, the mechanisms by which engagement takes place have not been outlined by the aforementioned job characteristics theory. Therefore, basic assumptions can be made regarding how job characteristics can be used to devise strategies. For instance, job design can be used to make a job comfortable and improve its ability to meet the needs of a worker. Similarly, the jobs can be designed to allow workers to develop a strong sense of teamwork and give them a sense of belonging.

One of the best strategies that an HR manager can use to facilitate employee engagement is communication. The definition of employee engagement provided by Banfield et al. (2018, p. 227) is a workplace approach that seeks social and psychological conditions that motivate workers to give their best. Additionally, engagement allows employees to become committed to corporate values and goals. The role of symmetrical employee communication on engagement and positive behaviors has been explored by Kang and Sung (2017, p. 82), whose study emphasizes the need to develop a two-way employee-centered communication system. In this system, workers can receive directives and feedback from their superiors, which allow them to conduct their duties effectively. Additionally, workers are given the freedom to approach their superiors with any queries. In terms of involvement, symmetrical communication can help make employees major players in critical corporate decisions. With this level f involvement, the symmetrical communication system becomes both a strategy and technique for improving worker engagement and involvement.

The strategies techniques discussed above that involve communication and job design, characteristics and security have benefits for both the employees and the employers. According to Yu et al. (2020, p. 3), job insecurity could be the main reason many workers do not perform as they lack the incentives to commit and engage in a job that is perceived as meaningless. For the employer, job security can be considered a form of intrinsic motivation for workers to commit and perform in the workplace. Motivation has worked well for Apple as a means of employee involvement and engagement. For example, the company announced in 2015 that it would offer free shares to all workers, which were intended to drive entrepreneurial ownership of the company (Joseph, n.d.). The workers receiving these benefits could be assured of their job security while job characteristics is potentially an issue of consideration during the hiring process. Overall, employee motivation through job design, characteristics, and security should work in other companies the same way it has for Apple, Inc.

Communication Approach

Building employee relations also requires the HR function to consider the need for improving employee voice. By definition, employee voice entails the communication of thoughts, attitudes, and propositions by workers to their colleagues and seniors to improve the functioning of the organization (Jha, et al., 2019, p. 704). Therefore, employee voice can be conceptualized as a tool or technique that can be used in enhancing engagement. As mentioned earlier, communication is one of the most common strategies for employee engagement and involvement. In this case, the approaches to communication that help improve employee voice are considered.

Based on various theories of leadership and communication, the best communication approaches to foster employee voice are open and direct communication. According to Gyensare et al. (2019, p. 3), leadership effectiveness is the missing link between employee voice and engagement. As a result, the primary role of the leader is to create a supportive work environment that fosters open communication among subordinates and superiors without fear of being targeted. The rationale for this view is that where the workers are happy and perceive support from their superiors, their voice becomes helpful as opposed to harmful. Defensive silence has been associated with negative workplace outcomes, which means that open communication offers the ultimate solution.

Implicit leadership theory and social exchange theory are the two models that can help support open and direct communication as an approach to enhance employee voice. From the implicit leadership theory perspective, employees develop trust for leadership if they perceive the behavior of their superiors as congruent with what they (workers) believe to be effective leadership (Gyensare et al., 2019, p. 3). Therefore, a positive voice climate is perceived as that which supports speaking up as opposed to remaining silent. Social exchange theory holds that will reciprocate the gestures of perceived fairness and where contributions are valued. In this case, open and direct communication is effective in conveying core messages regarding how workers are treated and how the superiors think of the employees’ work and efforts.

In terms of best practices, it is important to acknowledge that the corporate leadership, including HR and frontline managers, are tasked with creating an environment that allows workers to express themselves. As mentioned earlier, the organizational structure may need to be changed to allow shorter communication channels. According to Jha et al., 2019, p. 715), face-to-face communication and online interactions with workers are among the most direct forms of communication that should be practiced in a workplace. Face-to-face communication can be achieved through various events organized by the leadership. For example, open forums and spending time with the CEO or other leader brings employees and management physically together to deliberate on a matter affecting both the organization and the workers. Virtual meetings are increasingly becoming a popular trend in online interactions.

The communication approaches resulting in greater employee voice benefits both the employers and employees. For workers, a greater voice presents them an opportunity to articulate their attitudes, thoughts, and propositions to the management (Jha, et al., 2019, p. 704). In such an environment, the interests of the workers can be heard and addressed as long as the corporate leadership acknowledges the need for such responses to worker concerns. As mentioned earlier, worker voice and engagement are connected by effective leadership, which has been described as leadership perceived to be effective by the organizational members. Therefore, employees can benefit from the effectiveness of the leader in offering direction and addressing their concerns. The ultimate objective of enhancing worker engagement is to improve their productivity. Employee voice can be beneficial for employers is it leads to improved engagement and productivity on the part of the employees.

In benchmarking with Apple, Inc., it can be observed that the company’s communication best practices are built around the teamwork efforts and emphasis on feedback. Apple has built smaller teams where each of them is exclusively in charge of a product (Joseph, n.d.). such settings make it possible to conduct direct communication between team members. Additionally, the product development takes place in such a situation where teams are parallel as opposed to working from team to team. Therefore, inter-team communication is hardly necessary, which means that the communication frameworks do not have to be unnecessarily complex and cumbersome. In term of employee voice, the leadership can listen to each team exclusively and address the needs of each. Therefore, developing teamwork should help companies improve employee voice to derive all benefits associated with it.

Training and Development Considerations

The HR manager can consider several issues in training and development to allow managers and workers to understand their roles and responsibilities. The job characteristics theory described by Rabiul et al. (2021, p. 2) highlights the need to address the psychological elements of a job that makes workers feel engaged, valued, and safe. According to Baiquni and Lizar (2018, p. 71), job characteristics should be an important element for training and development, especially when focusing on task identity, job autonomy, skills, task significance, and feedback. In this regard, the effectiveness of other HR practices may depend on how employee view their jobs and their relations with the company as a whole. In addition to improving and updating the skills of a worker, training and development should be designed to allow staff to understand their tasks and what is expected of them. managers can also be part of the training programs since implementing sone changes in personnel management may cause changes in the roles and responsibilities of frontline managers. Therefore, the elements of job characteristics should be integrated into the training and development programs.

Another training and development consideration is the rapid digitization of modern workplaces. Digitization has necessitated many workplaces to design new training and development programs that can be delivered through online platforms. Additionally, the roles and responsibilities of both the managers and employees change drastically, which necessitates retraining of the entire workforce. Technological advances tend to change the entire outlook of businesses, including customers’ expectations and job descriptions (Harteis, Goller, and Caruso, 2020, p. 2). In this case, new roles emerge that are handled by workers who possess the necessary digital skills and competencies. The ultimate objective of the training is to keep workers’ skills updated and relevant. Therefore, all companies that embraced digital transformation have to retrain theory workers. The digitization of the work life may result in permanent changes that require new skills and knowledge to be imparted.

The changes caused by digitization mean that employees can handle them through informal learning processes that enable needs-based development. According to Kittel, Kunz, and Seufert (2021, p. 1), successful informal learning requires a significant level of self-regulated learning. This means setting goals, planning, monitoring, applying strategies, and regulating learning, for example, by applying resource strategies. Training and development programs should consider the informal learning processes, especially since formal learning differs significantly from informal learning. Apple, Inc. has a different plan, which should offer insights into how HR managers should approach training and development. The company as launched Apple Education Hub, which is intended to support workers’ career growth. Additionally, the training and development program is intended to help current workers acquire the digital and innovative skills that will be needed in the future. In other words, Apple uses training and development to develop future employee competencies and capabilities.


Managing worker relations is a critical function for HR managers. Massive shifts have been observed over the last four decades where companies now pay more attention to improving worker engagement and involvement. Engaged workers tend to commit to work and the organization, which helps improve their productivity. This report has explored several aspects related to the management of worker relations. First, the development of strategies and techniques for improving employees has been outlined. Symmetrical communication is considered one of the best strategies since it brings the management and workers together and promotes positive communication. Employee-centered communication systems allow workers to get feedback and directives, which further improves productivity. Second, the communication approaches for supporting employee voice have been outlined, including direct and open communication. Open communication can be achieved through the support of the organization, which means leadership effectiveness plays a critical role. Lastly, training and development considerations have been made, including the digitization that necessitates retraining of workers. Overall, all these aspects help facilitate employee engagement and the resulting productivity associated with it.


Several recommendations can be made based on the findings presented in the section above. The focus is on building an environment that allows involvement and engagement. Even though some of the strategies have been outlined above, the recommendations made in this section outline what can be considered best practices for improving worker relations. The first recommendation involves building trust with the employees. The rationale is that even with an open and direct communication system implemented, workers will still hold back if they feel that there is no trust between them and the management. When employees can trust their leader, they can freely communicate with them and approach them whenever there are issues that they need clarifications. Leadership effectiveness as described by Gyensare et al. (2019, p. 3) is considered a missing link in the relationship between employee voice and engagement. In this case, effective leaders will focus on building a trusting relationship with the workers to facilitate worker relations.

The second recommendation is that the management should show commitment to their workers. The rationale is that worker relations involve attempting to get employees to give their best for the company. The management should reciprocate this commitment by showing their support for the workers and their interests. Therefore, the job characteristics theory can be used to highlight where managers can show their support. According to Yu et al. (2020, p. 3), job security makes workers feel safe and valued. In this case, the management can make all necessary efforts to make workers feel safe and valued. The commitment can be extended to other HRM functions, including training and development. Among the key considerations for training and development is the merging digitization. For many companies, the digital transformation would result in recruitment efforts that seek to replace workers with no digital skills. However, employers committed to their workers would prefer to retain them by retraining them to acquire the necessary skills. With this example, it can be argued that employers could improve worker relations by reciprocating the commitment they expect from their employees.

Reference List

Baiquni, M. and Lizar, A. (2018) ‘The mediating role of job characteristic on the relationship between human resource pactice, employee engagement, and affective organizational commitment’, Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research, 72, pp. 66-72.

Banfield, P., Kay, R. and Royles, D. (2018) Introduction to human resource management. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press.

Gyensare, M. et al. (2019) ‘Leader effectiveness – the missing link in the relationship between employee voice and engagement’, Cogent Business & Management, 6(1), pp. 1-20.

Harteis, C., Goller, M. and Caruso, C. (2020) ‘Conceptual changes in the face of digitization: challenges for workplaces and workplace learning’, Frontiers in Psychology, 5(1), pp. 1-10.

Hook, C. and Jenkins, A. (2019) Introducing human resource management. 8th ed. Pearson.

Jha, N. et al. (2019) ‘Employee voice, engagement and organizational effectiveness: a mediated model’, European Journal of Training and Development, 43(7/8), pp. 699-718.

Joseph, R. (n.d.) Apple’s employee engageent stategies: decoding their secret. Web.

Kang, M. and Sung, M. (2017) ‘How symmetrical employee communication leads to employee engagement and positive employee communication behaviors – the mediation of employee-organization relationships’, Journal of Communication Management, 21(1), pp. 82-102.

Kittel, A., Kunz, R. and Seufert, T. (2021) ‘Self-regulation in informal workplace learning: influence of organizational lerning culture and job characteristics’, Frontiers in Psychology, 12, pp. 1-17.

Osborne, S. and Hammoud, M. (2017) ‘Effective employee engagement in the workplace’, International Journal of Applied Management and Technology, 16(1), pp. 50-67.

Rabiul, K. et al. (2021) ‘Linking human resources practices to employee engagement in the hospitality industry: the mediating influences of psychological safety, availability and meaningfulness’, European Journal of Management and Business Economics, pp. 1-18.

Yu, S., Gong, X. and Wu, N. (2020) ‘Job insecurity and employee engagement: a moderated dual path model’, Sustainbility, 12(23), pp. 1-15.

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