Managing Conflict and Employment Relations

HRL 703 Managing Conflict and Employment Relations
RetailCoCase Study

Conflict is an inevitable part of organizational life and will influence organizational teams.Conflict can, however, be managed effectively while fostering and
maintaining individual respect for the parties involved.How to better manage staff conflict is worth every human resources practitioners to think. Firstly, this report
will give a critical analysis of management issue, potential legal exposure for the organization and what key lessons should be learned based on the case study of
Retail Company. And then, provide an analysis of the issues raised by this case for the organization as a whole. Finally, a recommendation to company to improve its
management of conflict and employment relationship will be showed .
Part 1: The Management Issue
The key management issue that the organization faces is in relation to the extent it has been in a position to adhere to the procedures and policies relating to
dismissal and disciplinary procedures. The key factor that is set to be addressed by the company is on whether it complied with the laid out procedures while handing
out the dismissal verdict on Andrea Coley. The argument that may be launched that the gross misconduct claims that has been pointed out by the company is not fair.
The main aspect of the case involving Andrea Coley is based on the facts that led to the dismissal. There have been various attempts by the employee to justify the
fact that the company has been unfair while administering the dismissal. Therefore, the company is faced with the burden of proving that it undertook adequate
investigations in line with procedures that have been laid.
The procedures and policies that are adhered to by the company is a key consideration that presents the context of the management issue. It forms that basis of
administering any form of action against the employees in the event of any concerns that may be realized (Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service., 2009).
Therefore, Andrea Coley may focus on determining the key elements that were utilized while embarking on the decision that was handed out .

 Potential legal exposure
The main aspect of the potential legal exposure in the case of Andrea Coley and Retail Co involves unfair dismissal basis. Andrea Coley could focus on the specific
ways that the company failed in terms abiding by the laid out procedures in regard to the process. One of the bases that may be used as a potential area of legal
exposure is the failure of the company to address the discrimination issue that had been raised. Andrea Coley observes in one of her letters that the company had
knowledge of the discrimination issue that the company has knowledge of bullying by the store manager, Dannielle McGuire. However, the company failed to address the
issue and instead maintained the same working platform even after the complaints had been launched. This discrimination that had been noted by Andrea Coley was
estimated to have lasted for a period of 12 months without any action being taken. Therefore, the discrimination aspect may form a basis of opening a legal case
against the company(Daniels, 2016).
Yet another perspective that could be used by Andrea Coley while filling a legal case against the company is in relation to the material facts and admission of
liability. Throughout the interview process that was carried out, there is no evidence of admission of liability by Andrea Coley. In fact, the argument she provides is
that she is only guilty of failing to apologize which does not guarantee gross misconduct that would warrant dismissal .
It could also be noted that the company faces a major risk in terms of the potential litigation due to the evidence aspect. During the process of collecting evidence
in relation to the case, the company only focused on one witness. Terri O’Connor was the only witness who was interviewed in regard to the case that faced Andrea
Coley. This is a limited scope of evidence considering that it was an eye witness account. There is no deliberation that has been cited in regard to other potential
witnesses who would provide a different perspective which would be used in the deliberation process before the verdict was passed. In this regard, a case filed by
Andrea Coley could be focused on highlighting the narrow approach that the company took in investigating the case and collecting evidence. The eye witness account that
was used by the company in passing the verdict was only from one individual. This creates the element of bias(Taylor & Emir, 2012). Again, this is an indication of the
extent to which the case investigation and execution process presents a major potential legal exposure for the company .
Still, the legal exposure of the company could also be noted in regard to the focus on the interview process. While undertaking the investigation, the company focused
on Andrea Coley only. This is despite the numerous complaints that had been launched towards Daniella McGuire. There was no consideration of the role that she might
have played towards contributing to thedeliberations that were set. The complaint that could be cited in relation to this issue is that the company was biased on terms
of undertaking the investigation(Williams, 2014). The notion could be held that the management already had a prejudgment in relation to Andrea Coley before the
investigation commenced. Therefore, it is an indication of the legal exposure aspect that may undermine the credibility of the investigation and the verdict of the
company in regard to the case of Andrea Coley. This would be a loophole that is exploited by the legal counsel used by the employee while appealing against the
dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct .
 Key lessons for handling the issue in future
While focusing on the case of Andrea Coley, there are various lessons that could be learnt. This could be derived from the shortcomings that are noted in relation to
the way that the company handled the issue of the employee while handling the dismissal due to gross misconduct. These are the key considerations that a company should
embark on while handling a case of misconduct among the employees. This involves the process that should be followed by the management while focusing on such issues.
Among the key factors that should be considered by the management of a company is eliminating any form of delay in notifying the employee on any charges that are
impending (Lewis & Sargeant, 2015). The management should move with haste to ensure that the notification of any issue is given to the specific employee as soon as
possible. Such a strategy helps in eliminating any form of suspicion that may emerge from the legal process that is followed. In the case of RetailCo and the handling
of the case of Andrea Coley, there was a delay in the notification. This was argued based on the fact that the supervisor, Michelle Higham was unwell. This is not a
viable reason that could be used in legal framework in defending the delay of the company in notifying the employee. In future, it is imperative that the company
involved in the process of handling the misconduct of an employee ensure that the notification is given in good time and without any form of delay (Rollinson & Dundon,
2011). This is an element that could provide a loophole for the employee in terms of pursuing a case against the company and the verdict that has been handed out. It
is essential that this consideration is well handled during the investigations.
Also, there should be adequate considerations of the various perspectives to the case (Gennard & Judge, 2010). In the context of the company, the interview and
investigation process only focused on only one individual regarding the case. However, there should have been a focus on the allegations that had been raised by the
employee in relation to the concerns. This helps in broadening the focus of the company in relation to the investigation thus contributing towards the enhancement of
the verdict.
Part 2 Issued facing the organization
In the context of the organization, there are various issues that have impacted on its ability to manage conflicts and employment relations. Based on the background
information that has been provided in relation to the company, the following issues could be identified;
1) Underrepresentation of women in senior positions
The company has an ineffective policy in relation to the representation of women in senior positions. It is noted that 76% of its workforce in the retail section is
comprised of women. However, this percentage declines as the ranks go higher. This is a key factor that may be contributing to the low levels of employee commitment
towards their jobs especially women. In any organization setting, such environment makes women feel inferior and underrepresented at the workplace(Gennard & Judge,
2015). They may view the management to be in favor of men in the senior positons retain them in the lower job position. It may prove difficult for the interests of
women to be effectively highlighted and addressed in senior positions such and management and the board.
2) High turnover
In recent years, the company has experienced high levels of employee turnover. The case indicates that 51% of the employees in the organization have worked there for
less than 5 years. This is an indication of the high levels in which employees leave the organization and are replaced by new ones. This is a factor that negatively
impacts on the operations of any company. in such undertaking, it becomes expensive for a company to maintain operations in the industry since it has to allocate
resources to obtain new skilled staff. There may also be disruption of the delivery of products and service(Aylott, 2014). To a large extent, the reputation of an
organization as an employer is also damaged. Again, this proves it hard for the company to attract such highly skilled and qualified staff for the positions falling
vacant .
3) Job Insecurity
There are various key issues and factors that could be attributed to the high levels of turnover with RetailCo. One of the main issues is the job insecurity. In the
current setting a vast majority of the employees in the organization work on part time contracts.To this extent, they do not have certainty over their future in the
organization. Largely, this is a factor that discourages them from embarking on practices that would contribute positively towards the organization(Dicker, 2013).
Studies indicate that lack of job security is factor that contributes towards low levels of employee satisfaction and commitment towards the specific jobs. Evidently,
this is a trend that has been noted within the context of Retail Co. It may prove difficult for the management of the company to change this perspective especially as
the employees continue to feel that their job aspects and concerns are not addressed effectively.
4) Ineffective reward policy
It is also evident in the context of RetailCo that the reward policy that has been adopted within the context of the organization is ineffective. The employees in the
organization have lost trust in the ability of the management to address their needs. Some of the benefits that were given to employees have been withdrawn. In the
current dimension, a vast majority of the employees feel that their interests are not being addressed. Also, the performance evaluation mechanism has not been
addressed effectively to reflect the various job positions. Therefore, this is an indication of the extent to which the company has failed in terms of ensuring that
the employees are committed towards their work through the reward approach adopted. In most organizations, this is a factor that impacts negatively on the overall
performance(Armstrong, 2007). This is because it contributes directly towards influencing the levels of motivation of the employees. Key indicators of this trend in
the context of the company include; increase in stress, low job satisfaction and loyalty. To this extent, the company needs to address such issues effectively .
5) No effective representation of employee issues in forums
The nature and level of representation of the employee relations issue in forums held by the organization has also been effective. In the current perspective, the
management of the company does not allow discussion of key issues that impacts on the employees such as pay and employment relations in the forums that are held. To
this extent, the forums that are held through the representative of the employee may not have a direct impact on the levels of employee satisfaction within the
organization(Daniels, 2015). In any case, the employees may feel that the real issues that needs to be addressed in the forums are not highlighted. To this extent,
such framework highlights the lack of commitment of employees in their respective work stations within the organization.
6) Ineffective dispute resolution
The dispute resolution framework that has been adopted within RetailCo could also be viewed to be ineffective. In the current context, the regional HR Business
Partners (HRBP) have been denied of any power in terms of resolving cases. To this extent, the employee related issues which emerge in the regional offices are not
addressed in good time. The parties have to report to a call center which is located in Birmingham. This creates a high level of inconvenience on the part of the
employees involves since they have to wait for the feedback from the call centers. The managers at the regional offices do not have adequate power to address the
issues arising within the framework of the employee concerns. Again, this is an indication of the extent to which the company has been ineffective in terms handling
the grievances of the employees which emerge. Such development has also contributed toward the emergence of negative trends in terms of the ability of the company to
handle employee grievances (Dicker, 2013). For instance, based on the analysis, the number of disciplinary cases and dismissals have increase significantly from the
year 2011-2016. Therefore, this is an illustration of the failure of the company in terms of adopting an effective dispute resolution framework .
7) Ineffective mediation process
The mediation process that has been adopted at RetailCo could also be viewed to be ineffective. In the current dynamics, the process has to be a proved by ‘ER advice
service’. Also, the mediator meets each of the employee in the issue separately. Still, there is no room for the employee to be accompanied in the mediation process.
To this extent, such aspects indicate the loopholes of the mediation approach .
 Recommendations improve its management of conflict and employment relations
While seeking to resolve the issues that have been identified, there are various approaches that may be adopted. This is based on best practices that have been adopted
in different organizations. The mechanisms would be essential in terms of ensuring that key elements hampering overall performance are addressed. Among the recommended
approaches that could be adopted by RetailCo include;
1. Increase number of women in management and board
RetailCo needs to increase the number of women in the management. This would be achieved by setting standards on the number of women in senior management and the
boards(Daniels, 2015). The ideal position would be ensuring that at least 45% of such positions are held by women. This would provide an avenue of ensuring that the
employee relation issues especially in regard to women are addressed. It would also improve levels of satisfaction.
2. Change contract terms to permanent
There is need for the company to review its engagement with employees. This would involve changing the contracts to permanent from part time. This would help in
resolving the issue of job insecurity. To this extent, the levels of employee commitment, loyalty and satisfaction at the workplace would be improved significantly
(Blyton & Turnbull, 2014). This would in turn improve the spectrum and approach of the employees in terms of delivering services within the organization.
3. Review the reward strategy
The reward strategy in the organization should also be reviewed in the context of the organization(Dicker, 2013). This is a strategy that should be aligned with the
performance perspective of the employees in the organization. In any organization, the reward strategy should be in a position to enhance the motivation and commitment
of the employees. This plays a key role in enhancing the overall performance.
4. Adopt comprehensive representation
The employee forums that are held by the organization should also be inclusive of the real issues that employees face. This include the pay and employment relations
concerns that employees have. It would play a role in terms of making the process more effective in terms of meeting employee needs.
5. Review dispute resolution process
Dispute resolution process should also be reviewed to allow more effective approach(Aylott, 2014). This should include giving more power to regional HR Business
Partners (HRBP). Management of employee issues in this context is essential as it allows employees to obtain feedback within short periods.
6. Enhance the mediation process
The mediation process should also be enhanced significantly. Among the key approaches that should be adopted include allowing initiation between employees on an
inhouse platform, allow accompaniment in the process and facilitate a meeting between aggrieved parties (Blyton & Turnbull, 2014). Such measures would make the
mediation process more effective in terms of resolving the emerging issues.

Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service. (2009). Disciplinary and grievance procedures. Stationery Office (TSO).
Daniels, K. (2016). Introduction to employment law : fundamentals for HR and business students. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Gennard, J., & Judge, G. (2010). Managing employment relations. London : Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Lewis, D., & Sargeant, M. (2015). Employment law : the essentials. London : Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Rollinson, D., & Dundon, T. ( 2011). Understanding employee relations. Maidenhead : McGraw-Hill Education.
Taylor, S., & Emir, A. (2012). Employment law : an introduction. Oxford : Oxford University Press.
Williams, S. (2014). Introducing employment relations : a critical approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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